With daylight hours getting ever-so-shorter and summer starting to wind down, there’s no better time to consider the best ways to maximize these fleeting moments of the year’s best season. From unforgettable experiences in the great outdoors to the best places to kick back in the cool A/C, and from delicious indulgences to exercise classes, the Magic City is brimming with opportunities to make this summer your best yet. Here are some of our top ideas to add to your end-of-summer bucket list.
14 Things To Add to Your End-of-Summer Bucket List
1. Plan a picnic with a scenic view.
Pack a picnic basket with sandwiches and some slices of watermelon, grab a quilt, leave your cell phones at home (or in the car — let’s not go crazy) and hit the road for an unplugged meal al fresco before summer comes to a close. Spread out under the shadow of Vulcan for a breathtaking view of downtown Birmingham and the rolling hills to our north. Dine in Railroad Park and enjoy a picnic accompanied by the city’s stunning skyline, or, if you’re feeling athletic, head to Red Mountain Park for a hike followed by a lunch in a scenic forest oasis under a canopy of towering trees.
2. Head out to an “ol’ ball game”!
Even if you’re not a baseball fan, you should definitely add a game to your list of late-summer activities. Head down to Regions Field for an evening game, and enjoy the city’s beautiful skyline while watching the Barons play. Weekly specials like 50-cent hotdog Tuesdays, Thirsty Thursdays and Friday Night Fireworks enhance the iconic summer baseball experience, and you’re sure to have a fabulous time!
3. Visit a farmers’ market.
With gorgeous produce, delicious eats, refreshing drinks, live music and creative wares made by local artisans, Birmingham’s farmers’ markets should make any local proud. A visit to a local farmers’ market is a great way to mingle with your fellow Birminghamians and to pick up some uber-fresh ingredients for making a summer feast! To find one, check out our Ultimate Guide to Birmingham’s Local Farmers’ Markets.
4. Explore the sights and tastes of downtown.
Before fall arrives with all the busyness that it entails, plan a trip downtown and explore all that’s new or wonderful in the heart of the Magic City. Spend the afternoon browsing downtown retailers like Artefact Supply and Charm on Second Avenue North, and Yellowhammer Creative and Warby Parker at The Pizitz before grabbing dinner at The Pizitz Food Hall. Finish off the day with an evening cocktail at The Roof at The Redmont Hotel, Roots & Revelry at the Thomas Jefferson Tower or Moon Shine at the new Elyton Hotel — all fabulous venues where you can enjoy a truly incredible view of our beautiful city.
5. Stretch yourself with an outdoor exercise class.
Something about summer encourages us to get up and get moving, and a few local exercise classes are making it even easier to do so in the great outdoors. From Zumba Wednesdays to Family Fun Fridays, Get Healthy on the Railroad exercise classes at Railroad Park are free and offered weekdays at 6 p.m. Ruffner Mountain offers free Monday Night Yoga classes on the Back Porch at the Nature Center from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekly.
6. Enjoy some late-summer blooms.
We are so lucky to have two botanical gardens in town, both of which offer the chance to take in all of the beauty of the season. Aldridge Gardens in Hoover covers 30 acres of land and is teeming with gorgeous flowers and greenery. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Snowflake Hydrangea, Hoover’s official flower! At the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Mountain Brook you’ll find a bevy of blossoms in season across their nearly 70 acres. Daylilies are at their peak in July, and in August you’ll find an abundance of ferns and tropical blooms. Admission to both gardens is free.
7. Cool off with a day by the water.
Make the best of the dog days of summer with an afternoon spent on the waterfront. Whether you dip your toes in one of central Alabama’s best swimming holes, go paddleboarding in Oak Mountain State Park, spend the day at Alabama Splash Adventure or float down the Cahaba, an afternoon by the water is sure to leave you feeling refreshed.
8. Indulge in a sweet treat.
Nothing serves as the cherry on top of a day splashing in the sun quite like a sugary treat, and the Magic City has plenty of decadent options that will satisfy your sweet tooth. Stop by Big Spoon Creamery for an ice cream sammie or sundae; pay a visit to Cookie Fix in Homewood or Bandit Baking Co. downtown for all the comfort of a freshly baked homemade cookie with none of the effort or clean up; or pop in to the ever-popular Steel City Pops and treat yourself to your favorite seasonal flavor — have you tried the oatmeal cream pie pop yet? Divine!
9. Catch a summer flick.
Summer’s heat and an evening at the movies go hand-in-hand, and whether you’d prefer to take in a film under the stars or retreat to the cold A/C at one of our iconic theaters, there are plenty of options for movie-watching to cap off your perfect summer. Flicks Among the Flowers at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens will be screening Jumanji on July 26 and Father of the Bride on September 27. Free Friday Flicks in Veterans’ Park in Hoover is showing kid-friendly films at 6:30 p.m. on Friday evenings through July 21. And the Alabama Theatre hosts Alagasco’s Throwback Thursday Kids Club weekly in July at 9 a.m. on Thursdays, 7 p.m. on Fridays and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.
10. Track down a food truck.
Adventurous epicures rejoice! Birmingham has a veritable army of food trucks peppered across our fair city. What better way to savor the summer than by tracking down your favorite roaming kitchen! Whether it’s the spicy soul food from Eugene’s Hot Chicken, the authentic Mexican cuisine from Los Dos Hermanos or elevated pub-friendly fare from The Hot Tag food truck, the Magic City’s traveling chefs serve up some delicious eats! Follow your food-truck bliss with our Ultimate Guide to Birmingham’s Food Truck Scene.
11. Head to Lake Martin.
Rent a cabin from Russell Lands, or set up camp at lovely Lake Martin this summer! From swimming, skiing, boating, floating and fishing, to hiking, biking and horseback riding, Lake Martin offers so many fun activities. Take a boat ride to Peanut Point for some of the tastiest boiled peanuts on the lake, or book your reservations at the award-winning SpringHouse. For a full tour of this Alabama jewel, check out “Lake Martin, a Rejuvenating Alabama Refuge.”
12. Enjoy a Zyp BikeShare adventure through downtown Birmingham.
Take to the streets of the Magic City for a Zyp BikeShare adventure of your own making! Downtown Birmingham is brimming with growth and activities, from Railroad Park and Regions Field to the Rotary Trail, Second Avenue North’s hip scene, Pepper Place and all the way across the city to Avondale. Experience all the excitement by renting a Zyp bike at one of the downtown stations and experience it for yourself. To find a station near you, visit Zyp BikeShare.
13. Take a walk on the wild side.
Before the kids go back to school, plan a visit to The Birmingham Zoo! The elephants, giraffes and lions are sure to capture your heart and create an unforgettable summer memory. Make it an extra special visit and plan to take a camel ride — offered for $5.50 during the week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. — or schedule your visit during the Elephant Chat, which takes place at 11 a.m. daily. Visit their website for the full schedule of daily zoo activities.
14. Expand your horizons at the Magic City’s museums or science center.
The heat of the day provides the perfect opportunity to head downtown and soak up some knowledge indoors. For a day out with the kids or a lighthearted date spot, swing by the McWane Science Center for some fascinating science-y fun! The Birmingham Museum of Art boasts a collection of Asian art that is considered the finest and most comprehensive in the Southeast, a collection of Vietnamese ceramics considered one of the finest in the United States and a Wedgwood Collection that is considered the finest outside England. Plan a visit and linger in the museum’s many galleries. And, of course, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a must-visit spot for Birmingham residents and visitors alike. This educational and cultural research center is dedicated to promoting a comprehensive understanding and preserving the history of the civil rights movement in Birmingham, and will provide an unforgettable and moving experience with which to conclude your summer. And be sure to drop by the Birmingham Negro Southern League Museum, a state-of-the-art facility that presents the history of African-American baseball and its impact on our city’s past, present and future. Music lovers will love the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame at the historic Carver Theatre with its fabulous art-deco interiors and homage to Alabama jazz artists.
Get out and enjoy the final days of summer in the Magic City!
For more events and happenings, be sure to check out our SB Happenings page. It’s also available in our FREE StyleBlueprint App, which is filled with events, local businesses, amazing local restaurants and so much more!