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Do you ever find yourself wanting to get out and explore the Magic City, but you don’t want to break the bank? You’re in luck! We’ve rounded up 10 interesting and entertaining activities that you can do in Birmingham without having to spend a dime. After all, the best things in life are free, right? From exploring a local farmer’s market to catching a show at one of Avondale’s coolest venues, here are 11 free things to do in Birmingham!

11 Free Things to Do in Birmingham

1. Admire the art at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Enjoy a leisurely afternoon admiring beautiful pieces of art from the United States and Europe at Birmingham Museum of Art, where you can feast your eyes on more than 24,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and decorative arts. General admission and parking are free.

Things to do in Birmingham — Birmingham Museum of Art

An afternoon spent at the Birmingham Museum of Art is one full of visual stimulation and cultural exploration. Admission and parking are free.

2. Visit the Birmingham Civil Rights District.

Step foot in an iconic area of downtown Birmingham where many significant events of the 1950s and ’60s took place. These landmarks include 16th Street Baptist Church, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park and Bethel Baptist Church, all of which were named the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in 2017. Also, be sure to explore the nearby Fourth Avenue Business District, where the Carver Theatre houses the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. This is a perfect free activity if you want to learn about the history of the Magic City.

Things to do in Birmingham — Civil Rights District

The 16th Street Baptist Church is the beating heart of the Birmingham Civil Rights District. Across the street from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and diagonal from Kelly Ingram Park, the 16th Street Baptist Church was founded as The First Colored Baptist Church of Birmingham in 1873. Condemned by the city, a new church was designed by black architect Wallace Rayfield in 1911. During the Civil Rights Movement, black protesters met at the church to organize protests. On September 15, 1963, Ku Klux Klan members planted dynamite in the church’s basement, which killed four young girls — Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair. A statue stands in their honor across the street from the church, depicting four girls, one releasing doves.

3. Stroll through Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Walk through what is known as “Alabama’s largest living museum,” with more than 10,000 plants. Widely recognized as the most visited free attraction in Alabama, guests can stroll through gorgeous gardens and get lost in nature. There are picnic tables, a gift shop and a café that serves lunch, too.

Things to do in Birmingham — Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens is one of the most beautiful ways to relax and explore the Magic City. Admission is free.

4. Spend an afternoon at one of Birmingham’s parks and trails.

Birmingham is full of beautiful, fun and free parks and trails available for those looking to get some exercise, explore the city’s natural beauty or simply get some fresh air. Take a look at our guide to Birmingham’s best parks and trails. A few of our favorites include:

Things to do in Birmingham — Railroad Park

Railroad Park hosts plenty of free cooking and exercise classes for Birminghamians. Visit their website to see the schedule.

5. Explore a local neighborhood.

If you’re wanting to get to know our city a little better, we’ve got the guides you need. From the Theatre District and Downtown Birmingham to Old Town Helena, Mt. Laurel and Bluff Park, each of the city’s neighborhoods have their own unique personality with shops, eateries and fun activities to keep you busy all day. This is the perfect way to spend a weekend without having to break the bank! Here’s how to get the most out of each neighborhood:

Things to do in Birmingham — Buck Creek

Buck Creek runs parallel to the railroad in downtown Helena and serves as the town park.

6. Take a tour of the Golden Flake Factory.

Have you ever wondered how your favorite potato chips were made? Visit the Golden Flake Factory and see the process, from potato to chip! Eat hot and fresh chips right off the factory line at this interactive 45-minute tour. Tours are completely free, but you must call in advance to make a reservation. Tour times are at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. This fun and free opportunity to see how potato chips are made is perfect for kids of all ages.

Things to do in Birmingham — Golden Flake Factory

Eat hot and fresh chips right off the factory line at an interactive 45-minute tour of the Golden Flake Factory. Tours are free! Image: Golden Flake

7. Have fun at one of Birmingham’s libraries.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the free seminars, writing workshops, kids’ activities, plays, concerts and more at each of Birmingham’s public libraries. Admission is free, and there is always something new and exciting going on. Check out the schedules at the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest, Homewood Public LibraryBirmingham Public Library, Emmet O’Neal Library and Avondale Public Library to see whats going on.

Things to do in Birmingham — Vestavia Hills Library

The Vestavia Hills Library is surrounded by lush greenery, as well as walking trails, making it the ideal escape for a day of work or fun. Image: Vestavia Hills Public Library

8. Explore Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark.

Admission is completely free to take a look at Alabama’s iconic industrial heritage, where pig iron was produced from 1882 to 1971. Sloss Furnaces is a national historic landmark that every Birminghamian or visitor to the Magic City must experience! Check out their museum to learn more about why Birmingham is known as the Iron City, catch a concert there (we recommend the upcoming Sloss Music & Arts Festival), or take your camera for some incredible pictures. Check out Sloss Furnaces’ website for more details.

Things to do in Birmingham — Sloss Furnaces

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark is an iconic Birmingham structure. Built during Reconstruction, Sloss Furnaces produced iron for nearly 90 years and was integral to the Magic City’s realization as a player among the South’s major cities.

9. Catch a show at The Shed Series.

The Shed Series is the local concert venue you need to know about. As members of Concerts in Your Home, this Avondale couple opens their backyard to talented singers and songwriters from all over the world, who perform private shows in an intimate, gorgeous setting. Each show is BYOB with free admission and food, though donations are welcome.

Things to do in Birmingham — Shed Series

Catch a free show at one of Avondale’s coolest under-the-radar venues, The Shed Series!

10. Explore Birmingham’s farmers’ markets.

Almost every day of the week, one of Birmingham’s farmers’ markets is bustling with locals perusing aisles of fresh local produce, handcrafted pieces and so much more. And most markets feature bites from local food trucks and live music. For all the details on the Magic City’s farmers’ markets, check out this guide to all of Birmingham’s best farmers’ markets!

Things to do in Birmingham — Farmers' Markets

Colorful rows of fresh veggies from local farmers line all of Alabama’s summer farmers’ markets! See our guide, day by day, here.

11. Learn the history of trains at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum.

Grab the whole family and head down to Calera to experience the free museum experience at the Heart of Dixie Railroad. This museum is on a mission to teach the great history of the railoads that made Alabama the amazing state it is today! If you have some extra time, you can ride their train for a small fee. Either way, this museum makes for an educational trip perfect for all ages.

Free Things to do in Birmingham - Heart of Dixie Railroad

An afternoon at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum is fun and educational for the whole family! Image: Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum

Now, you can’t let your budget hold you back from having a fabulous experience out and about in the Magic City. Get out there and have a ball, Birmingham!


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