After college I had a plan. And it was a good plan. My plan was to move to Birmingham to complete Graduate School, work maybe a year or so, and then move back home to Atlanta. The problem is, once I lived in Birmingham for a little while I realized how much I love this city. It is a large city with a small town feel. It reminds me of Atlanta but on a much smaller scale. Atlanta has the Braves, we have the Baron's, a minor league team. Atlanta has Lakewood Amphitheatre and we have Oak Mountain Amphitheatre. Atlanta has Six Flags and White Water, we have Alabama Adventure. For anyone who doubts the greatness of Birmingham, I have compiled a list of reasons to love Birmingham. Here are just a few:
1. Thirsty Thursdays- starting late Spring the Birmingham Baron's Minor League Baseball season begins. On Thursday night home games, they have "Thirsty Thursdays". This means after you pay your $7 admission ticket to get in, you can buy all the beer you want for $1 a beer. This includes brands such as Bud Light, Miller Light, Michelob Ultra, Killian's, and more. All for $1 each. You can't beat spending a Thursday evening at a baseball game with a cold beer on a summer night.
2. Shopping-Birmingham is big enough to offer several malls and shopping areas which are never a far drive. It only takes about 30 minutes to drive from one side of Birmingham to the other. That makes it a perfect city for those who love to shop since it is never more than a 30 minute drive to the farthest shopping place. Birmingham has the Galleria, the Summit, Brookwood Mall, The Pinnacle, and is currently building another outdoor shopping mall in Leeds. Not only does Birmingham have large malls with many of the stores you know, but Birmingham offers many small boutiques and shopping areas with more eclectic or unique options.
3. SOHO/Downtown Homewood- Located in the heart of Birmingham is this area. It is home to tons of unique shops such as jewelry stores, wedding supplies, home decorations, linens, dress boutiques, and more. Not only does this area offer great shopping but the best restaurants. We're talking THE best. Salem;s is known for their Philly Cheese steak once proclaimed by Craig Ferguson on the Late Show as better than any in Philadelphia, Mama Goldberg's Deli which is known for their nachos made with Doritos and Jalapeno cheese, O'Carrs which is voted best chicken salad in Birmingham year after year, Jackson's Restaurant which hosts a huge St. Patrick's Day party every year, and the new Do Di Yo's which is an eclectic restaurant with fresh and original Greek Food (you make the hummus at your table!). SOHO square also has some really neat lofts that overlook and surround the area. There are also several bars such as Oak Hill, which are fun to visit during the night which makes Homewood a great place not only to be at during the day but at night.
4. The Vulcan- So apparently back in the day there was a statue of this man built on Red Mountain which overlooks the City of Birmingham. Not only is it a funny conversation piece, but a neat place to visit and catch some great views of the city.
5. Southwest- Birmingham is home to one of the cheapest and best airlines, Southwest. Southwest is offered at many cities, Birmingham being one of them (sorry you Atlantian's but Southwest doesn't fly into Hartsfield). Southwest offers cheap flights that can start as low as $25 one way to places like New Orleans or $99 to Las Vegas or New York. And of top of the great deal bags fly free and there is no assigned seating. Beat that Delta.
6. Location, Location, Location. Birmingham is in a great spot. Only 2 hours from Atlanta, 3-4 to the beach, 3 to Nashville or Memphis, or 5 1/2 to New Orleans. Being so close to other large and great places makes Birmingham a great place to live and be able to go on quick weekend trips without taking much time for the actual traveling.
7. Auburn-Okay, Okay so I know Auburn isn't located in Birmingham. It's really a couple hours south of Birmingham. BUT, you can feel the love of Auburn with many of the fans being based in Birmingham. So frequently you will go out and see other Auburn fans sporting Auburn
paraphernalia and shouting "War Eagle" to one another. In no other place have I seen such camaraderie about the love for a school.
8. Mountain Brook- So Mountain Brook may be known to many people in Birmingham as the rich or sometimes snotty area where many wealthy people reside. The reason I love Mountain Brook is for the history and beautiful homes. Mountain Brook is all historic. The homes range from small ranch style to huge mansions all built years ago. Driving through Mountain Brook there are tons of these homes and large trees which have been around for decades making the area look so beautiful. It is the perfect area to go for a drive and admire all the great sights.
9. O'Carrs restaurant- I know I have already mentioned it, but it is so good I feel it deserves it own number. O'Carrs motto is "eat by color". Everything is made fresh daily and is (mostly) healthy. The chicken salad is to die for an is a huge secret. No one knows what the ingredients are but many have tried to duplicate it unsuccessfully. The chicken salad and fruit plate appears to be by far the most popular dish (they sell over 2000 lbs of chicken salad weekly so they must be doing something right).This is my personal favorite. It includes a plate of chicken salad with a mix of crackers and a huge heaping of fruit. Were not just talking regular fruit here. This is fruit such as dates, kiwi, starfruit, bananas rolled in Cinnamon, pomegranate, grapefruit and dates, plus the other types of fruit most people love such a watermelon, strawberry, pineapple, and more. No plate is ever the same since they serve the fruit that is in season typically. Other options such as nut bread, turkey sandwich's, pannini's, fresh salads such as poached pear salad, and even cream cheese and crab dip. They are also known for their homemade desserts such as cheesecake with fresh whipped cream. I personally love the peanut butter milkshake which is to die for. Trust me, it is.
10. The people- Though Birmingham is a pretty large city it truly has a small town feel. People are very kind to one another and thats what adds to my love of this city. People greet one another walking by on the street and often ask strangers how they are doing. I have frequently gotten involved in long conversations with strangers working at stores or restaurants. I know many people who have (including myself) made good friends from just starting a conversation in a public place. I know this is pretty special and doesn't happen everywhere. It just feels good to be a place where others are happy and friendly, which is a reflection of this city.
So if you haven't been to Birmingham-- or already live here-- I hope this helps you to get an idea of why I love this city and feel that you should also, if you don't already. Come visit us-we'd love to show you around!