For my birthday last year, my husband decided to gift me the ultimate travel, a surprise trip! He linked up with Pack Up and Go (more on them here) which is a service that you authorize with a budget and a comprehensive survey about your likes and availability and they do the rest. Perfect gift for a globetrotter like myself. If you check them out, tell them Eclectik Girl sent you!
Armed with a date and info about the 6 states I had yet to visit, Pack Up and Go sent us to glorious…wait for it… Birmingham! Check out my reveal video on my IG page stories @EclectikGirl(and follow me there for more timely updates), I was totally surprised but also really excited for something new.
Highlands Bar and Grill is a contemporary Southern restaurant with French flair and James Beard award winning chefs. It’s a bit hard to find, but once you enter you’re carried into a simple but elegant dining room that reeks of old money in the best possible way. The meal was delectable, each course better than the last and made with the freshest ingredients. It was a bit pricey, but entirely worth the price. That evening we checked out a local club, Luxe Ultra Lounge, which was fun and had a great DJ.
The next morning, we were back on the tourist trail with a visit to Reed Books and The Museum of Fond Memories an eclectik find that offers tons of memories of yesteryear. Seriously, the things I found in the stacks were almost prehistoric, but such a fun way to spend a morning. We then took to the streets with a walking tour that ranged from St. Paul’s Cathedral to the Alabama Theatre. We spent a long while at the Civil Rights Museum soaking in the history, definitely worth a visit. It's also right across the street from the historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the site of the horrific bombing that killed four young girls during the Civil Rights Movement
We lunched at The Fish Market, which offered a full menu, in addition to a seafood counter and then headed to see more of the surrounding city, ending up in The Summit. Dessert was a Steel City Pop, sort of a choose your own adventure ice cream pop, yum! After, we relaxed until it was time to head to my birthday dinner at the exclusive Highlands Bar and Grill.
We arrived early and picked up our car that Pack Up and Go had previously arranged with Enterprise with no issues. We met a few really great people that hooked us up with tour books, but there was also a detailed optional itinerary provided with our trip so we had direction. First stop was the hotel, The Redmont. It’s a boutique from Hilton’s curio collection and right in the heart of downtown Birmingham. The location and suite were gorgeous and there’s even a rooftop bar perfect for sunset cocktails.
After cleaning up at our hotel, we headed out for dinner at Saw’s, a local highly regarded barbeque joint. And when in Alabama, you must do BBQ. The wait was a little long, but they served frozen slushies, which made it seem shorter, and the food was COMPLETELY worth it! Everything on the menu was delicious and huge portions. Highly recommend a stop in here. We were tired after that so we called our first day a win and headed back to the Redmont.
Next, we grabbed a breakfast at the Over Easy, a greasy spoon that I highly recommend for a quick breakfast. Everything we had there was delicious. Bonus, it’s next door to an ABC if you want to pick up some libations for your trip. Once we were stuffed, we headed over to Vulcan Park and Museum. The Vulcan is the largest cast iron statue in the world and memorializes Birmingham’s heritage in the iron and steel industry. It lives in a picturesque park, complete with a view of the Birmingham skyline and of course a gift shop. Tons of photo ops here and a nice touristy attraction.
It was so hot and our hotel didn’t offer a pool so instead of sticking with the tourist plan, we decided to act like kids again and checked into Alabama Splash Adventures, a waterpark that offered a ton of slides, pools and well kids. So fun to throw caution to the wind and spend the afternoon drenched and cool under that hot Alabama sun.
On our last day, we started with a run at Robert Jemison Jr. Park (I was training for a half marathon or I would have opted to sleep in) which had a nice flat trail. Next was brunch at Five, a cute concept restaurant with just 5 items on the menu. With time to kill before the flight, we checked out The Pizitz Food Hall (tons of options both food and casual goods), McWane’s Science Center (great for kids and acting like a kid as referenced below, but I wouldn’t visit again without them) and Birmingham Museum of Art, which is free entry with a suggested donation of whatever you can spare. It was open late on a Sunday and a nice way to end the trip.
We headed to the airport where we picked up a meal from Jim ‘N Nick’s BBQ since it was the other recommended spot by locals. Personally, Saw’s was my favorite, but I don’t know if you can compare airport BBQ to the real thing.
All in all, this was a fantastic trip made better by the surprise element and a new unexpected experience!