We were blessed to be able to travel to Birmingham with Husbandman on one of his work trips. Birmingham has lots of great things for families, some just low-cost and others for FREE!
Let’s start with Vulcan Park and Museum:
Vulcan Park is home to Vulcan, the world’s largest cast iron statue.
Vulcan was built for the World’s Fair in 1904. He’s had a few ups and downs since then, and has even undergone some surgery. But he’s looking pretty good now, isn’t he?
The accompanying museum is also fantastic. Here you learn about what it was like to work in the mines, which was absolutely gruelling work.
You also get to learn about Vulcan’s various restorations, as well as information about Birmingham history in general.
Once you’ve toured the museum, take your ticket receipt up to the tower.
Vulcan Park and Museum is very reasonably priced. $6 per adult and $4 per child. This is the only non-free place we visited, but it was well worth the price.
Birmingham Museum of Art
The Birmingham Museum of Art is an absolutely world class gallery, with lots for the whole family to see.
There are TWO kids areas, one for little tykes and one for school aged children.
If you’re going with kids, I recommend going in the morning, bringing your own lunch and eating it in the Red Mountain Garden Club Memorial Garden (no eating in the galleries!). That way you’re refueled for the rest of your visit. There’s also a cafe available, but I didn’t look at the menu so I don’t know the prices.
We got to see some pretty fantastic stuff. My favorite was the collection of Christian paintings from the 12-1400s. Everyone looks mildly irritated.
Sloss Furnaces was my absolute favorite; I love history, and this was an incredible self guided tour of the refining industry that really shaped Birmingham from the mid-1800s onward. Birmingham was called “The Magic City” because of how quickly it sprung up, seemingly out of the ground.
While the site has been a museum since 1983, A new visitors center was built more recently:
This place is a hipster photographers dream.
Something new that I learned was that “pig iron” refers to the method of manufacture, not the quality of the iron. I’d been taught in high school that the decentralization of iron production during the Communist revolution in China resulted in low quality pig iron. But it turns out it’s because the troughs that the iron is poured into resembles a sow and her nursing piglets.
One thing that I thought was really cool was the Metal Arts Program.
They host workshops, exhibitions, and conferences, primarily focusing on using cast iron as an art medium. How awesome is that?
They also have a really neat sculpture garden.
We really enjoyed the self guided tour, but they offer group tours at designated times as well. This is a great place to visit with or without kids. Be sure to pack snacks because there’s no food available on site.
This was a fantastic park built on what used to be an unused industrial area.
This was a nice place to just walk and play before we went back to the hotel in the evening.
We sort of found this park by accident, after going out for pizza. It is absolutely beautiful.
They have a good sized play structure, and a nice walking path around the pond.
This park is very tranquil, despite being in an urban area.
That was our fantastic trip to Birmingham. I hope I’ve given you some ideas for a thrifty and fun visit of your own!