The city of Birmingham shares significant civil rights history, flavor-packed Southern comfort food, and an array of wineries and breweries.
“Birmingham and group tours have an affinity that’s palpable,” said Sara Hamlin, vice president of tourism at the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Here, Southern hospitality is more than a cliché. It’s real and it’s real plentiful.”
The Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau provided the following itinerary.
Wake up the day with breakfast at Niki’s West. The restaurant serves a heaping helping of Southern favorites: country ham, cheese grits, cathead biscuits with sawmill gravy and eggs.
Walk off some of breakfast at The Market at Pepper Place. This seasonal spread of Southern foods is a delight to wander through.
It’s now time for lunch at Irondale Cafe, made famous by the film Fried Green Tomatoes. People come from all over the world for the restaurant’s Hollywood connection and for a good Southern meal of country fried steak, succotash, okra, cornbread, turnip greens, fried green tomatoes, banana pudding and sweet tea, the house wine of the South.
Begun in 1923, Golden Flake Snack Foods is now among the largest snack food companies in the country. This popular tour takes groups from the potato bin to the final packaging of a dozen different potato chips, corn curls and fried pork skins.
For some adult taste testing, take a tour of local breweries and wineries. The Alabama Wine Trail welcomes group tours to sample bold muscadine and delicate peach wines, all made from local fruit. Craft breweries in the Birmingham area give groups a delightful assortment of flavors to sample while touring taprooms.
Try the fresh Gulf oysters and Athenian snapper at The Fish Market. This Birmingham eatery is a good example of the Greek immigrant influence on Birmingham’s rocketing dining scene.
Start the morning with Bogue’s Restaurant, a local favorite for decades. The coffee is strong and the biscuits are legendary.
Next, learn about a whole new concept in cookies — the bite-size cookie — at Bud’s Best Cookies. Watch as the wire-cut and rotary cookies roll off the lines at a rate of 3,500 a minute.
For lunch, travel to the Avondale neighborhood to Post Office Pies. Housed in a historic post office, this pizza place is captained by Chef John Hall, a Birmingham native who learned the pizza trade in New York City and returned to his hometown to share his talents.
Another dining option is The Pizitz Food Hall in the heart of downtown. Different stalls serve food from around the globe. The hall also serves up plenty of Southern flavor, like chicken and waffles, along with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes.
No visit is complete without a tour of the Birmingham Civil Rights District. Spend the afternoon at the moving Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Visit Ground Zero in historic Kelly Ingram Park, and tour 16th Street Baptist Church, site of the racially charged 1963 bombing that killed four young African-American school girls.
For dinner — or supper as it’s called in the South — take the tour to neighboring Bessemer to The Bright Star. The restaurant is Alabama’s oldest family-owned dining establishment and is another fine example of the many Greek-owned dining rooms in the Birmingham area, serving Greek cuisine and Southern favorites.
Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau