Series: Planning for 36 Hours in Birmingham, AL

Planner’s Travel Series

About the series: Welcome to our ongoing travel series. These are all posts written by planning students and professionals about what to do in a given city when looking for Brunch, a Brew, or a good idea on a Budget. To cap it all off, we include a fun planning fact!   

About the visit: I was born and raised in Birmingham and recently went back to visit family for the holidays. If you ever find yourself in the ‘Ham, be sure to check out these vibrant and award-winning stops for brunch, brews, and budget-friendly fun.


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Continental Bakery in Birmingham’s English Village. Photo credit:

Sunday brunch is taken seriously in the South. Check out Chez Lulu and its neighboring sister-eatery Continental Bakery for a bite to eat on the weekend. Whether you’re looking for a croissant and coffee or a sit-down meal with mimosas, these eateries boast some of the area’s best French cuisine. If the weather is nice, bring your four-legged friend and people-watch from the sidewalk seating.


Miss Fancy poses with one of her trainers on an old postcard. Photo credit: Birmingham Public Library Archives, File # 1081.3.99

Avondale Brewing Company boasts a diverse menu of saisons, tripels, and stouts. While you’re there, be sure to grab a taste of Miss Fancy’s Tripel.  Legend says that Miss Fancy, Birmingham’s resident elephant during the Prohibition Era, roamed the streets of town whilst drinking alcohol confiscated by the police.  During the summer, the brewery’s large outdoor stage hosts a number of musical acts.


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Railroad Park is conveniently located near the heart of downtown Birmingham. Photo credit: Sean Pavone,

Railroad Park’s trails, outdoor fitness equipment, playground, skate park, and free exercise classes offer plenty of opportunities to take in the sights and sounds of Birmingham on a budget. The park opened in late 2010 and offers 19 acres of green space in the heart of the downtown area. It even beat out the High Line Park and other big city parks to win the Urban Land Institute’s Urban Open Space Award in 2012.

Fun Planning Fact

Sloss Furnaces
Now a National Historic Landmark, Sloss Furnace operated as an iron-producing blast furnace for almost 90 years. Photo credit: Alby Headrick,

Birmingham is the only city in the world where all three ingredients needed to make steel–iron ore, limestone, and coal–are found in large amounts within close proximity to each other. As such, the city was planned and developed around the steel-making industry.

Featured Image: Downtown Birmingham at night. Photo Credit: Alby Headrick, 

About the Author: Anna Patterson is a second-year dual degree master’s student in the Department of City and Regional Planning and the Department of Health Behavior. Her scholarly interests include health and the built environment, vulnerable populations, and community development. Prior to coming to UNC, Anna worked as a program officer for a health foundation in Alamance County, NC.  She likes American folk music, slalom water skiing, and hikes along the Haw River.