There are tons of cool things to do right in Birmingham proper, but if you’re in the Magic City with ample time – or if you’re just passing through – consider stopping by one of these great Alabama attractions.

All the places listed here are within roughly four hours (most a lot closer) to Birmingham. They’re all in Alabama too. However, there’s so much to see and do in and around Birmingham that this list is hardly exhaustive. Get excited about Alabama, and keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg!

artcphotos / Shutterstock

artcphotos / Shutterstock


About four and a half hours from Birmingham, this small town’s charm is big with a rather wacky assortment of sights to see. Check out the 50ft fiberglass Lady in the Lake and the Dinosaurs in the Woods drive along US Highway 98. Elberta is just a few miles from the beach to boot!


Located near Elberta, Foley’s most popular attraction is its Railroad Museum, which features a famed Model Train Exhibit. While in town, be sure to have something to eat and drink at the old timey Stacey’s Rexall Drugs & Old Tyme Soda Fountain. Delicious!

Gulf Shores & Orange

White sand beaches, great seafood, festivals throughout the year, and wetlands wildlife nearby, a trip to the shore is a doable beach break with something for everyone. And it’s only a few hours drive from downtown Birmingham!

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

Guntersville Lake

One of Alabama’s most beautiful nature areas is Guntersville State Park, encompassing the 75 mile stretch of Guntersville Lake. wIf you’re around during the winter, keep an eye out for the Bald Eagles over the lake! The southern tip of the lake is about an hour and half drive from Birmingham.


One and a half hour’s drive from Birmingham is Huntsville – home of the US Space & Rocket Center, the largest space flight museum in the world.


Mentone is a tiny town on Lookout Mountain about two hours northeast of Birmingham. It’s popular for its rustic feel, antique shops, easy access to Desoto Falls, and the incredibly scenic Little River Canyon.

Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock

Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock


Great architecture, fantastic seafood, and even its own mini Mardi Gras celebration—which is much more family friendly that in New Orleans—Mobile is an excellent city just under four hours south of Birmingham.


Monroeville’s most famous resident is author Harper Lee, whose book, To Kill a Mockingbird ranks among the most cherished of American literary classics. With all the controversy being stirred by her newly discovered manuscript, Go Set a Watchman, there’s never been a better time to visit this usually sleepy town. Just three hours away from Birmingham and with many shops and eateries themed around To Kill a Mockingbird, it can be a delightful place for fans of the book to visit.


Two hours north of Birmingham is Scottsboro, popular with bargain hunters for its world famous Unclaimed Baggage Center. It’s something like a department store, but everything on sale is from lost airline luggage!

Poprotskiy Alexey / Shutterstock

Poprotskiy Alexey / Shutterstock

The Shoals

Blink and you’ll miss it, but you’ve definitely heard the many hits that have been recorded in Muscle Shoals. The small town about an hour and half drive from Birmingham has hosted some of popular music’s biggest stars while recording at FAME Studios or the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Notable names include Aretha Franklin, Wilson Picket,Otis Redding, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon and many more.

Set along a narrow stretch of the Tennessee River, there are loads of fun things to do around the Shoals area. Enjoy the great outdoors, go fishing, or check out the iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rosenbaum House. Ivy Green, the birthplace of Helen Keller, is nearby in Tuscumbia.

Talladega Super Speedway

Forty-five miles east of Birmingham, Talladega is heaven on earth for NASCAR fans. During Race Weekend in October, it’s home to one of America’s biggest parties. Awesome!

Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock

Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock


Love college football? They sure do in Alabama. Tuscaloosa is home to the University of Alabama and its famed Crimson Tide football team. For youthful nightlife, academic proclivities, and a strong tradition of athletic excellence, head over to Tuscaloosa just under an hour’s drive from Birmingham.

Who knew there was so much to do around Birmingham, Alabama? Are you heading to any of these awesome destinations any time soon? Tell us about it in the comments!

3 Responses

    • Chris Osburn

      Thanks. Mentone is a beautiful little mountain town. But, to the best of our knowledge, there’s no service by train or bus service to Mentone from anywhere.

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Chris Osburn is a freelance writer, photographer, consultant, curator, and the driving force behind the long running and award winning blog, Originally from the American Deep South, Chris has lived and worked all over the world. He's called London home since 2001.