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15 Best Day Trips from Birmingham AL

Birmingham, Alabama is the perfect place to visit when you’re in the US. This city boasts of amazing tourist attractions, most historic towns, museums, parks, and must-see historic infrastructures. Plus, it is the best jump-off point to other beautiful destinations nearby making it a perfect kickstart for your day trips. Read on to know more about the best day trips from Birmingham, Alabama.

Birmingham is noted as the biggest and most populous city in the entire Alabama state, and while its façade is grey and it is highly associated with a long history of ironworks and coal due to its reputation of being the industrial center of the south, you will be surprised to come across innovations and developments that drastically turned this huge city into a brimming center for history, culture, and the arts. All these while remaining a gateway city to the amazing Alabama outdoors.

Nearby, you have cities to visit such as Atlanta and Memphis. But a long drive to the south will surely delight you with the city’s very own stretch of pristine blue coastline.

Without further ado, here are the great day trips you can take from Birmingham AL, take your pick, and pack your bags!

1. The Talladega National Forest

brook surrounded by rocky mountains in Talladega national park
Viator / Viator

Situated in the wilderness of the Appalachian Mountain Range, the famous Talladega National Forest is one of the leading outdoor destinations to visit when in Birmingham. Previously, the location was almost destroyed by massive illegal logging activities. Over the years, it undergo reforestation and recovered as a lookout mountain. Now, it provides a wholesome and breathtaking environment with lots of green spaces for visitors to enjoy and it’s just a few hours from the city.

Here you will find amazing hiking trails in its lush green forest. From the Appalachians, a magnificent wilderness awaits where you will surely fall in love with the Alabama wildlife very easily.

2. The Oak Mountain State Park

Southward from Birmingham, you will discover the great Oak Mountain State Park. Although it can be found in the city center, the state park is a perfect way to get started with your trek toward great Alabama outdoors. Here you can spend your day surrounded by greeneries, and from there you can easily get back to your accommodation in Birmingham, Alabama.

Oak Mountain State Park is known as the biggest state park in the state of Alabama. It is a leading attraction aside from the Alabama museum. You will surely have lots of opportunities to come back the day after. The Double Oak Lake offers a beautiful beach for your swimming, where the Wildlife Center does a great job of caring for and rehabilitating sick animals within the park. Enjoy miles of biking, walking, and camping when you visit Oak Mountain State Park today.

3. The Childersburg

Childersburg is one of the most well-known and historic places found in Alabama. It is regarded as the oldest settlement in Alabama to date. Even though the city is relatively new, the location of the city has been often occupied by many groups of people over the centuries.

Around the 16th century, the Spanish explorers visited and stayed here for a while. Records reveal there is a Spanish indigenous community residing here, but they were displaced by the new inhabitants.

Childersburg is an interesting place to check out and learn more about the old and new Alabama.

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4. The Red Mountain Park

Red Mountain Park is yet another outdoor park that is just a couple of minutes’ drive to the south of the city. It’s a place where you can unravel the natural beauty of the place although it’s just a stone’s throw away from the suburbs.

It is a great pit stop for your trip to Birmingham, especially for the active and adventurous. There are various outdoor activities and hiking trails around Red Mountain Park. The place is deemed to be an old mining site where tons of iron are extracted that paving the way for the city’s industrial progress.

The recent developments made here are amazing, and what was once a great eye sore has magnificently become a playground for outdoor adventure where tourists can find a huge green space perfect for hiking, biking, running, rock climbing, zip lines, and many more!

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5. The DeSoto Caverns

The location of the DeSoto Caverns is very close to Childersburg. Here at the DeSoto state park, you will come across one of the most fabulous cave systems in all of the United States. Guests can come across a vast underground cavern found buried deep underground which was later named after the great Spanish explorer who discovered it – Hernando DeSoto.

The DeSoto cave is historically relevant to Alabama’s indigenous roots as it was previously used as a sacred burial ground as per the city’s rich history.

The cavern is a very unique place where tourists can have underground treks towards the vast cave, often coupled with great light shows that complete the whole outdoor experience.

Aside from the 5 best day trips from Birmingham mentioned above, there are other tourist posts nearby that are worth checking out, here are some of them:

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6. The Guntersville

This day trip location is situated around the north of Birmingham. It is a short drive from the city center too. Guntersville is the most picturesque location to visit when in Birmingham. It is found on the edge of the great Lake Guntersville. Outdoor lovers can enjoy bird watching, mountain biking, trekking, hiking, and more.

Visitors will be in awe as they are welcomed by crystal clear waters surrounding the picturesque mountain peaks of Guntersville. Those who love the wild will delight in having long hikes while basking in the splendid views of the great outdoors.

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7. The Little River Canyon

The Little River Canyon National Preserve goes around in a long winding stream towards the Little River. Despite the name, the river is regarded as one of the deepest canyons in entire North America.

The Little River is highly regarded as Alabama’s greatest outdoor destination. Experience a spectacular view with its beautifully tree-lined canyon. You will also come across very strong and rumbling waterfalls tucked along the river, and experience first-hand the breathtaking rock formations all around wherever you turn.

Take a short hike where you can see the trail towards the gorge. Here you will be deeply immersed in nature where you can take bike trails to get you further to the wilderness.

Furthermore, the Little River Canyon National Preserve river is one of the finest for canoeing and kayaking. Take delight in the fresh cool waters and enjoy the scenery around you.

8. The Payne Lake

man rappelling at the Payne Lake
Rappelling Adventure in Fort Payne Little River Canyon / Viator

Approximately a two hour drive from the southern part of Birmingham is the grand Payne Lake. It is a wildlife-protected area that is covered by wilderness and a lush forest where you can experience great lakeside scenery.

The place is tranquil and relaxed, and you have lots of walking trails where you are surrounded by the fresh waters of the lake, making it perfect for a day’s camp or group picnic.

Hiking around Payne Lake is perfect for newbie hikers. Find yourself musing about why you’ll ever need to go back to city life after this.

9. The Tuskegee

A few hours to the south, you will find Tuskegee in Birmingham AL. This city is historic and offers a perfect day trip opportunity for visitors.

The place offers small interesting museums that give you insights into the history of the great civil rights liberation and movements of the United States. Outdoor enthusiasts can head straight to the Tuskegee National Forest – the smallest national forest in the USA to date.

Although the boundaries appear big enough, the natural beauty found in its forest is definitely a must-see.

10. The Cathedral Caverns State Park

At the Cathedral Caverns, you will see a wide array of underground caves that are waiting for you to explore. You will find this natural gem on the north side of Birmingham. Visitors are in for a treat as they head here for a day trip. The cool caves are spectacular and offer a scenic view despite the underground gloominess.

This protected wildlife location may be explored as part of a cave tour promo that brings tourists to a series of caverns and chambers strategically hidden inside the state park.

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11. The Mobile

food tour for guests at Mobile
Downtown Mobile Food Tour / Viator

Discover in the short coastline of Alabama a natural gem that’s great for a day tour – Mobile. Mobile makes for a perfect day trip as it is in 101 ways very unique compared to the industrial history of Birmingham. Even though Birmingham was founded by its English forefathers, Mobile was initially a part of the French territory of Louisiana.

Mobile is a vibrant and culturally rich city that offers a breathtaking seaside view even if you head downtown. Enjoy warm weather and an amazing French-influenced gustatory experience, where you can also come and see the oldest festival in Alabama – the Mardi Gras.

12. The Bankhead National Forest

Eventually, you will discover that Alabama is one extraordinary state especially its lively scenery, natural beauty, and picturesque outdoor appeal.

Yet another incredible discovery in terms of tourist attraction to be had here is the Bankhead National Forest. This national treasure is in close proximity to the city center making it a perfect location for a day visit.

The place provides visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy the crisp, clear waters of the popular Sipsey Fork River which runs through the entire national forest, while the whole stretch of the river can be found ending in magnificent waterfall after waterfall!

13. Memphis, Tennessee

iconic bars around Memphis downtown area
Viator / Viator

One of the most popular cities in the south is Memphis, Tennessee. It is the great Elvis Presley’s birthplace. Visitors flock here for cultural and musical immersion. Rock n’ Roll is all over the city. It’s quite a long day trip from the city, however, the entire trip is all well worth it! Memphis is regarded as the soul of music. It is home to the great Elvis Presley and his Graceland Mansion which offers a national memorial for his great works.

Visitors will find museums and galleries to check out in this quaint town, amazing restaurants, and live band music to watch and enjoy. Surely, a day trip to Memphis is a must when in Birmingham.

14. Atlanta, Georgia

ferris wheel and colorful neon lights in Atlanta Georgia
Atlanta Highlights Private Tour / Viator

Atlanta is a couple of hours away from the eastern part of Birmingham, Alabama. You can find this biggest city in Georgia to be a leading day trip destination from Alabama. The city has lots to offer, and honestly, a day trip does not suffice to explore the city.

Just a few hours’ drive from Birmingham is Atlanta. Here you can find popular mansions like the Antebellum mansions, historic museums, boutique hotels, public parks, and a lot of great restaurants with some shopping opportunities to boot.

Atlanta is a very historic city. It offers great museums as it is a seat of the Civil Rights Movement in the south.

Aside from outdoor adventures, you will enjoy museum tours like the World of Coca-Cola museum. Additionally, tourists will find the Margaret Mitchelle House and Museum here, a dream place for fans of the movie ‘Gone With the Wind.’ They can see the place where the author of the best-selling novel lived as well as some memorabilia and exhibits from the movie. While here, take some time to see the Georgia Aquarium which is regarded as the largest aquarium in the west.

Visitors can find a lot of greeneries, galleries, and a great dining experience as they come and see Atlanta in Georgia.

15. Nashville, Tennessee

trolley tour bus in Nashville Tennessee
Nashville Hop On Hop Off Trolley Tour / Viator

The capital city of Tennessee – Nashville, is a big city that awaits to be explored by day trippers from Birmingham.

Nashville is the home to the famous Johnny Cash and has a great museum for music lovers, especially those who love country music. Here you will find as well the famed Country Music Hall of Fame. It’s a must for music lovers to visit!

Visitors will love the long and wide banks of its magnificent Cumberland River which affords a scenic spot to revelers any time of the year. Guests are in for a great dining treat with their amazing restaurants and fun-filled nightlife and musicals.

Your trip to Birmingham is incomplete without a quick trip to Nashville!

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Birmingham and America’s Civil Rights Movement

Monuments at the Birmingham and America's Civil Rights Movement park
Birmingham Civil Rights Tour- Riding & Walking / Viator

It cannot be denied that Birmingham played an integral part in the great American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It placed the entire city in the heart of the most significant historical and political renaissance of the 20th century.

Awaken your patriotism and relearn the history of the civil rights movement with freedom tours in the city. You can see areas associated with Martin Luther King Jr, Freedom riders, marches, Rosa Parks, and many others. Birmingham is likewise known for its oldest and largest Veterans Day celebrations. It is regarded as the founding city for the acknowledgment of the valuable participation of veterans in history.

Historic and Cultural Immersion

The city offers a chance for visitors to get lost in the culturally and historically rich stories of the great American civil rights movement, Rosa Parks’ valor, and resistance when she was arrested, and rediscover Martin Luther King and his colleagues who actively campaigned and championed civil rights. You can go as fast or slowly as you prefer, here you are always in complete control of what you’d like to do for your day trips to Birmingham, Alabama. Tours like this often commence at the Rosa Parks museum or at around Molten and Montgomery streets.

Birmingham is the only place on earth where you will find all the potent ingredients needed for creating iron exists – iron, ore, limestone, and coal. Name it, they all have it here. Being the country’s leading industrial hub, you can have access to everything you’ll ever need to create iron right here.

Where To Stay?

The hotels and accommodations surrounding Birmingham and the nearby cities are luxurious and welcoming. They are more than just a place where you can lay your head to rest overnight. Depending on your location and amenities preferences to price and reputation, the perfect Birmingham accommodation can spell all the difference in your overall travel experience to the place. Find the best place that’s perfect for you.

That’s a roundup of all the suggestions you can take as you plan a day trip to Birmingham, Alabama! May this guide help you plan your visit to one of America’s most historic cities of all time.

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