With summer winding down and football season in full swing, I know most people have already taken their vacations and are gearing up for fall. But if you’re anything like me, you might need a little getaway weekend in the middle of “busy season” to help you unwind and stay focused on the “busyness of life”. And more than likely, you won’t want to take the time to travel somewhere and deal with the hassle of booking a hotel, so you’ll just do without.
But, wait! There is another option available for you! The “staycation”. If you haven’t heard of it, a staycation is a vacation in your hometown. You do everything that you normally would do on vacation, such as eat a restaurant you’ve never been to, go sightseeing, shop locally, etc… But, you stay at home! No need for travel plans or hotels! (Although, if you wanted to stay in a local hotel, that could be fun … but definitely NOT required).
So, here is a guide on how to plan a super fun staycation in Birmingham!
**Let me just preface this by saying it is by no means a comprehensive list! In fact, I was quite overwhelmed with information while doing research for this post!
Get all of your ducks in a row beforehand.
Just like you would for an out-of-town vacation, get all the chores and errands out of the way beforehand. Otherwise, you may be tempted to run errands while you are trying to relax! I like to get the laundry, groceries, and bills taken care of so we can spend the maximum amount of time on vacation. I have even gone as far as laying out our clothes we will need for work when we get back so I don’t have to worry about it. Basically, just get whatever might distract you from relaxing out of the way and don’t run errands while on staycation that can wait until later.
Plan out what you want to do.
I’m a planner. I like to have an idea of what kinds of things there are to do in the area where we will be traveling. The fun thing about a staycation is that you can research your city as if you were a tourist! Find something fun to do during the day. Maybe you like to shop while you are on vacation, or maybe you like to actually do something physical. Luckily, Birmingham has plenty of options for everyone.
If you aren’t comfortable planning it yourself, or just would like someone else to do it for you, there’s actually an app for that! IN Birmingham is a great tool to use!
- If you’ve lived here for a while, you may want to skip the popular shopping centers such as Brookwood Village, The Summit, The Galleria, or The Shops at Grand River. But there are plenty of local businesses you could explore!
- Pepper Place Farmer’s Market is so much fun. It is open on Saturday mornings. They have plenty of local vendors and businesses represented. Pepper Place itself is also home to several amazing small businesses.
- Soho Square and Downtown Homewood also have lots of options for food and shopping. Some of my recommendations are O’Henry’s Coffee, Jackson’s Bar and Bistro, and Steel City Pops, which is just a short venture outside the square.
Traveling into downtown Birmingham opens up SO many options for food — lots of barbeque and Southern food as well as diner-style restaurants.
- John’s City Diner is excellent and also a great place for a photo-op with this popular mural!
- The Pizitz Food Hall is fairly new. It is a food court-style place with restaurants such as The Alabama Biscuit Co., Eli’s Jerusalem Grill, and Ono Poke.
- Dreamland Bar-B-Que is a Birmingham staple!
- Post Office Pies is hand-tossed pizza in an old post office, and it’s fantastic!
- The Uptown District has several places and convenient parking.
These are just a few suggestions; it’s usually best to plan where you eat around what you want to do so you can walk or easily get from place to place.
Birmingham offers lots of choices for activities, whether you like to do something outdoors, indoors, or a little of both. Museums are also a great option to learn a little more about your city. Plus, they are inside just in case the weather is not great for being outdoors.
Birmingham Museum of Art, The Civil Rights Institute, and Vulcan Park and Museum are definitely some of the more popular sites to see. Vulcan Park and Museum is always a good option for families. You can walk the trail, go to the top of Vulcan and look out over Birmingham, walk through the short museum, and even purchase souvenirs! I love taking people from out of town here because it is just so … Birmingham!
If you are a fan of history, travel just south of Birmingham to Montevallo and visit The American Village! It is a historical replica village of several important places in American history. It’s super family-friendly and worth the drive! Plus, while you are out that way, stop in Alabaster at K&J’s Elegant Pastries for one of their nationally-renowned Kolossal Shakes!
Red Mountain Park offers many activities, including zip-lining — just be sure to make a reservation first! The Birmingham Zoo and Birmingham Botanical Gardens are great too.
Attend a sporting event! You can take the family out to a Barons baseball game at Region’s Field or a UAB game. UAB football has returned this season and would be a great experience! Be sure to stay for halftime with the incredible Marching Blazers, UAB’s marching band! If it isn’t football season, you might consider other UAB sports, such as basketball, soccer, or volleyball. Even if you root for other in-state colleges, supporting the “home team,” if you will, is super beneficial to Birmingham as a community and a great way to feel connected to your fellow Birmingham residents.
If you’re not into “planned fun,” you could check out Railroad Park and The Rotary Trail. Bring your bike or a ball and Frisbee and have fun! Stick around after dark to take pictures in the popular color tunnels around the downtown area.
Go on your staycation!
After you have an idea of what you would like to do, decide when you want to go … well, stay. Get your family together and be prepared to take lots of pictures! The fun thing about a staycation is that you can come back home to rest in between activities. Just don’t forget that you are on vacation and end up doing chores! The goal is to relax and feel like you have gone away somewhere. Think like a tourist and be adventurous!
- Check Groupon or other coupon sites for deals; there are usually several available.
- Make reservations for places that are popular attractions, especially on the weekends.
Have fun staycationing! Comment with any other suggestions you have!