Many people have their reservations about the South. Truth be told, we do have some quirky traditions. Even Birmingham, despite being a modern city, has a few, um, eccentricities. If you were born in Birmingham, or if you’ve spent some time in the city, you’ll understand that there are some things we just do.
1. Visit an old, haunted furnace while simultaneously watching a concert. Sloss Furnace is a national historic landmark that was once used to harvest iron ore from Red Mountain. Today, the grounds are especially eerie (annual haunted house included), but are available for tours and events. The site even hosts Sloss Fest, a two day music festival that attracts visitors from all over the country.
2. Use a statue for directions instead of a map. The likeness of Vulcan, the Roman god of the forge, is the world’s largest cast iron statue and it’s been around since the 1930s. Standing on top of Red Mountain, he can be find seen from just about anywhere in downtown Birmingham. In his raised right hand he holds a spear that locals often reference to help navigate the city — because Google Maps is too difficult to use.
3. Devour gourmet popsicles. Alabama weather is unpredictable, and when it gets hot, the sun shows no mercy. Birmingham’s solution to this is Steel City Pops, a family-owned and operated popsicle shop. With flavors like blood orange, satsuma cream and sweet tea, it’s a refreshing way to beat the Southern heat.
4. Wait until nightfall to take pictures in a light-up rainbow tunnel. A popular art installation in Birmingham, several of the city’s underpasses that connect the north and south sides of downtown were redone to include a rainbow light display. Natives and tourists alike line up once the sun has set to take colorful Instagram-ready selfies.
5. Trust a 24-hour Greek restaurant to not give you food poisoning. If you went to school in Birmingham (especially at UAB), you know, love and worship Al’s Deli and Grill. Although some may be skeptical about eating 24-hour Mediterranean food, Birmingham natives know that there’s no better place to get a potato the size of your face at two a.m.
6. Have an irrational fear of the highway (looking at you, 280). Like any city, Birmingham traffic can be a nightmare. You know that traveling down I-65 anytime between four and six is going to add at least an extra 30 minutes to your commute, but no chunk of asphalt strikes fear into the hearts of humans like Highway 280. Many people in Birmingham even plan their schedule so as to avoid driving on the dreaded interstate. Do yourself a favor: avoid 280.
7. Drive 10 minutes outside of the city to climb a mountain. Birmingham is unique to the south in the sense that it’s a bustling metropolitan area surrounded by mountains. With lots of hiking trails and outdoor activities to choose from, it’s a popular home to many nature lovers.
All images courtesy of Shutterstock.