Land of the Free: 5 Fab Freebies in Birmingham
Free Things to do in Birmingham By Candice Broom
Candice Broom is a mom of two young boys who writes about her peripatetic globe-trotting in MomMostTraveled.com. Here are five of Candice's favorite things to do with her kids in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. None of them come with a pricetag:
Birmingham Botanical Gardens: Birmingham’s largest living museum contains over 10,000 living plants and some fun outdoor sculptures to explore. Of the more than two dozen unique gardens, my personal favorite is the Japanese Gardens, which bring an authentic taste of the Far East with a traditionally crafted tea house.
Public Libraries: Many of the Birmingham area's libraries have fantastic children's areas. Our favorites are in the Vestavia Hills Public Library and the Homewood Public Library. Both have lots of children’s events throughout the week. Vestavia has a great collection of puppets and wooden toys for children to enjoy in the library. Homewood has kid-friendly computers and a small menagerie of animals to watch.
Ruffner Mountain Nature Center: Located just minutes from downtown Birmingham, this unique 1,000-acre park is designated to give city kids the opportunity to get hands-on experience tending to native plants and wildlife. There are plentiful hiking trails for kids to work up a sweat while developing an appreciation for the natural world. Children can view animals in their native wetlands and woodlands habitats, while a bird-viewing nook provides a living classroom for visitors. I went on a school field trip to Ruffner Mountain when I was a child, and I still remember hiking the trails and learning about rehabilitating injured birds.
Birmingham Museum of Art: General admission is free for this museum that houses over 24,000 works of art highlighting different cultures, including Native American, folk art, and one of the largest collections of Asian art in the Southeast.
Gardendale Splash Pad: There are lots of great playgrounds in Birmingham, but the newest and most exciting is this free cooling-off zone at Celebration Park in nearby Gardendale. All summer long, kids of all ages can beat the heat in their swimmies, thanks to a colorful array of water guns, fountains, sprinklers, and tipping buckets. Parents can stay dry or join in the fun as well. (Open Tuesday-Sun, May 1 - Oct 15)