Things to Do in Birmingham for $5 or Less

by Kevin on August 26, 2008

Wisebread is running through a theme right now asking bloggers to tell of inexpensive ways to enjoy their cities. $5 events is quite the challenge for any city, but here goes.

The first thing that pops into my mind is Pepper Place and the Pepper Place Market. Essentially it is the largest farmer’s market in the region held in an area of downtown that has a lot design or home decoration type stores around it. A great place to walk on a Saturday to see all of the crafts and fresh produce. Dogs are allowed too, so the puppy can get some exercise as well.

The second place I would tell you to visit would be Vulcan Park. The Vulcan statue is the largest cast iron statue in the world. You can take an elevator to an observation deck and see some stunning views of Birmingham for $6. That’s above our budget. You could use the “put a quarter in” observation lenses on the lower level, too. Birmingham has deep steel industry roots and the Vulcan is the Roman god of fire and forge. The Vulcan has stood as a symbol of Birmingham for more than a century.

As you might expect there are several large parks in the area to spend the day. Oak Mountain State Park is by far the largest and admission is only $3 per person for an entire day. Hiking, biking, and a large lake for canoeing or kayaking would mean a day of fun for the family. Don’t forget to bring cookout materials.

You could visit Samford University (one of the nicest campuses in Birmingham) and just sit on the quad or walk around looking at the buildings and new athletic building.

If you want to window shop you will not be disappointed in Birmingham. The Riverchase Galleria is the largest mall in the area and is 100% indoor — a good thing considering the temperatures in Birmingham during the summer. The Summit is an outdoor mall that has all of the stores you would expect in an indoor mall. We’ll go up there sometimes just to walk around and pop into stores, cautious to spend any money.

If you come to Birmingham and only have $5, the number one thing you should do is to go to Jim ‘N Nick’s Barbeque. By far the best barbecue I have ever tasted. You won’t be able to get a pulled pork sandwich for $5, but if you had a partner you could split it. Above all, get a glass of sweet tea and a basket of cheese biscuits. Unbelievable with honey butter. Mmmm… (Granted, Jim ‘N Nick’s is expanding to other cities, but I think they started here in Birmingham.

Have you ever been to Birmingham? Have I missed something?


Betty August 26, 2008 at 10:32 am

Well, we like going to Ruffner Mountain and hiking, the dogs love it there too. Also, Doodles (a little sorbet place on the road behind the Summit) is AWESOME. You can get a medium sorbet with up to 3 flavors for $4 or 5 dollars and it is more than enough for me and Matt to split. A small is $3 and I can never finish that! It was voted one of the “IN” places in Birmingham (Matt tells me that’s a big deal, I have no idea). But everything you listed above and Ruffner and Doodles are some of Matt and mine’s favorite dates. Another thing we like to do is there is an 8 mile trail that starts in Mountain Brook near our apartment that is beautiful to walk on. It crosses 2 streams, and as our other activities, is dog friendly! Whew, sorry this is so long!

Laura August 26, 2008 at 12:06 pm

I’m going to Birmingham for the first time for a family reunion this weekend – I’ll have to check some of these things out!

Kevin August 27, 2008 at 7:09 pm

@Laura: Hope it helps! If you want to spend more than $5 I might have some additional tips for you. Betty gave a few other good tips above that I was unaware of that you might want to check out.

Kam March 20, 2012 at 1:56 am

Isn’t the Botanical Gardens either free or relatively inexpensive? I haven’t been in years but remember my last visit was quite enjoyable. I don’t know the admission price to the Birmingham Zoo, but I imagine that would be on the list of things to do in the area. I’m looking for AEA week activities for my eleven year old son, Kade & I that won’t cost an arm & a leg; I’d love suggestions!

bargainmom10 March 10, 2015 at 2:34 pm

What about Oak Mountain State Park? It is a beautiful place to be and the ticket prices vary with special events in the area. At times, tickets can be obtained free of charge. There is also the new Outlet Shopping Center in Trussville. They plan many nice activities for children and adults, during the year. Most of them are free of charge, with some others costing very little. Birmingham truly has many fun things for couples, children, and seniors alike, without costs being so much that one cannot afford it. I hope that all have fun with your adventures in Birmingham, Alabama, a nice place to visit or live.

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