Chefs, musicians, and creative locals are driving the Alabama city’s recent rebirth. Here are the places where you'll find them.
OvenBird: The latest project from chef Chris Hastings and his wife, Ida Hastings—of Hot and Hot Fish Club fame—draws inspiration from Southern barbecue and the open-fire traditions of South America, with everything cooked over wood (hickory, pecan, and fruit, for example). Belly up to the Calacatta-marble bar with a view of the hearth, or sit under the crepe myrtles in the courtyard to share plates like octopus and squid with chorizo, fennel, and orange. small plates $5–$15.
Carrigan’s Public House: Set on a cobblestoned street in an emerging area downtown, this former warehouse is leading a cocktail renaissance. You’ll find perfectly executed classics (negronis, Manhattans), plus inventive drinks with a sense of place, like the Black Sails: locally made Trim Tab brown ale and peppery Buffalo Rock ginger ale, as well as gin, grapefruit, and celery.
Open Shop: Parts clothing store, art gallery, and music venue, this new addition to historic Woodlawn is a favorite of local creatives. Founded by singer/ producer Armand Margjeka, a force in the local community, it hosts listening-room-style concerts and pop-up dinners. On Thursdays, shoppers can stay late and sip cocktails while browsing Giorgio Bratto leather jackets and Madeworn rock ’n’ roll tees.
Saturn: This mod, space-themed performance spot—an outpost of New York’s Bowery Presents—brings national indie bands like Futurebirds, Beach House, and the Polyphonic Spree to the Avondale neighborhood. The adjacent bar, Satellite, serves tongue-in-cheek drinks like the Rocket Booster, a bittersweet frozen slushie of honeysuckle vodka, Campari, and Tang.
Red Mountain Park: For a city with such deep industrial roots, there are a surprising number of green spaces here—including this 1,500-acre oasis south of downtown. On the Red Ore Zip Tour, you’ll soar 40 feet above the mountains on ziplines. Look down to see mining sites where the iron ore used to build Birmingham was excavated.
Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook: This much-anticipated, 100-room boutique hotel is like a country retreat smack in the middle of a big city. Set in the tony, tree-lined Mountain Brook area, the English Tudor–style property has an on-site sculpture garden and hosts wine-blending classes. doubles from $199.