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We visited Birmingham, Alabama in October 2014 and found the city to be a pleasant surprise. Whenever we mentioned that we were going to Birmingham, most people responded with a perplexed look and asked, “Why? What’s there?” However, we found Birmingham to be a city in a state of revival, embracing their heritage as a steel-production center, making use of older buildings by bringing in new activities, restaurants, and other things to do. We enjoyed our first trip so much that we decided to return and do a few things we didn’t get to do the first time we went to Birmingham.

Upon arriving in Birmingham, we made a stop at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, located right next to the Birmingham Zoo. The weather was a bit rainy, but we enjoyed walking through the gardens. The gardens are a popular Pokemon Go destination, so we saw plenty of people looking to catch some Pokemon. Other than that, we mostly had the gardens to ourselves. As soon as we entered, we felt like we were in nature and were able to stroll about leisurely in solitude. We strolled through quite a few of the gardens and enjoyed each one, especially the Japanese Gardens, the Formal Garden, and the Cactus greenhouse. The gardens were peaceful and beautiful and were the perfect way to spend an afternoon going for a walk, finding a pleasant place to read, or going for a run.

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After our walk around the botanical gardens, we had dinner at Slice Stone Pizza & Brewhouse. As the name would indicate, the restaurant’s specialty is pizza. Although the menu has salads and small plates, the bulk of it is various stone pizzas, from more traditional pies like pepperoni to specialty pizzas like the Lakeview, which includes beef braised short rib, onion, and tomato. We had the pepperoni pizza, and the only thing we wanted after we finished was a couple extra slices. Slice also has a large tap list and offers tasting flights, so we were able to sample several local beers. This only added to our fun dinner, as we had some tasty brews from Alabama breweries such as Good People Brewing and Blue Pants Brewery.

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After dinner, we ventured to a brewery we hadn’t been to yet, TrimTab Brewing. The brewery is located in a large brick building just east of downtown near Avondale. The brewery features a lot of local art around the tasting room, and there was a live band playing while we were there. The tasting room was very clean, and there was a nice outdoor seating area where we enjoyed our tasting flight. Our favorite was their Raspberry Berliner Weisse, which was refreshing but tart.

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The next morning we decided to get coffee, so we tried out a local shop called Satellite Coffee. Satellite is a sister store of the local Saturn Coffee. As the name suggests, the coffee shop is covered with space paraphernalia. We decided to split a latte, which was well-made, and we enjoyed. For those interested, Satellite also had an all you can eat cereal bar.

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After getting coffee, we went to Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens, an old plantation house. Visitors are able to tour the house, visiting each of the rooms and learning about its history. The house features furniture from some of the different owners, so the tour features furniture as well as the house’s architecture. We were the only ones at the house, so we were able to wander around as we pleased. We enjoyed our time at the home, and we recommend visiting, especially if you haven’t seen many antebellum homes.

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Our trip to Birmingham only reaffirmed our belief that the city is a hidden gem. There are plenty of things to explore, good beer to try, and food to eat. The city seems to embrace its heritage both as tourist destinations and as repurposed material for new businesses. Although it might not be a popular destination, we highly recommend taking a weekend, or more, to explore Birmingham.

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