Birmingham NomaD NDAL ND Young Alumni Present: ND AL Young Alumni Present: Birmingham NomaD Introduction Birmingham is the best kept secret in the South. Located in the Jones Valley at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Birmingham has all the ingredients needed for active, productive and vibrant living. The weather is pleasant and makes outdoor activities from golf to tennis possible year-round and one can find a group of fellow enthusiasts for just about any hobby or recreational activity imaginable. If you survived several South Bend winters, you are in for a treat –you should be able to thrive during an Alabama winter with a Polartec fleece, hat and mittens…leave the thermal underwear in Indiana. Locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables and meats are available for reasonable prices and are increasingly popular in Birmingham, a city which takes eating seriously and is home to world class chefs as well as people from all over the world who brought along their native cuisine and culture. Established in 1871 as a steel-producing “Pittsburgh of the South” (we are one of the few places in the world where the raw ingredients needed for steel production—iron ore, coal, limestone—are all in the same place), Birmingham’s economic engine is now driven by banking, law and medicine and a healthy entrepreneurial spirit. These industries, along with local research universities, have brought some of the best minds to Birmingham and with them opportunity. What sets Birmingham ahead of cities with similar characteristics is the Magic City’s small-town warmth, friendliness, and strong social networks. If you strike up a conversation at work or casually with someone in Birmingham, the odds are very likely that you will both know a bunch of local people in common…and may run into each other in the very near future. Relationships matter and folks will take time to chat with you and also introduce you to their friends and colleagues. Continued on following page . . . The Basics p. 2-4 Where to live, home goods, medical, grocery, bank, church, etc Entertainment p. 5-7 P5: Movies, History, Outdoor P6: Shopping, Golf, Bars P7: Clubs, Music, Annual Dining p. 8-9 Finest restaurants this side of the Mason-Dixon Day trips p. 9-10 Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Talladega, Atlanta, Tupelo, and more Overnight trips p. 11 Nashville, Memphis, the Gulf Coast, and New Orleans Birmingham NomaD p.2 Introduction, Cont The Notre Dame Club of Alabama is a portal through which you can connect immediately with local folks who hail from all walks of life but who share with you a strong and enduring bond—a love for Our Lady’s University. We exist as a Club to SERVE you and to be your immediate family here in Birmingham and a link to the global Notre Dame family. Our local club is larger than one might expect and very active. We serve Central Alabama, which includes the major cities of Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Anniston. Young Alumni are active in leading the Club and will continue to play a significant role in its growth and evolution. We value and continue the traditions of the larger Notre Dame family—camaraderie, community service, continuing education, Catholicism in action, and supporting current students – while encouraging the local growth of important new initiatives (ND Young Alumni, ND Women’s Connect, ND Senior Alumni) that aim to meet the changing needs and demographics of our family. This guide represents the contributions and best wishes of all current Birmingham Young Alumni. Enclosed are information, lessons, and local jewels it has taken us years of living in Alabama to discover. We share it with you along with an open invitation to call on us at ANY time while you relocate to and get started in Birmingham. Let us know when you arrive in town. We look forward to meeting you!! It’s nice to have you…IN BIRMINGHAM GO IRISH!!! Notre Dame Club of Alabama How to Get Connected? Please contact us. Bryan Wetta, President ‘01 ([email protected]) Shatomi Kerbawy ‘03, Young Alumni Rep (go[email protected]) Constance O’Brien ’85, ND Women’s Connect ([email protected]) Larger map of places to live in Birmingham here The Basics So you’ve now landed in the Magic City but there is lots to do before you can call it home – from finding housing and utilities to locating banks and churches. We’ve all been there ourselves and have learned from our cumulative experiences and hope you can benefit as well. Finding a Place to Live: The Birmingham Metropolitan area lies roughly in the center of the state in a valley formed by the Appalachian foothills. Birmingham and its many suburban communities offer a variety of neighborhoods to choose from, each with its own unique characteristics. Several major highways run through the outskirts of the city and converge in downtown Birmingham, including I-65, I-20, I-59, US-280, and US-31. While many of these offer a convenient commuting option, be aware of the traffic patterns during rush hour before you choose your new location; US-280 and US-31 are particularly notorious for heavy commuter traffic. On the next page, we describe several neighborhoods that are popular among ND young alumni. There are options for every taste. p.3 Birmingham NomaD The Basics, Cont Places to Live, Continued Highland Park Southside Downtown Loft District The historic Highland Park neighborhood is popular with young professionals and young families. A mere mile from the UAB campus and Five Points district, this area is centralized around Highland Avenue South and three public parks. You will be struck by the lush greenery of this semi-suburb within the city limits and the many beautiful historic homes and apartment buildings. Many residents find this area to be good for owning a dog and running or walking through the parks. This neighborhood also offers easy access to many other areas of Birmingham and is generally thought to be very safe. Southside is the area closest to UAB occupying the streets south of 10th Avenue S. and between US-31 and Greensprings Hwy. It is convenient to UAB’s campus and Five Points and has a diverse group of residents. This neighborhood is well known for its affordable condominiums and townhomes as well as its many rented historic homes. This area is especially popular among undergraduate and graduate students. This area occupies the north side of town running from 20th St N to 24th St N and from Morris Avenue to 3rd Avenue North. Most of the buildings in this area were warehouses or large office buildings that have been converted to loft-style apartments or condos. This area has a more urban feel to it and has several businesses, bars, coffee shops, and cultural activities that are within walking distance. While it is often bustling with activity, some areas can become isolated after major businesses are closed. Pictured: City Federal Bldg. Pictured below: Rhodes Park, one of Highland Parks many open parks Avondale/Forest Park This is a beautiful neighborhood within city limits located just 3-4 miles from downtown Birmingham. This area is popular with young families and professionals and has many historical homes, mostly for sale. Avondale Park offers a lovely place to walk your dog and is host to many annual events. This area is also close to V. Richard’s market and several popular restaurants and just a few minutes from the large shopping plazas of Irondale. Homewood Vestavia Hills Homewood is a suburb of Birmingham, located just south of Red Mountain and is a densely populated area with its own downtown. This neighborhood provides the perfect balance of suburban and city living. Birmingham is just a short drive away and you are still close to many of Homewood’s finest restaurants, bars, parks, and shops. Furthermore, the city is fairly diverse and has a fantastic school system. Vestavia Hills is another suburb of Birmingham, located just south of Homewood. This area is close to downtown Birmingham as well as to other suburbs such as Homewood, Hoover, Mountain Brook, and Cahaba Heights. Vestavia Hills is most popular among couples and families and has a renowned public school system. Pictured above is part of downtown Homewood, home to many local restaurants and businesses p.4 Birmingham NomaD The Basics, Cont Setting up your new home Like most cities, Birmingham has a variety of stores that will be essential to you as you make your new place your home. Popular furniture stores include Mazer’s, Haverty’s, Thomasville, and La-Z-Boy . You’ll find great bargains at Ashley Furniture Homestore, Sticks N Stuff, and Rooms to Go. If appliances are what you need, check out hhgregg in addition to the wellknown national chains. You will find a variety of other helpful stores in Hoover, located in and near the Riverchase Galleria Mall. Medical Care Should you find yourself in need of urgent medical care, there are several emergency rooms located in Birmingham, including UAB Hospital, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, and the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital. If you seek urgent medical care for a non-life-threatening illness, American Family Care has several medical clinics in the area. See a map of locations for urgent medical care. If you wish to find a primary care physician, the Kirklin Clinic may be a good place to start (pictured right). Grocery Stores Birmingham offers many choices when it comes to picking up the essentials. In addition to national chains such as Wal-Mart and Target, other major supermarkets popular in the southeast include Publix, Piggly Wiggly, Winn-Dixie, and The Fresh Market. If you are looking for specialty or gourmet food you will find what you need at Whole Foods or V Richards Market (pictured). Utilities When setting up your utilities in Birmingham, you will not have too many choices. Alabama Power will be your electric company and if you have gas, Alagasco will be your new gas company. If you would like to get cable or internet, you will most likely be using Comcast or Brighthouse Networks and this will vary based on the building you live in. The Dish Network is always an alternative to basic cable and AT&T provides high speed internet as well. Banks Keep the following banks in mind: Wells-Fargo, Regions Bank, BBVA Compass Bank, Bank of America, RBC Bank, First Commercial Bank, Citizen’s Trust Bank, Bancorp South, Superior Bank, America’s First Federal Credit Union, and Legacy Credit Union. Transportation Essentials If you need to transfer your out-ofstate Driver’s License to an Alabama License, you should head to the Alabama Department of Public Safety office, located at 908 Bankhead Highway West, with your current license, social security card, and birth certificate or passport. Consult the Department of Public Safety Driver License Division for more information. Vehicles must be registered in Alabama within 30 days of your relocation here through the Jefferson County Revenue Department. First time vehicle registration can be completed at the Jefferson County Courthouse, located at 716 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N and annual renewals may be completed online or at the Courthouse. Churches Birmingham and the surrounding communities have a large number of churches. For locations of Catholic Churches, check out the Birmingham Diocese website. The Cathedral of St. Paul, located downtown, is beautiful example of Birmingham’s American Neogothic Architecture. p.5 Birmingham NomaD Entertainment Movie Theaters: Every town has movie theaters, and Birmingham is no exception. But to help you choose which theater to go to when looking up movie times, here are some suggestions from your fellow alumni: Rave Motion Pictures. One of the newer theaters in town, nice screens and clean Carmike Summit 16. Another big new theater with special deals on snacks every Tuesday Carmike 10 (Dollar Theater). Want to see a movie without all the cost? The dollar theater shows movies that have left the big theaters, but for only $1 a person. McWane Center IMAX. While the number of showings are limited, seeing a movie at the IMAX is quite the experience. At first glance, many might think Birmingham is limited when it comes to ways to enjoy your free time. In fact, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. No matter what you are interested in, there is a great chance you can find it within a short drive from downtown Birmingham. Even if you are looking to start a new hobby, there are tons of clubs around town that are always welcoming newcomers. So check below for lists of the top things to do in Birmingham. Culture and History: The city of Birmingham offers one of the richest cultures and most storied histories of any southeastern city. From its beginnings as a southern steel town and “battleground” of the civil rights movement, the city has played a major role in the history of our country. While you are here in Birmingham, be sure to check out these places to learn about not only our city, but also the United States as a whole. Civil Rights Institute. Opened in 1992, the Civil Rights institute showcases the major role Birmingham played in the civil rights movement, and the dedication to progress and unity for all. Vulcan Park. The big statue overlooking downtown Birmingham is one of the most well known landmarks in town. Not only offering a great view of the city (ride an elevator to the top observation deck), the park also tells all about how the statue came to Birmingham (pictured) Sloss Furnaces. Birmingham owes its beginnings to the large steel industry that started here after the Civil War. This national historic landmark is the only blast furnace in the U.S. preserved for public use. Free self-guided tours, events and concerts are all things to check out here. Outdoor Activities: Among the rolling hills and dense trees, Birmingham offers a wide range of outdoor activities for everyone. It is difficult to pick the best outdoor activities, so be adventurous, and you will be surprised how much the Birmingham area has to offer. Oak Mountain State Park. Oak Mountain State Park truly offers days and days worth of activity on its own, from kayaking, hiking, mountain bike riding, trail running, golfing, fishing and more Railroad Park. A brand new park right in downtown Birmingham, this beautiful park was voted best new park in the U.S. for 2011. Ruffner Mountain. Although smaller the Oak Mountain, Ruffner Mountain offers a great free option for hiking and walking along miles of trails through beautiful wilderness. Once the site of a mining operation, it also has a large quarry that is open to explore. Other Outdoor activities: Birmingham Baron Baseball Games, City leagues for softball, kickball and ultimate Frisbee, Running groups like the Birmingham Track Club, Birmingham Zoo, Birmingham Botanical Gardens p.6 Birmingham NomaD Entertainment, Cont. Shopping: Just like any big city, Birmingham has plenty of shopping centers to find whatever you are looking for. However, knowing the right places to go can also introduce you to some local boutiques that provide unique items not found elsewhere. The Summit. The Summit on HWY 280 offers a wide range of well-known stores and restaurants as well as some more local establishments. Downtown Homewood. The quaint downtown of Homewood/SOHO Square offers many unique boutiques not found elsewhere. Riverchase Galleria. A very large indoor Mall located in Hoover (pictured) Pepper Place. What was originally a Dr. Pepper Syrup Plant, this shopping center is now home to numerous design, antique, and interior furnishings shops. During summer, it hosts the Pepper Place Market every Saturday morning with fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers, as well as other items from local merchants (pictured). Golf Courses: The lush greenery in Birmingham and the surrounding area provides homes for numerous golf courses that are often included in professional tours. Below are some of the most popular (and affordable) public courses. Highlands Golf Course. Just south of downtown Birmingham, this public course offers affordable rates and a course that is fun for all skill levels. Robert Trent Jones Trail. This Alabama-wide golf trail offers multiple wellmaintained golf courses in and around Birmingham. Bars: The Birmingham night life is far from ordinary, offering a wide range of bars from upscale to ‘Backer-esque’. Whether you are in the mood to watch sports while drinking a couple cheap beers, expand your beer knowledge at a brew house, or sip Martinis, Birmingham has a bar for you. The J. Clyde. Often considered the oldest bar in Birmingham, the rustic looking J. Clyde offers beers from breweries all over the country. Just don’t try ordering a Miller Light. No mass-produced beers found here (pictured) Rogue Tavern. A very popular spot for ND alumni gatherings, this smoke-free bar has good drinks, food and live music. The Garage Café. A very unique outdoor courtyard makes this a great place to sit outside and catch up with friends. Cash only. Marty’s. What looks like an old shack on the outside is actually home to a very distinct bar, with food, drinks and live music all night long (literally till 6am). Cash only. Dram Whiskey Bar. Just like the name implies, a very extensive collection of whiskeys served in cocktails or on the rocks. Dave’s Pub. Whether you are looking to enjoy a few drinks on an outdoor patio, watch sports, play darts or pick songs on a classic jukebox, Dave’s is a great place to hang out with friends. p.7 Birmingham NomaD Entertainment, Cont. Nightclubs: If you are the type that enjoys dancing the night away, then Birmingham has plenty of places for you. Be careful though, many of these places stay open almost all night! Live Music: Live Music: Although not the largest town in the southeast, you will be surprised by the number of bands that stop through Birmingham as they tour the country. Knowing the places to see live music will help make sure you don’t miss a show. Nana Funks. One of the most popular late night spots in Birmingham, the dance floor at Nana Funks stays crowded until the wee hours of the night. (pictured) Steel. With its modern décor, Steel provides a more upscale atmosphere. Innisfree Pub. More than just an Irish bar, this pub offers regular live music with a crowded dance floor. Bottletree Café. The true indie band scene in Birmingham, this is the place to go to see up and coming acts. (pictured) Workplay. With two different stages, this venue hosts a variety of shows, from popular headliners to mixed band ensembles. Gip’s Place. A one of a kind blues house, Gip’s Place is truly hard to describe. Difficult to find, not much to look at, but Gip’s Place is definitely worth the trip. The rules are simple “no drugs, no profanity and no baggy pants”. If you are a fan of the Blues, or just live music in general, this is a must see. BYOB and be willing to share. Alabama Symphony Orchestra. The Alabama Symphony Orchestra is a gem in Birmingham, playing masterful classical music and pops concerts throughout the year at the Alys Stevens Center and BJCC Other Notable Venues: Zydeco, Alys Stephens Center (pictured), Verizon Wireless Music Center, Sloss Furnaces Stage Annual Events: Even though there is plenty to do on a regular basis in Bham, these annual events make it even harder to find free time! Crawfish Boil. The crawfish boil, occurring every spring, brings some of the biggest names in the music industry to Birmingham, as well as cooking up more Cajun crawfish than you can imagine. Sidewalk Film Festival. If you are a fan of cinema, then the sidewalk film festival is a must. Every September, directors from all over the world submit their independent films to Sidewalk. Hosted in numerous venues within walking distance of each other, it has been called the “best kept secret” by Moviemaker Magazine. Brewfest. Just like the name implies, the Magic City Brewfest is a celebration of beer. With over 200 beers available to sample from breweries across the United States, this event is a must for all beer lovers. Doo Dah Day. Want to hang out with thousands of canines and fellow dog-lovers and listen to live music? Then don’t miss Doo Dah Day or the parade. With 100% public participation, you never know what kind of float or costume you will see. Other great Annual Events: Mercedes Marathon, Art on the Rocks, Gumbo Gala, Chili Cook Off p.8 Birmingham NomaD Dining BBQ: Jim and Nicks*- the best cheese biscuits you’ve ever had Full Moon Saws (pictured) Dreamland Golden Rule One of the finer aspects of Birmingham life is the assortment of fine local restaurants. Birmingham is filled with great eating opportunities. Whether you are looking for fajitas, falafel, or fried chicken, you’ll have your pick of food spots. Here are our alumni’s favorite places to eat. We’ve put asterisks beside restaurants with the highest votes. And for those of you who might be looking for a good place to take a date, we marked the best options with a heart. Bon appétit! Chines/Sushi/Thai Mediterranean/Greek Sandwiches: Momma Goldbergs* – custom-made sandwiches plus must-have nachos Max’s Delicatessen Lucy’s Coffee & Tea Chez LuLu (pic below) Kool Korner Sandwiches Burgers: Makarios* Nabeels Pita Stop Dodiyos (pictured below) Taziki’s Flip Burger Boutique* – fork over the extra cash for a liquid nitrogen milkshake Sam’s Super Samwiches Al’s Deli & Grill Tip Top Grill Marty’s Bar Mexican/Latin Jinsei * best sushi in town. The Kadoma Tuna appetizer is a must Mr. Chen’s Surin of Thailand Thai House New China Soul Food LaPaz* - great patio Iguana Grill Camp Taco Sol y Luna Taco Truck (pic below) Italian/Pizza Bettola* - REAL Italian pizza in a cozy and warm atmosphere Mellow Mushroom Bottega Leonardo’s New York Pizza Bright Star* Green Acres Irondale Whistle Stop Café Bogue’s Mrs. B’s p.9 Birmingham NomaD Dining, Cont Breakfast Fine Dining Bottega* - Delicious food in a great atmosphere. Frank Stitt at his finest (pic) GianMarco’s Ocean Hot and Hot Fish Club Chez Fon Fon Original House of Pancakes*(pic below) Another Broken Egg Chez Lu Lu/Continental Bakery Over Easy Crestline Bagel Coffee Ice Cream/Desserts Other Savage’s Bakery* Edgewood Creamery Dreamcakes Yogurt Mountain Klingler’s German Bakery Tuscaloosa, AL Located 60 miles due West of Birmingham, Tuscaloosa (or “TTown”) is the home of the University of Alabama and the Crimson Tide—2009 National BCS Champions. A mecca for SEC football and athletics, Tuscaloosa comes alive during the football season and especially when it hosts the Iron Bowl. If you’re on campus you can visit the Paul “Bear” Bryant Museum for a dose of college football history and the exact spot where Governor George Wallace made his “Stand at the Schoolhouse Door” in 1963. Enjoy breakfast at the Waysider Restaurant or authentic BBQ at the original Dreamland. If you like cars, stop by the Mercedes Benz plant in Vance. O’Henry’s Coffees* Home of an unreal sweet iced coffee (pic above) Urban Standard Red Cat Coffee House Lucy’s Primavera Day Trips Want to get out of town to relax and soak up a bit of Alabama culture, cuisine, history, and natural beauty along the way….but still be able to return home the same evening without spending a ton of time behind the wheel? Thanks to Birmingham’s central location at the crossroads of several major highways, there is a lot to within a couple hours drive. So pack a backpack, a cooler, grab the car keys and enjoy an Alabama day trip. Silver Coin Indian Grill Golden Temple Health Food Store and Restaurant Yehman Sitar Auburn, AL Home of Auburn University and located 150 miles Southeast of Birmingham, Auburn is a postercard worthy all-American college town with “Mayberry-esque” friendliness and charm that comes alive on Saturdays during football season. If you can score tickets to watch the 2010 National Champions play in Jordan-Hare Stadium, be sure to participate in some Auburn game-day rituals: the crab cakes at the Amsterdam Cafe, watching the team enter the stadium via the Tiger Walk and, if they win…toilet-papering the historic oak trees at Toomer’s Corner. For those of you who may imagine that nobody could rival the ND fervor of our fans, SEC fans may be the closest. p.10 Birmingham NomaD More Day Trips Huntsville, AL Home of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the US Space and Rocket Center, and birthplace of the Saturn V rockets (which took Americans to the moon), Huntsville is a fast-growing family-friendly town and a hotbed for high-tech research. It is a 1.5 hour drive directly north of Bham off I-65. Check out the Panoply Arts Festival every spring (one of the largest and best of its kind in the SE) or get back to nature by exploring the Cathedral Caverns. The ATL is an easy 2.5 hour drive East of Birmingham and is a city rich in culture, history, and bustling nightlife. Leave work on time to catch an evening Braves MLB (below), a Hawks NBA or a Thrashers NHL game. Visit the High Museum of Art, the world famous Georgia Aquarium (largest in the world), or sample every Coca-Cola product at The World of Coke museum. If you are an adrenaline junkie, feel the rush at Six Flags Over Georgia theme-park, located right outside downtown Atlanta or spend a day at Stone Mountain. For dinner and dessert, choose from an extensive menu of ethnic and all-American restaurants, live music venues, and bazaars (closed and open-air markets). You might even run into P Diddy and his entourage out for the evening in Buckhead, Virginia Highlands or Little Five Points. Hiking Talladega National Forest—a hikers paradise located 60 miles east of Birmingham. More Outdoor Activities: Tupelo, MS Atlanta, GA Visit the birthplace of Elvis Aaron Presley . Walk into the very room where The King of Rock n’ Roll was born!! Mt. Cheaha -- Hike or bike the trails, enjoy national forest waterfalls and a “mountain” of outdoor activities at this national park, home of the highest geographic point in AL. A 1.5 hour drive east of Birmingham. Test your mental and physical stamina by signing up for the annual Pinhoti 100/Mt. Cheaha 50K Ultramarathon. Lake Martin -- popular site for swimming, boating, water skiing, fishing, golf and camping with lots of small islands to explore; 80 miles southeast of Birmingham Moss Rock Preserve -- great place for mountain climbers or boulderers of all skill levels. Located in Hoover, AL DeSoto Caverns -- located in Childersburg an hour’s drive Southeast of Birmingham, the Caverns are an amazing and extensive underground network of geologic formations featuring the “main room”, which has 12 story ceilings and is a big as a football field. For some above-ground adventure, try the plentiful hiking and camping opportunities in the Appalachian Mountains. Smith Lake/Sipsey Falls – savor the natural beauty of frequent rock bluffs that rise up from the water’s edge and the serene beauty of the densely wooded hill country as you float along in your canoe or kayak. Canoe or Kayak the Cahaba River -- the longest free-flowing river in Alabama that passes through Birmingham (above) p.11 Birmingham NomaD Overnight Trips Nashville, TN The “Music City” is located 200 miles due north of the Magic City. Home to a vibrant music and arts scene featuring multiple venues for live music (Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame, music clubs, honky tonk bars) and the annual CMA Music Festival, “Nashvegas” is also packed with art (Frist Museum), and Civil War history (Battle of Nashville, antebellum plantation home). The Bonnaroo Music Festival (pictured below) occurs on a 700 acre farm in Manchester, TN just north of Nashville and features a diverse array of live music performances on multiple stages. Franklin, TN is a historic town just south of Nashville where you can enjoy an authentic Main Street USA experience. Also, consider visiting the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, which is along the way to Nashville from Bham. Birmingham is within striking distance of bigcity excitement, rural quaintness, natural beauty (beaches, mountains, forests) and surrounded by the rich history of the Deep South. Consider taking a long weekend to explore what’s around. Here are a few favorites. The Gulf Coast Enjoy a beach-side weekend vacation with surf, sun and sand on the Gulf-Coast in AL (Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Dauphin Island), MS (Biloxi, Gulfport), LA or FL (Destin, Pensacola)—your choice. Pick a different beach to visit each weekend!! Visit historic Mobile, AL (260 miles from Bham) and mome of historic Fort Morgan and the original Mardi Gras celebration. Feast on a shrimp boil at Mudbugs Restaurant prepared with Gulf shrimp and crawfish caught fresh that same day. For some night-time fun and live-music, visit the Flora-Bama – the legendary beachside bar and music venue where Jimmy Buffett launched his career. Memphis, TN The 240 mile drive to Memphis up HWY 78 opens up a menu of abundant possibilities for an exciting weekend. Participate in one of city’s signature annual events/festivals (Memphis in May, Beale Street Music Festival, World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest) or dive into Memphis’ rich live music scene (blues, gospel, rock n roll, crunk, sharcropper country music) or historical sites (National Civil Rights Museum, Graceland, Stax Records Museum, Mud Island River Park, Chucalissa Indian Village mound site). New Orleans, LA NOLA beckons as a fun getaway at anytime of the year—not just Mardi Gras. It’s a 5 hour drive from Birmingham or you can take the Amtrak train. In addition to the sights and sounds of Bourbon Street, there is always something going on and tasty to eat in New Orleans.
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