Insider's Guide to a weekend in Birmingham

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Ready for a fun and adventurous weekend in the Magic City? Here’s RootsRated’s recommendations for packing in as much excitement, good meals, and refreshing beverages as you can between a Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.

Friday Afternoon : Start your weekend off with a visit to the centrally located Red Mountain Park for a sunset hike out to Skyhy Treehouse. From this perch on the ridgeline you’ll be able to watch the sunset over the Birmingham skyline. Be sure to bring a flashlight so that you can make it safely back down the mountain as the light fades.

Red Mountain Park's Skyhy Treehouse
Red Mountain Park's Skyhy Treehouse Max Wolfe

Friday Dinner : Drive the short distance from Red Mountain Park to The Little Donkey , a fresh-mex restaurant in the quaint village of Homewood. The menu is filled with locally sourced and freshly-made selections that are sure to please. Regardless of which main plate you choose, be sure to check out their unique sides, a local favorite is the Elote, a spiced up (both figuratively and literally) corn on the cob. Not ready to call it a night? Good, because next is a trip to downtown to hit up Good People Brewery or Cahaba Brewery , both part of the burgeoning craft beer scene in Birmingham.

Saturday Morning : Get your day started right by shaking off the morning fog with a cup of Joe at The Urban Standard. A menu full of family recipes has a little something for everyone, and the North Carolina sourced coffee will get your heart rate jumpstarted for a day of Dixie adventure.

Urban Standard Cafe
Urban Standard Cafe Eddie Freyer

Drive 20 miles south of Birmingham to Cahaba Cycles (they open at 9:00 AM on Saturday) and pick up a rental bike for a morning of single track shredding on the IMBA Epic trails at Oak Mountain State Park . The 'Epic' status is doled out sparingly by the International Mountain Bike Association to only a handful of trail systems around the globe, and after a morning spent on the trails at Oak Mountain you’ll see why Oak Mountain made the list. Start on the gently 2.3 mile Lake Trail before tackling one of our favorites, Jekyll and Hyde or Rattlesnake Ridge.

Oak Mountain Riding
Oak Mountain Riding Eddie Freyer

Saturday Afternoon : Make your refueling stop for lunch at Baha Burger , which is just up the road from where you’ll return the bikes. This surf themed gourmet burger bar has some of the best burgers and sweet potato fries around. Try the lamb burger with feta and the Taziki sauce from the Greek restaurant that's located next door.

Now you’re ready for a refreshing and more relaxing afternoon excursion. Take the drive out to Turkey Creek Preserve  where you can enjoy a refreshing dip in one of the top rated swimming holes in Alabama. Follow the lead of the locals using the moss covered rock just below the falls as a natural slip n’ slide into the creek. After cooling off, take a short hike along some of the picturesque trails in the park and be sure to make one last dip in the creek before leaving.

Turkey Creek Preserve
Turkey Creek Preserve Eddie Freyer

Saturday Evening : It wouldn’t be right to visit the Magic City without sampling some of the local BBQ and a local favorite is SAW’s . Paula Deen says it's the #1 rated BBQ on her “10 Best BBQ Places in America.” Suppose it’s worth the visit then. Plan ahead; the Oxmoor Road location sells out on busy nights.

Sunday Morning : After all the activity during the last two days you may need a slightly stronger jolt to get your Sunday off to a good start. The aptly named Octane Coffee should suffice. Here, a pour over coffee along with a scone or slice of quiche is our prescription to clear out the cobwebs.

Octane Coffee
Octane Coffee Tom Nguyen

From there, visit the Moss Rock Preserve and take a hike to one of the waterfalls or try your hand (and feet) at bouldering on some of the high quality problems in the “boulder fields”.

Round out your weekend with lunch and rehydration at The Boot located directly across the street from the preserve parking lot. Make sure to get there before 2:00 since they close early on Sundays.

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