Regardless of when you travel to Birmingham, it’s likely to be warm (OK, make that hot) and a bit muggy. It’s a very walkable town, with streets arranged in a grid, allowing you to hit highlights (like the monuments of the Civil Rights District or the historic art deco architecture of the Five Points South neighborhood) by foot. In late August, the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival features independent films from all over the country, screening the flicks in historic theaters like the recently renovated Alabama Theatre, a 2,200-seat venue built by Paramount Pictures in 1927.
Winters are mild but sleepy, with little tourist traffic. Spring temperatures can rise into the 80s, but rarely reach the 90s. Use the milder temperatures as an excuse to hike nearby Oak Mountain State Park’s 50 miles of scenic, hilly trails.
Fall could be the best time to visit, thanks to balmier temperatures and an abundance of small, culture-driven festivals. In September, the Birmingham Art Walk floods downtown with thousands of pieces of original art, while the Taste of Fourth Avenue Jazz Festival celebrates the city’s place in the jazz canon. The Southern Women’s Show has been a tradition in Birmingham for almost 30 years, combining fashion shows, shopping, cooking classes, and celebrity guests with Southern accents in a three-day extravaganza in October. Also in October is Break’n Bread, a food and wine festival that gathers the city’s best chefs for tastings and workshops in gorgeous Railroad Park.
Fall is also college football season, so you’ll likely notice an unbridled enthusiasm for the University of Alabama. To get the full effect, visit the final resting place of the patron father of SEC football, Paul “Bear” Bryant, in Elmwood Cemetery. Crimson stripes lead to his grave.