The 5 Best Neighborhoods in Birmingham, AL

Ask any local and they’ll confirm that every neighborhood touts its own personality in Birmingham.

From coffee shops where baristas know your order by heart to ball fields that bring in people of all backgrounds, Birmingham is a city brimming with character and charm. Stroll through any of these neighborhoods and get a feel for the local flavor.

1. Highland Park Local Historic District

Located just a few miles southeast of the city center, Highland Park Local Historic District is a stunning area that boasts an eclectic mix of residential living. From stately homes that have watched the rise and fall of Birmingham’s industrial past to Tudor-style condominiums lined with lush greenery, Highland Park is a little melting historical beauty. Walk its streets in the warmer months and you’ll be greeted by people young and old walking their pups or out for an evening jog, along with a stunning parade of azaleas, magnolias and knockout roses that’ll delight all the senses.

Highlights:

  • Rojo: This is the neighborhood Mexican joint, and its delicious. Known for its quirky atmosphere with local art lining the walls and an outdoor patio draped in stringed lights, Rojo is the perfect spot for grabbing a margarita and some Latin-inspired cuisine.
  • OHenry’s Coffee: Just a stone’s throw away from Rojo is OHenry’s, a coffee shop founded in Birmingham. Known for its distinctive brew and tasty selection of pastries and breakfast sandwiches, this coffee house is a staple among locals.

2. Forest Park

Aptly named, Forest Park is a verdant little haven shaded by hundred-old trees. This historic neighborhood, located on the northern slope of Birmingham’s Red Mountain, offers respite from downtown’s hustle and bustle. Clairmont Avenue, the neighborhood’s “main drag,” boasts an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants. Admire the area’s architecture — most of which was built in the early 1900’s — and get a bite of local fare when visiting this handsome neighborhood.

Highlights:

  • Shoppe: Longtime plant purveyors Mark Thompson and Jay Draper have created a lush jungle of greenery at Shoppe, a garden shop and green house located off Clairmont Avenue. Housed inside a 1920s bungalow, Shoppe fits in seamlessly with Forest Park’s organic vibe. Stop in and peruse the store’s impressive collection of plants, coffee table books, pottery, candles and other home and garden items.
  • The Rougaroux: Craving Cajun food? Head to The Rougaroux. Named after a mythical creole shape-shifting werewolf, The Rougaroux gives a cultural nod to all things New Orleans. Known for their po’boys, boudin and daiquiris that rotate flavor by the season, this local haunt proves that you don’t have to travel five hours down to Louisiana to get a taste of the Crescent City.
  • Naked Art Gallery: Featuring more than 70 “not yet famous” local artists, Naked Art Gallery touts a colorful mix of local art that spans from paintings to clothing to metal installations. Most of the work within the gallery is made from recycled materials. The shop’s peculiar name comes from the notion that all art should be viewed and received with a “naked eye” — no pretensions necessary.

3. Avondale

This neighborhood is experiencing a long overdue renaissance. Back in the 1920’s, Avondale was home to the city’s downtown zoo where the iconic Miss Fancy, an Indian elephant weighing in at several tons, once impressed onlookers with her tricks and penchant for guzzling beer.  Today, Avondale is known for its impressive selection of music, food and drink. Avondale Brewing Company anchors this neighborhood. Across the street, you’ll find Saturn Birmingham, which attracts local acts and traveling musicians alike.

Highlights:

  • Big Spoon Creamery: Pioneered by a couple who met while working at one of Birmingham’s most revered restaurants (Frank Stitt’s Bottega), Big Spoon Creamery serves up seriously good ice cream with big flavor. Specializing in small batch ice cream that highlights local and in-season ingredients, Big Spoon hits a sweet spot of delicious ice cream served in a community-centric atmosphere.
  • MAKEbhm: Keeping in theme with Avondale’s artsy vibe, MAKEbhm is a hub for local artisans who champion originality. It’s not uncommon to see someone sanding down a scratch-made wood table or a calligrapher hand-lettering a poster here. With several studios, MAKEbhm is solidifying Birmingham as a city that encourages artistic expression.
  • Saw’s Soul Kitchen: Some of the best ‘cue is served up at Saw’s in Avondale. Mike Wilson establishes Saw’s (a colorful acronym for “Sorry Ass Wilson”) in 2009 in the nearby Edgewood Neighborhood. Today, Saw’s Soul Kitchen, which neighbors Avondale Brewery, has become one of Birmingham’s many beloved barbecue pits. Order one of the stuffed taters and leave with a satiated belly.
  • The Marble Ring: First, you’ll need to go inside Hot Diggity Dog. Then, find the phone booth. Pick up the phone and you’ll hear a mysterious voice on the other end. If you know the password, then you’ll get buzzed in. The Marble Ring is Avondale’s speakeasy that only the savviest locals know about. The place gives a reverent nod to the roaring 20’s through its period-specific décor and staff members who are dressed to the nines.

4. Crestline Village

The Crestline neighborhood is home to one of three quant villages tucked throughout Birmingham’s Mountain Brook. The neighborhood’s main thruway is Church Street, located between Montevallo Road and Euclid Avenue. The area feels like quintessential small-town America, where groceries are in walking distance and the local library is just around the corner. This area is popular among families and those looking for a tight-knit community feel.

Highlights:

  • Church Street Coffee and Books: This is the ideal spot for bookworms looking for a jolt of caffeine. With a curated selection of titles, Church Street is the go-to spot for high-brow readers looking for a quiet place to steal away to. This spot is also known for their “breakup” cookies — arguably the best cookie in Birmingham. Ask the barista how the cookie earned its quirky name. It’s a good story.
  • Crestline Bagel Company: Crestline residents are hardly ever sad about Chick-fil-a’s Sunday closure, because they have Crestline Bagel Company. Lines of patrons snake throughout the bagel house because, well, the bagels are just that good. Rich aromas of handmade breads and spreads waft from Crestline Bagel Company, enticing all those who walk by to stop in for a bite.
  • Oak Street Garden Shop: Billy Angell took a parking lot and made it into a paradise. Located in the heart of Crestline Village, Oak Street Garden Shop is brimming with plants and home décor items. The place is also known to have a few feline friends lounging around. Billy’s cool with the visitors, though, as they add an extra layer of relaxation to the garden shop.

5. Southside

Arguably one of Birmingham’s most bustling neighborhoods, Southside is a hub of activity year-round. It’s one of the most densely populated neighborhoods, thanks to the seemingly countless new trendy apartments that sprouted up in recent years. Those who live in Southside are privy to some of the city’s most frequented attractions.

Highlights:

  • UAB: Birmingham ranks among one of the top cities in the nation for medical know-how, large in part thanks to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which frequently attracts top-tier medical talent. Located in the Southside neighborhood, UAB has heavily influences the city through its students and faculty who bring a wealth of knowledge to Birmingham.
  • Railroad Park: This is the place to take a picnic, catch the Alabama Symphony perform in the summertime or just take a leisurely stroll. Railroad Park is the crowning jewel of Southside. With 19 acres of greenspace and sprawling trees and shrubbery planted throughout, it’s the ideal spot for almost any outdoor activity. It’s also been credited for sparking Birmingham’s urban revival.
  • Regions Field: Home to the Birmingham Barons, Regions Field is the heartbeat of Southside. It’s located across the street from Good People Brewing Company, which pioneered the craft beer movement in Birmingham. When the Barons play ball, locals flock downtown.


Sarah Cook