I don’t know about you, but I’m thrilled summer break is here. No carline, homework, and waking up sleepy boys to rush them off to school. As I sat down to make a list of things to do with my boys this summer (ages 7 and 4), I had so much fun with it, I decided to share it with you.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a compulsive list-maker. As someone who is easily distracted, lists help me refocus when I get off track. It’s also helpful to have a handy plan of things to do when the kids get bored and I’m out of ideas.
This is a list of fun, kid-friendly things to do in the Birmingham area this summer. This is in no way comprehensive, nor is it in any kind of organizational order. Which is how I do things. Keep an eye out for a follow-up post on fun things to do at home this summer. Spoiler alert: it may or may not include making slime.
1. Library Reading Programs – I’ll be honest, this is one of my absolute favorite things about summer. By February, I start looking for library’s announcements about their summer reading programs. We’ve participated in the programs at Clay Public Library one summer and Trussville Public Library another summer. They’re BOTH spectacular.
2. Trussville Sports Complex – Even though soccer season is over, we still plan on visiting our local sports complex as often as possible. First of all, their hiking/biking trails are phenomenal. Also, their new sidewalk trail allows you to ride bikes for miles in both sun and shade. My boys race down the trails while I run alongside. This place is a second home to us.
3. Birmingham Zoo – The zoo never gets old. For this reason, we’ve had a membership for five years running. The animals are forever fascinating, and my boys can never ride the train too many times. The zoo is now having Member Mornings every Wednesday until 9 a.m. with free rides (train and carousel) now through Sept 5.
4. McWane Science Center – When Wesley was 4 and Caleb was 1, my mother-in-law generously gifted us with a membership. Wesley’s favorite place was the Itty Bitty Magic City, and Caleb would sometimes sleep in the stroller while I enjoyed the air conditioner and a place to sit down. Dinosaurs in Motion starts May 13 – September 3rd where life-sized fully interactive metal sculptures with exposed mechanics will wow adults and children alike. And did you know that on the website, there are even at-home experiments you can try?
5. First Avenue Rocks – Indoor climbing gym that will challenge adults and kids under 12. The admission isn’t exactly cheap ($12/child and $16 per adult), plus gear rental. Wesley has been begging me to take him forever, and maybe this is the year we actually do it. I’m betting that with Caleb’s jaw-dropping climbing skills, it’ll be a hit.
6. Leeds Memorial Park – for an EPIC playground with EPIC equipment, you’ve got to check this place out. Tunnel slides that rival waterparks (that may be a slight exaggeration, but they’re impressive!). There’s also a walking trail and small stream. Yes, please!
7. Splash Pads – Don your swimsuits, grab your towels, and slather on sunscreen. Birmingham has several splash pads, including the ones in Leeds, Springville, and Trussville. Trussville requires residence within the city limits. Springville requires $1 per person (worth it!), and Leeds is free. Pick one, or visit all three. Preferably not within the same day, naturally.
8. Sloss Furnaces – My 7 year old, Wesley, has a major fascination for this place. The last time Wesley and I we visited here, we were playing hookey from school, so it was just the two of us. It was just before the Freight Fest, and the decorations were already in place. We had no idea when we arrived the gore we would encounter. To my surprised, he thought it was funny, and wasn’t disturbed by it one bit. He was more annoyed than anything that parts of the furnaces were roped off because of the impending event, and he didn’t get a chance to see as much as he wanted.
9. Ave Maria Grotto – I’ve never been here, but I’ve heard this little treasure in Cullman is quite interesting. Known as “Jerusalem in Miniature”, The Grotto sounds just weird enough to check out.
10. Turkey Creek Nature Preserve – This is a great local watering hole for a hot day, and it’s also great grounds for a picnic. Bring your camera. Perfect place for a hike and a splash in the stream.
11. Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park – Go camping, go hiking, go biking, or go for a train ride. This place has endless fun for the entire summer. Jump into the freezing cold streams or explore the mills and plantation homes. Keep an eye on the calendar of events. There’s something special offered throughout the summer and fall.
12. Moss Rock Preserve – can you tell we’re avid fans of hiking? This place is a fascinating location for hiking. The boulders are so fun for my boys to climb on, and by the end of the day, they’re exhausted. Which means a nice, quiet ride home. Score!
13. Oak Mountain State Park – Although this park charges admission, it’s worth it for all this park has to offer. Oak Mountain is nearly 10,000 acres of camping, lakes (for swimming!!), a petting zoo, bird sanctuary, hiking trails, paddling, and more. Also – remember in 2015 when state parks began closing due to government funding cuts? The best way to prevent state parks from closing is to visit them!
14. Argo Park – Parks are so much fun in the summer. Right next to Argo Fire Station and Police Department, we visit this one at least weekly. When the gorgeous red trucks are on the move, every kid present drops what they’re doing to jump up and down, wave and cheer. The playground is clean and well-maintained, and the walking trail is a concrete winding sidewalk that surrounds the equipment. I can get my run in while the boys play. Two birds, one stone.
15. Red Mountain Park – a 1,500 acre park with 15 miles of peaceful trails, historic mines, and two gorgeous overlooks for your kids to stand on the edge of and give you a heart attack. Lots of fun for kids to discover.
16. Ruffner Mountain – there aren’t enough great things that can be said about Ruffner Mountain. I love that it’s a hidden gem smack in the middle of the city. It’s gorgeous, with breathtaking overlooks and super fun walking trails. We could spend an entire day at this place.
17. Gardens – the Birmingham has two amazing gardens – Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Aldridge Gardens. Both are unique. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens has a cute little library and store near the entrance. Kris and I exchanged vows there ten years ago, so I’m kind of partial to this place. Aldridge Gardens, however, is fun for its own reasons. With a placid lake in the middle and colorful foliage, it’s a picture-perfect visit for sure.
18. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum – I’ve never been here, but I hear it’s perfect for motor-fans. I think we’ll give it a try this summer. *marks calendar*
19. Railroad Park – any park with a koi pond is worth visiting. This open green space has a walking trail and frequent community events. Sunshine? Wide space to run and play? Don’t mind if I do.
20. Vulcan Park and Museum – Two boys at the top of a tower with a 56-foot-tall statue bearing his rear for the city to see? Why, of course we would go there. Let the jokes begin. Plus, there are TONS of events hosted there over the summer.
21. Regal Summer Movie Express – Regal does something awesome over the summer – $1 movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. A portion of proceeds benefit the Will Rogers Institute, plus – POPCORN.
Did I forget something? Add it in the comments! What are your favorite kid-friendly things to do in the summer?