What do you do when you want to take a mini road trip, but the places you want to explore are more than a “mini” distance from where you live? My boyfriend and I recently attempted to get the best of both worlds by flying into Atlanta, Georgia and then road-tripping to Birmingham, Alabama and back. The metro areas are about two hours apart, allowing us to make the most of our time in the car but not feel overwhelmed by driving. We spent a total of six days on the road, which was just the right amount of time. I’ve outlined our complete travel itinerary to help you plan your own southeastern adventure!
In & Around Atlanta, Georgia
Places to Eat
Our first meal after arriving in Atlanta was thanks to the recommendation of a friend of mine who now lives in the area and was available to meet up for lunch! True Food Kitchen, located in Lenox Square, is a health-driven restaurant with tons of options for vegetarians and others following specific diets. I ordered Kombucha for the first time ever (mixed feelings) and their Ancient Grains bowl. The portions they provide are just enough to satisfy without making you feel too full!
After our drive back into Georgia from Alabama, we made the most of our last evening on vacation by going out for dinner at Ted’s Montana Grill. While we later learned that this place is actually a franchise, it was brand new to us, as there isn’t a location in Wisconsin. Everything about this place was good, especially after a long day on the road and outside! I ordered their House-Made Veggie Burger with a side of Parmesan Roasted Broccoli that was great, but stole a few of Tyler’s fries along the way.
Things to Do
Wow. What a place! The world’s largest aquarium is something else. Other than its incredible size, Georgia Aquarium is best known for its Ocean Voyager exhibit, which features three whale sharks! Their tank-mates include the likes of manta rays, black-tip sharks, groupers, and more, but other exhibits throughout the aquarium showcase fauna from the Arctic all the way to the Amazon. This is an iconic Atlanta landmark that is worthy of at least one visit.
Parks to Explore
Conveniently located just off of I-20, Sweetwater Creek State Park is the perfect place to hike near Atlanta. With over fifteen miles of trails, there’s a route at the park for everyone. Tyler and I opted for the White Trail, the longest in the park, since we were in no rush to get to our hotel. This 5.2-mile loop took us over rolling hills, down to a creek, and past the iconic abandoned mill along its shore. This place is a convenient stop for any hiker road-tripping from Birmingham to Atlanta.
In & Around Birmingham, Alabam
Places to Eat
Post Office Pies was a recommendation from a fellow blogger named Lauren who lives about an hour away in Huntsville. It ended up being really close to our Airbnb and was in a super cute neighborhood called Avondale! Tyler and I each ordered a pizza that was marketed to be split between multiple people, but finished them easily on our own. I loved the Magherita Pizza! The restaurant has TVs everywhere; most were showing March Madness, but we had our eyes on the one in the corner with the Milwaukee Bucks game!
Things to Do
As the location we centered our entire trip around, Barber Motorsports Park did not disappoint. This 880-acre property located on Birmingham’s eastern edge is surrounded by a forest with picturesque views, though it certainly has its quirks; its creator, the late George Barber, is to thank for the monstrous spiders lining the track as well as the facility’s unique array of sculptures. Also located here is the world’s largest motorcycle collection, housed at theBarber Vintage Motorsports Museum.
Located in the heart of the Deep South, events that transpired in Birmingham during the 1950s and 1960s helped define the Civil Rights Movement. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute depicts a brutally honest retelling of each one. This incredible facility walks you through some of the nation’s most horrible tragedies, as well as the victories later made by the activists who fought ruthlessly in the name of justice. Walk out of the Institute after your visit and you’ll be face-to-face with Kelly Ingram Park and the 16th Street Baptist Church, bringing all the frustration and hope of a time you may not have lived through back to life.
Parks to Explore
Completely surrounded by the Talladega National Forest, Cheaha State Park offers more than a scenic overlook. The park sits atop Cheaha Mountain and houses Alabama’s highest peak! Many short trails jut off from the main road for some quick hikes, but I definitely recommend that you at least follow the .3-mile boardwalk to Bald Rock for a breathtaking view. While we didn’t arrive in time to visit, the Vista Cliffside Restaurant is located on the grounds and might make for a memorable dinner experience!
Spanning 8 blocks across the middle of downtown Birmingham, Railroad Park is the exact opposite of an eye sore. This 19-acre green space has absolutely everything, from a beautiful lake to over 600 trees to open lawn for dogs to run around in, and was designed with sustainability in mind. Old construction materials littering the site where the park now stands were repurposed into some of its walls and seating areas, while the lake has a bio-filtration wetlands area. This space is laid out perfectly to host a variety of community events! We happened to stop by while a neighborhood cook-off was going on.
We had a great experience on our first couples road trip and highly recommend the drive from Atlanta to Birmingham. If you’re looking for a snowier travel destination, read about my family’s road trip in Wyoming and Idaho.