Living in Milwaukee, our road trip options are usually limited to Chicago or Minneapolis. We decided to switch things up on our recent spring vacation by flying into Atlanta and road-tripping to Birmingham! The Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama metro areas conveniently sit about two hours apart. This makes a road trip from Atlanta to Birmingham (or vice versa) a great way to explore the southeastern US! This ultimate road trip travel guide from Atlanta to Birmingham features attractions in both cities and great stops along the way.
Things to Do In & Around Atlanta
Museums in Atlanta
Atlanta houses the world’s largest aquarium, both by number of fish and volume of water. Georgia Aquarium is best known for the whale sharks in its Ocean Voyageur exhibit, but showcases aquatic ecosystems from around the world. Admission for adults starts at $26.95 per ticket. Despite the higher cost, visiting the aquarium is a fun thing to do for families in Atlanta and is worth visiting at least once. Those who live in or near Atlanta can save by purchasing a membership that pays for itself in just two visits!
Atlanta is the proud home of Coca-Cola. Enter the World of Coca-Cola and you will see just how integral this global brand is to the city. This is definitely one of the most unique museums in Atlanta! Once inside, the museum greets you with a complimentary 8-ounce can of original Coke. You can sip as you learn about Coca-Cola’s history and search for the vault containing the original “secret formula.” The museum also has a dedicated taste-tasting station for visitors to try various flavors of Coca-Cola sold around the world! Some make you wish you lived in another country, others not so much…
Hiking Near Atlanta
Conveniently located just off of I-20, Sweetwater Creek State Park is a great place to hike near Atlanta. With over fifteen miles of trails, you can visit again and again to take in the park from a new angle. On our visit, we took the 5.2-mile White Trail loop. This is a great option if you have time for a longer hike and want a bit of a challenge. It took us over rolling hills before headed down to the creek and the iconic abandoned mill along its shore. I would later find while watching The Hunger Games that it made a guest appearance as the ruins of District 13. The park’s Douglas County Film Trail highlights even more cameos the park has made in major films. This is a great place to hike on a road trip from Atlanta to Birmingham.
Plaes to Eat In & Around Atlanta
True Food Kitchen came recommended to me by a good friend and Atlanta local. It is a great place to eat lunch in Atlanta and has lots of vegetarian options! Located in Lenox Square, this restaurant has great parking in the adjacent lot that makes it easy to get to. The health-driven restaurant is a great choice for vegetarians and with specific dietary restrictions. I ordered the Ancient Grains Bowl and tried Kombucha for the first time ever! Their portions are just enough to satisfy without making you feel too full. This is the perfect place to fuel-up right before or after a road trip to Birmingham.
After driving back to Atlanta from Birmingham, we stopped to eat dinner at Ted’s Montana Grill in nearby Peachtree City. We later learned that Ted’s is a franchise with locations around the country, but none in our home state of Wisconsin. I loved the western vibes at this restaurant and the hospitality of its staff! The food I ordered at Ted’s was some of my favorite on the entire road trip and I would definitely recommend it as a great place to eat dinner near Atlanta. I chose their House-Made Veggie Burger with a side of Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli, the latter of which we even attempted to recreate in our own kitchen!
Things to Do In & Around Birmingham
Museums in Birmingham
Our trip centered around the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, so naturally we visited this iconic racing museum, too. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is a must for car and motorcycle enthusiasts in Birmingham. The museum holds the Guinness World Record for the “largest collection of vintage and contemporary motorcycles.” Thousands are on display throughout the museum! I especially enjoyed reading about how designs changed in response to global events like war and economic downturns. The featured motorcycle history had some overlaps with Milwaukee’s own Harley-Davidson Museum, which I visited earlier this year.
No road trip to Birmingham is complete without experiencing the city’s legacy in the Civil Rights Movement. At the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the decades of struggle to protect basic human rights come to life in a powerful way. Located within the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument with both Kelly Ingram Park and the 16th Street Baptist Church, it brings to life all the frustration and hope of a time you may not have lived through. The detailed exhibits tell the stories of those who fought ruthlessly in the name of justice and brutally depict the tragedies they endured while fighting for equality.
Outdoor Activities In & Around Birmingham
Completely surrounded by Talladega National Forest, Alabama’s oldest park is also arguably its most breathtaking. Cheaha State Park, established in 1933, houses the state’s highest point atop Cheaha Mountain. A main road loops around the park with various short trails branching off to different outlooks. We recommend taking the 0.3-mile accessible Bald Rock Boardwalk for an especially breathtaking view! This is a great place to hike on a road trip from Atlanta to Birmingham.
Spanning eight blocks across downtown Birmingham, Railroad Park is an impressive display of community improvement. This once blighted part of town is now home to 19 acres of prairie, trees, and ponds all placed with sustainability in mind. Old construction materials littering the site where the park now stands have since been repurposed into seating areas and fencing. The park’s engineers also designed a bio-filtration wetlands area and an on-site well for the lake, ponds, and streams that cover thirty percent of the park. The space is laid out perfectly to host a variety of community events like the cook-off taking place when we visited!
Places to Eat in Birmingham
We learned about Post Office Pies thanks to a local’s recommendation and visited for a pizza dinner. It ended up being just a short drive from our Airbnb in a cute neighborhood called Avondale! Tyler and I each ordered a pizza that was marketed for multiple people, but finished them easily on our own. I picked the Margherita Pizza! The restaurant has a great vibe and sources many of its ingredients locally. It is also a great restaurant for watching sports in Birmingham, as it has a lot of strategically placed TVs. We happened to visit just in time to catch a Milwaukee Bucks game!