Birmingham, Alabama might be small but it is mighty — some might even say it’s magic. Located in the most populated county in the state, Birmingham is a city rich with history, a lively community, and plenty to do. It was the center of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, boasts several James Beard Award winners and nominees, and is also home to the University of Alabama Birmingham campus. (Roll tide!) In the heart of it all, you’ll find Downtown Birmingham, the city’s center and the place to be, whether you’re here for a weekend adventure or looking for your next home base.
At Common, we’ve recently discovered the magic of Downtown Birmingham as we’ve geared up to open our first ever Birmingham home: Common at the Frank. Located in the historic Frank Nelson building, Common at the Frank has put us in the center of the action — and we’re excited to share what we’ve discovered about this bustling neighborhood (with a few tips from the locals, of course.)
Keep reading for our complete guide to Downtown Birmingham: an inside look at the area’s best restaurants, bars, entertainment, fitness studios, outdoor spaces, and more.
Where to eat
Located on the ground floor of Common at the Frank, you’ll find Trattoria Zaza, a friendly and stylish Italian restaurant serving up delicious pizza, pasta, and salads. Stop by for a quick slice at lunch, or kick back with a hearty bowl of pasta and a cocktail for a fun dinner date.
If you’re looking for classic American fare, John’s City Diner is your new go-to. This iconic Birmingham restaurant is known for both its recognizable and welcoming mural that graces its exterior and an updated take on Southern Comfort Food. Don’t be fooled by the name: you won’t find lunch meat and soggy lettuce here — all the produce is organic, and the meat is hormone, GMO, and antibiotic free.
For days when you can’t decide, or just want to try a little bit of everything, we recommend Pizitz Food Hall on 19th St. Twelve different vendors — from candy apples to New Orleans style Po Boys — make it easy to find whatever your taste buds are looking for.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a guide to any Downtown area without featuring our favorite coffee shops. Revelator Coffee, only a block away from Common at the Frank, starts steaming lattes and other delicious drinks at 7 AM. They also sell their signature beans if at-home roasts are more your thing.
Where to experience
Now that you’ve had your fill, it’s time to have a bit of fun. Luckily for you, there’s no shortage of great entertainment in Downtown Birmingham. From the cultural to the experiential, you’re bound to find a good time in this lively neighborhood.
For film aficionados and anyone who’s on the lookout for the latest in cinema, Sidewalk Film Center is a must. The theater got its start as a local film festival in 1998 — 25 years ago! — and runs for a week every summer, showcasing the best independent films across genres. But that’s not the only time to catch awesome indie flicks: Sidewalk also offers regular screenings and curated programming, including Black Lens Film Week, Women in Film Week, and Bad Movie Night.
If you’re looking for a fun night out with friends, there are plenty of lively bars in Downtown Birmingham, no matter your vibe or cocktail of choice. The Roof at the Redmont is located on the beautiful rooftop deck at the Redmont Hotel, and serves a wide array of cocktails with a full bar alongside stunning views and an active dance floor. And while Neon Moon lovingly calls itself a “Five Star Dive Bar” you’ll find more than Budlight at this good-time-go-to on 2nd avenue.
Downtown Birmingham is also home to cultural institutions including the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and the Birmingham Museum of Art.
Where to unwind
Birmingham, Alabama is home to over 11,000 square feet of green space and nature preserves, so if you’re looking for an escape from city life, you won’t have to go far. And if you live in Downtown Birmingham, you’ll only have to go a few blocks! There are plenty of places and spaces to unwind in the heart of the city, from beautiful walking trails to peaceful yoga studios.
The Railroad Park Foundation, located between 14th and 18th street, offers 19 acres of open lawn, running and bike trails, outdoor gym equipment, and a lake. Grab a few friends and pack up a picnic for a day well spent in the sun, or grab your skateboard and try out new tricks at the park’s three skate bowls. The park also offers a variety of free events open to the public, including summer concerts, exercise classes, and even cooking demonstrations!
Whether you’re a beginner or a dedicated yogi looking for a place to improve your practice, YogaLab Birmingham has a class for you. The beautiful space, located on 7th Avenue South, features high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows, and offers several classes a day. If you’re nervous about taking a class or just want a more specialized experience, the studio also offers private sessions.
Where to live
The best part about living in a lively city is having a peaceful place to come home to. Common at the Frank is located in the heart of Downtown Birmingham, only a short walk or drive away from all of the places featured in our Downtown Guide.
When you rent a studio or 1-bedroom apartment at Common at the Frank, you’ll enjoy a brand new apartment with oversized windows, sun-lit spaces, beautiful finishes, and convenient amenities right outside your door. Unwind from a long day exploring the city in your new home’s shared lounge, or take in the views from the outdoor deck. You’ll also have access to a fitness center, on-site laundry, a pet run and dog wash, and the building’s lobby bar.
Common at the Frank is now pre-leasing for February move-ins. Rent starts at $988/month for a studio, with the option of 1 month free on a 13-15 month lease. Get the best of Downtown Birmingham right outside your door: book a tour today!