Free things to do around the Magic City this summer

School is out, kids are home for the summer, and they’re probably asking you, “What are we gonna do today?”

If you’re already running out of ideas, we’re here to help. Here’s a list of free things you can do with kids in the Birmingham area this summer!

Outdoor activities

1. Aldridge Gardens

See what’s in bloom at Aldridge Gardens in Hoover! Little ones (and their parents!) may enjoy a stroll around the lake, watching ducks or looking for turtles. There are plenty of shady spots where you can cool off. Located at 3530 Lorna Road and open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.

2. Birmingham Barons

Birmingham Barons game: Kids 2 and under are free of charge unless they need their own seat (Tickets for kids up to 12 are $7). Check out for the Barons’ schedule and promotions.

3. Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens
(Source: Facebook)

Older kids may love a photo scavenger hunt at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens! Pick a few things you’re likely to see while at the gardens, plus some of the year-round landmarks like the red gate to the Japanese gardens, and see how many things you can check off your list! It’s an easy and fun way to get some great shots of the kids. Open daily from dawn to dusk. Located at 2612 Lane Park Road.

4. Gardendale Splash Pad

Cool off outside at the Gardendale Splash Pad! Kids of all ages are welcome at the splash pad, located at Celebration Park at 2191 Fieldstown Road. If you have a group of more than 10 people, you will need a permit. Click here for full rules. The pool is open May 1 through September 30 and closed on Mondays for maintenance.

5. Railroad Park

Railroad Park in Birmingham

Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the views of Birmingham’s skyline at Railroad Park! There are plenty of things for kids to do at the park, from walking around the paved paths to trying out some of the free exercise equipment and playing on the playground!

On Fridays at 6 p.m. from June through August, Railroad Park is also offering Family Fun Friday classes, an hour of team games such as kickball, soccer or wiffle ball. Show up at 5:45 p.m. to register. The park, located at 1600 1st Avenue South, is open from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. every day.

Plus, if you’re near Railroad Park around dusk, be sure to check out the multicolored lights in the 18th Street tunnel nearby. It’s an Instagram-worthy photo opp!

6. Symphony in the Summer

One of Birmingham’s best summer traditions is the free outdoor concert series “Symphony in the Summer” at Railroad Park.

This year’s concert series is from Friday, June 7 through Sunday, June 9.

  • June 7: Mozart under the Stars (8 p.m.)
  • June 8: Symphonic Celebration (8 p.m.)
  • June 9: Family Fun Day (6 p.m.)

7. Free Movie Nights

You can catch a free outdoor movie at a few places in the Birmingham area this summer! Be sure to bring your own blanket and show up early to claim a good spot.

8. Flicks Among the Flowers

Birmingham: Flicks Among the Flowers at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens is showing The Sandlot on June 5 and Field of Dreams on July 17. (Admission is free but there is a suggested $5 donation). The movie starts at 8 p.m. but the Gardens open at 6 p.m. so there’s plenty of time to snag a good spot.

Indoor activities

1. Birmingham Museum of Art

Stay indoors and take a stroll through the Birmingham Museum of Art! The museum has a kid-friendly area with 15 hands-on activities for children. One area is designated for “toddlers and crawlers” and another area is for kids ages 5-12. Adult supervision is required. Kids can earn up to two stamps per visit in their “ArtVenture” passport and get a prize after collecting six stamps! The museum, located at 2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd., is open Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday noon – 5 p.m., First Fridays open until 9 p.m.

2. Tour the Golden Flake Plant

Golden Flake
(Source: Golden Flake Facebook)

Find out how Alabama’s famous potato chips are made by scheduling a tour of the Golden Flake Plant in Birmingham! Tours are 45 minutes long and show the production process from whole potatoes to the packaged chips. Children must be at least 5 years old to participate. (You are required to wear a hair net during the tour.) Tours are open most Mondays – Thursdays during the summer at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Request a tour online.

3. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Learn about Birmingham’s civil rights history at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which is dedicated to enlightening each generation about civil and human rights. Admission is free for all kids under third grade and any Jefferson County resident in the 4th through 12th grade. (Adult admission is $15). You can buy your tickets online. Open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. and is closed on Mondays. Located at 520 16th Street North in Birmingham.

4. Riverchase Galleria

If it’s rainy outside, head indoors to the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama’s largest enclosed shopping center. You can people watch, window shop and play “I Spy” with your kids if you need to get out of the house but can’t head to the park. The mall offers a 1.14 mile loop around the first level and is open 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday – Saturday and 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday. If you’re just there to walk, the doors actually open two hours earlier each day for walkers.

5. Libraries

Free library events are another great option for when it’s raining or just too hot to be outdoors.  Check out some of the upcoming events for kids at these libraries:

Article written by Melynda Schauer. Schauer is a freelance contributor for Updated by Jenna Wood. 

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