BirmingHome: The Perfect Staycation

There’s one thing that everyone can agree that they enjoy: vacations.  Students and families across Alabama are getting out of school for spring break and heading out on a week’s adventure.  Vacations can be expensive and take a lot of planning, so sometimes you have to opt for a staycation.

Taking this time to explore new areas of the city, try a new restaurant, or visit some old favorites can be just as refreshing and relaxing as traveling to a new city. We at The Local have gathered six Birmingham gems you should visit on your staycation this vacation season.

Birmingham zoo

Photo via The Birmingham Zoo

As a classic Birmingham spot, the Birmingham Zoo never gets old.  The Zoo updated their front entrance and Asian Forest, among other renovations, last year and are continuously modernizing the exhibits.  Throughout March, the park is hosting several events, including Spring Break at the Zoo, Breakfast with the Bunny and Eggstravaganza. So whether you haven’t been for years or went last month, there’s always something new to learn and fun to do at the Zoo.

state parks and nature preserves

Oak Mountain State Park. Photo via AlaPark

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, Birmingham is home to many state parks and nature trails.  Red Mountain, Ruffner Mountain and Oak Mountain State Park are closest to the Birmingham metro area, but if you’re looking for something farther out, try Turkey Creek Nature Preserve or Cosby Lake Park. Check out more details on Alabama state park’s website.

Barber Vintage motorsports museum

Photo via Barber Motorsports Museum

Welcome to the home of more than 1,400 vintage vehicles. Since 2003, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum has striven to preserve historic and prestigious motorcycles and cars. It’s 16-turn, 2.38 mile racetrack is also used for it’s Porsche Driving School while automakers from around the world have chosen the park to debut new vehicles and film commercials. You can visit the museum Monday-Saturday (10AM-5PM) and Sunday (12PM-5PM).

Art Crawl

Photo via Birmingham Art Crawl

For students with later spring breaks, the Birmingham Art Crawl is a fun and popular way to support local talent while also learning about the city’s growing art culture.  Every first Thursday of the month artists display their work along 2nd Avenue North surrounding the Pizitz building.  The next Art Crawl will be April 5, 5PM-9PM.

alabama sports hall of fame

Photo via Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is home to more than 5,000 sports artifacts, boasting relics from sports greats such as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Mia Hamm.  The ASHOF offers tours throughout the week (Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM) to give guests a closer look at the history that has made so many Alabama athletes so great.

Explore a new neighborhood

Photo via

Birmingham is a constantly revitalizing city, and worn down neighborhoods are coming back to life.  Areas like Avondale and Lakeview have rejuvenated their streets and now pride themselves on trendy restaurants such as OvenBird and Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint. Take a day to check out and get to know a new part of the Magic City.

If you know of any events or places to visit on a Birmingham staycation, let us know on Twitter or Instagram!

Birmingham Oddities

Oddities welcoming each guest.

Stepping up to the black door of 101 23rd Street North, a rickety old wheelchair with bunny costume head hanging off greets everyone coming to experience a new adventure. Stepping through the dark door guests are transported into a world of wonder.

Adam Williams, Birmingham native, takes what he calls home decor to a new level. Williams’ store, Birmingham Oddities, has attracted everyone from artists to children with the unique finds displayed in cases, bookshelves and hanging off the walls and ceiling.

A bookshelf of jarred specimen.

Williams started a personal collection of natural history and science oddities when he was young in the search for things such as fossils and raccoon skulls. It then grew enough to open a store in downtown Birmingham in 2015.

“I love the feeling of wonder,” said Williams. “It makes me go back to being a kid again.” In such a buzzing world, as kids turn to adults, they are “saturated” with noise, losing their sense of wonder.

Willaims wants each visitor to take a journey and have a space to wonder. Check out the oddities he has to offer only on Saturdays in the heart of Birmingham.

Q&A with Harrison Tarabella

One of the best parts of my Samford experience has been all the creative people I’ve met during my four years here. One such example is Harrison Tarabella: a talented visual artist who got his initial training from professional National Geographic photographer. I sat down with Harrison to talk about where his passion comes from, his favorite experiences thus far and what’s next for him.

Answers have been edited for content and clarity.

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Thomas Beavers, New Rising Star Church

Thomas Beavers is the pastor of New Rising Star Church in East Birmingham. He is currently leading the process of purchasing Century Plaza Mall with plans to relocate the church there to accommodate future growth.  I sat down with him to learn more about how he reached this milestone.

Beavers explained that over time, he developed this dream to see former Century Plaza Mall revitalized to serve as a hub for the community of East Birmingham. Not only will this property serve as home to New Rising Star Church, but Beavers also plans to start a charter school in the space. The remaining 743,000 square feet of space will be dedicated to nonprofits and other agents of change whose missions align with the church’s.

As his plan has materialized, Beavers has faced many challenges.  Pursuing this dream has demanded a lot of his time and energy, in addition to the normal strains placed on a church pastor.  He compared his experience with Joseph in the Bible.

“He had a dream and he told his dream to his brothers, and the moment he opened his mouth was the moment he started going through all of these trials. But inevitably, his trouble was transportation to the fulfillment of his dream.  Everything that seemed bad was really pushing him to where God said he would be,” said Beavers.

New Rising Star Church has always been a part of his life. Beavers grew up in the church under the leadership of his grandfather, Tommy Chappell, who pastored for 35 years. Following his grandfather’s retirement, Beavers stepped in as pastor in 2010.

At Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, Beavers wrote his doctoral dissertation on Biblical pastoral transitions. That enabled him to transition smoothly into the role of pastor, moving forward along the path his grandfather had paved.

I asked Beavers if he always knew he wanted to preach. He looked up with a sheepish smile and chuckled to himself, saying, “I got a lot of preachers in my family and I always said, ‘I never want to preach.’”

Despite Beavers’ defiance, the Lord got his attention.

“I was in four car wrecks in three months.   In every car wreck I walked out of the car without a scratch on my body, and I could hear God telling me, ‘I’m calling you to preach, ’” said Beavers.

Beavers originally went to Kentucky State University on a basketball scholarship with plans to become a doctor. Over time, though, he realized that he didn’t have the passion to succeed in medical school, and chose seminary at Beeson instead.  As he accepted the call to preach, his fear was dispelled by peace.

I attended his church one Sunday and I was amazed by the warm welcome I received, as well as the joy that erupted from the congregation’s unified praise. I sat by Beaver’s secretary, Carol Hatcher, who turned to me during Beavers’ sermon and remarked, “The pastor I see behind the pulpit is the same pastor I see day after day.”

Pastor Beavers is a charismatic leader who is passionate about growing his church while also expanding the church’s influence in the city of Birmingham. You can read more about Pastor Beavers and the story of New Rising Star Church in the upcoming Spring issue of The Local.









Running in Birmingham

Running is a sport for everyone. It’s a sport that becomes more popular every year, especially living in a city like Birmingham. Throughout the city, there are so many options of beautiful places to spend your time on the trails.

  • Lakeshore Trail: Located in Homewood along Lakeshore Parkway. This paved trail offers 2.5 miles of flat, paved surface without any worry of motor vehicles.

  • Vulcan Trail: Located at Richard Arrington Blvd (near Vulcan Park), Birmingham and 11th Place South. The mile-long trail scales the ridge of 1,025 ft. Red Mountain. The south side runs below 10-acre Vulcan Park

  • Jemison Park: Located in Mountain Brook. This 3 mile trial takes you through the hills and trees of Mountain Brook.

  • Rotary Trail: Located in Downtown Birmingham. This trail ends at Railroad Park and Sloss Furnace. Enjoy running through downtown on the concrete trail underneath the 46-foot sign that reads “Rotary Trail in the Magic City.”

Runners dream big and tackle new distances. They become morning people and make it a routine. One of these trails becomes their friendly southern neighbor. Try something new, go on a run and try out one of Birmingham’s scenic trails.

Rising Sports: Birmingham Bulls

In fall 2017, Birmingham will again be a home to a professional hockey team.

Art Clarkston, the former Birmingham Bulls owner, signed an agreement with the Pelham Civic Coomplex and Ice Arena in February to host the team. He wishes to keep the same name and logo.

The Bulls will join the 10-team Southern Professional Hockey League, including the Huntsville Havoc. The hockey team formerly played in the World Hockey Association from 1976-79 and the Central Hockey League from 1979-81.

Clarkston owned the Bulls for six years, between 1992-98. They played their East Coast Hockey League games at the Birimngham-Jeffereson Convention Complex during that time, a location that Clarkson and the Bulls initially wanted to stay at for the 2017-18 season.

BJCC representatives say they were in discussion with Clarkson, but have not had any more communication with him regarding certain decisions.

There would have to be intensive and quick work in order for the complex to be ready for the upcoming season. The Pelham Civic Complex, though, is already set up to host hockey games. UAB and the University of Alabama’s club hockey teams play at the complex, which seats 3,200. The contract between the complex and the Bulls will require only 800 seats to be put in.

When the Bulls played in the 1970s, hockey was going through a rollercoaster of popularity. As minor pro leagues shut down, the NHL was gaining traction. Birmingham residents were more curious in the sport than interested in it.

“The Phantom of the Opera” is here… inside Birmingham

Photo from through Creative Commons

The Broadway classic “The Phantom of the Opera” will grace the stage of the BJCC Concert Hall April 5-16.

Produced by Cameron Mackintosh,  directed by Laurence Connor and overseen by Matthew Bourne, the North American tour presents the musical tale like never before. New costumes, design elements, lighting and staging have been implemented to create an updated version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s esteemed masterpiece.  It features a 52-person cast and orchestra as well as full creative team bringing the drama to the United States. Experience your favorite Phantom, Christine and company moments in a whole new light for two weeks only.

The musical is part of Theatre League’s annual Broadway in Birmingham lineup at the BJCC. It is the last show of the 2016-2017 series before the new series picks up in December. Other acclaimed shows from the past season included “Broadway Christmas Wonderland”, “Dirty Dancing”and “Once”. “The Book of Mormon” will also play as a season add-on in October.

Tickets start as low as $50 and range up to $600 depending on date and seating choice. For more information about ticketing,  the Birmingham production of “The Phantom of the Opera” or the upcoming season, visit

Rising Sports: Magic City Blitz Basketball

For over 70 years the NBA has reigned over the basketball world. But did you know that there is another professional basketball league?

The American Basketball Association was founded in 1967 and has continued to redevelop the game of basketball during its existence. In fact, the ABA introduced the three-point shot as well as slam-dunk contests into the basketball world.

Since innovation is a core value of Birmingham, it makes sense that the city would be home to one of these pioneering teams, so in 2011 Birmingham welcomed the Magic City Blitz. The team was 3-3 in Gulf Coast conference play during their 2016 season.

The ABA organization is not new to the Magic City. The Birmingham Magicians played two seasons in the city and folded in 2006.