Known as home to Disney World and a number of other popular tourist attractions, Orlando is one of the world’s most visited cities; in fact, in 2018, more than 75 million people visited the city. Nicknamed “the City Beautiful”, the cities’ geography is mostly wetlands, with many lakes and swamps, with flat terrain. With a humid, subtropical climate, the city has two main seasons; hot and rainy and warm and dry. As a result of its mild winter climate, Orlando is popular among visitors year-round.
Just because Orlando is such a popular vacation destination does not mean that a road trip from the city is not appealing. Heading north and west will take you through a number of interesting locations and allow you to engage in outdoor recreation opportunities along with indoor points of interest. A trip from Orlando to Birmingham, over the course of two to three days, will be an adventure to remember. With an overall drive time of a little more than eight hours, you will spend more time doing than driving on this road trip.
While not as popular among tourists as Orlando, your destination of Birmingham, Alabama's most populous city, offers its own reasons to visit. The cultural and entertainment capital of Alabama, the city is home to a number of art galleries, along with the largest art museum in the Southeast, the Birmingham Museum of Art. The state’s major ballet, opera and symphony orchestra companies are based in the city as well. Prefer to spend your time outdoors? Birmingham won’t disappoint, and with mild winters, you can play outdoors all year, ensuring that this trip can be taken any time of year.
About an hour and forty minutes away from Orlando is the city of Gainesville. Known for being the home of the University of Florida, Gainesville also is the location of the Butterfly Rainforest, which is a live exhibit featuring hundreds of butterflies and birds from throughout the world that fly freely. Butterfly feeding stations allow you to take a close-up look at tropical butterflies as they enjoy some fresh fruit.
The Butterfly Rainforest has a lush landscape of tropical trees and colorful plants, along with waterfalls. A walking path allows you to explore the landscape and take in the scenery. You may also encounter turtles and fish during your visit and staff are available to answer any questions that you may have. The ecosystem changes regularly, resulting in a new sight every visit!
After you leave Gainesville, continue your drive toward Birmingham for a little less than two hours; upon reaching Valdosta, Georgia, you are close to Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area, your next stop. The Management Area includes 2623 acres of property owned by the state and 5874 acres of land owned by the U.S. Air Force. Of the acreage, 3059 acres are of pine and hardwood forest, while 5438 acres are of wetlands. There a quite a few things to do when visiting the Management Area. Hunting for deer, turkey, and small game is offered, along with canoe access for those looking to spend some time paddling. There are also nature trails, hiking trails, an education center where you can learn more about the wetland habitat, picnic shelters, and lake fishing.
A little more than two hours from Valdosta and the Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area is the Hay House, the next stop on your road trip. Located in Macon, Georgia, the house, which has been called the “Palace of the South”, was built from 1855 to 1859. The house is in the Italian Renaissance Revival Style and is open for tours, along with special events.
With 18,000 square feet and 24 rooms, the mansion includes four levels, a tour of which will take you back in time. The home, which is at the top of Coleman Hill in downtown Macon, was designed by T. Thomas and Son, a New York architect. Some of the building of the home was done by craftsmen and artisans who were brought to the site from Italy and who worked under the supervision of a local master builder. As a result of its unique architecture, the home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973.
An hour and a half from Macon is the city of Atlanta, where you will find all sorts of interesting things to do. Consider checking out the Georgia Aquarium, where you will encounter a plethora of fish and marine life. Upon opening in 2005, the Georgia Aquarium was the largest in the world.
While visiting the aquarium, you will be able to get a close-up view of sharks, beluga whales, sea lions, dolphins, and manta rays, among many other animals. The aquarium also offers animal encounters and experiences, where you can learn more about a particular animal and be close enough to touch and feed them!
After leaving the Georgia Aquarium, head west for about two hours until you reach Cheaha Mountain, the peak of which is the highest natural point in Alabama. The mountain, which is a part of the Talladega Mountains, is a few miles northwest of Delta in Cheaha State Park, which has a lodge, along with a restaurant. At the highest point of Cheaha Mountain is a USGS benchmark and Bunker Tower, which is a stone building that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Close to the peak is Bald Rock, where you can take in an excellent view of the region surrounding the mountain. Exploring Cheaha Mountain is a perfect way to get some fresh air and stretch your legs before getting back on the road to your destination!
You are close to your destination; just an hour and a half from Birmingham. Upon arriving in the city, you may find yourself unsure of what to do first. The city offers many things to do; for example, you can learn about Birmingham’s role in the civil rights movement by taking a visit to the Civil Rights District. Located downtown, the six-block area includes a few historic sites, like the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Kelly Ingram Park, which was the location of civil rights rallies, demonstrations, and confrontations during the ’60s. You can take a self-guided walking tour, where you can get free audio from your cell phone.
You can also visit Railroad Park, which is known as Birmingham’s Living Room. Spread over 19 acres, Railroad Park offers recreation activities, concerts, and special events. Included in the park is a lake, trails, playgrounds and more. Red Mountain Park is another place in Birmingham where you can enjoy time outdoors. The park has 15 miles of trails, tree houses, an off-leash dog park, zip lines, and ropes courses. Looking to spend time indoors? Check out the Birmingham Museum of Art, where you can view art from numerous cultures. Located in downtown Birmingham, admission is free.
When it comes to a place to stay, there are options for camping in and around the city, ensuring that you can take the time to explore all that Birmingham has to offer!