"Home sweet home." That's a phrase Senior Photographer Art Meripol and I utter every time we step off an airplane in Birmingham. We spend most of our time visiting the most fascinating locations in the South. Still, when it comes time to pick our preferred haunts, many are in this city Southern Living calls home. Come with us as we show you some of the spots we like best.
Downtown Birmingham turns into a rambling street party during City Stages. This year's musical extravaganza, featuring Hank Williams, Jr., The Allman Brothers Band, Yellowcard, and many other acts, falls on the weekend of June 16-18. Tickets cost $40 and are good for the entire weekend. After rocking out at City Stages, swing by Garage Cafe. By day, the courtyard brims with yard art, sculpture, antique treasures, and a hungry lunch crowd. At night, the Garage turns into a pub packed with locals.
If you want some early-morning melodies, visit Pepper Place, where you'll find live music, a farmers market, and 9 a.m. cooking demonstrations each Saturday in the summer. Browse the antiques shops here too.
Art and I prefer small, independently owned stores. One of our absolute favorites is A'Mano, a combination art gallery and gift store where you can find colorful furniture, pottery, glass, and artwork. From folk art paintings to locally made beaded jewelry, this shop makes gift-giving easy. For outdoor spaces, visit Sweet Peas Garden Shop. Located in a cottage in Homewood, this favorite of our Gardens editors boasts some of the best blooming plants and flowers in town, as well as statues, fountains, and handmade gift items.
When it comes to buying gifts for anniversaries or special holidays, my husband goes straight to Camany and Company, an intimate jewelry store featuring lots of handmade necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.
If you want to explore the big chain stores, make the short drive to The Summit, the city's outdoor shopping center. Sure, the restaurants and stores here aren't independent, but they're some of the best.