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Family and education

Birmingham’s most popular family and educational attractions spark joy and curiosity about the world around us. Check out some of the places that make our city so magical for visitors of all ages.

Birmingham Zoo

The Birmingham Zoo is an ever-evolving adventure. From Trails of Africa to the Children’s Zoo and everything in between, the Birmingham Zoo features animals from all over the world. The Zoo is accredited with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and continuously meets its mission of “Inspiring Passion to Conserve the Natural World.”

With approximately 550 animals of 180 species and endangered species from six continents, the Birmingham Zoo’s 122-acre site is the perfect place to visit any time of the year. Throughout the Zoo, visitors have opportunities to learn about animal care, conservation initiatives and Species Survival Plans. 

Originally opened in 1955, the Birmingham Zoo became an independent not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization in 1999. In the time following this privatization, the Birmingham Zoo has hosted a number of traveling exhibits, added permanent standout habitats for animals like the North American black bears, and even has an interactive lorikeet aviary. Most notably, to coincide with its 50th birthday celebration in 2005, the Zoo completed the Junior League of Birmingham – Hugh Kaul Children’s Zoo, a $15 million addition dedicated to children and devoted to urban, rural, and wild animals and environments of Alabama.

The Birmingham Zoo is also uniquely poised to blaze new trails in the advancement of elephant conservation. Trails of Africa designates the Birmingham Zoo as a national leader in the care and conservation of threatened elephants. Trails of Africa features an elephant herd of exclusively male African elephants. Ground and aerial observation opportunities provide education and entertainment to hundreds of thousands of visitors who can enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience.

Trails of Africa is a place where adults and children alike can observe African wildlife and, in the process, be enlightened about the plight of endangered animals and inspired to support global wildlife conservation efforts.

Learn more about the Birmingham Zoo

McWane Science Center

The McWane Science Center creates hands-on science learning experiences that parents and teachers value and that kids love. An affiliate with the Association of Science-Technology Centers, the McWane Science Center has welcomed millions of visitors since opening its doors in 1998. 

Explorers ages 1 to 100 flock year-round to see, hear, touch and experience the wonder of science in one of the South’s most unique venues. Exploring exhibits like the Fox 6 Weather Lab, Alabama Dinosaurs, the shark and ray touch tank, the Itty Bitty Magic City and more help engage children and youth in advanced inquiry-based learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Housed in the historic and refurbished Loveman’s department store building, McWane Science Center is known as the cornerstone of Birmingham’s downtown revitalization. The state-of-art museum is the product of a merger in 1998 between Discovery Place, a hands-on children’s museum, and Red Mountain Museum, a small science museum dedicated to the geology of Red Mountain. 

It is at the heart of the McWane Science Center to inspire continued education and career opportunities in STEM fields. The thousands of students that visit McWane Science Center each year are not learning through lectures, but by doing, asking questions, creating their own hypothesis, testing and re-thinking their own ideas and beliefs. 

Learn more about McWane Science Center

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens shines a spotlight on the glory of nature in the heart of the city by showcasing thousands of plants that thrive in Southern gardens. Woven into native woodlands, the Gardens sits on 67.5 acres and contains two dozen individual gardens, more than 30 original outdoor sculptures and miles of serene paths to explore.

Among featured spaces you’ll find the Dunn Formal Rose Garden, the Southern Living Garden, the Conservatory, the Bruno Vegetable Garden,  the Kaul Wildflower Garden and the Japanese Garden with its traditionally crafted teahouse. The Library at the Gardens includes an extensive collection of 8,000+ botanical and horticultural offerings for seasoned and aspiring gardeners. Education programs run year round, and more than 10,000 schoolchildren enjoy free science curriculum-based field trips annually.

Since the Conservatory’s debut in 1962, the property has grown and thrived thanks to thousands of volunteers and supporters who have donated their time, talents, funds, energy, enthusiasm and vision to the Gardens’ lively and colorful story. 

Open every day of the year, Birmingham Botanical Gardens serves as an urban oasis for all who live here and all who visit. A true credit to those who had a vision of greatness for our city and state, this community treasure continues to provide a cherished place of respite and inspiration and to promote a passion for plants, gardens, and the natural world.

Learn more about Birmingham Botanical Gardens

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