CONDÉ NAST: The Reinvention of Birmingham, Alabama

From a blanket on the grass at Birmingham’s Railroad Park, you can hear the crowd as the bat cracks against a ball inside Regions Field. You can crack a can of Snake Handler, local Good People Brewing’s citrusy double IPA, on the patio adjacent the stadium. Or join the ticket holders queuing just seven blocks away on Third Avenue North, bathed in the soft, neon glow of the massive Alabama and Lyric theater marquees, waiting to see Graham Nash or Gov't Mule.
We aren’t looking at Alabama’s biggest city through rose-colored glasses. Birmingham has arrived. Again. It’s a destination—for historic architecture, old theaters, James Beard award-winning Southern food. And yet, just under a decade ago, it wouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence as other thriving food-and-culture centers of the South: Nashville, New Orleans, Charleston, Atlanta. You might have passed through the city to visit the Civil Rights Institute, a benchmark along the Alabama Civil Rights Trail. Or maybe you were checking in on a friend or child at Samford University. But you weren’t planning a vacation here.