Birmingham From the Top


We live in a picturesque city that is best viewed from above.

Written by Rosalind Fournier, photographed by Beau Gustafson

lost any vestigial fear of heights I might ever have had in 1999, standing next to Vulcan. The year is significant, because at that time, Vulcan was in dire need of repair, and for safety’s sake he was closed to the public. But an engineer tasked with monitoring the statue’s condition had invited me to join him on an up-close inspection. As we climbed the tower, it became clear we weren’t stopping at the observation deck. He meant to take me to the Iron Man himself.

It was terrifying. It was cold and windy. There was no railing. All I could do was cling to the statue’s big toe and whimper. I think Vulcan and I both feared for our lives.

But here’s the thing: the experienced changed me. As we started down the ladder, I knew that no high place could ever be that frightening again. In fact, I began to seek out high places: rooftop gardens and swimming pools, sundecks, terraces high above the city, anywhere with a bird’s eye view of Birmingham—the natural terrain and urban skyscape alike, and the higher the better. Sometimes life’s just better at the top.

The High Side

Some of the best views in the city.

Moon Shine at the Elyton

Moon Shine atop the Elyton Hotel serves up one of the best urban rooftop experiences in the city. The food and cocktails are on par with what you’d expect from a luxury hotel, but mix in eclectic decor, historic details and the chance to spot some of your favorite Magic City icons down below, and Moon Shine is a destination unto itself. 

Vulcan Park

The namesake statue may be what attracts visitors to Vulcan Park and Museum in the first place, but along with an interactive history museum on site, the park now boasts Kiwanis Centennial Park and Kiwanis Vulcan Trail. There are spectacular views from everywhere up here.

The Pizitz

Once a landmark department store,  the beautifully renovated Pizitz reopened as a luxury apartment building in 2017. The public knows it best for the bustling Food Hall on the ground floor, but the better-kept secret is what’s on top: a swimming pool and sun deck with grand views of downtown.

The Roof at Redmont

Urban chic ambience and a great downtown view make the bar on top of the Redmont perfect for a drink after work or special event.

The Club

Since 1951, The Club has boasted one of the best views from atop Red Mountain. If you haven’t yet caught the sunset from up here, you need to.

Tip Top Grill

It looks like a modest roadside diner from the front, but the back terrace of this Bluff Park breakfast/burger joint has a stunning view of Shades Valley.

The Southern

Kitchen and Bar

The Southern Kitchen & Bar in the Uptown district features dining with a view plus a rooftop dance party Friday and Saturday nights.

Temple of Sibyl

With its sweeping views and well-tended gardens, Temple of Sibyl is  a symbol of serenity in Vestavia Hills.

The Woolworth

Opening  soon: The Woolworth is planned as a social house/gastropub in 5 Points South replete with duckpin bowling, ping pong, and a large roof deck overlooking 20th Street.

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