“Do you go to the same place every time you sunset chase?”
“Do you take all those pictures from your house?”
(Not a single one.)
“Do you have to trespass to get sunset photos?”
(No. You don’t have to. And I almost never do.)
“Why are you so obsessed with sunsets?”
(That’s a long story.)
These are all questions I get asked regularly about my pictures, especially the location questions. And they’re good questions. The sun is setting later, the clouds are getting more interesting, and it’s beautiful outside. It’s time for everyone to start enjoying it again.
To help set you off in the right direction, I’ve compiled my collection of the best spots to get a sunset in Birmingham. At the bottom of this post you’ll find forty-eight locations in a nifty little interactive Google map with all the details, pictures, and links that you need to plan your own adventures. But first, here are my top ten favorite spots.
1. Ruffner Mountain – This isn’t a casual drive-by sunset – you will have to hike a mile. But it’s a fantastic hike, as you will feel like you’re an hour out of town when you’re really in the middle of town, and the view payoff is tenfold.
The sky from Ruffner Mountain is gigantic. Can you spot Birmingham out there?
2.Railroad Park – This park doesn’t have a bad angle. No matter what time of year it is, you will get a great shot, sunset or otherwise.
3. Vestavia Drive (Best in Spring/Summer) – This road has infinite fantastic angles.
You can photograph Samford from above,
Vulcan hanging out with downtown (this is a tricky spot to find but it’s mind-blowing),
And your kid holding the sun.
At the end of the street, Vestavia Hills Baptist Church has a playground. My kids call it the Sunset Playground. For obvious reasons.
4. The Tip Top Grill (Best in Spring/Summer) – this is the only place in town that you can buy a hamburger (or a delicious cookie) and a coke to enjoy while the sun goes down. And the lush view of Shannon Valley is indescribable.
(Kids like it, too.)
While you’re there, walk down to Lover’s Leap. Just don’t fall.
5. Downtown Overpasses (Best in Fall/Winter) – This shot typifies Birmingham for me. I grew up listening to trains and still find the sound soothing.
I especially love the mixture of downtown buildings, trains, and sunsets. What more could you ask for?
6. Quiet Residential Road [road name redacted at resident’s request] (Best in Spring/Summer) – This is the spot that started it all – my entire sunset obsession – with this picture:
(Nope, I didn’t even take it – Chris did.)
Since then, I’ve been continuously blown away with what this road has to offer:
It has so many beautiful angles,
And fascinating little nooks.
Even the street itself is stunning.
It is a public road and the residents are extraordinarily nice, but please only stay on the road itself, don’t litter, and respect their private property on both sides of the road.
Because it’s magical.
7. Quiet Residential Road [road name redacted at resident’s request] – I’ve known about this road for many years, as has most of Birmingham. Again, the road is public, but you cannot park there nor trespass onto the private property. Just drive through and enjoy for a minute.
They have a fairly straight shot at the city, big skies,
And beautiful flowers.
8. Bethel Baptist Church in Gate City (Best in Fall/Winter) – I was driving down the interstate one evening near sunset, looked to the right, saw the sun hitting this church, and veered off on the next exit and kept driving until I found the Church and its magical parking lot.
It’s not in an affluent section of town, but they have the richest view in our city.
9. Vulcan (Best in Spring/Summer) – Birmingham must, at some point, be seen from the top of Vulcan.
10. Vulcan Trail and 21st Street – Vulcan Trail has in its possession some great little peek-throughs,
As well as this magnificent tree that I adore catching with the sunset.
If you park in the Vulcan Trail lot and walk to the right, you will find one of the closest and lowest views of the city you can get.
These spots aren’t nearly all of the places I visit – there are thirty-eight more locations, pictures, and many, many tips on my interactive map – click on the markers on this map for information, pictures, and links, and save the map to reference on your next sunset chase!
Where do you like to go to see the sunset? I’m adding suggestions to my map as well.
All of my pictures can be found catalogued on my other site, Picture Birmingham, and many of them are for sale there as well, with 100% of the profits going to benefit The WellHouse, a ministry that rescues victims of sex trafficking. Please consider buying prints, canvases and/or note cards to support this fantastic ministry.
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