“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.
Other Posts you Might Like:
30 Hiking Destinations in Birmingham
10 Best Hikes and Runs in Birmingham
35 Things to Do in Birmingham
20 thoughts on “Where to Find Birmingham’s Sunsets.”
The Birmingham Chamber of Commerce should put you on their payroll–you make the city look amazing, from every angle.
They should. I will talk to them about that. Or I tell you what – would you? :-)
what a wonderful public service this post is, for all beauty lovers, but esp. photographers.
Thank you! Best of luck getting some great shots!
Thanks so much for this post! I plan to actively investigate some of these spots previously unknown to me. I am a sunset lover too.
Great – best of luck finding some fantastic shots! This week has been full of magnificent sunsets.
YAY for this post — I’m familiar with many, but there were a few that are new to me, that I can’t wait to try! Thank you!!! :)
Great!! Let me know how it goes!
Thanks so much for posting all of this info!! I stumbled upon Vulcan trail one evening around sunset and told myself I would take a great photo of the sunset… except I was alone. And darkness was coming. And every episode of Criminal Minds and Forensic Files kept playing in my head. There was lots of graffiti.. and I happened upon a very nice.. very .. “medicated” couple who asked me to take their picture and I could swear that was going to be the end of me. I was so traumatized by my experience that I haven’t even looked at the photos I took since! So, with that being said.. find a sunset buddy if you embark on Vulcan Trail. :)
Yes – I meant to include that. Don’t go alone, don’t stay after dark. We’ve been known to sprint back to the car if I linger too long in my photography. :-)
Beautiful pictures Rachel! You definitely inspire me to take my camera out and visit some new spots!
Where onthe vulcan trail is that awesome tree?
It’s about 3/4 miles up the trail – you can’t miss it!
my friends and I have a highschool dance coming up soon, and we want to take our pictures in front of a great sunset. Do you have any suggestions for a group of 14 people to take sadies pictures?
Any suggestions on a place to do a tiny wedding (just vows) ceremony? I want a place with a great view at sunset and maybe 10 people watching.
There are very few public places with views in Birmingham – most are privately held, or just road views. But here are some ideas – maybe one would work out.
– A lot of people get married on the grounds of Vulcan, but I’m sure it’s not cheap.
– You could get married at the lookout point of Ruffner Mountain, but it’d be a .75 mile (easy) hike to get up there.
– The best place would be the little yard on Stratford Road, but it’s private, and I have no idea how to get in touch with the owners (I tried googling)
– You could get married on Vulcan Trail, possibly, on one of its lookouts…
– Vestavia Hills Baptist has a beautiful view of the valley that Homewood is in – not Birmingham, but it is a pretty view. They also have a nice little deck behind the church on the side of the mountain.
Hope that helps!
Thank you for posting this article! It’s very helpful.
Thanks so much for this information. I love seeing the B’ham skyline and sunsets! I used to enjoy visiting Baby Doe’s until it closed because of the great view, and I’m still trying to find a place to relax and enjoy the view!
Dude your articles give me life. Another spot I love is the Healthsouth Helipad by Grandview. Need an article on places to eno/study with a view and possibly wifi nearby to connect to!