Exploring Birmingham :: A Perfect Day in Avondale


Avondale is a beautiful neighborhood in Birmingham with a rich history. It was home to Birmingham’s first public zoo in the southeast corner of Avondale Park from 1914 to 1934. The zoo was home to the beloved elephant, Miss Fancy, whose name and likeness can be spotted all over the Avondale neighborhood. The 41st Street area has quickly become our go-to spot for date night, family outings, shopping, etc. Avondale has it all! I could easily write an entire series about the great businesses in this neighborhood, but I’ve included a few of my favorites to kickstart your Avondale experience!

The Abbey

Photo courtesy of The Abbey. Used with permission.

The Abbey is a coffee shop full of overstuffed chairs and welcoming nooks that are great for studying or working all day. They serve locally roasted coffee, and their tea and bread also come from Alabama businesses. Their baked good selection varies from day to day but never disappoints. The Abbey also serves those in need by offering one free coffee and a free grilled cheese or PB&J sandwich to anyone who asks. You can add a few dollars to your tab to support their mission. 

MAE Studio

Photo courtesy of MAE Studio. Used with permission.

MAE studio in Avondale is the dream hair salon I have been searching for! I stumbled upon their social media pages because they are located inside the same building that used to be a wedding venue (where I got married!) So besides the nostalgia factor of revisiting my wedding day venue, the atmosphere here is amazing, offering the perfect combination of conversation and relaxation. The staff are all so lovely and welcoming. They also have a host of perfectly curated goods including hair pins, dainty rings, stationary, clothing, and great handbags. You can leave here feeling refreshed with great hair and a few new trinkets in tow!

Sozo Trading Co.

Photo courtesy of Sozo Trading Co. Used with permission.

Sozo Trading Co. is every thrifter’s dream store. They have a huge selection of upscale thrift items, items from Ugandan marketplaces, and they rent 24 booth spaces to local sellers as well. All sales from Sozo go to benefit Sozo Children, a nonprofit organization that cares for vulnerable children in Uganda. I stop here every time we are in Avondale because there are new treasures brought in every day! They are currently working on a new mural on their building — stop by and check it out!

Avondale Common House

The famous fried chicken. You need this in your life. Photo courtesy of Avondale Common House. Used with permission.

Avondale Common House is my favorite restaurant in all of Birmingham. They are a family-friendly eatery with a fantastic patio space for the spring and summer. Many evenings, there are local musicians playing out on the patio. The ceiling is made of whiskey barrels and the atmosphere is laid back but with amazing food that is obviously crafted with love. My personal recommendation is the fried chicken — it’s seriously good. The fried green tomatoes are also a must-try item.  

Hot Diggity Dogs

Photo courtesy of Hot Diggity Dogs. Used with permission.

Take your kids, take your wife, take your parents and siblings and head straight to Hot Diggity Dogs for some of the best hot dogs I have ever had. Seriously, if it can be put on a hot dog, they have it on the menu. I was instantly sold when I walked in and they had a hot dog with spring rolls on top (pictured above). Some recent favorites were the soft shell crab topped dog as well as the pimiento cheese dog. You cannot go wrong with anything on this menu!

Big Spoon Creamery

Photo courtesy of Big Spoon Creamery. Used with permission.

Big Spoon Creamery is a must stop if you are bringing your little ones to Avondale (or they also have a location in Homewood!) They have the best ice cream and sorbets with the freshest ingredients. You can find a variety of treats here from regular scoops to ice cream sandwiches to seasonal fresh flavors. If you are a tea drinker like me, you must try the London Fog flavor. It’s the perfect mix of Earl Grey and vanilla that isn’t too sweet! The strawberry goat cheese hibiscus (with locally sourced goat cheese from Stone Hollow Farms!) is also another family fave. They have tons of choices, and your kiddos are bound to find something they love!

There are tons of other businesses in Avondale that are all worthy of a trip, but here are a few to get you started. (Maybe an Avondale – Part II post will be coming in the future!) I hope you’ll enjoy exploring this Birmingham neighborhood as much as I do and find some new favorites for your family!


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Sara W
Sara is a Birmingham native, happily married wife to Adam, and mother to Charlotte (2 yrs). Sara spent her childhood in Shelby County, but moved to the city to attend college at UAB, where she earned her bachelor's degree in healthcare administration. She works full time in a high risk maternity clinic where she has been supporting mamas long before she became one herself. In her spare time (yeah, right!) she can be found at the library, sewing new things for her baby girl, or wrangling their four rescue animals (two cats and two dogs). Currently embracing this new journey of motherhood and learning to accept the ever present basket of laundry, Sara's home is the perfect storm of chaos and love.