Exploring Birmingham :: A Perfect Day North of the City


The communities in north Jefferson County have a lot more to offer than just that small town living feeling, and it’s easy to have a perfect day without venturing down I-65. Here is my wish list of to-do’s when school is out in the area I affectionately refer to as “north of town”.

Disclaimer: This is the perfect day. That means calories don’t count because we like to eat (a lot) in my house.

8:00 a.m.: We roll out of bed and get ready for the day. I’ve reached this amazing stage of motherhood when my girls want to sleep in a little bit too, and it’s GLORIOUS. My youngest girl loves coffee like her momma so we might sit on the back porch, listen to the birds, and let the dogs run around (or let the cat out to sunbathe) for a few minutes before we head out anywhere.

9:00 a.m.: The girls, by this point, insist that they will starve to death if I don’t feed them, so we head to Daylight Donuts in Pinson for a little breakfast of donuts and, duh, more coffee. If I’m not feeling the donut urge that particular morning, Daylight Donuts has other breakfast options such as pine cones, cinnamon rolls, and these cool little things called kolaches which are smoked sausages wrapped in sweet dough. They come regular, with jalapenos, or ham and cheese. And if you can’t get out of bed early enough for proper breakfast, they also have shaved ice! Yum!

Perfect day north of Birmingham starts at Daylight Donuts in Pinson!
Daylight Donuts made for our end-of-the-year basketball party around Valentine’s Day!

10:00 a.m.: With extra drinks and bathing suits in hand, we head over to Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, also in Pinson. Depending on how we are feeling that day, we might hike the 2.4-mile trail loop, or if we are feeling lazy, we can just head to the swimming area to play. Turkey Creek is a unique ecosystem and is home to several endangered species such as the grey bat, the flattened musk turtle, and a few different Darter fish species. A few years ago, I went on a field trip with my (then) first grader, and the guides were so knowledgable and great with the kids. They even let the kids wade in the creek to try to catch water critters in nets (catch and release, of course!). Keep in mind, the Preserve is closed Mondays and Tuesdays weekly. Did I mention that admission is FREE to the Preserve? Yay! 

Beautiful Turkey Creek Nature Preserve!

Noon: Lunchtime, obviously, because my eight- and nine-year-old girls can’t go more than three hours without eating. Anyway, we get in the car (with the air conditioning blasting because we live in this Alabama heat) and drive to Chick-fil-A for nuggets, waffle fries, and lemonade. It is God’s chicken, after all, and you can’t find a cooler, more refreshing lemonade anywhere.

1:00 p.m.: We swing by and pick up my mom from her home in Gardendale to do a little shopping. In Fultondale, there is a great shopping area right off the interstate that has several good stores. Our favorites are Target (of COURSE!), Books-a-Million (because the baby LOVES books), and Bath and Body Works (which we have nicknamed “the smelly store”). We visit Taylor Bug’s Consignment in Gardendale for my new five-month-old niece who is coming into town in a few weeks and find some really cute tiny clothes. Other shopping favorites include Cate and Claire’s, a trendy and affordable boutique in Morris right off Highway 31, and Forever Young Boutique on Highway 160 in Hayden.  

4:00 p.m.: We finally head home after our busy day to get cleaned up. Here’s the thing with living in a small town: you have to drive to get places. There’s no such thing as walking to the grocery store or the coffee shop. And after being in the car most of the day, we like to kick back and stretch our legs outside a little bit. Some days, this looks like sitting on the back patio and listening to the breeze blow, taking a quick rest on the couch, or going next door to a field with our Labrador Retrievers and a tennis ball. The kids can go outside and ride their bikes without me worrying about them getting run over. Things move a little slower up here in Kimberly, and that’s more my speed than the uptown Birmingham scene, anyway.

5:30 p.m.: Remember how I said we like to eat? I take a moment to stalk the Facebook page of one of my favorite places to eat, Porky’s Pride BBQ, to see if it’s a food truck kind of night, or if not, we head to Hayden for their new brick and mortar place. Porky’s takes their food truck on the road to many local community events and sometimes even goes “into the city” to Birmingham hot spots such as Avondale. An equally wonderful restaurant is right across the road at Phil’s Grill and those BBQ nachos are AMAZING. We save room for dessert and head to Candy’s Sweets and Treats on Hwy 160, a few miles east of both BBQ restaurants. They have ice cream by the scoop or the specialty milkshakes you see on social media — you know, the ones with the entire cupcake/brownie/piece of cheesecake on top? OH, YES.

Perfect day north of Birmingham - milkshake at Candy's Sweets and Treats
I didn’t even have time to get a “before” shot of the milkshake . . . safe to say it was awesome!!

Other local honorable mentions north of town:

Charlsie’s Catering in Gardendale has great cupcakes and is right next to the place where I get my oil changed . . . so that’s what I do every 7,000 miles, or whenever my husband reminds me.

Black Creek Park in Fultondale has an excellent walking/running trail and is modifiable for longer runs or shorter distances. It connects to the kiddie park (hello, enormous animal statues) with a playground, a dog park, and a small creek that runs through it. 

Celebration Park and Splash Pad in Gardendale is ideal for play time with little ones. Kids can choose water fun or playground, and I can keep an eye on both places at once while I sit under one of the three pavilions. There is an abundance of picnic tables and pavilions so you don’t have to find a spot on the ground to sit on a towel, and the bathrooms are close.

Some variation of the above is my perfect day north of Birmingham. My perfect day is spent with my family, so as long as they’re down for the car ride(s), we have lots to explore around our small town.


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Kathryn H
Kathryn is 31 years old and lives on the outskirts of Birmingham in the small town of Kimberly. She is a full time working mom, living out her dream as a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner. An Alabama native, Kathryn spent her childhood in Greenville and Montgomery, then went to high school in Asheville, NC, before returning home to attend nursing school at AUM. When her youngest child was born, she went back to get her masters degree in nursing from UAB. Kathryn has been married to her husband, Heath, for almost 10 years. She is Stepmom to Seth (age 21), Brenna (age 15), and Mommy to Caroline (age 8) and Abbigail (age 7). Add two huge Labrador retrievers and a cat, and Kathryn's house can feel a little like a zoo when everyone is home at the same time. But it's the most wonderful chaos ever. Kathryn loves the beach, cooking in her Instant Pot, reading in silence and funky printed leggings. Her family spends a ton of time outside, hiking and playing in the sunshine, and commuting the short drive into Birmingham for rock climbing and eating at good restaurants.