Exploring Birmingham :: A Perfect Day in Mountain Brook

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Gilchrist in Mountain Brook Village - an iconic soda fountain
Beautiful architecture at Gilchrist in Mountain Brook Village

One of my favorite places in Birmingham is where we spent our first years as parents — Mountain Brook. Walking the streets of its iconic villages makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a magical, little European village. In fact, Mountain Brook is known by long-time locals as “the tiny kingdom” and is truly a fantastic little city chock full of beautiful architecture, scenery, restaurants, and kid-friendly activities. The three individual villages (Mountain Brook Village, English Village, and Crestline Village) have so much to offer in and of themselves, so we prefer to pick one and walk to all of our favorite places. So, here are some of our favorite places in each village (but you likely will find much more while wandering around!). 

Mountain Brook Village

  • The Birmingham Zoo: Mountain Brook Village hosts one of Birmingham’s best family-friendly activities — the zoo! You could really spend a whole day at the zoo looking at all the animals, riding the train (my son’s favorite), riding the carousel, and visiting the petting zoo, but we usually go when it opens and stay for a couple of hours! Extra tip: Until it gets cool outside, we pack a swimsuit and towel to play in the splash pad before we leave. 

    The Birmingham Zoo is in Mountain Brook Village
    Watching the elephant at the zoo
  • Birmingham Botanical Gardens: One of our favorite (and free!) places to get some energy out is right across the street from the zoo at the Botanical Gardens. Spring is the best time to look at all the flowers, but in the fall you can purchase pumpkins from Leaf & Petal at the front. This has become a fun tradition for us! We also love to pack a lunch, or pick something up from Gilchrist (see below) down the road, and have a picnic at one of the provided benches or tables.    
  • Gilchrist: One of the most iconic places to grab lunch or a snack is this old pharmacy-style soda fountain. We can’t go to Gilchrist without getting a limeade (they are famous for them!), but their shakes, sandwiches, and chili are also delicious! If we do stay to eat, it can be fun for my little one to sit on the stools at the soda counter to watch everything be made (plus it’s free entertainment!). 
  • Mountain Brook Creamery: Truth be told, this may be one of my favorite places in Birmingham! Mountain Brook Creamery is nestled in a picturesque, little storefront right in the heart of Mountain Brook Village, and their ice cream is just so good.  My son’s favorite flavor is Superman, but I’m pretty sure that’s just because of the “cool” colors.  They also have several seasonal flavors throughout the year, so you always have new ones to try (as if you needed another reason!). 

    Mountain Brook Creamery . . . yum!
    My husband and son sharing an ice cream cone at Mountain Brook Creamery

English Village

  • Continental Bakery & Chez Lulu: One of the best breakfast spots in English Village also happens to also be a delicious French restaurant at night. In the morning, Continental Bakery is a great spot to grab a coffee or latte. Plus, they have homemade pastries galore (which is always what the kids want!). You will feel like you stepped into France, both in the coffee shop and at Chez Lulu for dinner. On a nice night, we love to eat outside under the colored lights. They have a great three-course menu for kids that includes an appetizer and dessert, but the pizza is also a great option for sharing!

Crestline Village

  • Emmet O’Neal Library: Rainy day? No problem. This is usually when we head to the library. They offer story times almost every morning (including Saturdays for the whole family), and activities for school-age kids in the afternoons. We often take advantage of their awesome educational toys, too! The dress-up costumes, lego/train table, and blocks are always a hit! One night a month there is a family night with FREE dinner, plus an activity or show! 

    Library is perfect for a rainy day in Mountain Brook
    Story time at Emmet O’Neal library
  • Church Street Coffee and Books: On the days that I forget to pack snacks (which happens a lot), or just need a pick-me-up to make it to nap time, we head to Church Street for a treat. They have fun, kid-themed drinks (we love the vanilla steamer!) and books to look at or purchase. As for their pastries, the famous “breakup cookie” is to die for, but my son happily eats the tree hugger granola bar as a healthier option!
  • Taco Mama: One of the best taco bars in Birmingham started right here in Crestline! In fact, my son asks for their quesadilla at every restaurant we go to! The extensive menu appeals to all food types since you can pretty much create whatever Tex-Mex dish you want, which can be very helpful for picky eaters (speaking from experience here!). 

This list could go on and on of great places in all the villages, but these are the ones I end up going to time and time again, which makes them staples in my book! Hope you enjoy spending your day in Mountain Brook as much as I do!

What are your favorite ways to spend time in Mountain Brook?
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Anna is originally from Lookout Mountain, Georgia (AKA Chattanooga--that whole states bordering thing gets confusing!) but ventured to Birmingham to attend Samford University for college. She fell in love with the “big small town” that Birmingham is and stuck around to work in college ministry after graduating. Shortly after, she met her husband and life has been a whirlwind ever since! Although she has a son, Carter (2) and a baby girl due in December, she still feels like a new mama! While she is a “stay-at-home-mom,” she is rarely at home and can be found at workout classes, the park, and the library in an effort to make it to nap time! (Anyone else?) When she does get free time, she enjoys spending it with friends and family, reading the "Staff Picks" from the library, eating at Olexa’s, and cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs (which she's learned is not a popular choice in this state). She believes that motherhood is survived best with others, and hopes to share with and learn from all the wonderful mamas in Birmingham!