I recently asked a friend who roots for Auburn about Birmingham, and he agreed to share his thoughts on the city.
Things To Do:
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute: (http://www.bcri.org) If you want to have some education along with your football, head down to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Tickets aren't too expensive ($10 for adults, $5 for Senior Citizens, and $4 for students with ID) and are a lot of great exhibits.
Sloss Furnaces: (http://www.slossfurnaces.com) Sloss is an old iron factory located in downtown Birmingham. The last time I went, it was free to enter the area and look around. If you want a tour, I think you need to call ahead. It is a wonderful facility that has a haunted house during October and concerts during the rest of the year.
McWane Science Center: (http://www.mcwane.org) Want an educational place for kids? The McWane Science Center has all those educational things that you wished that you actually learned when you were in school. There is an Imax theater and they also have an aquarium downstairs which most people forget is there. It's worth checking out.
Vulcan: (http://www.visitvulcan.com/) Vulcan is God of the Forge and a statue of him is located up high on a hill in Birmingham. You can get a great view and it is free to visit. I think it might cost a few dollars to ride the elevator up to the top, but it is a good place to get a good view of the city. He is the world's largest cast iron statue in the world.
Bottletree Cafe: (http://www.bottletreecafe.com) The Bottletree is a good place to go to get a bite to eat, grab some good beer, and catch some music. Located a little east of the main downtown area, Bottletree has good parking in a very safe part of town. One of this year's biggest bands, Deerhunter, played at the bottle tree last week. If you like a nice hole in the wall place, this is a good one.
Blue Monkey Lounge: (http://www.bluemonkeylounge.com) If you are looking for something a little more relaxed, I'd recommend the Blue Monkey Lounge. Located on Cobb Lane (a cobblestone road in downtown Birmingham), the Blue Monkey Lounge has a piano in the back and great cocktails in the front. Parking can be found on the corner of 14th Avenue and 21st Street.
Five Points: Speaking of downtown Birmingham, if you want somewhere fun to hang out at night then you should head to Five Points. 20th and 21st Streets converge in front of a church near 13th and 14th Avenue. Bars are all around the region as well as good places to eat. I recommend Cosmo's Pizza, Jim N' Nicks Bar-B-Que, Surin West (Thai) and Sakura Japanese Sushi Bar which are all nearby.
Where to Stay:
Birmingham is mostly made up of suburbs. If you are looking for a good place to stay, I'd look at staying on the southside of Birmingham. That includes the cities of Homewood, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, and Hoover (which is where the MTV show Two A Days was shot and where Michael Jordan played baseball).
Where to Shop:
Along with lots of restaurants, Birmingham has a lot of places to spend all your money! Good shopping centers to waste all your hard-earned cash are The Riverchase Galleria (http://www.riverchasegalleria.com), Patton Creek (http://www.pattoncreek.com), and The Summit (http://www.thesummitonline.com/birmingham/).
note: a local paper reports that the Rutgers and NC State teams are expected to visit the Institute, among other stops including a children's hospital and a pep rally.