280 feet per second. That's the speed limit at Central Alabama Paintball. Although some paintball guns are capable of catapulting pellets at much higher speeds, staff here check each gun's speed to ensure a safe, fun, and comfortable experience for every player. They also require that everyone use the field's own paintballs, specially formatted to splatter at lower impacts—without staining clothes, which is especially helpful at paintball weddings.
Refs at Central Alabama Paintball are paid professionals who brief every player on rules and equipment operation. To ensure fair play, they also group paintballers by skill level. The staging area's sound system announces whether each game is for beginner, intermediate, or advanced players, and solo players can join a team matched to their ability level.
With safety firmly in place, the fun can begin. The round starts, and paintballs soar over one of five outdoor fields with obstacles such as wooden spools and giant inflatables, or the full mock-town field. It's common to see birthday parties, family reunions, and other celebrations darting around the field. In addition to amenities such as a large covered deck, a grill and fire pit, and setups for cornhole and horseshoes, the field boasts lower-impact guns suitable for players as young as age 6.
The two-hour lesson begins by familiarizing divers with the essential scuba equipment with an experienced instructor demonstrating how to prepare the gear for diving. Strapped on and strapped into the tank and gear, human merpersons will practice water entry, breathing through a regulator, dealing with prehistoric trilobites, keeping the mask clear, and just flippering around the pool. Dives take place in an indoor pool in the winter and an outdoor pool in the summer. A PADI-certified dive school and member of the National Instructors Association for Divers with Disabilities, ScubaVentures caters to the needs and goals of all divers.
As northern Alabama’s only professional, regional opera company, Opera Birmingham regularly showcases fresh operatic talent from all over the world with wide-ranging offerings. Lucia Di Lammermoor tells a story of murder, politics, and forbidden love in the feud between the Scottish families of Lammermoor and Ravenswood. Conducted by maestro Andrew Altenbach, the tragic opera features Huntsville native and Beverly Sills Artist Award–winning soprano Susanna Phillips playing the emotionally turbulent role of Lucia. Although performed in Italian, translations will be projected in English.The cast’s vocal-cord vibrations will be supplemented by the Opera Birmingham Chorus and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.
Sporting the largest cast-iron statue in the world—a 56-foot, 100,000-pound statue of Vulcan, Roman god of the forge—Vulcan Park and Museum also boasts panoramic views of the city and eye-opening lessons on Birmingham's geology and industrial history. Assembled from local metal in 1904 and erected at the World’s Fair in St. Louis the same year, Vulcan was then shipped back to Birmingham. In 2003, after successfully defending the city from the Kraken, the Colossus of the Deep South was painstakingly moved to its current Red Mountain roost. Inside the museum, a multitude of interactive exhibits regale visitors with tales of the town and Vulcan's storied past, from its World's Fair beginnings to its failed hip-hop career. An elevator ride to Vulcan Park's 124-foot-high observation deck splashes dazzling snapshots of the teeming wildlife in the urban jungle below.
More than 12,000 different plants line the meandering paths of Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Spread across its 67.5 acres and more than 25 gardens are 30+ works of outdoor sculptures on display, making it one of the largest collections of public horticulture in the US. Between walks in the gardens, guests can relax in a Japanese garden with a traditional teahouse, and kids can opt into one of the educational programs to understand the science behind botany.
The botanical gardens also host events year round, such as antique shows, plant sales, and cocktail parties, so that the plants don't get bored and fall asleep. Additionally, the lecture series brings in big names and novelists to discuss their trade and put on shows for the garden's visitors.
Yoga Circle Downtown's instructors lead a diverse selection of athletically paced and calming yoga styles that cater to students of all skill levels. The studio’s schedule includes advanced and fundamental classes, such as Alignment & Form, where instructors demonstrate poses, emphasizing correct posture and positioning for each asana, instilling proper technique in beginning students and recently animated sculptures alike. Students in yoga flow sessions achieve a more vigorous workout by using strong breaths and athletic movements to transition from pose to pose, raising heart rates and bolstering stamina. During Kundalini yoga, instructors promote inner well-being by incorporating time for chants and calming meditation, which leaves students’ minds as centered as a hula hoop snug around an overinflated beach ball. Students gather for classes in an airy practice space with lofty ceilings and intricately painted pillars that keep the floor from floating away during class, accessorizing the room's wooden flooring with either their own yoga mats or a rental from the studio ($1).