The 2.38-mile winding track at Barber Motorsports Park plays home to the three exhilarating races set to zoom amid early spring greenery on this fully charged Sunday. Claim a perch on the hillside-grass seating or pump frenetic fists in the grandstand-seating area for the Star Mazda series as it whisks its four-wheeled velocity carts past your rapt self, then take in the revved up Firestone Indy Lights Race where vrooming vehicle masters take the helm of launched earthships. The IZOD IndyCar Series Race boasts gargantuan names in the whipfast world, including Danica Patrick, Helio Castroneves, Dario Franchitti, Will Power, and Peregrine "I Don't Need This Helmet But It's Regulation" Falcon. Acceleration aficionados can rest their own speed-hungry motors in the free parking lot at Birmingham Race Course on John Rogers Drive, with convenient track shuttles available. Otherwise, fleetness fans can opt to pay an additional, purchased-in-advance charge for on-site parking at the Barber Motorsports Park.
At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
During the week, the lot at The Drive-In sits vacant—but it's far from abandoned. A bit before the clock strikes 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, cars start to crowd into empty spots. The carloads of families and couples on date night are there for the feature, which usually includes one kid-friendly movie—think Planes—or one for grownups, such as Wolverine. Plus, audience members can munch on buckets of popcorn as films unfold.
The Edge’s movie masters light up wall-to-wall screens with anticipated blockbusters and obscure indie flicks as guests kick back in high-backed, adjustable chairs. 18-inch risers position each row at just the right height for an unobstructed stadium-style view, and Dolby Digital surround sound systems tickle eardrums with multidimensional soundscapes. While cinephiles tuck in to tasty tidbits and delicious plotlines, moveable cup-holder armrests make it easy to stow beverages, snuggle with loved ones, or catapult beverages onto not-so-loved ones. The concessions stand sells beer and wine throughout screenings.
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.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and foxtrot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.