Where we find our own sweet home in Birmingham, Alabama
The Pickwick Hotel, moderate, (205) 933-9555. Like the Tutwiler, which Cox mentioned, the Pickwick has a history - it was a medical-arts complex in the 1930s - but unlike the Tutwiler, it's been a while since the Pickwick was updated. Still, the rooms are clean, quiet, affordable, and best of all, within walking distance of the restaurants, bars, and boutiques of the lively Five Points district.
Neen's Southern Cuisine & Tea Room, inexpensive, (205) 987-7972. Don't worry if you see brides and grooms bustling about in their nuptial finery: Neen's is located in a wedding chapel. And given the embroidered linens, elegant dishware, dainty desserts, and finger sandwiches, stopping for afternoon tea here does sort of feel like going to a bridal shower.
Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q, inexpensive, multiple locations. Since we're giving the ladies somewhere to lunch, we want to make sure the guys have a place to get their grub on as well. And what better place than a lip-smacking barbecue joint where you can chow down on tasty spareribs, hot links, and other hearty helpings. Pass the napkins, please.
Mercedes-Benz Visitor Center, (205) 507-2253. A few dozen miles south of town is the site where this luxury-car maker puts together its sweet rides. Starting in early 2007, when "the launch of [their new] products are complete," you can tour the plant and see each and every detail that goes into their creations. Or you can visit the extensive visitor center.
Sloss Furnaces, (205) 324-1911. This amalgam of pipes, furnaces, and smokestacks operated as an iron factory for 90 years before becoming designated as a National Historic Landmark. But above and beyond the permanent exhibits and ongoing metal-art classes, we just find it fascinating to look at.