Plan a Vacation with Dad in Mind

Food, Beer and Cars Oh My!

Birmingham, Ala might not be top on your list when you are considering a family vacation destination, but you may want to rethink that. The city is a thriving foodie, micro-brew and entertainment community that will surprise you.


Just a 10-minute drive from the airport and only seven minutes to Birmingham’s downtown city center, the Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brookis nestled in the “village” of Mountain Brook. Known as the tiny kingdom, Mountain Brook is a suburb of Birmingham with all the charm of a small town and a quaint Swiss Alps feel that is replicated throughout the town center and beyond to the residential community. The community is one of three, picturesque suburbs that are part of the residential areas along the ridges of the Red and Shade Mountains.

The Grand Bohemian, one of seven boutique hotels created by visionary Richard Kessler, offers luxury accommodations with beautiful art, good food, relaxing spas, and unique experiences without even leaving the premises. Each hotel is built to blend into its surroundings while celebrating each distinct location.


The Grand Bohemian offers unique experiences on site to get in you touch with your inner foodie personality. Sign up for the Cooking School to learn new cooking skills and how ingredients come together to create scrumptious cuisine. A professional chef will show you how to perfect your knife skills, grill, prepare pasta and seafood, and create beautiful desserts. Classes include Perfect Pasta, Sauce Made Simple, Southern Staples and Three if by Sea, among others.

Do you love wine? Take the wine blending class! An expert sommelier will educate you in the types of grapes used to make each type of wine and you’ll create your own blend mixing various red wines created specifically for the Kessler Collection of hotels. You’ll even leave with a bottle of your own creation to share with friends.


Birmingham was named the “Oscars of Dining” because of the many James Beard Foundation Award winners and nominees that make the list each year. The James Beard Awards “celebrate, nurture and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse and sustainable for everyone.”

CNN Travel’s Andrew Zimmern recently touted the city’s food scene as “blazing hot” and the combined award-winning chefs and hottest new talent has raised Birmingham’s profile as an up and coming foodie city.

Then there are the craft breweries. Thrillist recently called the city’s beer scene a “hidden gem.” With over 10 breweries, each crafting original brews with names like Naked Pig, Truck Stop Honey, Freckle Belly and Paw Paw’s (all available at the Back Forty brewery), you’re sure to enjoy an eclectic, tasty tour of the best in microbrews.


When deciding where to build his luxury hotels, Richard Kessler not only considered how to pamper his guests but also what kind of fun they can have during their visit. The Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook is no exception and close to many attractions for kids and adults of all ages.

Birmingham Botanical Garden

The Botanical Gardens offer a collection of diverse gardens, each based on culture or geography, and includes a glass conservatory available for events. Not to be missed is the Japanese Garden, which features an authentically created tea house, the Seven Virtues Waterfall, bamboo groves and a beautiful cherry blossom tree. The gardens are open from dawn to dusk and free to visitors.

Birmingham Zoo

The Birmingham Zoo, a short walk from the Grand Bohemian, is known for its amazing animal care, conservation initiatives, and Species Survival Plans, and is home to over 230 animal species from six continents. One of the state’s most popular attractions, the zoo is a national leader in promoting the care and breeding of threatened elephants, part of a world-wide effort to save various elephant species from extinction. The exhibit, Trails of Africa, offers a unique education experience for visitors to observe a herd of male African elephants both from an aerial and ground view.

Of course, you’ll see many more animals including red pandas, orangutans, sea lions, rhinos and even Komodo dragons. Visitors can enjoy the 122-acre site any time of year.

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

Only a short 20-minute drive from the Grand Bohemian, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is home to the largest collections of vintage motorcycles. The museum has over 1600 motorcycles from 200 different manufacturers and 20 countries, and spans over 100 years of production. Many of the motorcycles are rare and some have been restored to their original specifications in the onsite machine shop. Most can be made ready to run within an hour.

The Barber museum also has over 50 vintage Lotus racecars making it the largest collection in the world. The vintage collection includes other types of racecars such as the 1964 Ferrari F-158, which John Surtees drove when he won the 1964 Formula 1 World Championship. 

The Porsche Experience

Do you ever feel the need for speed? Then buckle up and live out your driving fantasy at the Porsche Track Experience! Experience the thrill of racing while driving the latest Porsche sports car model. The track at the Barber Motorsports Park is 2.38 miles and 16 turns including 80 feet of elevation changes that will challenge even the most experienced driver. The Barber facility is one of the premier racing circuits in the world hosting major events like the IndyCar Series and the MotoAmerica Superbike Series. And is home of the official US Porsche driving school.

The Porsche Track Experience offers courses for all levels of driving skills and the instructors are either active race car drivers or a mix of professional drivers who are Porsche-Certified. Their belief is the best place for you to hone your skills is behind the wheel. Complete the advanced courses and you are eligible to apply for a SCCA full competition license.

The Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook and the Porsche Track Experience have partnered to offer special room pricing and the Barber Motorsports Park provides first-class transportation to and from your driving experience during your stay.


No vacation is complete without a spa experience and the Grand Bohemian’s Poseidon Spa is just what a weary traveler needs. The menu at the spa offers an array of indulgent and rejuvenating facial, body and soul treatments. First-class massage packages for relaxation, detox, anti-aging and therapeutic treatments are offered, along with personalized facials for both women and men. Then treat the soul with the Privai Rituals, a wellness experience tailored to facilitate self-awareness and healing through a combination of treatments to balance your mind, body and spirit.


While Birmingham may have been a surprise suggestion, it is a vibrant city that provides so many options to please everyone in your family! Just a short two-hour flight from Houston, you can enjoy one of the best cities the south has to offer! Good food, fun and experiences await you. And the Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook is the gateway to all that the city has to offer!

 Experiences Just for Dad 

Eat/Drink – Between the many micro-breweries and James Beard recognized restaurants, Dad can spend a day (or two!) touring the amazing foodie scene the city has to offer

Play – Dad will fulfill his racing fantasy at the Porsche Track Experience, where he’ll drive the newest model Porsche on a genuine racing track

Relax – Every Dad can use a massage after a hard day of racing. The spa will pamper him and he can even enjoy the experience with Mom

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