Envisioned and constructed as a southern hub for Birmingham's
elite, Glen Iris
wraps itself around the Glen Iris Park, a residential district providing beautiful vistas of the surrounding greenery. Many of the neighborhood's winding roads rise and fall with the natural slope of the land while trees line the roads. The urban oasis of Glen Iris provides locals with charming early-20th century single-family housing and a tranquil atmosphere to return to after a day out in the busy streets of Birmingham.
Schools in Glen Iris
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Restaurants & Nightlife
While the residential nature of Glen Iris means those in search of restaurants and the city's nightlife must travel beyond the neighborhood, a quick trip east into Homewood
or north into downtown Birmingham
provides locals with an incredible array of options from which to enjoy. Whether in the mood to try an exciting gourmet take on a traditional dish or looking to be transported across the globe with international flavors, the immediate surroundings of Glen Iris have you covered.
Located on 20th Street in downtown Birmingham, Trattoria Centrale combines diner classics with Italian ingredients and style, causing many patrons to stop by for brunch time and time again. Not sure what to get? Try the frittata and polenta with a side of bacon for a signature dish, which includes many of the flavors found throughout the menu. The local Octane coffee comes complimentary with every meal.
Fusing cutting-edge American gourmet dishes with upscale Italian standards and a moodily-lit romantic atmosphere, Gianmarco’s Restaurant draws large crowds each night of the week. Plan your dinner date early, as reservations can be difficult to get on short notice. The menu rotates weekly and seasonally, though a few staples come back often, including the mesmerizing lamb in pistachio crust and the savory seafood risotto.
Those looking to cut loose alongside Birmingham's electric nightlife scene can catch their favorite local and national acts at the two stages in Workplay. This two-in-one venue has a large theater stage for bigger acts, as well as an up-close-and-personal second stage for acoustic sets and intimate performances to ensure a better show. Stop by the full bar to grab a couple drinks, including a wide selection of bottled craft beers, and chat with the friendly serving staff before the show.
History & Culture
Created by Robert Jemison, Sr., the Glen Iris Park within the neighborhood slowly added more residences to the open lots between 1901 and 1940. The community was designed to overlook the surrounding trails and expansive greenspace of the park proper, further adding to the gated community within the city. As Birmingham continued to flourish and grow, commercialization brought more residences to the area to let more of the community enjoy the pleasant suburban nature of the neighborhood while retaining its outward charm and lush scenery.
You can't miss the enormous iron statue as you head east of Glen Iris along Valley View Drive. Overlooking the city of Birmingham, the Vulcan figure ranks as the world’s largest cast iron statue. Bring your family along to immerse yourselves in the interactive history of the Vulcan Museum before climbing the observation tower in Vulcan Park to marvel at Birmingham's sights.
Interstate 65 cuts through the center of the neighborhood, making travel throughout Birmingham and the surrounding area a breeze. Though Birmingham does not have access to ride-share services such as Lyft and Uber, a number of taxi cab companies provide transportation to residents. Head down Valley Avenue near Green Springs Highway for the best place to catch a cab in the neighborhood.
Public parking can be difficult to find in the area, though a number of the residential side streets allow you to park for free. Cyclists can take advantage of the biking lanes incorporated into many of the area's major roads. The neighborhood's strictly residential nature means most residents rely on an automobile to get around, though the Birmingham Jefferson County Transport Authority services the area with bus stops along Greensprings Highway and Valley Avenue.
The cost of living for the greater Glen Iris area averages 24 percent higher than Birmingham overall. A standard apartment in Glen Iris costs an average of $624 for one month's rent. Glen Iris residents can expect to pay $1.25 for a single-ride fare on the CTA into downtown Birmingham. Local pubs charge around $5 for a pint of beer, and gas prices in Birmingham tend to stay around 10 percent below the national average.
Residents head into southern Glen Iris along Valley Road to knock out a number of errands in one trip at the Red Mountain Plaza Shopping Center, which collects a number of stores in one convenient place, including CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Redbox, Salvation Army, Office Depot and Big Lots. Local grocery store options include Wal-Mart, Gordo's Market, Save-A-Lot and ALDI.
Head north along Interstate 65 to Finley Avenue to visit Birmingham's largest producers-only market. The Alabama Farmers Market contains open-air stalls during the warmer months and an indoor facility for the winter. Open every day of the week all year long, the market sells a variety of locally grown and produced goods. Check the website for information on upcoming sales and what's currently in season.
The neighborhood's northern end marks where most locals head to check out the variety of specialty shops in the area. Grab a cup of coffee at nearby Urban Standard before browsing the selection of unique trinkets and vintage collectibles in What's on 2nd? The eclectic products available make for great gifts, and collectors of old video games, models, kitchenware and postcards can find much to keep them occupied.
Stop by Sojourns on 3rd Avenue for your artistic home decor needs. This one-of-a-kind boutique stocks fair trade and hand-crafted porcelain, cutlery, clothing, jewelry and dishes among other items, all fitting into thematic sets. Notes posted throughout the store document where each item was made, often including the name of the person who worked on it. Those interested in giving their home an individualistic look should not miss a chance to check out Sojourns.
Head to northwest Glen Iris to visit the all-in-one George Ward Park. Combining expansive greenspace and winding hiking trails with a disk-golf course and a dog park, George Ward Park makes for the perfect escape into nature on a sunny afternoon. Invite some friends along to play a pick-up game in one of the soccer fields, or bring the kids to the playground to get out some of that boundless energy.
All of Birmingham converges on Railroad Park north of Glen Iris for the Trucks by the Tracks festival on a Sunday in September each year. This annual food truck festival celebrates the great local flavors of the area, complete with live music from popular local artists.