Hoover/Vestavia Hills – Birmingham, AL

The Hoover/Vestavia Hills area boasts some of the South's finest homes, and these two cities stand as Birmingham's trendiest, most upscale neighborhoods. Romantic Victorian-style homes nestle shoulder-to-shoulder with more contemporary designs in Hoover and Vestavia Hill's subdivisions. Located 11 miles south of Birmingham's city center, Vestavia Hills' biggest draw aside from soaring property values is the city's stellar school system, routinely voted among the top 10 in the state. Nearby Hoover serves as the region's most robust retail area with shoppers from all over the state visiting the Riverchase Galleria and out of town guests longing to stay in a sumptuous room at the attached Wynfrey hotel.

Schools in Hoover/Vestavia Hills

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

A wide assortment of restaurants lie scattered about these two cities, but the two main dining locations stand as Riverchase Galleria and a small stretch of Highway 31 in the center of Vestavia Hills. Whether you crave artisan pizza or handcrafted sushi, rest assured you'll discover something that suits your taste buds. This area features chain establishments such as California Pizza Kitchen and Firebirds, but a few worthy local-only restaurants do exist. One such place, Tortuga's Pizza serves the best deep-dish pizza outside of Chicago, according to locals. If you get a little antsy waiting for dinner, the staff will give you real pizza dough to practice twirling while you wait. If your tastes run a little more on the ethnic side, pop in to Kool Korner Sandwiches for some authentic Cuban cuisine. Rated as the best Cuban sandwich in Birmingham and lauded for impeccable customer service and clean interior, Kool Korner ranks as a favorite regular lunch-time stop for Vestavia Hills residents. Bistro V offers typical cafe fare such as a variety of salads and sandwiches as well as some more unique dishes like a catfish po' boy and the Southern favorite, shrimp and grits. If you enjoy the taste of the sea, Bistro V serves many seafood-based dishes for your enjoyment. Nightlife in Hoover/Vestavia Hills remains milder than in downtown Birmingham, but fun can still be found at the small array of bars that serve the area. One popular place to hear live music and knock back a few drink, Iron Horse, sits right in the heart of Hoover and hosts local musicians as well as well-known regional acts. Many seem shocked at the quality of entertainment at this venue due to its location in a strip mall and its small-size, but don't be fooled — Iron Horse Cafe remains a hot spot in central Alabama.

History & Culture

Vestavia Hills gained its name from the estate of former mayor George B. Ward, whose home served as a sort of tourist stop between Birmingham and Montgomery. Development as a residential area began in 1946, and the area has continued to thrive and expand ever since. The city of Hoover incorporated in 1976 and saw major changes in the 1980s with the construction of Interstate 459 and the erection of the Riverchase Galleria, which brought hundreds of jobs to the area. Hoover has been steadily growing since its inception. Aldridge Gardens, an outdoor art gallery that winds through native flowering plants like azaleas and hydrangeas serves as the area's historical art scene. It hosts annual events such as Whispers from the Past, a festival highlighting Native American culture.

Transportation

Hoover/Vestavia Hills residents rely primarily on personal vehicles for transportation though this area does contain some MAX bus routes provided by the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority that will take you into the city center or to other points of interest along the way. Some cabs operate here unlike in the southern portion of the Birmingham metro area, so hailing one proves possible though unpredictable. Uber doesn't yet operate in Birmingham. Luckily, access to highways and expressways proves simple from the Hoover/Vestavia Hills neighborhoods. Alabama Highway 31 runs through the center of these cities and Interstates 459 and 65 crisscross the cities at multiple locations. Busy highways comprise the main thoroughfares through both of these neighborhoods, making walking or biking difficult and potentially unsafe. However, sidewalks available in many subdivisions make biking and walking a possibility off the main drag.

Cost

The cost of living in Hoover/Vestavia Hills lands slightly above the state average and the average rental rate for a one-bedroom unit hovers around $700. A trip to the Birmingham city center aboard the MAX transit system won't cost you more than $3, identical to the price you'll pay for a beer at the local pub. Gas prices in this area run 5 percent lower than the national average.

Shopping

The major shopping area in Hoover, the Riverchase Galleria, draws visitors from all over the state. An indoor mall filled with chain retailers such as Macy's, Sears, and Banana Republic as well as smaller specialty stores such as Brighton Collectibles and a Swarovski showroom, the Galleria appeals to shoppers of all sorts. Boutiques abound in Vestavia Hills, with Mia Moda as a prime example. Southern hospitality greets you at the door and you're sure to find something to suit your taste at this charming little boutique. Molly Green serves as another example of high-end specialty retailers in the area. Peddling clothing made of organic, sustainable materials and eco-conscious accessories, this shop caters to the all-natural crowd. One unique feature of Molly Green can be found in its back room, where on-site designers sketch and sew the fashions sold out front. Cute, on-trend clothing made of locally sourced materials set Molly Green apart from other boutiques. No shortage of options exists when it comes to stocking your pantry here. Grocery stores that serve this area include multiple locations of Publix as well as a small Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market. To buy in bulk, head to Sam's Club as well as Costco, both conveniently located near the Riverchase Galleria in the heart of Hoover. For the freshest produce in Vestavia Hills, try Murphree's Market and Garden Center. More than just your average produce stand, Murphree's features seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as 20 varieties of locally made jams and jellies and other unique products, such as local honey and homemade salad dressings. Be sure to visit the Beach House out back of Murphree's to see local handmade decorative wares.

Parks

The most prominent park in Vestavia Hills, Wald Park offers guests a community swimming pool and spacious green areas for picnicking or just relaxing. A shady playground sits in the center of the park, making this an overall kid-friendly location. Wald Park doesn't charge an entry fee, but patrons must pay a small fee to use the pool. A hidden gem in the heart of Hoover, Moss Rock Preserve serves as another scenic natural area for residents and visitors. Children will delight at the abundance of critters roaming this park. Lizards, dragonflies and frogs can all be found and examined at Moss Rock Preserve. Activities to enjoy here include rock climbing, wading, hiking and bird watching. Geocachers love the Preserve for its multitude of hiding places. Dogs love this park too for its natural water features and the excitement of chasing small creatures. Be aware though — Fido must stay on his leash. The Annual Moss Rock Festival held each November highlights local folk musicians and artists. Free year-round admission makes this the place to get in your exercise on the weekends.
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