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Birmingham first time-where to stay and various other Qs-plz

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pa
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Birmingham first time-where to stay and various other Qs-plz

Flying into BHM, arriving late, need hotel for the night thats close by because need to rent a car the following day to drive to Tuscaloosa for UA campus tour with my son...where to stay the next day?? we will be in Tuscaloosa most of that tour day, with a drive back to/near BHM for the night and early flight out the next day (very quick). That being said I really am picky and I don't mind spending a little extra for "nice" upscale, I just don't know that it makes sense giving the limited time we will actually be in the hotel...we are big foodies so definetly plan to do a "must dine" restaurant on the return trip back from UA....since I've never been to Alabama- is there a recommended driving direction to-from-airport, and to-and-from hotels-UA Tuscaloosa. Sorry for such a long Q- but I trust someone here on TA will find a way to get me straight.

Birmingham, Alabama
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1. Re: Birmingham first time-where to stay and various other Qs-plz

Why not rent the car at the airport when you fly in? That would be easiest. I don't recommend staying in the immediate vicinity, especially since you say that you're picky; you'd need a cab or car to get to a better part of town south of Birmingham proper.

Since you're going to Tuscaloosa, I'd choose a hotel near I-459, from which you can easily jump onto I-59/20 to head to campus. It's about 60 to 70 minutes from Birmingham, give or take, depending on exact location, etc. You should not encounter heavy traffic on the interstates, either going or coming back.

For hotels, you have a couple of good options within a 20- or 25-minute drive. There's the Birmingham Marriott as well as other chains on Highway 280; just be aware that 280 traffic is horrendous at rush hour. Or there's a new-ish Embassy Suites in Hoover on John Hawkins Parkway. Both are very near the interstate. If B&Bs are your thing, you could consider Cobb Lane, but it's not as convenient for you.

You can't go wrong with Highlands Bar & Grill for dinner. Frank Stitt, the chef, is nationally renowned and the restaurant is superb. Another possibility is Hot & Hot Fish Club, equally well regarded.

Birmingham, Alabama
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2. Re: Birmingham first time-where to stay and various other Qs-plz

For clarification: I meant hotels within a 20- or 25-minute drive of the airport, not Tuscaloosa.

pa
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3. Re: Birmingham first time-where to stay and various other Qs-plz

thank you fam03, I was looking at that marriott as we are marriott members, I have my eyes on Ross Bridge Reannaisance (marriott) too. I have the option of getting car service from BHM to there and then renting nearby for the next days journey...if the area around airport isn't great, is it the same for the drive?? I hate to drive at night and when not familiar would be a little freaked especially late at night....I appreciate the input and advice about the drive as well...i guess if he wants tobe a student at UA i'll have to get used to all of this!

Thanks so much!

Birmingham, Alabama
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4. Re: Birmingham first time-where to stay and various other Qs-plz

Ross Bridge is very nice too, just a little farther out (15 minutes or so from I-459). My only hesitation would be that you might not be there long enough to really enjoy all the amenities (spa, etc.) that make it a prime place to stay.

I understand about driving at night in unfamiliar, not-so-great areas. The airport is really easy, though - you basically exit the parking lot, go through a couple of traffic lights and bam, there's the interstate. It wouldn't give me pause, but if you have the option of car service, it could be nice not to have to worry about finding your way in the dark.

If I'm not mistaken there's a car rental agency practically on top of the Birmingham Marriott (Hertz?). The 280 location would also be closer in for dinner and for returning to the airport the following day.

Good luck and hope you enjoy your campus tour!

Alabama
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5. Re: Birmingham first time-where to stay and various other Qs-plz

If it were me, I'd fly in and then take a rental from the airport out to exit 108 on I20/59 Academy Drive. There are several decent hotels there. I'd look into dining at the Bright Star. www.brightstar.com. It's a couple exits before 108. It's about a 20-25 minutes drive. Depending on when you are going to be flying in there could still be some major road construction that way but it is the most direct to Tuscaloosa.

Millbrook, Alabama
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6. Re: Birmingham first time-where to stay and various other Qs-plz

Wherever you decide to stay, you definitely want to use I-459 rather than I-20/59 because of construction that has part of it closed until at least the end of April.

There are lots of options, but here are two based on your comments:

1) Stay at a place with a free airport shuttle the first night - perhaps the Sheraton downtown or the Embassy Suites. You could have them take you back to the airport to get the rental car. You could stay there both nights as each is fairly convenient to the airport, I-459 and Highlands Bar & Grill, which I would also recommend.

2) Driving in Birmingham is easy. Go ahead and rent the car at the airport and stay at the Marriott on 280 or Ross Bridge. Both are convenient to I-459 for the drive to Tuscaloosa. This would be my first choice because you don't have to deal with getting the car before going to Tuscaloosa. The rental cars are at the airport parking garage, so they are convenient for picking up and dropping off.

pa
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7. Re: Birmingham first time-where to stay and various other Qs-plz

Thanks everyone! I am now leaning towards the Birmingham marriott (280)...will either rent car at airport when i arrive, or taxi to marriott and rent car at the hertz beside the hotel...if i do taxi from airport to marriott any idea taxi rate? It sounds like driving and construction could confuse me; and it will be almost 11:00 at night...

I had considered staying downtown both nights but sorta felt swayed against that for the negative views of the "safety" at night in the downtown area (there are two marriott properties that offer shuttle service to/from airport)which seemed more practical until i read some not so great reviews of the downtown area....humm

Millbrook, Alabama
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8. Re: Birmingham first time-where to stay and various other Qs-plz

The hotel's website estimates the taxi fare to be $45 each way. That is one reason I recommended getting the rental car upon arrival. The construction would not be an issue if you choose the Marriott on 280. It is on I-20/59 between Birmingham and Bessemer. Without staying at a place with a free airport shuttle, you would be better off renting upon arrival. The most direct route would be I-20/59 towards Birmingham and then take Hwy 280 East when you get downtown. Alternatively, you can take I-20 east towards Atlanta and then I-459 towards Tuscaloosa to the Hwy 280 exit. The second option is a little longer, but it is interstate all the way until the exit. The hotel is only about a quarter mile off the exit.

Paris, France
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9. Re: Birmingham first time-where to stay and various other Qs-plz

If you've not booked yet, you might consider the Aloft hotel in Homewood. It's maybe 15 minutes from the airport, at the most.

And defintiely eat at Highlands Bar & Grill if you're a foodie. It's a finalist for the James Beard Foundation award for best restaurant in the country. You'll need a reservation.

pa
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10. Re: Birmingham first time-where to stay and various other Qs-plz

One last q for you experts here:

I have made my reservation for the Birmingham marriott...still debating whether to rent and drive late at night from the airport...if i do which route is the better:

1. 38E & 280

2. 1-20E-I-459S

I googled the directions and these two come up...not sure where the construction comes into play.

Thanks again for the wonderful responses.