Motorcycle Heaven

LOCAL BUSINESSMAN’S LIFELONG PASSION TURNED WORLD-CLASS COLLECTION AND TOP LOCAL ATTRACTION

by Kelly Stewart

Motorcycle Heaven exists, and you’ll find it in Birmingham, Alabama. Upon entering the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, you’ll understand why motorcycles and cars are considered art. The stunning five-story Barber Museum is home to the largest collection of motorcycles in the world according to Guinness World Records. With more than 1,600 motorcycles, 59 vintage Lotus cars, eclectic art, and a 2.38-mile racetrack, the Barber Museum is truly a motorsports paradise.

Located at the 880-acre Barber Motorsports Park, the 228,650-square-foot Barber Museum has motorcycle and car exhibits on each of its five floors. Floor-to-ceiling windows surround the building, which is anchored by an active restoration area that is visible to guests from each level.

The museum’s motorcycle collection spans more than a century’s worth of production, offering interesting views into the evolution of engineering. You’ll see examples of some of the oldest motorcycles in the world, such as a model of an 1867 Roper Steam Velocipede, as well as the museum’s oldest running motorcycle, the 1902 Steffey.

There are Harley-Davidsons, Hondas and Indians on exhibit alongside less familiar makes, like Cannondale, Jawa and Laverda. The museum has rare motorcycles like the 1996 Britten V1000, which is one of only 10 ever built. There is an exhibit of motorcycles built by Eric Buell, a collection of scooters and a dirt bike exhibit that will make you feel moved. With such a diverse collection, you may see an example of the very first motorcycle you ever rode.

The Barber Museum has an important history. The dream that ultimately became today’s Barber Museum began back in 1988 in an old warehouse on the Southside of Birmingham. There, Birmingham native and former Porsche racer George Barber began collecting motorcycles, starting off with a trio of Honda V-Fours, followed by a rare 1952 Victoria Bergmeister. As Barber’s interest and passion for motorcycles continued to grow, so did his outstanding collection. In 1995, after establishing the Barber Museum as a 501(c)3 notfor-profit organization, Barber donated his burgeoning motorcycle collection to the museum and then opened it to the public. In 2003, when the collection exceeded the square footage of its original Southside home, the museum moved to its current location at Barber Motorsports Park.

Even before the museum opened the doors of its current location, world-renowned track designer Alan Wilson had been brought on to create a world-class, 17-turn road course behind it. Having such a road course accessible is important to the Barber Museum as it allows restoration staff to demonstrate, test and exercise vehicles in the collection. The road course also offers the opportunity for major races, such as the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, to take place in Birmingham.

When you compare it to other motorsports venues, Barber Motorsports Park is extraordinary. Considering that it is indeed a comprehensive and highly technical motorsports facility, many visitors to the museum and park are surprised by its vastness and natural beauty. Accordingly, Barber Motorsports Park is a special destination for garden clubs who take scheduled tours aboard open-air trams throughout the year.

During race events at the park, ticket holders can choose where they’d most like to spectate. Rather than have permanent grandstands, Barber Motorsports Park was designed to provide people with the very best views from grassy hillsides, shaded areas and lightly-treed spaces. Other notable features of the park include gorgeous lakes, beautiful art and sculptures, pedestrian bridges and a spectacular 20-foot waterfall. Of the 880 acres of land that make up Barber Motorsports Park, about 400 acres are untouched forest. This creates a dramatic landscape and a natural sound buffer.

While the Barber Museum is open most days of the year, the racetrack and other various areas of Barber Motorsports Park are open to spectators only during certain scheduled events. However, because the track is used regularly, there are ample opportunities to see a variety of different motorsports activities taking place from inside the museum.

In addition to the Barber Museum using the road course to demonstrate, test and exercise vehicles in its collection, it is also home to the Porsche Track Experience, which offers introductory level and advanced driving courses. Zoom Motorsports manages many weekend events that take place in the park, on the track and at the Barber Proving Grounds. Barber Motorsports Park features major events annually, including the renown Barber Vintage Festival, which brings thousands from around the world to the Magic City of Birmingham.

Give the Gift of Experience

From kids to adults, we have tons of stuff that just takes up space, so instead of getting another thing to sit around why not give the gift of experience this year? A gift membership to one of these amazing attractions is a gift that your friends or family will enjoy all year long.

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

Have you considered how exquisite a motorcycle is in its styling, mechanics, and capabilities? Their artistry is what Birmingham native George Barber saw when he began collecting motorcycles in 1988. Six years later, he established the Barber Museum as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Today, it is home to the largest collection of motorcycles in the world.

Burritt on the Mountain

Burritt on the Mountain — A Living Museum has been referred to as a “Jewel on the Mountain.” Start with Dr. William Henry Burritt’s eclectic mansion, add a historic park with restored 19th century houses including barnyard and animals, and finally throw in the artistic side with concerts, plays and exhibits, and you have a delightful mixture of old and new for young and old!

In 1955, Dr. Burritt willed his mansion and surrounding 167 acres of land on Round-Top Mountain to the city of Huntsville (making it Huntsville’s first museum). Since that time, volunteers and community activists have brought original homes from the area to Burritt to be restored and utilized as an educational facility. Our interpreters are always busy demonstrating activities as one would see on a 19th century farm. Blacksmithing, spinning, and cooking over an open hearth are just some of the skills employed in our historic park. In the Burritt Barnyard, visitors can get “up close and personal” with an animal that would have been used for work, wool, or even food for the farmers and their families.

Cook Museum of Natural Science

The Cook Museum of Natural Science, located in downtown Decatur, Alabama, is a hands-on, immersive experience where guests can explore, interact with, and learn about nature.

Huntsville Botanical Garden

Spring, summer, fall, or winter – the Garden is an oasis of natural beauty in every season! Open year-round, the Huntsville Botanical Garden has 112 acres to explore, learn, and discover the beauty and wonder of plants. From grassy meadows to woodland paths, aquatic habitats to stunning floral collections, the Garden invites guests of all ages to make memories together in nature.

On a visit to the Garden, you can stroll along the nature trails while admiring collections of Alabama’s native plants. If you visit with little ones, head to the Children’s Garden for play, pretend, and hands-on learning. From May through September, you won’t want to miss seeing over 1,000 brightly colored butterflies the nation’s largest open-air butterfly house. Finally, at the end of the day, you can find a moment of serenity in the cool shade of the trees, surrounded by the sounds of nature.

The beautiful Guest Center features additional amenities to make your trip extra special, including recommendations for dining and a gift shop with a hand-picked selection of unique items for your own home and garden.

With additional events, exhibits, and programs happening throughout the year, the Garden is a place of beauty, education, and celebration for all in every season.

McWane Science Center

Fun and learning never end at McWane Science Center, a nonprofit, hands-on museum and IMAX® Dome Theater. Four floors of interactive exhibits celebrate science and wonder — from an amazing collection of dinosaurs to innovative environmental showcases, imaginative early childhood playgrounds, and an awe-inspiring aquarium. The energy and excitement of discovery spring to life through an extensive lineup of science demonstrations performed daily by talented educators. The adventure intensifies in the IMAX® DomeTheater, where wide-eyed visitors experience the sights and sounds of breathtaking films on a 5-story-tall screen surrounded by 3 tons of high-intensity speakers.

U.S Space & Rocket Center

Since opening its doors in 1970, nearly 16 million people have toured the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The vast majority of those visitors have been from out of state or from foreign nations. Many of the more than 550,000 annual visitors are school students on field trips to their future. Dozens of interactive exhibits encourage visitor participation, prompting one official to note: “Here, everyone can be an astronaut for the day!”


Home to Space Camp® and Aviation Challenge® Camp, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) is the most comprehensive U.S. manned spaceflight hardware museum in the world. Its large rocket and space hardware collection is valued in the tens of millions of dollars. From America’s first satellite, Explorer I, to next generation space vehicles like Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser, the museum showcases the past, present and future of human spaceflight.
The USSRC is more than just artifacts! Experience the physics of astronaut training like never before in simulators like Space Shotand G-Force. Our Spacedome IMAX® Theater transports you to different worlds with amazing documentary films like Hubble, and live demonstrations in the Discovery Theater will have you seeing space science in a whole new light. There’s always something happening at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center!

Notable Artifacts:

National Historic Landmark Saturn V Moon Rocket
Pathfinder – the world’s only full-stack space shuttle display
Apollo 16 Command Module
Skylab Orbital Workshop
Apollo 12 Moon Rock

Vulcan Park & Museum

What kind of city builds a huge statue of a burly, bearded, bare-bottomed man to tower over its entire population? One that never forgets its roots. Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, watches over all of Birmingham as a symbol of the city’s iron origins–and the ever-present spark of its indomitable spirit. Visit the Vulcan Park & Museum to see this magnificent statue.