Leeds is a charming city located in the eastern suburb of Birmingham, Alabama.
Founded in 1877, it was a place for workers of a nearby manufacturing plant to live following the Civil War.
Its fertile land, rich minerals and coal attracted many new settlers to the area, and its proximity to the Little Cahaba River, an old stagecoach route and newly built railroads meant trade could flourish throughout the state.
Today, the vibrant city is home to a world-renowned motorsports museum, mountain ranges and lakes, and as it’s only a 18 miles from Birmingham, there are all the attractions of the city to enjoy too.
1. Bama Flea Mall & Antiques Center
Bama Flea Mall & Antiques Center is one of Alabama’s best-kept hidden shopping secrets.
Set in 57,000 square feet of space and featuring over 400 antique dealers you can easily pick up a souvenir of your stay or a keepsake for a loved one.
Whether you’re looking for antique furniture, Indian artifacts, jewellery, old coins, glassware, books or sporting memorabilia, there’s something in the mall to suit your taste and budget.
The mall is open 7 days a week and located in the heart of Leeds, Alabama.
So, if it’s a cloudy day, or you just fancy a new kind of shopping experience, head for Bama Flea Mall & Antiques Center.
2. Rowan House Historical Home
Before the city of Leeds was incorporated, Rowan Oaks was purchased by Thomas Rowan, an early settler to the area.
Today, on that same piece of land sits Rowan House Historical Home displaying all the charm and elegance of the original house from 1846. With hand-crafted stained glass, period furnishings, and lovingly restored woodwork, the house exudes the ambiance of a bygone era.
You can admire the architecture, host an event or photoshoot at the house if you contact the historical society in advance.
3. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum features the world’s largest collection of motorbikes and a selection of rare racing cars and Lotus sportscars.
There’s nowhere else on the planet you can see over 1,600 motorcycles spanning 100 years of production from over 200 manufacturers.
The museum showcases each individual piece over several floors in a unique way to preserve and reveal the art of each motorcycle.
Whether you’re interested in viewing the 1954 AJS E95 “Porcupine”, want to get up close and personal to almost 100 Harley- Davidson’s or wish to explore the restoration area of the museum, this is the place where all your wishes can come true.
4. Lee Branch Farmers Market
Lee Branch Farmer’s Market is an open-air market located 14 miles south west of Leeds near Lake Purdy.
It’s the perfect place to procure picnic items for a day by the lake, or to browse and sample local Alabama produce.
You can meet friendly neighbourhood farmers selling pork, beef, eggs and chicken, or pick up some organic popcorn, handmade cheese, nuts or relish.
There are also stalls which sell hand-made crafts – perfect for a souvenir of your stay.
With over 60 vendors, the lively market is open from early May to late September, so if you are travelling during these months, pop along, mingle with locals and even enjoy live entertainment and events as you shop.
5. Ruffner Mountain
Ruffner Mountain is home to over 14 miles of trails for hiking, picnicking, bird and wildlife watching.
The mountain has an interesting history.
As it was rich in iron ore, this was mined daily and taken to busy Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham for processing.
There are several sites pertaining to the area’s industrial roots along the trails, and historic mining sites still exist which can be visited for educational purposes or research.
If you are travelling with children, there is a fun nature centre which showcases indigenous wildlife of the region.
So, bring a picnic, hiking boots and a camera and enjoy a fun day nature watching and learning all about this fascinating area.
6. Lake Purdy
This picturesque reservoir near Leeds, Alabama is surrounded by lush woodlands making it one of the best destinations for bird-watching in the area.
Bring your binoculars and you could be seeing Great Blue Herons, Lesser Scaup and even Bald Eagles and Osprey soaring above.
There are abundant hiking and nature trails around the lake offering incredible views and the opportunity for scenic photographs.
Alternatively, if you fancy a spot of fishing, you can take a boat out on the water and try to catch some largemouth bass or crappie.
If it’s a day out amongst nature you seek, Lake Purdy could be a great choice.
7. The Outlet Shops of Grand River
If you wish to put the brakes on your sightseeing itinerary and enjoy some retail therapy, head for The Outlet Shops of Grand River in Leeds.
This mall is filled with discounted designer stores including Coach, Guess, Polo Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Skechers.
Whether you seek a new fragrance for an evening out or are looking for a new pair of sunglasses or a piece of jewellery, you can find them all here.
8. Rusty’s Bar-B-Q
Popular with locals and tourists, Rusty’s Bar-B-Q is a mom and pop barbeque joint located just along the road from the Outlet Shops of Grand River.
Open 7 days a week, this charming retro-style diner caters to hungry meat lovers with full slabs of ribs, pulled pork plates, chicken, burgers, sausages and brisket.
You can combine the meats into a sandwich, BBQ them or add a whole host of tasty sides to the mix.
If you are self-catering, you can order family meals for 4 people or more to go and children’s meals are also on offer if you are popping in for dinner with the kids.
If you’ve been sightseeing all day and just fancy a delicious, generous plate of slow smoked barbeque food, Rusty’s is the place to be.
9. Grand River Drive-In Theatre
On balmy summer evenings, there’s no better way to spend it than watching the latest blockbuster movies outdoors on a big screen.
Fortunately, you can do this at Grand River Drive-In Theatre a few miles outside Leeds.
You can watch action movies from your vehicle or snuggle up in front of a romantic comedy on your chairs outdoors.
If you feel hungry during the movie, you can also order your food from the snack bar and collect it during intermission, so you don’t miss any of the film!
10. Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Birmingham Botanical Gardens lies 16 miles west of Leeds, Alabama.
It’s a tranquil, yet interesting place to spend a few hours, with glasshouses protecting rare species of plants and flowers, to themed gardens and children’s zones.
In good weather you can picnic or sunbathe by the bandstand flanked by floral displays, sundials and fountains, or dine on the terrace of the Pavilion Tea Room before visiting Sensory Garden where you can touch and smell fragrant plants and flowers.
11. Birmingham Zoo
If travelling with children, or you are a lover or animals, then consider visiting Birmingham Zoo.
The zoo houses over 700 animals of over 200 species from every continent.
Whether you wish to view jaguars, sealions, orangutans, lions, giraffes or red pandas you can visit them all here.
Nestled on 122 acres of land outside Birmingham, Alabama, there are themed kingdoms to explore and educational talks each day to learn more about these magnificent animals.
12. Earthborn Pottery Studio
Earthborn Pottery Studios specialises in custom designed, hand-made pottery for chefs and restauranteurs, and if you are a keen cook yourself, you can purchase one-of-a-kind dishes and plates to impress guests at your own dinner party.
Whether you seek a serving platter in a specific shade and size, a selection of soup bowls, or a set of dinner plates, you can have them custom made to order.
Their beautiful bowls and plates are hand-formed on a potter’s wheel, making each one unique and ideal for placing as a dining table centrepiece.
Each bowl or dish is chip resistant, certified to use in microwaves, and available in a wide selection of glaze colours.
13. Bass Pro Shop
If you’re a keen angler and outdoor enthusiast head for Bass Pro Shop in Leeds.
It’s the world’s leading supplier or outdoor equipment and products, and the store is part educational centre, part art gallery and museum.
Whether you require equipment for hiking, camping, fishing or mountain biking, this store has everything you need.
You can purchase fishing licenses in store and even test your knowledge at the in-house aquarium! There’s a selection of clothing, footwear and apparel on sale so you can head off on your Alabama lake or countryside expedition fully equipped!
14. Irondale Café
A short drive from Leeds, Alabama is the pretty city of Irondale, home to the original Whistle Stop Café! If you’re a fan of the 1987 Frannie Flagg novel, or the 1991 film Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café starring Kathy Bates, then Irondale Cafe is the place for you.
It’s a great place to reminisce amongst memorabilia, watch freight trains slip by, and sample some good ole’ home-cooked Southern cuisine including a plate of delicious Fried Green Tomatoes.