Bessemer was the site of much of Alabama's 20th-century steel industry, the decline of which, beginning in the 1960s and '70s, has left in its wake a visible degree of economic problems for the local populace. Still, the city is of interest to aficionados of industrial history - and also foodies, being home to both Alabama's oldest operating restaurant and one of its most renowned barbecue joints.
- 1 Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, 12632 Confederate Parkway, McCalla, ☏ . Historical park just outside Bessemer that takes visitors back in time to the turn of the century when central Alabama was the iron capital of the south. Here there are great numbers of deer roaming about, several rivers, creeks and a bubbling spring, a fully functioning corn mill (with fresh corn meal available to purchase seasonly) and the remains of an iron factory. Museum, full hookup RV and tent camping and primitive camping. 'Tannehill Tradedays' occur the third Saturday of every month, March through November. Lots of backwoods hiking and walking trails. A hidden gem of a park in exchange for a 25-minute drive from downtown.
- 1 Alabama Splash Adventure Theme Park, 4599 Splash Adventure Parkway, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Right on the outskirts of Birmingham is Alabama Splash Adventure. Formerly known as VisionLand, this adventure consists of both a theme park and a waterpark for those hot summer days. Alabama Splash Adventure has over 7 acres of land filled with over 25 main attractions, including Alabama's largest wooden roller coaster.
- 1 Bob Sykes Barbeque, 1724 9th Ave N, ☏ . M-Th 10:30AM-9PM, F-Sa 10:30AM-10PM. The Sykes family - three generations of them - have been doing their thing in Bessemer since 1957, and their little joint on 9th Avenue sports the Atomic Age decor to prove it. Voted the best barbecue in Alabama on too many polls to name, the secret (as usual) is the sauce: a thin, spicy, tomato- and vinegar-based recipe that's a paragon of the local style (and that will come as a surprise to out-of-towners who are more used to the sticky Memphis and Kansas City style sauces), and that's used to adorn heaping platters of pork shoulder, ribs, and brisket along with various sandwiches and burgers.
- 2 The Bright Star, 304 19th St N, ☏ . Alabama's oldest operating restaurant, in business for over 100 years. The popularity of this restaurant encompasses all cultures and demographics. Tip: For lunch, enjoy the beef tips over rice. Just a good Southern meal accompanied by friendly service. There's a different menu during dinner with prices ranging from $15 to $23. The fried catfish is excellent and recommended by locals. There are always Greek-style offerings, in tribute to the heritage of the immigrant owners.