Fun Things To Do

Fun ways to spend two hours near Magnetic Hope in Birmingham, AL

Our patients who are receiving Spravato treatment for their treatment-resistant depression (TRD) have to have someone drive them home after their two-hour treatment. What can their drivers do during these two hours? We have compiled a list of some of our favorite activities near our Magnetic Hope office in Vestavia Hills, a suburb of Birmingham, AL. Dr. Renee Richesin is a native of Vestavia Hills, so for many years she has traversed the “Over-the Mountain” area consisting of the suburb cities of Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook, Homewood and Hoover, which are just south of Birmingham, Alabama. Of note, Birmingham has more green space per capita than any other city of its size in the United States, so a lot of our favorite places include local “green space”. We will be posting videos of these activities on YouTube in the coming months, so stay tuned! For now, here is our written list

Library in the Forest

This is a beautiful LEED-certified, 35,000 square foot library with thousands of fabulous books. The huge picture windows overlook the wooded hillside of Boulder Canyon with its nature trail (see entry below), so it is like reading in a tree house. We could spend days in here perusing the books. There is also a used book store and a maker’s (craft) lab. There are even exercise bikes near the adult services desk.               

The library is open on Mondays and Tuesdays till 8pm,  Wed.-Saturday till 6 pm and Sunday 1-5 pm. Residents of Jefferson County can check out up to150 books at a time. Bring a tote bag!  Note, the other Over-the-Mountain communities (as these various suburb cities on the southern side of Birmingham are called) all have wonderful libraries. Check out Hoover’s, Mountain Brook’s and Homewood’s libraries as well as Vestavia Hill’s Library in the Forest. Thank you Benjamin Franklin for conceiving of and founding the first library in Philadelphia in 1731.

1221 Montgomery Highway, Vestavia Hills, AL 35216

It is about 2 minutes from Magnetic Hope.

Boulder Canyon Nature Trail

Located at the back of the Library in the Forest is this 0.8 mile nature trail that is open year-round. As it is on Shades Mountain, it is considered a “moderately challenging” route as you are usually either hiking uphill or downhill. Some hikers have recommended bringing a hiking stick. There are actually two entrances: the one at the back of the library (access the entrance by walking the path on the right side of the library) and the other one accessible from the sports fields at the former VH Central School at Merry Fox Lane. 

The hike includes a pathway alongside a tiny branch of Shades Creek that leads to a lovely waterfall (if we have had enough rain) near the former school. As the nature trail is fairly unknown, it can be overgrown at times or have downed trees blocking the trail. In some places it is well marked and is poorly marked in others. Bring a dog, and they should have no problem showing you the way. 

As this is Alabama, in the warmer months there will be mud, poison ivy, mosquitos and possibly venomous snakes. Such is hiking. Don’t touch any three-leafed plants. This is a lovey place to stretch your legs. To access it from the Library in the Forest, park in the library lot near Hwy 31/Montgomery Hwy and walk along the right side of the library to the back. Follow the trail down the hill to the creek. Breathe deeply and enjoy! Note, this is not a stroller-friendly hike (ask Elizabeth how we know this), nor is it for those with bad knees.

See the address for the library in the forest above.

Vapor thrift store

Less than 1 minute away from Magnetic Hope is this upscale thrift store offering high-quality donated items in a clean atmosphere. A fun place to search for treasures, the proceeds from the items sold are used to provide health care, food and clean water, quality education and employment to impoverished people around the world in the name of Jesus. Good luck going in and not buying anything! They accept donations around at the back side of the building. You drive up under the awning and workers will unload your donation and give you a tax receipt. If you want to clean out a room in your house and then help a good cause while you wait for your family member to finish their Spravato treatment, Vapor is your answer.  

1069 Montgomery Highway, Vestavia Hills, AL 35216


 Mark’s Outdoor Sports

 A destination for sportsmen, Mark’s Outdoors has been in business for over 40 years. They sell fishing, hunting, and archery supplies as well as clothing. Fifteen years ago if you were driving down Montgomery Highway, you might have seen Dr. Renee Richesin out in front of Mark’s with her kids practicing her fly fishing casting. Even if you are not an enthusiast of one of these hobbies, it is a fun place to look for gifts for family and friends who are, as the customer service at Mark’s makes shopping there a pleasure. The only drawback can be finding a parking spot.

1400 Montgomery Highway #J, Vestavia Hills, AL 35216

7 minutes from Magnetic Hope


Unless U Scoops

Unless U Scoops is an ice cream shop staffed by adults with developmental disabilities.  As they interact with the public and sell ice cream provided by a local creamery, they learn valuable vocational and social skills which promotes independence. Ice cream is sold Monday-Thursday 1- 5 p.m.

737 Chestnut St., Vestavia Hills, AL 35216

5 minutes from Magnetic Hope


Wald Park

Recently redesigned and reconstructed, Wald Park has a walking track, picnic areas, a playground, sports fields, pool, and coming soon, a dog park. It is across Montgomery Highway from the Library in the Forest.

1090 Montgomery Highway  Vestavia Hills, AL 35216
Vestavia Hills Parks and Recreation: 205-978-0166

2 minutes from Magnetic Hope


Sybil Temple and Vestavia Drive

In 1929, George Ward, a former mayor of Birmingham, built a showplace on Shades Mountain that was a travel destination for those with motorcars and the grit required to drive them on the rough roads in Alabama. He had travelled in Europe and came home to build his home to look like the 2nd century “Temple of Vesta”, from which the City of Vestavia, founded in 1950, got its name. The cylindrical house was made of local sandstone, possibly quarried in Vestavia where the current Vestavia lake is located. It was surrounded by 20 columns and acres of landscaped gardens with fountains, pools, topiary hedges and statuary and was purportedly roamed by peacocks and other exotic animals. Mr. Ward held garden parties where guests would dress up in togas and were served by staff dressed as Roman soldiers. This grand estate was written up in Harpers magazine in 1937 and was depicted on travel postcards. (Ask Dr. Richesin about her collection of these postcards.)

After his death, the house fell into disarray and was finally demolished after the property was sold to a local church. However, the focal point in the garden, the folly known as the Sibyl Temple, was saved. While Mr. Ward had intended to be buried in it, Jefferson County law prevented him from being buried on his property, and he was buried in Elmwood cemetery instead. The Sybil Temple was given to the Vestavia Hills Garden Club and was moved to its current location on the crest of Shades Mountain on Montgomery Highway (also known as Hwy 31). It still serves as the symbol of Vestavia Hills and can be toured and also can be rented out for small parties and weddings. To get to it, drive north on Montgomery Highway, exit at Brookwood hospital, cross back over to the the other side of Montgomery Highway, go back up the hill and exit off to the right to reach the Temple. 

The fabulous view (and the vestiges of the concrete stairs that encircled Sybil Temple leading down the mountain into the gardens) of Mr. Ward’s estate can be seen at the Vestavia Hills Baptist Church, about 9 minutes from Magnetic Hope. There is a placard there about the estate, the church, and Mr. Ward. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular to view from there. The picture of the sunrise on Magnetic Hope’s website, was taken up the mountain from the church on Vestavia Drive. If you have time, walk up Vestavia Drive to see beautiful homes and gardens as well as the stunning view from Shades Mountain down into Shades Valley and on to Red Mountain.

Looking east, small picturesque hills are visible. Birmingham is part of the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and this is evident from the view. As you traverse from the entrance of Vestavia Baptist Church up the moderately strenuous hill to its summit, you will be rewarded with a view of the beautiful Georgian-Colonial architecture of Samford University in the valley below you. On the crest of Red Mountain, the 56 ft tall statue of Vulcan from the 1904 World’s Fair can be seen. It is the symbol of Birmingham as its composition of cast-iron symbolizes the history of the iron and steel industry in Birmingham, AL. (See Vulcan below for more information-coming soon).

Sybil Temple: 154 Montgomery Highway, Vestavia Hills, AL 35216


6 minutes from Magnetic Hope

Would you like to know more?

At Magnetic Hope, your care is our highest priority. We are dedicated to providing you with all the necessary tools and information that will make your TMS therapy in Birmingham, Alabama as comfortable and effective as possible. Our friendly staff is available to address any of your questions or concerns every step of the way.

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