As part of the “Destination Alabama” series highlighting the best tourism destinations in the state, CBS 42’s Alissa Rothermich takes you inside Birmingham Botanical Gardens. 

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Nestled at the southern foot of Red Mountain, Alabama’s top free attraction is open and welcoming back visitors.

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens offers more than 30 distinct gardens and countless hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

“It’s a real place of connection. Everyone is welcome here,” said Brooke McMinn, director of education and visitor experience at BBG.

After a three-month closure due to COVID-19, Birmingham Botanical Gardens is ready to serve as a place of adventure and respite for visitors from across the state.

“We try to be a hub for the city of Birmingham and the surrounding areas,” McMinn said.

What you’ll see on the grounds changes constantly. You can wander around the 67 acres or take guided garden tours.

More than 350,000 visitors come through the gates annually and walk the miles of paths that showcase 12,000 different types of plants. There is truly something for all ages.

Adults can take in the peace of the garden collections, while kids come for the koi pond, a rousing game of pirates on an old wooden bridge, and hidden gems off the beaten path.

“There’s this really cool tree in front of our conservatory it has weeping willow branches and kids use it like a fort,” education activity specialist Dawn Coleman Lee said.

Visiting the gardens is free, and that’s partially possible because of the faithful group called the “Friends of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.”

“We have this wonderful dedicated group of volunteers that contributes thousands of hours to us in all different ways. We have volunteers working in our garden collections, greenhouses, propagating plants to put back into the gardens and to use in our plant sale fundraiser,” McMinn said.

While many in-person classes and activities have been cancelled because of COVID-19, some, like family yoga in the gardens will continue with many other programs moving online at