THE BEST WAY TO BIRMINGHAM, ALA.

From LAX, connecting service (change of plane) to Birmingham is available on Southwest, American, Delta, United and US Airways. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $536, including taxes and fees.

WHERE TO STAY

The Tutwiler, Hampton Inn & Suites Birmingham, downtown, 2021 Park Place; (205) 322-2100, http://www.thetutwilerhotel.com. Ignore the chain affiliation; this is a Birmingham institution, refurbished and updated for guests. Doubles from $169.

Aloft Birmingham Soho Square, 1903 29th Ave. South, Homewood, Ala.; (205) 874-8055, http://www.aloftbirminghamsohosquare.com. This trendy chain offers basic but stylish amenities. Doubles from $149.

Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa, 4000 Grand Ave.; (205) 916-7677, http://www.RossBridgeResort.com. The area's finest hotel is on Alabama's famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Doubles from $209.

WHERE TO EAT

Chez Fonfon, 2007 11th Ave. South; (205) 939-3221, http://www.fonfonbham.com. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Entrees from $11.50.

Saw's Juke Joint, 1115 Dunston Ave.; (205) 745-3920, http://www.facebook.com/SawsJukeJoint. Entrees $6-$13. Closed Sundays.

Highlands Bar and Grill, 2011 11th Ave. South; (205) 939-1400; http://www.highlandsbarandgrill.com. The legendary restaurant helped create New South cuisine with offerings such as Alabama paddlefish caviar served with buckwheat pancake and crème fraîche. Entrees $29-$36. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Hot and Hot Fish Club, 2180 11th Court South; (205) 933-5474, http://www.hotandhotfishclub.com. Owner Chris Hastings made local headlines when he won "Iron Chef." Along with seafood, try local rabbit, lamb, pork chops or quail. Entrees $34-$38. Open Tuesdays to Saturdays.

Niki's West, 233 Finley Ave. West; (205) 252-5751, http://www.nikiswest.com. Classic Southern meat-and-three (vegetables) cafeteria with dozens of choices. Entrees less than $10. Open 6 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays.

TO LEARN MORE

Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2200 9th Ave. North; (800) 458-8085, http://www.birminghamal.org