Magic City Pokémon: The Localist’s Guide to Pokémon Go in Birmingham

To say Pokémon Go has taken the world — and Birmingham — by storm is a bit of an understatement. Chances are, if you’ve been on social media or near a national monument lately, you’ve tried your hand at hunting Pokémon … or you’ve at least been wondering what all the fuss is about.


I was introduced to Pokémon Go this weekend. On a normal walk around downtown Birmingham, Russell and I headed to a coffee shop — but we took a slightly different route than usual, hitting new streets and stopping every so often to check out Pokémon and Pokéstops throughout the city. We found Pokémon on the streets, by the Compass Bank fountain, and in front of Paramount. And while we sipped coffee at Revelator, Russell caught a Pokémon while I thought about the impact this Pokécraze could have on local business.


Nobody seems totally sure how Pokéstops are chosen (although they tend to be public places like monuments and parks — apparently the Birmingham Zoo, Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Highland Parks are full of Pokémon), but we do know that you can’t lobby to become a stop; they’re pre-selected by our benevolent Pokémon overlords (a.k.a. Google and Nintendo, among others). If you’re a shop wanting to draw in some Pokébusiness, you’re not totally out of luck, though; you do have the option to purchase a Lure, a short-term draw that brings in Pokémon … and, by extension, the customers who hunt them.


And what if you’re one of those customers? I’ve been wondering which local Birmingham businesses are playing host to Pokémon as well as paying customers. My first impulse was to scour the city, iPhone in hand … but I have clients to meet and stories to write, so that didn’t seem like a wise decision. What I’ve done instead is pull together rumored Pokéstops, Pokémon sightings and Pokémon Gyms by shamelessly stalking my friends’ social media, and I’ve included a few local shops nearby. You might find the Pokémon you’re looking for at these shops, or you might just get some food and drink to keep you fueled up for the hunt. (And, if you’re lucky, a charging station to repower your weary phone battery.)


Rumored Pokémon Sightings in Birmingham

Disclaimer: These are all rumors I found online and recommendations from friends; I haven’t actually checked them out myself. So hunt at your own risk …


Your Pokémon Stop: Downtown Homewood

Steel City Pops had a Lure up yesterday, and there’s a Pokémon Gym by Little Donkey.


Your Pokémon Stop: Edgewood

Head to Taco Mama — apparently the bridal shop next door is a Pokéstop. (I would not recommend trying to get into a bridal shop to catch Pokémon. Like, I strongly recommend not doing that. Taco Mama will be totally into it, though, and you can get some good food and local beer.)


Your Pokémon Stop: The Galleria

I’ve heard rumors of a dude who dresses up as Ash and goes Pokémon hunting at the Galleria every day. I feel like that alone is worth checking out.

The Localist Spots Nearby:

Molly Green and Mountain High are a couple of my favorite locally owned shops, and they’re both in the Galleria.


Your Pokémon Stop: Highland Park

There’s supposedly a Pokémon Gym at Rhodes Park.

The Localist Spots Nearby:

Try Rojo on Highland, or grab coffee next door at O’Henry’s.


Your Pokémon Stop: Downtown Birmingham

Downtown is crawling with Pokémon; just start walking, and you’re bound to find some. You can start at Paramount, where I personally found some across the street. They also have a phone charging station, and plenty more games available if you decide you want to switch it up.

The Localist Spots Nearby:

Sooo many favorites. Trattoria Centrale, Urban Standard, Bamboo, Feast & Forest, El Barrio, Carrigans, Collins Bar, the aforementioned Paramount and Revelator, and a lot more.


Your Pokémon Stop: Mountain Brook Plaza (off 280)

Taziki’s is rumored to be a Pokéstop.


Your Pokémon Stop: Brookwood Mall

Malls seem to draw in Pokémon … maybe they prefer the air conditioning, too?

The Localist Spots Nearby:

Grab coffee at the O’Henry’s in the parking lot, and they might just let you charge your battery while you wait … or just hit up Perry Computer (a local business in the mall) for a battery pack.


Your Pokémon Stop: Patton Creek

Pokémon have been spotted all over the shopping center.

The Localist Spots Nearby:

Edgar’s and Cajun Steamer


Your Pokémon Stop: The Birmingham Zoo and Birmingham Botanical Gardens

If you’re wanting a really fun day and a good hunt, these seem like your best bets: They’re educational and built for walking around and exploring. And the gardens are free!

The Localist Spots Nearby:

Western for picnic supplies (they also have an excellent salad bar and hot bar), Smith’s, Gilchrist, Brick & Tin (grab some bread and cookies for that picnic), or Ollie Irene if you want to get fancy.


Your Pokémon Stop: 280

I read about a Pokémon spotted outside of Logan’s, but I imagine that Target shopping center across the street isn’t a bad place to look, either.

The Localist Spots Nearby:

Saigon Noodle House, Full Moon BBQ, The Purple Onion


So what are you waiting for? Go catch ‘em all!

Happy Hunting! And remember, if you’re going to head to a business specifically to catch Pokémon, be sure to buy a little something, too. Because it’s not worth being a warrior in the virtual world if it makes you inconsiderate in the real one.


Carrie Rollwagen is the book columnist for Southern Living and a book reviewer at BookPage. She is Communications Director at Infomedia, author of The Localist book and co-founder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Find her on Snapchat and on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @crollwagen.

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