The Alabama State Capitol is one of the few designated as a National Historic Landmark and offers self-guided tours. And the 1907 Governor’s Mansion – still the residence of governors – is open for tours by reservation.
The Civil Rights Memorial honors the achievements and memory of those who died during the modern Civil Rights movement, while the Center offers interactive exhibits and learning spaces. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is dedicated to victims of lynching and racial terror, using sculpture art, and design to contextualize racial terror, fostering a sober and meaningful reflection on America’s history of racial inequality. The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, built on the site where enslaved people were once warehoused, also offers a sobering look at racial inequality.
For a more active look, retrace elements of the Selma-to-Montgomery march, from downtown Selma to the capitol, including the final camping site at The City of St. Jude. In Montgomery, also visit Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church & The Dexter Parsonage Museum, with memorabilia from the days when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was pastor. In the old Greyhound Bus Station, visit the Freedom Rides Museum. On the campus of Alabama State University, visit the Montgomery Interpretive Center, where exhibits tell the history of the last leg of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March, the student involvement in the Voting Rights Movement, and the rally that occurred at the City of St. Jude campus the fourth night of the march. And visit the Rosa Parks Library & Museum, which includes a replica of the bus at the start of the bus boycott of 1955.
HAIL TO HISTORY
The Museum of Alabama, located in the Alabama Department of Archives and History, is the oldest state-funded archives in the nation. It features a genealogical research facility and exhibits on Alabama history. Or walk the streets of Old Alabama Town — six blocks of history with a one-room schoolhouse, grist mill, doctor’s office, tavern and more — all brought to life by costumed interpreters. You can see another side of Alabama history at the First White House of the Confederacy, home to Jefferson Davis when Montgomery was the capital of the Confederacy.
Alabama’s Black Belt, 23 counties including Montgomery, is widely known for its excellent hunting and fishing opportunities, cultural destinations and antebellum homes. Find out what’s around that next bend in the road.
Alabama Cattlemen’s Association “MOOseum” shows off the region’s agriculture, with activities for children. The Alabama Safari Park offers unforgettable memories as you feed giraffes, gaze at gazelles or admire the stripes of a zebra.
TO PLAY OR NOT TO PLAY
Alabama Shakespeare Festival is ranked as one of the largest Shakespeare theaters in the world, drawing more than 300,000 people annually from all over the world.
ADVENTURES IN ART
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is a collection of 19th and 20th century American paintings, old masters, Southern regional arts and more, including interactive gallery for children called Artworks. Surrounding the museum and nearby Shakespeare Festival buildings is the John and Joyce Caddell Sculpture Garden.
TAKE A TOUR
Start at the Montgomery Area Visitor Center, where staff can help you build a custom itinerary and you can pick up local souvenirs. Then try a tour with one of several groups, all allowing you to revisit the city’s rich history of civil rights, state government and more. Try Legendary Tours, Montgomery Tours or More Than Tours to lead your excursion. If you prefer to propel yourself, try the Sip-N-Cycle Pedal Cruise on the pedal-powered party boat.
Visit the home of literary legends Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald or visit the tribute to musical legend Hank Williams at the old city auditorium and his gravesite at Oakwood Cemetery. Wright Brothers Park honors Montgomery’s role in aviation history as the home of the first night flight and first commercial aviation school, plus a scale model of a Wright Brothers airplane.
Come down to the river and relive history while enjoying a river cruise on the Harriott II, a 19th century riverboat that offers dinner, dancing and live entertainment.
The Montgomery Biscuits, an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, play at Riverwalk Stadium downtown.
The Montgomery Zoo and Mann Wildlife Learning Museum introduce hundreds of animals in natural habitats, with paddleboats and a train besides.
Montgomery Performing Arts Centre presents everything from Broadway shows to opera, comedy and kids’ shows, as well as performances by local arts groups. Cloverdale Playhouse is a community venue that offers plays, music and more. You can also catch a show at Troy University’s Davis Theatre for the Performing Arts, housed in the 1930s Paramount Movie House.
Built in 1941, the Capri Theatre was Montgomery’s first neighborhood theatre. Now it’s the only independent cinema in town.
EAT South Downtown Farm teaches healthy and sustainable farming and its produce is sold throughout the city. Montgomery Curb Market offers fresh flowers, produce and specialty foods weekly in Downtown Montgomery.
TAKE A WALK
Lagoon Park Trail features five miles of walking, running and biking trails.
GET SOME EXERCISE
Multiplex at Cramton Bowl offers 90,000 square feet of indoor sports space. Or try Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park, with its jump arena, dodgeball, slam dunk zone and rock climbing tower. Admission charged.
JUST FOR FUN
Civil Axe offers indoor axe throwing sessions for groups for serious competition or just for fun. Also downtown, try Escapology, with escape games that challenge two to eight players to solve puzzles and earn their way out. Newtopia Fun Park provides an indoor playground just for kids.
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama allows you to experience one of the world’s most advanced automotive plants and watch team members work side-by-side with robots to build popular cars and SUVs.
Festivities and Events:
Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration | January Commemorating the remarkable leader’s advocacy for racial equality, voting rights, economic justice and international peace with a parade and other events.
Honda Battle of the Bands | February HBCU bands compete for honors at Alabama State University.
SLE Rodeo | March Cowboys and cowgirls compete for prize money on some of Pro Rodeo’s top bucking horses and bulls.
Global City Fest | May through August Each second Saturday features a different culture with music, food, arts and crafts.
Juneteenth | June Celebrating the end of slavery in the United States.
Taco Libre | June Tacos from Alabama’s best taquerias, restaurants and food trucks.
Montgomery Kickoff Classic | August This college football season opener is played in Montgomery and televised on ESPN.
Alabama National Fair | Fall Live music, entertainment and food.
Burger Bash | Fall Area chefs compete to see who makes the best burger in the River Region.
Camellia Bowl | December Winners of the Sun Belt and Mid-American conferences face off in Cramton Bowl.
This article appears in the January 2023 issue of Business Alabama.