Home to the first electric streetcar system and the first civilian flight school, Montgomery is the State Capital of Alabama and is a must visit place for all those deeply interested in American history. From the foundation of the Civil Rights Movement to a series of political and historical events such as the Bus Boycott in 1955, Montgomery has established itself as one of the most significant historical American cities.
Situated adjacent to the Alabama River, the waterfront area also offers a variety of activities for those who aren’t exactly into the historical and political importance of Montgomery. Read on to find out about the 25 Best things to do in Montgomery!
Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Montgomery (AL)
1. Montgomery Zoo & Mann Wildlife Learning Museum
With 750 animals from 140 distinct species and a dedicated wildlife exploratory museum, the Montgomery Zoo & Mann Wildlife Learning Museum is a zoological park located in the northern part of the city, spanning over an area of approximately 40-acres.
In addition to seeing animals, the Zoo offers various animal encounters with giraffes, stingrays, elephants and even tigers, in which you can feed and pet these wildlife beasts. The Mann Museum on the other hand offers a wide variety of animal exhibits where the fossils and actual furs of the animals can be felt, that too in a setting representing their natural habitat!
2. Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church
Part of UNESCO’s tentative list of World Heritage Sights and a National Historical Landmark since 1974, the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptists Church has pivotal historical importance in the city of Montgomery. It was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, elevating its historical significance even further.
The great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr served here as a pastor back in 1955, which is why the Church was renamed to its current name in his honor. Located just beside the Alabama State Capitol, this church definitely deserves a visit on your next trip in town!
3. Alabama State Capitol
It’s almost impossible to be in Montgomery and miss out on the Alabama State Capitol. Situated on the Goat Hill, it is listed as the First Confederate Capitol on the National Register of Historic Places and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. You’d be surprised to know that the current state capital is the fourth one, with the previous buildings being located in Montgomery itself as well as Cahaba and Tuscaloosa.
This working museum of state politics and history offers an in-house tour with a guide, giving you an ultimate historic experience. There is even a Goat Hill Museum Store which allows visitors to shop for a collections of souvenirs and gifts including keychains, mugs and shirts to name a few.
4. Civil Rights Memorial
Created by American sculptor Maya Lin, the Civil Rights Memorial was built in 1981 in order to honor the martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement between 1954 and 1968. This includes 41 people and thus, their names are engraved on the granite fountain at the memorial site alongside a famous quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, which is inscribed on the Wall of Tolerance.
The memorial center conducts various exhibits and educational activities and also features a theatre. The abstract design of this memorial is inspired by the goal of the Civil Rights Movement, which was to end racial segregation legally, and thus, attracts hundreds of visitors every day.
5. The Legacy Museum
Established by Montgomery’s Equal Justice Initiative in April 2018, “The Legacy Museum : From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration” had been built to commemorate the enslaved black people. The site at which it currently stands was previously a warehouse where thousands of black slaves were imprisoned and tortured.
The 11,000-square foot museum features numerous exhibits by famous artists such as Hank Williams, Jacob Lawrence and Elizabeth Catlett to name a few. The museum has been made super interactive through the use of virtual interactive technology, which allows you to virtually experience the conditions in which the imprisoned black people were.
6. Old Alabama Town
Spread over 6 blocks in downtown Montgomery, Old Alabama Town is a set of 19th and 20th century structures, which have been restored in order to create a space that depicts the architecture and lifestyles of various classes of people. With structures varying from small rural houses to elegant townhouses, this place reflects the lives of the people who basically helped develop Central Alabama.
Various group tours are available on-site including living in the 19th century, living in the 20th century and Ordeman-Mitchell-Shaw townhouse complex, each of which guarantee a unique experience! However, no food items, except water, are sold inside this area so keep a snack with you when visiting!
7. The National Memorial for Peace & Justice
Also called the National Lynching Memorial, the National Memorial for Peace & Justice was established in order to commemorate black victims of lynching back in the 19th Century. A whooping 4400 men, women and children with African American background were shot, burned alive, hanged and even drowned between 1877 and 1950, which was the peak time of racial terror lynchings.
The memorial square has 805 coffin shaped steel rectangles, each of which has details about the place where the lynching took place and the names of the people who were lynched. Artists like Usher and Stevie Wonder performed at the museum, which significantly increased the number of visitors coming to Montgomery!
8. First White House of the Confederacy
At the time when the capital of the Confederate States of America was in Montgomery, the First White House of the Confederacy was the residential place of US President Jefferson Davis. Listed of the National Register of Historic Places since 1974 and on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage since 2012, this building is very important to Montgomery, both politically & historically.
Built in 1825 by William Sayre, this house features Italian furniture and pieces from 1835 and is open to the public for tours of various types including guided and self-guided tours, both of which end with refreshments in the house!
9. Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Founded in 1930 to promote and exhibit art among people of Montgomery, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts features a permanent collection of paintings and sculptures from the 19th and 20th Century as well as certain rotating exhibits which keep on changing after an allotted time limit.
There is a café in the museum which offers mesmerizing views of the Newell Lake and Blount Cultural Park while serving you with utterly delicious food. A museum store can also be found that sells a variety of gifts and souvenirs pertinent to the museum as well as art in general.
10. Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park
Known as the cultural center of Montgomery, the Blount Cultural Park is spread over 175-acres of land, featuring a number of picturesque, animal-friendly walking trails, ponds, and even a natural Amphitheatre. The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is also located within this park.
It is also home to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, which is a state-of-the-art regional theatre that offers a series of exquisite productions every year. Since it is located centrally in Montgomery, it attracts both tourists and visitors alike. The Hannah Daye Ridling Bark Park allows you to leave your dogs unfettered, whereas they need to be leashed in all other areas of the park!
11. Hank Williams Museum
For a true country music fan, this is heaven. The Hank Williams Museum was created in the memory of the famous country singer, Hank Williams. The museum features a vast range of personal artifacts of Hank, including memorabilia, his instruments and even his iconic clothing that can be found hanging around the museum.
The museum even has the 1952 Cadillac in which Hank passed away due to an unfortunate accident. So if you want to experience the history of the most famous country music singer, head on over to the Hank Williams Museum on your next visit to Montgomery and see how Hank was responsible for bringing a revolution in country music!
12. Court Square Fountain – Artesian Basin
Located in downtown Montgomery, the Court Square Fountain was built all the way back in 1885, on top of an Artesian Basin (well) that was used by native Alabamians. The design of the statue is based on Greek Mythology and it represents the Greek Goddess of Eternal Youth, Hebe. Littering or interfering with the fountain basin has heavy fines associated with it.
Initially, all statues and the fountain itself were made out cast iron but were later replaced with Aluminum replicas in 1984. Right across from the fountain is the famous bus stop where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the bus; an act which eventually led to the formation of the Civil Rights Movement.
13. The MOOseum
Have kids who want to have some fun, while doing some useful learning simultaneously? Opened in 1995, The MOOseum has been a go-to place for children and adults alike, looking to explore the history of the beef cattle industry in Montgomery.
This interactive museum has a tour which starts of by showing you the life-cycle of beef from the pasture to your plate, including what byproducts are produced during this process and how they’re used. Then, you can watch a movie with the resident cowboy tour guide and learn about the history of cattle industry in Alabama. And finally, have your picture taken with the exhibits and go shopping for some souvenirs in the MOOseum General Store.
14. Riverfront Park
When you have had enough with the history and politics in Montgomery, Riverfront Park is the place you need to head to. The Riverwalk Stadium and Riverwalk Amphitheater make for the perfect entertainment destination, where you can watch a sports game, theatrical performance or listen to a concert and have a good time!
On the other hand, children can have fun at the Splashpad where fountains emerge from the ground making it a fun activity, especially in the summers. Riverboat rides on the Harriot II Riverboat and boating are also among the activities frequently enjoyed by people visiting this area.
15. Rosa Parks Museum
The only museum dedicated to Rosa Parks in the US, the Rosa Parks Museum was built at the site where Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for not giving up her seat on the command of city bus driver. This was the reason behind the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and played a significant role in the early stage of the Civil Rights Movement as well.
The museum is located on the Satellite Campus of Troy University, and has a number on artifacts and exhibits from the Bus Boycott event in 1955. Inside the museum, there is even a virtual interaction setup which lets you experience a reenactment of what happened on the bus from the perspective of someone standing outside the bus.
16. Alabama Safari Park
Got 30-40 minutes to spare and want to have an experience of a lifetime? The Alabama Safari Park offers a drive-thru experience, which lets you sightsee hundreds of animals in their natural habitat, all from the comfort of your car.
If you want to have some extra fun, you can feed giraffes in a special activity area as well as pet goats and pigs in the petting area. The Budgie Adventure Aviary is a walk-in bird enclosure, in which you can see several different bird species flying freely and you can even feed them as they perch on your body.
17. The Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum
The Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum is a tribute to the gypsy lifestyle of Scott and his wife Zelda, who spent their entire lives moving from one city to another, writing books and producing different kinds of art. This was the last home in which the Fitzgeralds lived as a family, since Zelda moved to Baltimore after the death of her father.
The house itself was built in 1909 and was about to be demolished in 1986, but through donations, the demolition was stopped and the house converted into what it is today. The museum shop sells books and novels that the Fitzgerald’s wrote, alongside other souvenirs.
18. Town of Spectre
Located a short drive out of Montgomery, the Town of Spectre is a movie filming set which was built for the production of the movie, “Big Fish”. You can see the iconic rope tied between the trees, with shoes hanging from it. You can even visit the house built right in front of the lake to amp up all the nostalgia from Tim Horton’s Big Fish.
There are even baby goats on the island, which you can pet and have fun with, making it perfect for animal lovers. However, do make a call and check before going on rainy days since the island closes due to flooding when there’s been too much rain.
19. Dexter Parsonage Museum
Interest in learning about the life and family of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior even more? The Dexter Parsonage Museum guarantees all that, plus more. Dr. King and his family resided here during his parsonage from 1954-1960, until he later on passed away.
Throughout the fights for civil rights, the parsonage was bombed several time but luckily no harm came to Dr. King or his family. The museum now offers guided tours from experienced tour guides, who detail brilliantly how Dr. King survived during the Civil Rights fights and how his contribution brought about a revolution.
20. Pratt Park
Voted America’s Favorite Summer Park in 2012, this is the perfect summer destination for when you’re in Montgomery and the sun is shining bright! Pratt park features a series of aquatic activities including an outdoor recreational area with a public pool and a pond. For your little ones, there is even a kids’ splash pad and playground, which guarantees a fun time.
Additionally, the park also has a picnic and a BBQ area which can be the perfect spot for family outings or picnics. A few miles of walking trails are also present throughout the park and dogs are allowed only on a leash.
21. Jasmine Hill Gardens & Outdoor Museum
Located in Blue Ridge, just north of Montgomery, the Jasmine Hill Gardens and Outdoor Museum is a botanical garden listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage since July 1977! Spanning an area of just over 20-acres, this botanical garden features a variety of floral species that bloom all year round and make for a very scenic sight.
The outdoor museum has a collection of sculptures including Greek mythology Gods as well as Olympic heroes. The Jasmine hill has a special track for people with disabilities and offers exquisite views, including that of a full scale replica of the Temple of Hera ruins found in Greece.
22. Eastdale Mall
Done all the sightseeing and want to go shopping now? Eastdale Mall is the perfect place to do so. Featuring factory outlets of a number of famous brands e.g. JCPenney, Belk, etc. this mall guarantees the best prices and the best variety in town.
A food court is present which offers several dining option from steaks to burgers to tacos and so, you can be sure that everyone will go home happy! To top it off, the Ice Palace is an ice rink located on the ground floor with a unique twist. In addition to conventional ice-skating, it offers bumper cars on an ice skating rink! Now, isn’t that cool?
23. Hank Williams Statue
The famous country music star even got his own statue in the middle of Montgomery! The Hank Williams Statue was erected in 1991 to honor the contributions of Hank in promoting and revolutionizing country music in his era.
The statue is made to face the funeral site of Hank, which is now Montgomery’s City Hall. The bronze statue depicts Hank wearing extravagant, decorated suits with his guitar in his hand and his fingers on the chords. However, only recently the statue was moved to a new spot near the river so that it’d be easily visible to a larger number of people.
24. Buena Vista Mansion
Previously known as the Montgomery-Janes-Whittaker House, the Buena Vista Mansion is a historic Federal Plantation house, located in Autauga County. It was registered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and has been operated as a historic house museum since then.
Built in 1844 by William Montgomery, the mansion is spread over an area of 4-acres and has exquisite design features, both inside and out. This includes a spiral mahogany staircase which ascends all the way from the ground to the third floor. The mansion can be visited on a self-guided tour and even parties/weddings can be held here!
25. SOL Restaurante Mexicano & Taqueria
The trip doesn’t end until you’ve had good food, am I right? The SOL Restaurante in Montgomery has been serving the town for more than 15 years and they’ve been doing it right! Specializing in tex-mex food, SOL guarantees a tantalizing experience with their signature Mexican dishes and a hospitable in-house staff.
Their Fajitas, Nachos and Huevos Benito have know to be the most liked dishes and are ordered most frequently. However, make sure to get the food according to your spice preference, since their food generally tends to be a bit spicier. Nevertheless, whenever you visit SOL, your taste buds are in for a treat!