Montgomery, Alabama was originally inhabited by Native American tribes and received its name from a Revolutionary War general. The city was founded in 1819 along the Alabama River. It became the state’s capital in 1846, which it has remained ever since.
During the Civil War, it was the first capital of the Confederate States of America until it moved to Richmond, Virginia. In later years, it was the site of many important events of the Civil Rights Movement. It’s close to Selma and is popular with those visiting museums and landmarks from this period.
What to Do in Montgomery
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice– This incredible memorial remembers the thousands of African American victims of lynching throughout the nation, but especially the South. Pillars marked with names of the deceased rise above the ground. Combination tickets are available with the Legacy Museum. 417 Caroline Street
The Legacy Museum– The second part of the memorial is this museum, which has exhibits on enslavement, anti-African American legislation, and mass incarceration of the African American community. It’s located not far from where notorious segregationist George Wallace served four terms as governor. 115 Coosa Street
Hank Williams Museum– The country legend lived much of his life in Alabama, including Montgomery. This museum features memorabilia and personal artifacts that belonged to him including the car he died in and his famous Nudie suits. Williams is also buried nearby. 118 Commerce Street
Rosa Parks Library and Museum– Managed by Troy University, this museum centers around the Civil Rights leader and the bus boycott launched by her civil disobedience. 252 Montgomery Street
Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church– This church was founded in 1877 and served Montgomery’s African American community. Martin Luther King Jr. was the pastor here from 1954 to 1960 and organized the bus boycott in the basement. The Dexter Parsonage Museum is set in the home where he and other pastors lived during their tenures. Both are open to tours. 454 Dexter Avenue
Civil Rights Memorial– Designed by Maya Lin, who created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, this memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center remembers the lives lost during the movement. 400 Washington Avenue
Freedom Rides Museum– Set in a former Greyhound bus station, this museum has information on the segregation of long-distance buses and fight to end it. Protestors were beaten by members of the Ku Klux Klan, risking their lives for the greater good. 210 South Court Street
F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum– This home was one of the residences of Montgomery native Zelda Fitzgerald, husband F. Scott, and daughter Scottie after the death of her father. The museum features exhibits on their careers and legacies as well as items from film adaptations of The Great Gatsby. 919 Felder Avenue
Museum of Alabama– Learn about the state from prehistory to the present with exhibits on Native American artifacts, the cotton industry, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights movement. 142-158 South Union Street
Common Bond Brewery– This is one of the craft breweries in town, conveniently located next to a pizzeria with a large lawn with games. The taproom is open Wednesday to Sunday. 424 Bibb Street, Suite #150
Civil Rights Tour in Montgomery AL– The Civil Rights and sacred ground tour visits 16 historic sites around Montgomery, including museums and memorials.
Where to Eat in Montgomery
Chris’ Hot Dogs– Open since 1917, this classic Montgomery restaurant not only serves hot dogs topped in chili but also has hamburgers. It’s served people like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., and Hank Williams. 138 Dexter Avenue, (334) 265-6850
Central– The award-winning restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, serving artfully prepared Southern food. Pimento cheese, soft shell crab, and beef short rib are menu highlights. 129 Coosa Street, (334) 517-1155
Sa Za– The neighborhood Italian spot is known for its pizza and pasta. Favorites include Eggs in Purgatory, rigatoni bolognese, and wild mushroom pizza. 130 Commerce Street, Suite 101, (334) 495-7292
Martin’s Restaurant– Open since the 1930s, this meat and three has dishes like its famous fried chicken, meatloaf, collard greens, and homemade desserts. 1796 Carter Hill Road, (334) 265-1767
Vintage Year– The upscale restaurant started as a wine shop in 1984 but has become one of the city’s best places for a meal. They have seafood and steaks as well as a weekly burger night and Sunday brunch. There’s also Vintage Cafe, their casual eatery. 405 Cloverdale Road, (334) 819-7215
Cahawba House– Build your own breakfast plate with biscuits, pimento cheese, and fried chicken or enjoy a sandwich for lunch. 31 South Court Street, (334) 356-1877
Capitol Oyster Bar– Located on the Alabama River, this casual seafood eatery has live music most days, so expect to pay a $15 cover per person. Don’t miss the Gulf oysters and Royal Red shrimp when available. 617 Shady Street, (334) 239-8958
Where to Stay in Montgomery
SpringHill Suites by Marriott Montgomery Downtown– The centrally located all-suites hotel in a historic building has king and queen beds along with free breakfast, WiFi, and parking. 152 Coosa Street
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa– Located at the convention center, the large hotel has rooms with flat-screen televisions, a restaurant, pool, and spa. There are also suites and club level rooms. 201 Tallapoosa Street
Red Bluff Cottage Bed & Breakfast– The Victorian cottage in the Cottage Hill District has four country-style bedrooms, free WiFi, and breakfast. 551 Clay Street
The Lattice Inn– Another four-room bed and breakfast, this inn in the Garden District is convenient to Alabama State University. There’s a saltwater tub, free WiFi, and daily breakfast. 1414 South Hull Street
Rentals- Stay in one of Montgomery’s unique historic homes like the Airbnb suites at the Fitzgerald Museum.
Camping- Woods RV Park and Campground is the closest to Montgomery, but further north is Jackson Lake Island, a privately owned campground that was used as a filming location for Big Fish.
Mary ONeil says
What great info! I drive through Montgomery twice a year. I am excited to learn of this cultural info as I find Montgomery a bit sad.