Alabama’s capital is a wonderful contrast of opposites. Red-brick architecture framed with splashes of green trees, historical cobblestone streets next ultra-modern architecture, important connections to the past yet with its eye set firmly on the future.
Montgomery’s place in the history books is tied to many iconic events surrounding the Civil Rights movement, from Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in 1955 to the Selma marches a decade later.
And whilst today it is a city full of young entrepreneurs, Montgomery has never forgotten its history which can be found celebrated and preserved everywhere you look.
For the culture vultures and the historians, Montgomery is a treasure trove. The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is a fantastic celebration of both American artistic achievement – works on paper, regional art of the south-east of the USA, and 20th Century photography works – as well as collections from around the world.
Those interested specifically in Alabama itself will find everything that they need at the Alabama State Archives and History Museum, a marble building that is itself a work of art. Everything from the states American Indian origins, through the experiences and lives of its earliest settlers right up to the present day. And of course, at the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, you can find out everything you need to know about the Civil Rights movement.
And whilst you are in learning mode, head along with to the State Capitol building, ironically both the administrative capital of the Confederacy during the American Civil War and the site of many of Martin Luther King Jr’s most significant speeches on racial segregation.
If you have come to Montgomery for a more relaxing break then time spent recuperating and recharging in front of the water at the Riverfront Park, is never time wasted but if you are looking for something for all the family to enjoy then Montgomery Zoo is one to put in the diary. The zoo has something from every continent, Australian kangaroos; cheetahs, elephants, hippos, and giraffes from Africa; the endangered Sumatran Tiger; and from South America flamingoes, frogs and the majestic emerald tree boa. If you have a particular interest in cows, combine the zoo trip with a visit to the MOOseum! Hopefully it is self-explanatory.
A feel for the city’s past can be had by a visit to Old Alabama Town, where more than 50 historic properties have been authentically restored to their 19th and 20th-century glory.
Where to eat
The south is known for its hospitality and its food reflects the wonderful mixture of cultures and cuisines that have made their home in the region over the centuries.
When looking for a good breakfast to start your day, Cahawba House should be high up on your list. Southern favourites like biscuits, Conecuh sausage, and beignets, fried green tomatoes, meatloaf sandwiches as well as burgers and chicken salads are all on the menu. A healthier and lighter option can be found at Vintage Cafe where breakfast salads, fresh juices, and smoothies are the norm.
When lunch and dinner come around, Derks offers a build your own salad option or you can select some soul-satisfying items from their hot bar whilst fans of BBQ will be heading to Dreamland for ribs and white bread, where you will also find the likes of fried okra starter, stadium nachos, BBQ sandwiches, wraps, salads, potato salad, and of course, mac ‘n ‘cheese.
Those looking for some seafood choices will find Central delivers what they need, especially the seafood corn dogs.
Music and Nightlife
You can re-visit the Jazz Age by taking a look around The Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum but for the real experience a visit to, the legendary jazz and blues club, Sous La Terre, will see you dancing the night away with strong drinks and cool live jazz. Fans of country music might want to forgo Fitzgerald’s place and head straight to The Hank Williams Museum.
Montgomery really comes alive at night and so the bars are the place to be once the sun goes down. You can throw back a few shots in the AlleyBAR shot room, take in a casual drink on the patio of the Exchange or enjoy “the craic” at Irish Bred Pub. Downtown in particular offers plenty of venues, so you’re sure to find the one that fits your mood. Most of them have live music and food.
Montgomery is a place where you can spend the day exploring the history of the region or keeping the little ones entertained and then at night explore some exciting, excellent and elegant bars for a drink or two. As a city, it is both educational and entertaining!