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Montgomery, Alabama is well worth a stop on a Deep South road trip because of its important and inspiring Civil Rights History.
It’s known as the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement as it’s where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and began the boycott movement. It was here where the flame for the African American people was ignited, and brought about change to make the world a better place.
It’s also where Dr. Martin Luther King rose as a leader of that movement.
Today, Alabama’s capital is reemerging as a destination offering a unique and diverse culture, family-friendly attractions, cool nightlife, and contemporary eating.
Montgomery is slow paced and you may wonder where all the people are. But don’t let that fool you, there are tons of cool things to do in Montgomery AL with kids.
Enjoy the space and take time to look at the ginormous government buildings – I’ve never seen anything like it before!
- Getting Around Montgomery
- Things to Do in Montgomery AL
- 1. Freedom Rides Museum
- 2. Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
- 3. Dexter Avenue Parsonage Museum
- 4. Civil Rights Memorial Center
- 5. Rosa Parks Library and Museum
- 6. Museum of Alabama
- 7. Court Square Fountain
- 8. State Capitol Tour
- 9. Montgomery Riverfront
- 10. Fly at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival
- 11. Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
- 12. Explore Historical Cloverdale
- 13. National Memorial for Peace and Justice
- 14. Legacy Museum
- 15. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum
- 16. Alley Entertainment District
- 17. First White House of the Confederacy
- 18. Learn About the Cattle Industry at the Mooseum
- 19. Hank Williams Museum
- 20. Montgomery Zoo & Mann Wildlife Learning Museum
- 21. Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
- Places to Eat in Montgomery
- Where to stay in Montgomery Alabama
- Before You Go
Getting Around Montgomery
Montgomery is a really easy city to get around. Most of the Montgomery attractions are within walking distance of downtown.
For those who don’t like walking, there is a Lightning Route Trolley that connects most of the attractions in downtown. It was the first electric trolley system in the U.S. and was built in 1886, so riding the trolley is an attraction in itself!
If you plan to stay outside downtown, there Montgomery Area Transit System is a bus route that services most destinations in the city and surrounding areas.
If you’re planning on visiting other parts of Alabama, consider renting a car. Rentalcars.com is a great resource for finding car rentals since it compares all the top car rental companies. Parking in downtown is notoriously difficult so be mindful of this if you are visiting by car.
Want to save money on attractions in Montgomery? Then check out the 3-day city pass, which grants you access to seven attractions in Montgomery!
Things to Do in Montgomery AL
Now you know how to get around Montgomery, it’s time to take a look at the top attractions in Montgomery. Let’s get started…
1. Freedom Rides Museum
The Freedom Rides Museum gives an excellent insight into the brave peaceful protest of the Freedom Riders and is told through a series of artworks, displays, and biographies of key leaders and players within the movement.
This Montgomery attraction is on the site of the original Greyhound bus station and is the site of the attack on the Freedom Riders.
The Freedom Riders were a group of blacks and whites who decided to peacefully ride the buses together from Washington DC to New Orleans in protest against the segregation that was happening on interstate bus rides.
This rehabilitated bus station has been restored to how it looked in 1961 and is the site of the attack on Freedom Riders when they arrived at the station on May 20, 1961.
They were prepared to meet mob violence with non-violence and courage. They prepared farewell letters and wills.
Their goal was to help end racial segregation in public transportation.
They were attacked once they reached the Greyhound bus station in Montgomery and then only made it as far as Jackson before they were arrested and sent to prison for 40 days for breaking segregation laws.
Our guide, Dorothy, was extremely passionate about the museum. Her stories helped us understand more of what happened during this period of the Civil Rights Movement.
I thoroughly enjoyed her tour of the museum.
They also have a scavenger hunt for the kids to help them better understand the museum.
- Hours: Tues – Sat. Noon to 3pm
- Tickets: $5 adults, $3 children 6-18 years
2. Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
Our tour of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church has been one of our favorite tours so far on our US road trip.
The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church was built in 1883 and quickly became an important worship and meeting place for the African community.
The old red brick building with views out to the State Capitol feels very symbolic when you consider what the community within this church was able to achieve in the city that was known to be the Cradle of the Confederacy, born from those Capitol steps the Church overlooks.
The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church is where Martin Luther King Jr. had his first and only pastor experience from 1954 to 1959.
It was where he was recognized in the community as an enigmatic leader and was chosen to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which launched him as a Civil Rights leader.
The tour is fantastic, mostly due to our guide, Wanda who shared the spirit of King and the movement through her songs, and words of love and joy, peace and unity.
It was a moving experience and definitely an attraction to put on your things to do in Montgomery, AL with kids.
Our girls loved it.
Inside the Church, you get to see Dr. King’s office where he wrote many of his speeches and sermons and stand behind the exact pulpit he stood behind when he gave his famous How Long Not Long speech.
You can worship with the congregation on Sundays at 10:30. I’d love to experience it. I can only imagine the love, hope and sense of community that lives within that church service.
- Tours hourly from 10am – 3pm. except for noon.
3. Dexter Avenue Parsonage Museum
Do you want to see the home that Dr. Martin Luther King and his family lived in during his years as a pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church?
This modest but cute clapboard cottage is in Centennial Hill, which was once a vibrant middle-class African suburb.
The Dexter Parsonage Museum is where previous pastors of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church used to reside. It’s also where Martin Luther King Jr. and his family lived between 1954 and 1960.
You’ll get to see the crater in the porch left over from when his house was bombed and experience the stories of his life within the walls where they happened.
A most poignant part of the tour is the kitchen where Dr King received guidance from within not to quit on the dream when we were most afraid and troubled over it, but to keep standing up for justice.
The permanent collection in the Interpretive Center of the museum contains photos and a timeline of the 12 Dexter pastors who lived here as well as inspiring quotes from their Pastoral Wisdom.
You can also see unpublished photographs of Dr. King and former members of the Montgomery ministers who were active in the bus boycott movement.
There’s also the Kings-John garden, which you can use as reflection on what you’ve learned from the museum.
- Tours of the Dexter Avenue Parsonage Museum Hours: Tuesday through Friday: 10am – 3pm, every hour, excluding noon to 1pm, Saturday: 10 – 1pm every hour.
4. Civil Rights Memorial Center
The Civil Rights Memorial is the best place to visit after you have seen the other Civil Rights Trail experiences.
There is a beautiful memorial out the front, designed by Maya Lin, the same designer of Washington’s Vietnam memorial.
A circular black granite table records the names of the martyrs and chronicles the history of the movement in lines that radiate like the hands of a clock.
Water flows out the center and across the top of the etched names.
On a curved black granite wall behind the table is engraved Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s well-known paraphrase of Amos 5:24 –
We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
It’s a place to reflect and consider how injustices continue today and what you can do to help correct them.
Visit the Wall of Tolerance inside where you can add your name to the wall and take the pledge to stand for justice, peace and love.
By placing my name on the Wall of Tolerance, I pledge to take a stand against hate, injustice and intolerance. I will work in my daily life for justice, equality and human rights – the ideals for which the Civil Rights martyrs died.
5. Rosa Parks Library and Museum
See where the Civil Rights Movement began at the Rosa Parks Museum.
They bring the story alive through an interactive display, 3D re-enactments, and gospel music setting the scene.
The Museum is located in the spot where Rosa Park was arrested.
There is also a children’s annex which has an interactive bus taking kids into the past and through the experience making it a worthy stop on your list of things to do in Montgomery, AL with kids. There’s also a station wagon belonging to one of the protestors.
The Rosa Parks Museum is very well put together with artifacts and is not too overwhelming with information, you get a great sense of what happened and why.
- Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm; Saturday 9am-3pm
- Admission Fee: $7.50 Adults; $5.50 Children 12 & under; $1
6. Museum of Alabama
The Alabama Museum tells the story of Alabama’s past from prehistory to the present through award winning and interacting exhibits and programs.
It is located at the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH), a stunning building, and the nation’s oldest state-funded, independent archival and historical agency.
Interactive and educational displays and areas for kids are in the Hands-On-Gallery and Grandma’s Attic where you can dress in period costumes, play with toys from bygone eras, make crafts, listen to stories, and do more.
My girls enjoyed using the typewriter, old telephones, and creating sequined Mardi Gras masks for our trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. (Yes you can do Mardi Gras with kids, here’s how).
This is one of the best things to do in Montgomery Al with Kids.
- Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8:30 am -4:30 pm.
- Admission is FREE
7. Court Square Fountain
For a beautiful view and photo, that many from our community said made Montgomery look European, stand at the bottom right corner of the fountain roundabout and look up towards Dexter Avenue and the State Capitol.
This beautiful fountain is topped by a statue of Hebe, Goddess of Youth and Cupbearer to the Gods and was built in 1885 over an existing artesian basin.
There are quite a few significant historical markers around this fountain.
It’s where the slave market once used to be and is also the spot where Rosa Parks boarded the bus on the day she was arrested.
On the corner is the Winter Building where the orders to fire the first shot for the Civil War were given.
8. State Capitol Tour
We had done so many museums and tours during our Montgomery trip and the girls were getting really tired so we sacrificed a tour of the State Capitol.
I hope you have time to make it one of your things to do on Montgomery, AL as I would have liked to have done it.
It’s a grandiose building built in 1850 in the Greek Revival style with perfect proportions and creamy exterior, which would sparkle against a clear blue sky.
It’s noted as a national historic landmark and included on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Confederacy began here in 1861 and a little over a century later the Voting Rights march ended in 1965.
Out the front of the State Capitol is where the Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights march ended and there Martin Luther King gave his famous speech, “How Long, Not Long!” after the Selma to Montgomery March.
- Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-4pm; Saturday Guided Tours Only at 9am, 11am, 1pm & 3pm
- Admission is FREE
9. Montgomery Riverfront
If you visit during the warmer months, then the Riverfront is possibly a place for you to spend some time.
Be sure to check whether there are any local festivals or concerts on.
There are also river boat rides and a small amphitheater which looks lovely and often has concerts and events. You can bring your cooler, picnic basket, and blanket to enjoy them.
We had rainy weather on our visit to Montgomery so didn’t get to do much at the Riverfront. The Visitor Center is worth a look and it is close to Downtown and the Alley.
10. Fly at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival
Not a festival as such but a theater located in Blount Cultural Park.
If the weather is kind to you (it was raining for us) arrive early with a picnic and enjoy the 300 acres of ground that will remind you a little of the English countryside.
The Shakespeare Theater is a fully professional regional theater that produces around ten productions each season.
While Shakespeare plays are at the artistic core of the company, Broadway musicals, children’s productions, American classics, and world premieres are also put on.
We attended an afternoon show of Fly, which tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, who trained at nearby Morton Field during World War II, and gained fame during World War II for their bravery.
Their flying skills equaled those of the whites – dying stereotypes and helped lead to the decision to desegregate the American Military in 1946.
Fly was funny, sad, and told the story of the pilots in such a moving and mesmerizing way.
I enjoyed it far more than I though I would. The acting was brilliant. The girls even giggled and enjoyed it despite it being slightly above their age level.
I love them receiving a cultural education like this.
Hopefully, Fly is still playing when you visit Montgomery, Al. If not, have a look to see what is playing as the venue is intimate and it could be one of the fun things to do in Montgomery, Al.
11. Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is in the same expansive Blount Cultural Park as the Shakespeare Theater.
This Montgomery attraction for kids is in one impressive building.
Unfortunately, one section was closed off to us for a private party, but we could look over it from above and see some of the more modern pieces.
For things to do in Montgomery AL with kids, don’t miss the giant wooden donut and ARTWORKS, the art gallery and studio for kids which has interactive displays and opportunities for the kids to create and engage with art.
Admission is free.
12. Explore Historical Cloverdale
Stroll through the tree-shaded streets of the historical Cloverdale to see charming bungalows and stately columned mansions.
It’s a quiet, gorgeous area with brick paved roads, historic churches and homes, boutique stores and trendy restaurants (see Vintage Year below).
The Viator Mystery Tour connects 16 historic sites in downtown Montgomery that played pivotal roles in the Civil Rights Movement, Civil War, and the discovery of Alabama Music and Folklore Artists. Book your tour here
13. National Memorial for Peace and Justice
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in 2018 and was the first memorial in the U.S. to be made in memory of the African Americans who have been affected by slavery, lynchings, and injustice.
The six acre memorial is most famous for its field of 800 monuments, each representing a county where lynchings took place. Each of these monuments contains engravings of the names of people who had been affected by the lynchings.
There are also sculptures and artwork that honor important figures in the Civil Rights movement.
- Hours: 9.00am – 5.00pm Wednesday – Sunday
14. Legacy Museum
The Legacy Museum is another museum that focuses on preserving the history of racial injustice to light. It was built on the site where thousands of slaves were warehoused and forced to labor in chains.
The museum tells the story of slavery to mass incarceration and is also located just blocks from one of the most prominent slave auction spaces in America.
- Hours: 9.00am – 5.00pm Wednesday – Sunday
15. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum
Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were considered “the first American flappers” and were prominent figures in the Jazz Age. Scott was a writer, who rose to fame after his first novel, The Side of Paradise, which was published in 1920, acquainted him with high society in Montgomery.
Zelda was noted for her beauty, but she also suffered from mental health issues which was made increasingly worse by the pairs wild drinking and partying.
The pair were living a Great Gatsby lifestyle in Montgomery and you can learn about their life at the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, the only museum dedicated to the couple.
This is probably an attraction in Montgomery for adults to enjoy more than kids.
- Hours: 10am-3pm, Thursday – Sunday
16. Alley Entertainment District
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Montgomery at night, then a trip to the Alley Entertainment District is where you need to be. Known as the entertainment and nightlife district, this is where you’ll find bars playing country music. You’ll also see theatres and entertainment venues where you can watch live bands play.
It’s also where you’ll find the Riverwalk Stadium, a baseball field. The stadium has picnic areas and a playpark for kids, if they find a baseball game uninteresting!
It’s also just a short walk from the riverfront park which sits next to the Gun Island Chute, which connects to the Alabama River. In the evening, you can find live music and entertainment here, and kids will love playing on the splash pad. You can also take riverboat cruises from the park, including the Harriott II Riverboat.
17. First White House of the Confederacy
The First White House of the Confederacy was the former home of Jefferson Davis and where he lived during the Civil War.
Today, it’s a museum, showcasing the home in which he lived. You can walk through rooms where he ate, slept and worked. It’s free to enter, which makes it one of the best free things to do in Montgomery.
Just down the road, you’ll find the Alabama State Capitol building, a 19th century building that started the Confederacy in the Capital of Alabama.
- Hours: 8:00 am – 3:30 pm
18. Learn About the Cattle Industry at the Mooseum
The Mooseum is a children’s education center in Montgomery and is one of the best things to do in Montgomery with kids.
It’s a place to learn about Alabama’s beef cattle industry and has interactive exhibits on how beef goes from farm to plate.
You can also learn about the byproducts that come from beef cattle.
Kids can dress up like a cowboy and play in the Rodeo Arena and learn all about cows. It’s certainly one of the most unique attractions in Montgomery.
- Hours: 8.00am – 12.00pm, 1.00pm – 4.30pm Monday – Friday
19. Hank Williams Museum
Another top museum in Montgomery worth a visit is the Hank Williams Museum. Hank Williams was a country music superstar, and you can learn all about his life and music from this museum.
As you wander through the museum, listen to the sound of his guitars on vinyl records and see his 1952 Baby Blue Cadillac.
You’ll also see his suits, boots, and ties, and so much more memorabilia from Hank Williams.
- Hours: 9.00am – 4.00pm Monday – Friday, 10.00am – 4.00pm Saturday, 1.00pm – 4.00pm Sunday
20. Montgomery Zoo & Mann Wildlife Learning Museum
If you’re visiting Montgomery with kids, you cannot miss the zoo! Montgomery Zoo is where you’ll see African elephants, giraffes, and many more amazing animals.
There’s also a petting zoo and reptile house, as well as a stingray tank and parakeet cove.
If you’re ever short of things to do in Montgomery with kids, a trip to the zoo is always a crowd pleaser.
- Hours: 9.00am – 4.00pm daily
21. Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Another attraction in Montgomery for adults is the Museum of Fine Arts. The collection features works from the 19th and 20th century, and some notable artists include Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and John Singer Sargent.
There’s also a sculpture garden, and a gallery where you can purchase fine art to take home.
The museum sits next to a lake with a manicured garden surrounding it. It’s the perfect place to sit and have a picnic under the warm Alabama sun.
- Hours: 10.00am – 5.00pm Tuesday – Sunday
Places to Eat in Montgomery
After all these Montgomery attractions to visit, you’re going to need something to eat! Here are some places we loved to eat at in Montgomery.
22. Chris’ Hot Dog
If you’re a lover of tradition and hot dogs, then you’ll love Chris’Hot Dogs.
Situated on Dexter Avenue, it’s been around since 1917.
Yep, that’s over 100 years of selling hot dogs and their signature sauce. It’s super cheap as well, so perfect for families traveling on a budget.
Chris’ Hot Dogs is run by second and third generations of the founding family.
Hot Dog all the Way is the signature dish which s drenched in Chris’s secret sauce, onions and kraut. It makes the list of things to do in Montgomery, AL for it’s nostalgic value!
23. Prevail Union Coffee Montgomery
Looking for the best coffee in Montgomery, Alabama?
We weren’t sure we were going to find any in Montgomery, but a local pointed us down the street to Prevail Union Montgomery, a craft coffee roaster.
This is located next to the vintage hipster Chop Shop Barber.
The café space is decorated with local art and a few lounge chairs to sit and relax with the views out to the fountain and Dexter Avenue.
The coffee is good. And the barista was Australian!! Can you believe it? An Australian barista in Montgomery Alabama.
I love life’s little random surprises and anomalies.
24. Central Restaurant
For those looking for something a little more elegant and upmarket, you can’t go past Central in The Alley region.
Sophisticated, yet laid-back, Central is housed in an 1890’s grocery warehouse. Its rustic décor, low lighting and open air kitchen provide a welcoming and homely atmosphere.
Central’s food is fresh, seasonal and regional, artfully presented and simply Delicious.
It was by far the best steak (filet mignon) I’ve had in the US. Don’t miss the fried brussel sprouts with dried cranberries, preserved lemon vinaigrette, mozzarella curds.
25. Dreamland BBQ
For cheap and delicious BBQ, head to Dreamland BBQ. Good news parents – kids eat free on select days.
Famous for its succulent ribs and homemade sauce. Grab some hickory-fired bbq, ribs and chicken, and a serving of baked potatoes, beans, and mac and cheese
Save room for the famous Banana pudding as it’s the desert not to miss with vanilla wafers, ripe bananas, creamy pudding, and whipped cream, and a secret sauce over the top.
26. Wintzell’s Oyster House
This seafood restaurant has been serving up fresh Gulf Seafood for over 75 years.
Get your oysters any way you like, or try the signature Oyster sampler with Rockefeller (spinach lovers), Bienville (shrimp, crabmeat, parmesan cream sauce) Chargrilled (over an open flame and smothered with pepper butter and cheese).
You may want to schedule out a bit of time here so you can peruse all the funny quotes and sayings that completely cover every wall.
27. Sunday Brunch at Vintage Year
I love how the South does brunch.
You won’t be disappointed with the class and sophistication of brunch at Vintage Year. Kir Royayle champagne cocktail are a must of course!
The food at Vintage Year is innovative and delicious. We went for the daily special of salmon with local blue stone grits and a creole cajun sauce. Wow. Bursting with creamy deliciousness.
Vintage Year is a fine dining restaurant dishing up elegance on a plate for over a quarter of a century.
They aspire to serve simple, local, fresh food that rocks with flavor and style.
It’s a don’t miss foodie things to do in Montgomery, Al.
You can read more reviews on TripAdvisor to see people raving about the food, ambiance, and service.
Where to stay in Montgomery Alabama
The Hampton Inn
In the heart of the historic downtown area and within minutes’ walk to The Alley, the premier and revitalized restaurant and nightlife area – think cobblestone alleyways and trendy eating spots is the Hampton Inn Downtown.
We loved the prime location and the room was large, which is always welcome with kids.
There was a separate sitting area and a small kitchen. The bathroom was small with a vanity area outside.
If that was a little smaller and the bathroom a little bigger, it would be perfect. Other than that, it’s in a great location and the service was excellent.
Breakfast is also supplied, which was perfect for the girls – they love bagels and sausages – but Craig and I skipped on it. We’re gluten-free and don’t like buffet breakfasts.
Other places to stay in downtown Montgomery include The Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Embassy Suites. Check out more places to stay in Montgomery here.
Before You Go
So there you have it, those are 28 things to do in Montgomery and as you can see, there’s a lot of history to explore and learn about here.
But there’s also plenty of places to relax, sit back and listen to country music, enjoy good food and warm hospitality.
We hope this guide helped you plan your visit to Montgomery and give you some attractions to add to your itinerary.
Our visit to Montgomery was hosted by Sweet Home Alabama Tourism. All opinions are our own.
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What are your favorite things to do in Montgomery, AL with kids? Let us know in the comments.