Alabama's Captivating Capital

No doubt about it, history is a big part of Montgomery, Alabama, but there is a lot more to this capital city.

Home to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, and the Montgomery Biscuits, Montgomery is definitely a destination that everyone needs to visit at least once in their life.

Just one weekend here and you can discover what makes this capital city stand out from others.

Do learn the lay of the land with Blake's Segway Tours.

"It's more fun than a bus tour, and a great way to see the sites," comment Jeff Blake, owner.

Offering three tours limited to groups of four, they range from a 45-minutes Riverfront Tour to a more in-depth Civil Rights/Civil War tour at about 2 hours.

Visit the many museums and historic venues that tell the stories about Montgomery's past.

Civil War buffs should check out the First White House of Confederacy. It served as the residence for Confederate President Jefferson Davis during Montgomery's reign as the Capital of the Confederacy.

For those who want to know more about Montgomery's role during the Civil Rights Movement  need to make sure four places are on their itinerary: Rosa Parks Library and Museum and Children's Wing, Freedom Rides Museum, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church and the Dexter Parsonage Museum.

The Rosa Parks Library and Museum details the events and people associated with the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The exhibits include a replica of the public bus on which Mrs. Parks refused to give up her seat (the original one is on display at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich.), and a restored 1955 station wagon that was used as a taxi to transport people during the boycott. The documents in the collection include a letter from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., dated December 1956 - his first letter as a Civil Rights activist.

Freedom Rides Museum, located at the historic Greyhound Bus Station, features the 1961 Freedom Rides art exhibit. Interpretive panels outside documents the events unfolded when young non-violent protestors, who wanted to end racial segregation in public transportation, stepped off the bus at the bus station.

Tour a living institution, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the only church where King pastored from 1954-1960. Completed in 1889, the congregation held its inaugural service in the sanctuary on Thanksgiving Day. The church was designated as a national historic landmark in 1974 and renamed for Dr. King in 1978.  While on the tour, notice the many details on the  10' x 47' mural honoring Dr. King's work during the Civil Rights Movement. Created by retired art teacher and Dexter deacon John W. Feagin, it took him and two of his students two years to complete.

Restored to the time the King family lived at the house (1954-1960), the Dexter Parsonage Museum is filled with original pieces from the family as well as donated pieces. You can see the dining room table where the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was created, as well as the kitchen where Dr. King had an epiphany.

Great for all ages is a self-guided tour of Old Alabama Town, a 19th-century village. Within six blocks, the living history museum features restored and reopened authentic 19th- and early 20th-century homes and structures.

See the 1952 baby-blue Cadillac that Hank Williams died in while heading to Ohio at the Hank Williams Museum. Whether you are a country music lover or just curious about Williams, it is worth visiting the museum. Numerous personal items are only display, such as costumes, clothes, books, instruments and more.

Explore Blount Cultural Arts Park, home to Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Montgomery Museum of Art.

As the sixth largest Shakespeare theatre in the world, Eve Loeb, development director, calls the Alabama Shakespeare Festival  "the brightest star in Alabama's arts crown."
Opened in 1985, the theatre features around from eight to 10 theatrical productions, depending on the season. Performances include Shakespeare as well as other classics, contemporary works and musicals.

The Montgomery Museum of Art holds the distinction of being the oldest fine arts museum in the state. Free admission for the public, the collection features primarily American paintings, but also Old Master prints, southern regional art and more.

Get on the Alabama River with Harriott II. Departing from the Riverwalk, the riverboat takes a leisurely journey along the scenic river.

Eat very well while in Montgomery. With restaurants like Davis Cafe, TRUE in Old Cloverdale, Shashy's Bakery & Fine Foods, Central in The Alley Station, Railyard Brewing Company, if you don't remember a meal while visiting the city, you didn't try hard enough. For a true Montgomery experience, be sure to make your way to Chris' Hot Dogs, celebrating their 97th year in business.

Stay right the middle of it all. Downtown offers accommodations for all budgets and needs. You find everything from Hampton Inn to Doubletree to Embassy Suites to Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa here.

Did You Know

Montgomery is home to the world's only F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum. The couple rented a house in Montgomery for a brief period, with their daughter, Scottie. Today, the museum houses different artifacts including Zelda's cigarette holder, some of her artwork, a complete collection of Fitzgerald's short stories and more, including a stamp collection that F. Scott and daughter Scottie worked on.