What to do on a visit to Montgomery, Alabama
Montgomery, Alabama, is packed with history, landmarks, and some good food to boot. The opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in 2018 has since drawn visitors from across the country (and around the world) to Montgomery. If you haven’t yet been to the memorial and its neighboring museum, consider planning a day in Alabama’s capital city using our suggested itinerary.
Here’s what to do on a visit to Montgomery:
9 a.m.: Grab coffee at Prevail Union
Montgomery’s coolest coffee shop serves up fresh-roasted, sustainably sourced coffee. Try it in classic coffee drinks like an Americana or signature flavored options like the HVR (honey, vanilla, raspberry) and Alabama Stinger. Add on a pimento cheese biscuit to fuel you for the day ahead.
10 a.m.: Visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum
There had never been a national memorial acknowledging victims of racial terror lynchings until this six-acre site — funded by the Equal Justice Initiative — opened in 2018. More than 4,400 African American men, women, and children were hanged, burned alive, shot, drowned, and beaten to death by white mobs between 1877 and 1950. This sobering memorial is dedicated to them. After the memorial, visit the Legacy Museum, located on the site of a former warehouse where black people were enslaved in Montgomery. The museum uses interactive media, sculpture, videography and exhibits to immerse visitors in the sights and sounds of the domestic slave trade, racial terrorism, the Jim Crow South, and the world’s largest prison system.
1 p.m.: Lunch at Martin’s
Get your fill of soul food at this long-time favorite meat-and-three. Daily menus are posted on the restaurant’s website, but you’ll notice one item is always on there: Martin’s famous fried chicken. Pair it with sides like homemade dressing, squash casserole, and turnip greens.
2 p.m.: Spend the afternoon sightseeing historic landmarks
Hop in the car and do a highlights tour of some of Montgomery’s most historic landmarks. Here are the ones you shouldn’t miss: Dexter Parsonage Museum, the home of Dr. Martin Luther King from 1954-1960. The Civil Rights Memorial, across the street from the Southern Poverty Law Center, commemorating those who lost their lives during the Civil Rights Movement. Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where Dr. King served as pastor and held many civil rights meetings. The Hank Williams Memorial at Oakwood Annex Cemetery, where Hank and his wife, mother, and sister are buried. Make sure you drive by the Governor’s Mansion and give Governor Ivey a wave!
5 p.m.: Stroll the Riverwalk
Take a sunset stroll along Montgomery’s riverfront. The paved Riverwalk path gives you views of the Gun Island Chute of the Alabama River, as well as the downtown skyline. Take note of the historic Union Station and the old train shed that now plays host to events. The path ends at Riverfront Park, where you’ll find an amphitheater and a riverboat. The Montgomery Biscuits baseball stadium is just across the street.
6 p.m.: Dinner at Central
Central consistently ranks as the best restaurant in Montgomery, offering upscale food in a casual atmosphere. Executive chef Jason McGarry uses regionally sourced ingredients to craft Southern-inspired, inventive dishes. The menu changes seasonally and with availability, but look for dishes like a Deviled Crab Cigar, Oyster Sliders, Aged Cheddar Pimento Cheese, and Alabama Gulf Crab Fried Rice.
(Additional Montgomery activities include visiting the State Capitol, the Alabama Department of Archives and History, and the Rosa Parks museum. However, all are currently closed to the public due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Please refer to their websites before planning a visit.)
Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at email@example.com.