Wedged between Georgia and Mississippi is one of the United States’ oldest stalwarts: Alabama. While some musicians have applauded the state, others have scorned it, and at least one band even decided to take its name for their own. However, rather than turn to pop culture for an opinion of the 22nd state, we suggest visiting the capital of Alabama yourself.
At the heart of Alabama, you’ll find Montgomery County and its county seat, the city of Montgomery. This famous city’s past inhabitants include national icons like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, not to mention unfortunate characters like the short-lived Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. Due to its unique history, Montgomery is brimming with exciting attractions, making it an excellent destination for those who want to explore America’s past.
No matter your interest in the Montgomery area, we hope the following reasons to visit help you along.
What is the Capital of Alabama?
Most people think Birmingham must be the capital city since it has the largest population in the state and is home to the University of Alabama. But this distinction goes to none other than the city of Montgomery. With nearly 200,000 people, the city is in an ongoing tug-of-war with Huntsville for this second-place status.
Alabama’s first state capital was built in the early 19th century and is located in Cahaba. Following that, state leaders moved it to Tuscaloosa. After it finally came to a stop in Montgomery, the statehouse in Tuscaloosa was repurposed as the Alabama Central Female College. This structure was later burned down, and its ruins are still standing in what is known as Capitol Park.
Today, Alabama’s capitol rests on what was once known as Goat Hill in Montgomery.
6 Reasons to Visit Montgomery, Alabama
1. Alabama State Capitol Building
Alabama’s current capital building features a Greek Revival style and is the 4th capital structure the state has had. Although it is considered a national historic landmark, it is used as the seat of government. The Alabama legislature and state senate still conduct business there today.
Fortunately enough, the state government is more than happy to welcome visitors. The capitol’s museum is open to walk-in guests Monday through Friday.
2. Museums and Memorials
Since Alabama was one of the epicenters of the Civil Rights Movement, it has many museums and memorials dedicated to its momentous legacy. These sites commemorate a range of historical African American personages such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks and pivotal acts like the Selma to Montgomery Marches that championed voting rights.
In addition to these memorial sites, Montgomery has a handful of other museums and memorials you should visit. Below is a list of just a few places to consider.
- Civil Right Memorial Center
- National Memorial for Peace and Justice
- Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church
- The F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum
- Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
- Hank Williams Memorial
3. Historic Landmarks
As you probably know, the state of Alabama threw in with the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Not surprisingly, a lot more happened in the state both before and after that painful period. The following sites represent a mix of every bit of history Montgomery offers that wasn’t covered in the previous Museums and Memorials section.
- Dexter Parsonage Museum (former residence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)
- Selma to Montgomery National Historic Route
- First White House of the Confederacy
- Old Alabama Town
- Rosa Parks Arrest Site
- Governor’s Mansion
4. Alabama Department of Archives and History
Alongside preserving serious state archives and artifacts, the Department of Archives and History is home to the Museum of Alabama, which is open Monday through Saturday. Best of all, admission doesn’t cost a thing! The museum includes everything from paintings to interpretive exhibits.
5. Montgomery Zoo
They say history is all art and war. So, when you’ve had enough of those two, consider dropping in to hang out with those who know the most about living naturally in the moment. If you haven’t got your fill of beasts by the time you are done exploring the zoo’s 40-acre lot, you could also drive down to the Alabama Safari Park just about 20 minutes south of town.
6. Head Outdoors
Although there aren’t any official state or national recreational areas around the Montgomery area, the city is located right along the Alabama River. Riverfront attractions include Powder Magazine Park, Greek Park, and a tiny sliver of land dedicated to the Wright Brothers that features a replica of their historic aircraft. Additionally, the river is open to boating, so a variety of floating tours are available.
Did we miss your favorite spot in Montgomery, Alabama? Tell everyone about it on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!