Exploration of historical spots and more await in Alabama’s capital


Those who have visited Montgomery, Ala., but haven’t been in a while are likely to be surprised with what is happening in the city. Those who haven’t made it to the city yet are advised to add it to their “Next Trip” wish list.

Montgomery, which is the capital of Alabama, boasts a “capital of dreams” moniker. It is rich in civil rights history and its historic district showcases that aspect. However, there are a lot of changes taking place in the city’s downtown area—sections that had been neglected and fallen into disrepair are now being revitalized. Buildings are being renovated turned into lofts and intown dwellings and trendy spots for businesses along Dexter Avenue and elsewhere.

In the historic district, one encounters tributes to old Montgomery and transitioning Montgomery. The Alabama State Capitol is on the National Register of Historic Places and was the first capitol for the Confederate States of America. Its marble staircase is also where the third Selma-to-Montgomery March ended in the 1960s. Although Alabama’s governor and other state leaders still operate from the facility, visitors can tour much of the building for free.

There are also majestic marble buildings paying homage to such historic figures as Lurleen Wallace, wife of Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who was the first and only female governor of the state for 15 months from 1967-’68. Along Dexter Avenue is also where one encounters Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the only church where Martin Luther King Jr. served as senior pastor. (It’s also the street from which Dexter King, son of Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Jr. got his name, according to biographies about the Kings.)

Strolling down Dexter Avenue is like taking a walk into history. At Commerce Street and Dexter Avenue, a historical marker designates the spot where seamstress Rosa Parks refused a bus driver’s order to give up her seat to a White rider in 1955. Her arrest led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Lovers of architecture will likely be enthralled by other structures such as the stately and impressive buildings constructed by the Retirement System of Alabama (RSA) including the 375-foot tall, 23-story RSA Tower, the RSA Dexter Avenue building, the six-story RSA building, the nine-story RSA Union and the eight-story RSA Headquarters building. Some refer to the tower as a symbol of the “renaissance” of downtown Montgomery.

Other sites worthy of a visitor’s time in Montgomery—many of which are in walking distance of each other—include the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, Dexter Parsonage Museum and the home where King and his family lived while he was a pastor there, Civil Rights Memorial Center, Freedom Rides Museum, First White House of the Confederacy and the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum. Families may want to check out Riverwalk Stadium where the Montgomery Biscuits, a AA baseball team plays as well as Riverfront Park, which is located on the banks of the Alabama River and includes an amphitheater, Union Station Train Shed and a riverboat.

After so much walking and exposure to Montgomery’s history and downtown, take some time to explore an entertainment spot near Riverwalk Stadium called The Alley with a mix of eateries and boutiques. Or make one’s way to a different historic fixture of Montgomery, Dreamland BBQ at 12 W. Jefferson St. Started in 1958 by “Big Daddy” Bishop, a brick mason, the restaurant is hailed for its generous portions of hickory smoked ribs, pulled pork and chicken.

Located approximately 170 miles from DeKalb County, Montgomery is an ideal spot for a weekend getaway or day trip. For more information, go to www.visitingmontgomery.com.

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