This is my sixth post about our recent adventure through Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Click for the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth posts from the trip. Because I blog about educational travel, some of the places we visited gave me complimentary admission tickets, media rates, and similar benefits. Many attractions we toured are free to everyone; we paid full price for everything else. The amount we paid has no bearing on my reviews, as I only share what I honestly recommend.
Family Fun in Montgomery, Alabama
We arrived in Montgomery, Alabama in the evening on Wednesday, December 29. First, we checked into our hotel, the fabulous Embassy Suites Montgomery. We always love Embassy Suites hotels and this one was no exception. Our room was clean, comfy, and spacious. The evening reception and breakfast were fantastic, and the location was perfect.
We walked a few short blocks to our dinner destination, Bibb St. Pizza Co.
They sell pizza by the slice, but it's not the usual set-up where you pick a slice from the pre-baked options sitting around. They cook the pizza slices to order and they are delicious. We really enjoyed the garlic knots, too.
After a great night's sleep, we were ready to see Montgomery. There are a LOT of places to see in Montgomery. When I first started planning the trip, I was guessing there would be 2 or 3 must-see locations, but I quickly discovered that Montgomery has a lot of places we wanted to visit. I knew we couldn't see them all, so I had to prioritize as best I could. A few places I wanted to visit (including Old Alabama Town, the Civil Rights Memorial Center, and the Rosa Parks Museum) were closed when we were there, so those were easy to take off my list.
Our first visit was to the Legacy Museum.
This museum looks at the legacy of slavery in the US, starting with the transatlantic slave trade and concluding with codified racial segregation and the disproportionate incarceration of Blacks today.
The museum is extremely powerful. It is immersive and brings you into the story of slavery with no sugar coating. No photos are allowed, which was disappointing, but I get it. It feels wrong to say I enjoyed this museum because of the horrific subject matter, so instead I will say that I am a better person for having visited.
From the museum, there is a shuttle to take visitors a mile across town to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The memorial, set on a six-acre site, honors lynching victims. Sculptures throughout the site show visitors the horrors of slavery and racial terror.
At the center of the Memorial, you walk amongst more than 800 blocks hanging. Each represents a county in the US where a lynching took place. The names of the victims are etched onto each.
I can't describe the feeling of being there. This monument is powerful and beautiful and heartbreaking. But the simple fact that it's there is inspiring and gives me hope.
As you continue, you come to a matching set of 800+ blocks, laid side-by-side like coffins.
The Memorial concludes with a memory wall and a beautiful garden for reflection.
Across the street at the Memorial Center, there is a display of jars of soil. Each was taken from the location of a known lynching.
From the Peace and Justice Memorial, we walked a short distance to the Freedom Rides Museum, appropriately located in an old Greyhound station. While small, the museum does an excellent job covering the history and impact of the Freedom Riders. Unfortunately, they don't allow photos either.
Shortly after we left, the skies opened up. We were ready for lunch, so we ducked into the nearest open restaurant in hopes of waiting out the downpour. That restaurant, Cahawba House, turned out to be a great choice.
They serve "Bama bona fide Southern cuisine." The staff was very friendly and all our food came out promptly and piping hot. It was delicious.
As we stuffed ourselves with Bama bona fide Southern cuisine, the rain slowed from a downpour to a drizzle. With raincoats and umbrellas at the ready, we headed out to see more of Montgomery.
While the Civil Rights Memorial Center was closed, we were able to walk by the Memorial itself.
Then we continued on to the Capitol. The flag of each of the 50 states flies on the south side of the building.
At the base of each flag, there is a marker with the state's name engraved onto a rock from that state. I really enjoyed seeing each state's rock choice.
After exploring the grounds, we headed inside to look around.
Trevor got his Capitol Connection book stamped, which brought him up to 29 Capitols visited in 8 years.
I really liked this laser-cut ornament. How cool would it be to have a tree decorated with all of the cities we've visited?!
We left the Capitol and walked by the First White House of the Confederacy. It's free to tour, but we didn't have enough time to see it and our next destination, which was a lot more important to me.
This is a good place to mention what I found to be a strange characteristic of Montgomery: the city's dual identify as "The Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement" and "Cradle of the Confederacy." More than once, I saw a statue or monument or something placed by the Sons/Daughters of the Confederacy right next to an important civil rights landmark the city was highlighting.
Our next stop was at the Museum of Alabama.
I loved this raised map of Alabama out front. Trevor and I are using our feet to point to Montgomery.
We didn't have a lot of time at the museum, which is a shame because it was awesome. We did our best to see as much as we could before it closed.
I really like this display of famous Alabamans. Can you spot the two Californians who don't belong there?
After the museum closed, we took a leisurely stroll back toward our hotel.
Black lives matter.
Almost everything was buttoned up tightly by 5:00 pm, so we couldn't poke into the many interesting places we passed. I don't know if it's just because this was the week between Christmas and New Year's and/or because it was drizzling, but Montgomery was the quietest, safest-feeling large city I've ever seen. There was no traffic and nobody out on the streets (literally no one besides us). The population is allegedly just under 200,000 and I'd guess we saw at most 100 of those people, including the drivers of all five cars out on the streets of Montgomery. We did not see a single piece of trash anywhere in Montgomery, either.
After the evening reception at the hotel, we did something we almost never do while traveling and that is return to a restaurant a second time. Yep - we loved Bibb St. Pizza Co so much that we went back a second night. It was just as good.
The next morning, we headed to Montgomery's Riverfront.
The riverfront area has a riverboat, a park, an amphitheater, a splash pad, and a really nice walking trail.
(Montgomery, not Metro Goldwyn Mayer)
Riverwalk Stadium is also located there. It is home to the Montgomery Biscuits, the Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. Their mascot is literally the cutest of all time. And it's a good fit - Alabama sure loves their biscuits!
I would have loved more time in Montgomery. We only visited a fraction of the places I wanted to see and we really enjoyed our time there. But it was time to head east. I'll tell you about our next destination tomorrow.
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