On the Road with Pensacola Mom Collective
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Less than three hours from Pensacola, Montgomery offers a rich, moving, and incredibly important perspective on the Civil Rights Movement.
Montgomery is also home to several other attractions that allow you to balance the important history lessons with a bit of fun. Read on to learn about all Montgomery offers in the way of a short family road trip from Pensacola.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the SpringHill Suites right downtown, allowing us to walk to most of the sites on our list. The Legacy Museum is just a 10-minute walk, and the Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium (Home of the Montgomery Biscuits) is across the street.
What to Do
Civil Rights History
*closed on Sundays
Located at the site where Rosa Parks was arrested, this museum is an excellent introduction to the civil rights history of Montgomery and the perfect “first stop” on your tour of the city. This museum is family-friendly and even includes a replica of the bus that Mrs. Parks rode on. Tours of the museum are self-guided.
*11am-4pm Tuesday-Friday; 12noon-4pm on Saturday. Closed Sundays
This museum traces the route of the “Freedom Riders” (including late Congressman John Lewis), who protested the segregation of bus terminals in the South. Located at the old Greyhound Bus Terminal in Montgomery, where a vicious attack occurred on the Freedom Riders when they arrived by bus in Montgomery from Birmingham, this museum is dedicated to those who made this historic journey.
Dr. Martin Luter King, Jr. and his family lived in Montgomery from 1954-1960 when Dr. King was pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The parsonage where he and his family lived was bombed several times during the Civil Rights Movement. Today, you can tour the restored home, which appears just as it did when the King family lived there in the 1950s.
The parsonage is open on Friday and Saturday (10am-4pm). Tours of the church are by appointment only.
You can also take a virtual tour of the church and parsonage online.
*closed Monday and Tuesday.
The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice were founded by Montgomery’s Equal Justice Initiative (for those who have read the book or seen the movie Just Mercy, this is the organization founded by attorney Bryan Stevenson).
The Legacy Museum is located downtown and provides a comprehensive look at the history of slavery, which takes visitors from the slave trade to more modern times, including exhibits on mass incarceration. Given the nature of the topic, this museum is geared more toward older children (I would say teenagers and up, although our kids were 12 and 10 when we visited). All of the exhibits are incredibly detailed and accurate, making it very “real” for the visitor. So it truly depends on your children and how much they already know.
The memorial, located about one mile from the Legacy Museum, is dedicated to the victims of lynching and features steel rectangles representing the counties in the United States where lynching occurred.
One ticket ($5.00 + sales tax) gives you entrance to both the museum and the memorial and includes a shuttle service between the two locations. Museum tickets are timed entry, so advance purchase is strongly recommended to ensure you can see both the museum and the memorial during your visit.
Other Sites/Things to Do
Visit The Hank Williams Museum
Visit The Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum in the Historic Cloverdale Neighborhood
Catch a Montgomery Biscuits game
Attend a production at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival
Visit the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Take the kids to The MOOseum to learn about Alabama’s beef cattle industry
Where to Eat
D’Road Cafe (121 Montgomery Street – open 8:30am-2pm)
Who recommends a Venezuelan restaurant in the heart of the Deep South?
ME!!! Oh, and Trip Advisor (who never steers me wrong regarding restaurant recommendations when we are traveling).
The food is incredible – picture eggs served in a small iron skillet with ham and sauteed vegetables, empanadas, and arepas stuffed with black beans or brisket. And then, of course, there’s the French Toast…
I could write an entire blog post on this restaurant, so go ahead and put it at the top of your list. In fact, plan on it for breakfast the first day since it is right down the street from the Rosa Parks Museum. You’ll fill up enough for breakfast AND lunch!
Lek’s Railroad Thai Restaurant (300 Water Street)
I know, I know…more international food recommendations in Montgomery! But hear me out! This charming Thai restaurant is located in an old railroad station—authentic, delicious Thai cuisine. The kids loved the pad Thai and red curry, and the service was spot-on and super friendly!
Dreamland BBQ (12 W. Jefferson Street)
Ok, if you’ve tried D’Road and Lek’s, but you still need your BBQ fix, you can’t go wrong with Dreamland.
Vintage Year (405 Cloverdale Road)
Located in the historic Cloverdale neighborhood, Vintage Year provides a more upscale dining experience. Although Tuesday nights are “Burger Night” with a full menu of tasty burger combinations (prices range from $15 to $18). And Cloverdale is a very charming neighborhood worth checking out!
From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Rosa Parks and the Freedom Riders, Montgomery allowed us to talk with our kids about important historical events in the very place in which they occurred.
It was a very memorable trip and learning experience for our entire family.