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Essential to Expansive: Montgomery Civil Rights Itineraries

Posted on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 | Posted in:

Whether you have one day or a few to take in the many meaningful moments in Montgomery, there’s no doubt you’ll leave with a heart full of memories to share. Here’s a guide to putting together a great experience of any length.

A world of change, all in one day.

This line up captures the essence of Montgomery’s role in America’s Civil Rights story. We start the day learning about the people and places that laid the foundation of the movement with the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, fill in the gaps of history with two of the most acclaimed new Civil Rights experiences in America, and round out the day with a uplifting tour that will motivate you to step back into your daily life with hope and courage.

Get a great start with a locally roasted cup of Alabama’s best coffee according to Food & Wine Magazine, and pastry at Prevail Union Montgomery. Get acquainted with Montgomery’s community of civil rights organizers circa 1955 a few blocks down the street at the Rosa Parks Museum and Library. Next, check out the Instagram-friendly mural commemorating the Selma to Montgomery Marches on Lee Street on your way to the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

After a challenging morning, comfort your soul with a heartwarming lunch at one of these popular downtown dining locations. Uplift your spirits with a visit to the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church and a tour guided by the inimitable Wanda Battle. See the office and desk where Dr. King wrote his sermons, tour the basement where the bus Montgomery boycotts were organized and depart with a song in your heart.

Give us a weekend, get a new perspective
If you have two or three days to spend, round out your experience with these attractions that provide an even broader view of the Montgomery’s continuing role in the work for Civil Rights for all people.

Day 1:
Get to know Montgomery through the eyes of those who made history.

There’s no better way to get to know a city than to get out and about with a knowledgeable and entertaining guide. See Montgomery through a different pair of eyes with More than Tours, recently featured in National Geographic Traveler, or let original civil rights foot-soldier and Selma to Montgomery marcher Jake Williams escort you on a site seeing tour with a first-person perspective.

Stop for a bite at the 102 year old Chris’ Hotdogs on historic Dexter Avenue and you’ll have something delicious in common with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hank Williams, Dr. King and Elvis Presley, all of whom enjoyed their share of those famous hot dogs and burgers.

In the afternoon, get the rest of the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott at the Rosa Parks Museum and Library, learn about the martyrs of the movement at the Civil Rights Memorial and Museum and visit the rehabilitated greyhound bus station where the Freedom Riders were attacked on their arrival in Montgomery at the Freedom Riders Museum.

If you’re staying in the walk-able downtown area, consider ending your day with an excellent craft cocktail and some elevated southern fare in the rustic yet elegant Central, located in a beautifully renovated 1895 warehouse in the heard of the downtown entertainment district.

Day 2:
Taste, see and take home the real Montgomery.

Get started the Montgomery way with a plate of biscuits at Cahawba House or The Farmers Market Cafe. If your taste is more exotic, try the Crazy Eggs and arepas at D’road Cafe.

See first-hand the places where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. transformed from a young preacher to the internationally known Civil Rights leader at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church and Parsonage.

Pop over to the Capitol Oyster Bar for an al fresco seafood lunch with a riverfront view before you start a journey back in time at the Museum of Alabama. Their in-depth, interactive exhibits give insight into how Montgomery, Alabama and the south’s complex history evolved with the aid of first person accounts and over 800 treasured artifacts.

Load up on local loot at Product of Montgomery. This kitchy shop located on Madison Avenue in downtown features jewelry, arts and goods made by a collection of makers and creators from around Montgomery. Check out their social media pages to catch a pop up by a local baker, or poured paint class during your visit.

Kick back and relax with a craft brew at Common Bond Brewers where the brewers and staff believe great beer can help people connect and they invite you to stop by, linger over a pint, and share a Common Bond. Next door neighbors Bibb Street Pizza will send over their pizzas, strobolis and salads when hunger strikes!

Day 3:
Take time to take today’s experiences to heart.

If your third day lands on Sunday, brunch at Vintage Year in historic Old Cloverdale might be the perfect start. Afterwards, give yourself several hours to explore the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. These two brand new Civil Rights Experiences have been nationally and international recognized and offer a more complete context for current conversations about justice and racial equality. We recommend starting with the museum first and catching the shuttle they provide to the memorial.

These two culminating sites will challenge you and leave much on your heart and mind. Gather with your travel partners or meet a new friend around a plate of filling barbecue at the Alabama original, Dreamland BBQ, located around the corner from the EJI Giftshop.

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