There’s nothing more satisfying than experiencing the splendors of the natural world. From rushing river waters to verdant forests and rolling hills, the immense beauty of the great outdoors is spectacularly unmatched. When Mother Nature calls, Alabama’s capital is filled with plenty of places to get a breath of fresh air, seek a thrill, or just unwind to the sound of birds chirping and leaves rustling. From hiking and biking to whitewater rafting and camping, there’s no shortage of ways to explore the outdoors in Montgomery.
Here are just a few of the must-do outdoor adventures that await:
Take to the Trails
Whether you want to lace up your hiking boots, clip into a mountain bike, or test your footing with a trail run, Montgomery is a hotbed for beautiful trails that range from paved urban park tracks to paths cut through dense hardwood forests. If you seek a paved multi-use path that the entire family can enjoy, try Young Meadows Park Trail or Shady Street Trailhead and Park. Located just north of downtown, Shady Street offers a green escape in the center of an industrial area that includes an outdoor classroom, covered pavilion, park, and the paved multi-use trail. Plans are currently underway for Shady Street Trailhead and Park to connect to a series of other green spaces through 5 gorgeous miles of gardens and walking-biking paths stretching from north Montgomery to the riverfront and Maxwell Air Force Base. For now, you can get further connected with the natural world around you by checking out the park’s interpretive signage about native plants and animals in the area.
Another outdoor escape with room and amenities for all is Blount Cultural Park. In addition to being home to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the annual Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the 77-acre park features multiple ponds, miles of walking trails, sculpture gardens, and an impressive statuary.
For a deeper escape into nature, head to Lagoon Park in northeast Montgomery. The 432-acre park is home to the beloved Lagoon Park Trail, a 5-mile trail that traverses through hardwood forests, romantic meadows, and mysterious wetlands. The path alternates between natural surface, single-track, and double-track paths, where you can bike, walk, run, birdwatch, or practice your wildlife photography. Along the way, you’ll encounter burbling creeks and a scenic lagoon too.
Jackson Lake Island Image via Andrew Christopher - Triggered Photography
Spend the Night
If you want your outdoor adventure to extend beyond daylight hours, there are several places to pitch a tent and camp in Montgomery. At Jackson Lake Island, you can have a once-in-a-lifetime experience camping with goats on this wild private island that once served as the set for the movie Big Fish. Its location on the Alabama River also makes it a prime place to kayak, canoe, or paddle board. Another great camping spot on the Alabama River is the Montgomery Marina RV Park, where you can hook up your motorhome, then head over to Capitol Oyster Bar for a great meal and views of the boats docking at the Montgomery Marina.
Get Out on the Water
Montgomery’s newest attraction is making quite the splash among outdoor enthusiasts. Montgomery Whitewater is an artificial river that gives everyone, from seasoned paddlers to beginners, the chance to experience whitewater thrills. Take a guided raft ride tour, or if you’ve always dreamed of going down rushing waters in a kayak, the park offers training courses in whitewater kayaking. The park includes a 1,600-foot Olympic-standard competition channel for advanced paddlers, as well as a 2,200-foot adventure channel for newer folks. On-site eatery Eddy’s has healthy snacks and meals perfect to press pause and fuel up. Be sure to check out their Asian Bowl for a fresh fix of proteins and veggies. If you’re feeling a bit indulgent, check out their indoor and outdoor bars—each featuring plenty of refreshing cocktails and great local brews. The park opened in early July, so there’s still more to come from this new outdoor lover’s paradise, including rock climbing, mountain biking trails, ropes courses, and walking trails. The area’s newest attraction also receives big bonus points for the awesome kids climbing area for the littlest adventurers in your crew.
Fuel Up with a Healthy Meal
If all your adventuring leaves you with a mountain-sized appetite, there are plenty of places in Montgomery where you can enjoy a fresh, healthy meal that will give you enough energy for hours more of outdoor exploration. Start your day at Frutta Bowls, where you can order an antioxidant-packed acai or pitaya bowl filled with toppings like fresh fruit, granola, almond butter, chia seeds, and honey. If you need something that will last you clear through lunch, head to MGM Nutrition and order a protein-packed shake or tea bomb in creative flavors like Caramel Blondie, Banana Cream Pie, and Cucumber Watermelon.
When you need a mid-day break, try Plant Bae in downtown Montgomery. The vegan restaurant serves plant-based versions of classic American bar food like burgers, wings, nachos, and mac and cheese. For a lunch so flavorful you won’t have time to miss the meat, try the Philly Cheese Fries featuring seasoned russet potatoes topped with Beyond Meat, grilled onions and mushrooms, vegan mozzarella, vegan ranch, jalapenos, and microgreens. Another great lunch spot with a menu of fresh and healthy eats is Vintage Café. The coffee shop and daytime eatery in the Old Cloverdale neighborhood is known for its simple menu of sandwiches and salads done right. Try the Martha’s Melt (peppered bacon, brie, fig jam, and arugula on multigrain bread) or the Chicken Wheat Berry Bowl with grilled chicken, wheat berries, white beans, tomatoes, spinach, goat cheese, and housemade pecan pesto.
After a long day of outdoor pursuits, head to Hilltop Public House for a stiff drink and a comfortable place to rest your legs. The hip coffee shop and bar in the historic Cottage Hill neighborhood shares space with Capitol City Bicycle Repair & Service, so if you’re looking to recount your latest biking venture or simply want to talk shop, chances are you’ll find someone with similar outdoor passions at Hilltop.
Get Out, Get Active in Montgomery
Whether you prefer to do your exploring by bike, boat, float, or on your own two feet, your journey to Montgomery’s great outdoors is sure to be invigorating and unforgettable! Plan your trip to this epicenter for adventure by clicking here today.