Summer with school-age children can be the best of times and the worst of times. It doesn’t take long for the excitement of sleeping in, splashing at the pool, and spending time with friends to give way to inevitable boredom.
For moms across central Alabama – and any adult responsible for kids this summer – the state’s capital city of Montgomery offers a wide variety of activities to fill a long weekend or even a series of day trips throughout the season. And while you’re filling days with fun, engaging activities, you can still be filling young minds with knowledge.
Take a peek at all the things you’ll find for children of all ages, organized by school subjects:
Alabama State History
Like most state capitals, Montgomery is in the center of Alabama, so legislators and citizens alike can easily reach the capital for legislative sessions or other government business. That central location also means Montgomery offers easy access from almost anywhere in the state for tourists to visit the capitol building and the historic buildings nearby.
Law lovers and history buffs alike will be mesmerized by Frank M. Johnson, Jr. Institute Tours of the Federal Building. During this special courtroom tour, you can step foot in the exact location where monumental court cases like Rosa Parks’ brush with the law and Martin Luther King Jr.’s legal troubles played out and forever shaped the United States.
For a deeper understanding of Rosa Parks’ role in the fight for civil rights, the Rosa Parks Museum is a can’t-miss experience for families with children of all ages. A state-of-the-art institution, the Rosa Parks Museum is located on the Troy University at Montgomery campus and depicts events that inspired the bus boycott and early civil rights movement. Here, you’ll find interactive exhibits, multimedia presentations, and even a special Children’s Wing geared toward helping even the youngest learners grasp the magnitude of Rosa Parks’ role in shaping the journey toward equality in America.
The Alabama Department of Archives and History is the official repository of archival records for the U.S. state of Alabama and the only destination where you can explore Alabama’s story from prehistory to the present. It was opened on February 27, 1901, with a mission to collect, preserve, and make available for research the historical records of the state of Alabama. The department has a vast collection of materials that includes manuscripts, maps, photographs, newspapers, audiovisual materials, and more. The exhibits here are award-winning Smithsonian quality, and the experience is one sure to be truly unforgettable.
The Museum of Alabama occupies the second and third floors of the Archives building, featuring portraits of people who contributed to the history of the state are hung in various locations on both floors. The second floor contains exhibits featuring the Selma to Montgomery marches, the history of Native Americans in the state from the Pre-Columbian era to the Indian removal, and the history of warfare involving Alabamians from the French Colonial period to the Vietnam War. The Alabama Sampler Gallery contains Alabama-related artifacts ranging from 19th-century clothing to a guitar owned by Hank Williams. The Hands-On Gallery contains history-related activities for children. The third floor houses paintings and sculptures.
Old Alabama Town occupies four blocks of buildings and sites that form a preserved neighborhood of 19th- and 20th-century residences. Because the area is so large, walking tours rotate to a different block each week, so each visit is unique. It’s a great opportunity to step into the pages of a history book to reflect on the life and times of those who shaped central Alabama.
Arts and Culture
The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) houses an expansive collection of art from the 19th and 20th centuries including paintings, sculptures, master prints, decorative arts, and a beautiful sculpture garden.
Also onsite at the MMFA, you’ll find ArtWorks, an interactive gallery that’s popular with all ages. The gallery is an engaging space designed to complement the Museum’s permanent collection, where visitors can explore art materials, ideas, and techniques or enjoy the areas set aside for quiet reading and imaginative play.
The Mooseum is a wonderfully quirky museum that showcases the lives, artifacts, and lifestyles of Alabama’s cowboys and cattle, as well as the area’s colorful farming heritage. This hands-on museum includes informative exhibits such as “From Pasture to Plate” that highlight the life cycle and food chain of cattle, plus opportunities to learn about beef byproducts and Alabama’s rich beef heritage. The kids can even use the dress-up stations to roleplay as a cowboy.
The Montgomery Zoo is a 40-acre gem that’s home to over 500 animals from five different continents, all housed in natural, barrier-free habitats. Residents include nearly 140 species from parts of South America, the savannas of Africa, and the mountain peaks of Asia.
Mann Wildlife Museum, onsite at the Montgomery Zoo, lets zoo guests touch and feel the furs and antlers of some of the animals on display. And the animals are in three-sided displays assembled from natural material and actual plants, rocks, trees, small critters, dirt, and sand collected from the actual site where the displayed animals once lived. Also in the fish room, mounted fish displays include stingrays, sharks, marlins, bluefin, and an orca.
The Hank Williams Museum lets you step into the shoes of this country music legend. Even if you’re not a country music fan, you’ll still enjoy a quick trip back in time to see this icon’s 1952 Cadillac, his clothing and costumes, beautifully maintained musical instruments, and even his high school yearbook.
Montgomery Whitewater offers the perfect combination of some outdoor time and some relief from the heat. As one of only a few man-made Whitewater facilities in the world and the most technologically advanced Whitewater experience in the country, this must-do Montgomery experience is one your family will be eager to return to again and again. Visitors aged 8 and older can take advantage of whitewater rafting and kayaking for beginners and experts alike. Opened in summer of 2023, Montgomery Whitewater is one of the city’s newest attractions and one sure to make quite a splash for your entire family. Make an afternoon of it by hitting the rapids then grabbing a post-adventure bite at on-site Eddy’s Restaurant where you’ll be treated to incredible views.
Take a break from a busy day to sit and watch America’s favorite pastime, baseball. The Montgomery Biscuits are the city’s first Major League Baseball-affiliated team since 1980. Like most AA teams, the Biscuits are as much about the fun as they are about the game. In fact, during games, real biscuits are shot from an air cannon into the stands. Between innings, Biscuits games feature field games perfect for kids (and their adults!) to get in on the action! Be sure to snap a pic with Big Mo (the biscuit-loving mascot) while you’re there to commemorate the buttery goodness of your Biscuits experience.
No need to head to the cafeteria for lunch on a tray. Montgomery has plenty of dining options that offer adult-friendly menus in kid-friendly environments, including Red Bluff Bar at the Silos for dinner on the Riverfront, The Tipping Point with outside playing area for kids plus the perfect spot for parents to kick back and relax. Cork & Cleaver is a neighborhood gastropub with an assortment of food and drinks sure to satisfy any palate. Or swing by the Bubbly Hen for all things brunch. For kids with more traditional tastes, you’ll find some grown-up variations at places like Bibb Street Pizza Kitchen, Chris’ Famous Hot Dogs, and Saza Serious Italian Food.
If you decide to turn your day trip into a long weekend, you’ll find plenty of nearby places to stay, including Staybridge Suites, Embassy Suites, and the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel. They all have pool access for after-dinner relaxation, and they’re close to restaurants and plenty of the activities you’ve saved for your second day in Alabama’s capital.