The city of Millbrook, Alabama sits 9 miles northwest of state capital Montgomery.
Surrounded by lakes, rivers and islands, it’s a wonderful place from which to get back to nature.
The city’s proximity to Montgomery also makes it easy to visit Civil Rights trails, museums, memorials, and delve deeper into the region’s history.
Whether you wish to follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, explore a remote island movie set, or visit Antebellum-era mansions, you can do it all from Millbrook.
1. Jackson Lake Island
Jackson Lake Island is a tranquil haven close to Millbrook.
With winding hiking trails, a plethora of resident goats and even an old movie set, there’s plenty to see and do.
It’s popular with anglers, and visitors who use it as a stop-off point on a river canoe or kayaking trip.
You can wander through the derelict movie set, flanked by canopies of trees draped in Spanish Moss, stop for an outdoor picnic, or even camp on the island underneath starry skies.
2. Alabama Nature Center
Alabama Nature Center is a 23,000 square foot educational center with a hands-on discovery hall featuring nature and wildlife displays, a 120-seat state-of-the-art theater and a gift shop.
If you wish to explore the great outdoors, the surrounding area offers 5 scenic miles of hiking trails where you can spot flora, fauna and myriad birdlife as you pass through wetlands, forests and streams.
Bring your walking shoes, a picnic and a camera, and enjoy everything this fabulous nature center has to offer.
3. Town of Spectre
If you enjoyed watching Tim Burton’s 2003 fantasy/drama movie, ‘Big Fish’ starring Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney, you will adore a trip to the Town of Spectre where it was filmed.
Located on Jackson Lake Island, this abandoned set still looks the same as it did on movie, except instead of actors and extras, there’s a herd of goats living there! You can still see shoes draped over the telegraph wire, and the old church still sits at the end of the street.
The Spanish Moss draped trees give the area an eerie vibe, and empty buildings creak as you walk in and out of them.
It’s a great place for film buffs, photographers and amateur movie makers, so bring your Go-Pro and create your own movie on the set or enjoy a picnic with resident goats before camping out on the island overnight.
4. National Memorial for Peace and Justice
If you’re touring Alabama, you will probably have touched upon the state’s involvement within the Civil Rights movement.
If so, it would be fitting to pay a visit to the recently opened National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Downtown Montgomery.
The monument which opened in April 2018, was constructed near the city site where slaves were once auctioned at market.
The memorial represents all the US counties where racial terror lynchings took place between the years of 1877 and 1950 and includes 805 hanging steel rectangles representing coffins for each victim.
It’s a moving memorial displaying dark times in Alabama and the United States, and one which hopes to continue to raise awareness about racial equality in the future.
5. Legacy Museum
When you have visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a great place to continue your journey is at the nearby Legacy Museum.
The 11,000 square foot museum showcases the history of racial inequality and highlights contemporary issues through video, exhibits, first-person accounts and dioramas.
In one moving exhibit, you can experience what it was like to be auctioned off as a slave and see how adults and children were affected during this process.
It’s fair to say Legacy Museum is not for the faint-hearted, but it tells past and present stories of injustice very well.
If you are interested in exploring Montgomery’s history in this area, this is one Alabama museum not to be missed.
6. Montgomery Zoo
Montgomery Zoo began as a local community park and children’s zoo back in the 1920s.
Today, it’s located on 40-acres and home to 700 animals.
With five themed continents and a Zoofari Skylift Ride which allows you to view the park from an elevated perspective, there’s much to occupy all ages.
Whether you wish to see Bengal tigers, American Black Bears, Jaguars or Giraffes, you can do it all, plus if you enjoy getting up-close to birdlife, you can feed the parrots in Parakeet Cove.
7. Rosa Parks Library and Museum
In 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks, an African-American woman from Tuskegee refused to give up her bus seat for a white passenger.
This sparked the Civil Rights Movement, and in the years that followed, many African Americans would fight for equality led by Martin Luther King Jr.
You can discover more about Rosa’s story at the Rosa Parks Library and Museum through a range of photographs, a time machine, an auditorium and exhibits, plus, you can even visit the famous bus-stop in Court Square where this world-changing event began to unfold.
8. RTJ Golf Trail – Capitol Hill
Located in Prattville, 5 miles southwest of Millbrook is the stunning Robert Trent Jones designed Capitol Hill Golf Course.
The 1500-acre campus has three championship 18-hole golf courses named the Legislator, the Senator and the Judge.
The Judge is perhaps the toughest course with a slope rating of 142, and water hazards to challenge even the most experienced golfers.
Surrounded by verdant nature this 54-hole course three course trail is a sight to behold, so if you want to improve your game during your trip and want to brag about how you beat The Judge for years to come, head on down to Capitol Hill Golf Course.
9. The Catfish House
Established in 1974 in Millbrook, The Catfish House is famous for its fresh hand-breaded catfish and seafood.
With reasonably priced, generous portions of food and a laid-back family-friendly atmosphere it’s easy to see why it’s one of the most popular places to dine in the city.
They treat everyone like a regular customer, even if you’re from out of town, so you’re guaranteed a warm Alabama welcome.
The restaurant is decorated with antiques and memorabilia, and the catfish and seafood dishes are pretty good too.
Don’t forget to order the white beans and slaw for a little extra kick.
10. Cooter’s Pond Park
On the banks of Alabama River is picturesque Cooter’s Pond Park.
The park is divided into two.
One section features woodland trees draped in Spanish Moss, fields and pavilions, and offers incredible vistas of the Montgomery cityscape.
The second section is down by the river’s edge, with easy access to boating ramps and picnic zones.
It’s a wonderful area for birding, with the possibility of seeing Northern Parulas, Eastern Bluebirds and Great Blue or Green Herons.
It’s advisable to bring a picnic, binoculars and some walking shoes, because you may be here a while.
11. Fort Toulouse-Jackson Park
Fort Toulouse-Jackson Park brings local history back to life.
You can see the recreated 1751 Fort Toulouse, a host of Creek Indian Houses, and even a partially restored Fort Jackson! Outdoor enthusiasts can experience abundant nature on the William Bartram Nature Trail and view an Indian Mound dating back over 1,000 years.
Many events are held in the park throughout the year, with living history re-enactments and Alabama Frontier Days.
So, if you enjoy learning about American history and want to discover more about the events which occurred in this region of Alabama, Fort Toulouse – Jackson Park is the place to be.
12. Buena Vista Mansion
Experience what life was like in days of old at beautiful Buena Vista Mansion in Downtown Prattville.
This historic mid-1800s mansion is perfect to tour, to host a special occasion, or for an event with family and friends.
It’s also known as the Montgomery-Janes-Whittaker House and operates as an historic museum featuring a spiral mahogany staircase, monumental portico and period furnishings.
13. Alabama State Capitol Building
This historic landmark building was completed in 1851, and since then it has featured in many prominent U.S events.
The Confederacy began its days in the original Senate Chamber within the building and Martin Luther King Jr. gave his memorable speech on the steps outside following the 1965 Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery.
The impressive exterior of the building is designed in Greek Revival style with Beaux-Arts influences and you can take a self-guided tour inside to see the Supreme Court room and library, dome murals, and the old Senate floor.
Before you leave, don’t forget to take a walk along the Avenue of Flags outside.
Each flag represents a state with an engraved native stone beneath.
14. Hank Williams Museum
One of the top tourist attractions for music lovers in the area is the Hank Williams Museum.
Born in Butler County, Hank Williams recorded over 225 songs in his short career, 128 of which he wrote himself, with 11 becoming number 1 hits.
Throughout the museum tour you’ll be able to see 35 exhibits showcasing personal artefacts including his 1952 Baby Blue Cadillac, custom-made suits, a Steinway Piano, 1937 Gibson Guitar, sheet music and even Hank Jnr’s first cowboy boots! For fans of this amazing artist, the museum is a must see, so brush up on his iconic tracks before you visit, and listen to ‘Hey, Good Lookin’, ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ and ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ to get you in the mood before your visit.
15. Old Alabama Town
Experience life in Montgomery as it once was in Old Alabama Town.
This open-air historical village features over 50 authentic 19th and 20th century restored buildings which have been saved from demolition.
These include the Molton House which dates to the 1850s, the old church circa.
1888, and the intricately designed Ware-Farley-Hood House.
There’s a traditional tavern, a corner grocery store and a chapel school to explore.
So, if you enjoy architecture and want to gain some insight into how people in Alabama used to live, Old Alabama Town ticks all the boxes.