Montgomery’s wealth of civil rights museums alone make it worth a visit, but its bars, restaurants and riverfront add to its charm and culture. Before you go, follow our guide to plan your visit, and pack these essentials for your trip.
Montgomery, Ala., is home to the newly opened National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the latest in a wealth of civil rights museums and monuments worth your time and patronage. While you’re there, explore the city’s art houses, bars and restaurants — all of which we walk you through in our local guide. Now, what to pack?
We’ve shared packing essentials for any 36-hour trip in previous lists. So we asked Elaine Glusac, who wrote our guide to Montgomery, to name a few items she was glad to have on her last visit — or wished she had brought with her.
Then we turned to Ria Misra, an editor at Wirecutter, for the best products to fill those needs — and her expert suggestions for other things to pack to make the most of your trip. Here are their picks.
Don’t Forget Your:
Comfortable running shoes. “I was glad to have packed my running shoes to get in some exercise each morning before sightseeing in hopes of working off the previous night’s bacon or deep-fried dish — two ubiquitous menu staples,” Ms. Glusac said. Both the Mizuno Wave Rider 21 (for men) and Brooks Ghost 10 (for women) offer a great fit and comfort, according to Ms. Misra, and both are Wirecutter favorites. And you’ll be glad for the shoes’ cushiony treads as you make the rounds of museums, monuments and restaurants.
Mobile-friendly wireless earbuds. Jabra’s Elite 65t is the first pair of “truly” wireless (as in, there isn’t even a wire between the left and the right) earbuds that Wirecutter wholeheartedly recommends, Ms. Misra explained. That’s thanks to their comfortable fit and high sound quality for both music and phone calls. If you’re going for a run or walk around the city like Ms. Glusac suggested, or just want to stroll along Montgomery’s riverfront, you’ll be glad you brought them. Also, visit Storybooth, a podcast studio fashioned like an old telephone booth, where stories from the city’s history are being collected and shared. You won’t need the earbuds while there, but those story archives are also available online, so you can keep listening after you leave.
A lightweight outer layer. Typical for most cities where the weather can vary, a light, packable outer layer is definitely essential. “I really enjoyed walking around Montgomery and spent a lot of time outdoors between the EJI monument, the capitol building, the Civil Rights Memorial and even a beer garden,” Ms. Glusac said. “While it’s important to dress light there, it’s also critical to take a layer for time spent in air-conditioned museums, of which there are plenty.” Outdoor Research’s Tantrum Hooded Jacket is a great option for changeable conditions. Ms. Misra noted that it’s breathable enough that you don’t overheat in milder temperatures, but it still offers a layer of protection from overzealous air conditioning or on a breezy evening walk. Best of all, it’s feather-light and packs down small, so you can stow it and forget about it when you don’t need it.
Portable power for your phone. A good battery pack is a must wherever you roam, but even more so given how often you’ll want to snap and share photos from Montgomery’s waterfront and museums or access notes, maps or directions you may have stored in your phone. For something you can slide into your pocket, Ms. Misra suggests the TravelCard charger. If you have a little more space, like in a daypack or a purse, grab the Jackery Bolt for even more juice.
Sun protection. “It’s very sunny in Alabama and I definitely needed sunscreen for my face, which I always forget and have to run out and buy,” Ms. Glusac said. You can, of course, use the same sunscreen on your face that you use on the rest of your body. But if you want something that can take the place of your regular moisturizer, Ms. Misra suggests CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen, which blends in easily and thoroughly. Whatever you get, make sure it’s in a travel friendly container — currently 3.4 ounces or smaller, according to the Transportation Security Administration.