The National Civil War Naval Museum takes modern-day visitors through the little-traveled footsteps of the sailors who fought in the Civil War, telling the story of the country's deadliest war from a naval point of view. Exhibits detail the technology and commerce that soldiers encountered, and provide a human backdrop with stories about soldiers and slaves affected by Civil War navies. Guided tours feature uniformed sailors who interpret the history of everyday life aboard a Civil War vessel or tell the story of a ship that served in the war. For a spookier outing, nighttime tours explore paranormal anomalies and analyze evidence from ghost investigations that happened in the museum.
The night's sky envelops visitors in the Coca-Cola Space Science Center like the comforting hug of an astronaut. The heavens sparkle overhead, and galaxies radiate their brilliance?but they don't always behave normally. Sometimes they travel into the past and show what the sky looked like hundreds of years ago. Other times the constellations are arranged as they'll be in some distant future. The sky's ever-changing nature is thanks to the center's Omnisphere Theater, a high-resolution domed movie screen that can project trips through the universe. Other areas of the center include the Mead Observatory and its many telescopes.
The Pioneer Museum of Alabama invites visitors to step back to a simpler time through its hands-on exhibition of pioneer heritage. At the museum, 22 historic structures stand on more than 40 acres of landscape and wetlands that abut the Conecuh River. In these buildings, costumed pioneers lead demonstrations of frying cornbread, churning butter, and weaving cotton. For a touch of nature, stroll through the nearby trails and examine native flora and woodland fauna or hop on a horse-drawn wagon for a quick jaunt across the grounds.
Founded to commemorate the life and career of one of country music's most beloved stars, the Hank Williams Museum overflows with a tide of the late singer's possessions and memorabilia, including the blue 1952 Cadillac that Williams died in (the museum is only 1.5 miles from Oakwood Cemetery, where Hank and his first wife Audrey Williams are buried). Admire 17 of the icon's stylish suits, and eyeball more than 35 showcases packed with possessions, including toothpicks pulled from one of his suits. The museum also houses several shelves of Williams' records, Hank Jr.'s first cowboy boots, a 1952 steel guitar from Hank's guitarist Don Helms, and much more.
The Montgomery Zoo houses more than 500 animals from five continents, including endangered species such as the Indian rhino, the slender-horned gazelle, and the jaguar. Explore more than 40 acres of landscaped, barrier-free habitats chock full of elephants and monkeys, and stop to feed otters, koi, and giraffes, who happily lap up treats from visitors as part of the zoo's Animal Encounters feature ($0.50–$2.00 for feed, not included in the Groupon). The aviary features birds flying about uncaged, taking instructions from loud-mouthed children, and the pedal-boat ride provides a 30-minute float on Crystal Lake.
Walking down the the streets of Old Alabama Town Montgomery, you might think you hear the sounds of clanking metal coming from the blacksmith shop, or you may swear you smell smoke wafting from a potbelly stove. Your mind might be playing tricks on you, but it's certainly understandable?the founders of this attraction had every intention of whisking visitors back in time. In 1967, the Landmark Foundation began buying historical homes, eventually purchasing 50 of them in a six-block radius. Seventeen of these homes have been restored to their original condition to give guests a glimpse of what 19th century life was like. Here are some more facts about this impressive ode to another era.
Eye Catcher: Ordeman House was the first property restored by the Landmark Foundation. SItting on its original site, the interior has been adorned with Queen Anne chairs, sumptuous window dressings, and intricate floral carpets. It looks like it most likely did in its 19th century heyday.
Don't Miss: Lucas Tavern?originally built in 1810?and its sleeping room, which features wooden daybeds, a writing desk, and a beautiful brick fireplace
Other Buildings: Besides restored homes, everyday businesses have been rebuilt, including an 1888 church and an 1893 blacksmith shop. There's also a one-room school house, which features a wood-burning stove, clapboard walls, and a ghostly apparition of a dunce cap.
Past Exhibits: The Richburg Quilt Collection showcased African-American quiltmaking traditions through the creations of mother-and-daughter quilters Sarah Ann Carpenter Simmons and Lovie Simmons Richburg. They were all created over a 110-year stretch from 1875 to 1985.
Something to Keep in Mind: Due to the age of the buildings and their historical accuracy, not all of them are wheelchair accessible. However, eight of them are, including the church, drugstore, and cotton gin
While You?re in the Neighborhood: Visit Rescue Relics (423 Madison), where you can browse salvaged fixtures and hardware from the restored homes. The collection includes sinks, doors, light fixtures, and balustrades.