Blount Cultural Park is, in many ways, the cultural center of Montgomery. It remains the living legacy of businessman-turned-philanthropist Wynton M. Blount, who donated the land and built the theater in what was then considered the largest single donation to American theater. Housed within the park's grassy domain are the renowned Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF) and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Large and small dogs can romp around unfettered in designated areas at the Hannah Daye Ridling Bark Park.
Located between historic downtown Montgomery to the west and the burgeoning residential and shopping complexes to the east, Blount Cultural Park is the heart of the city. Montgomerians are proud to call it their own Central Park.
What Makes It Great
Riding over the stone and plank bridge past a thatched-roof hut named Weetop then onto verdant vistas decorated with Shakespearean sculptures, you can almost imagine you are pedaling on some charming road in the English countryside. Sprawling across well-maintained 77 acres are 3.5 miles of paved trails. Gentle slopes make a breezy ride for the beginner but provide less of a challenge for the more advanced cyclist.
Warm up just after the aforementioned bridge upon entering through Vaughn Road, then make your way along an oval path curving around a duck pond. If you can resist checking out the exhibits at the museum, you can then make your way to ASF (another tempting stop) then back around to the bridge in a meandering figure of eight pattern. There are some shaded sections but for the most part the trail is open to Alabama's blazing sun so be prepared.
Take a break beside the many ponds or better yet bring a picnic basket with you. Watch out for the resident flocks of ducks and geese that are quite used to human companionship.
Since it is centrally located, the park is easily accessible from anywhere in the city. Even though it is an easy ride, it is well worth the trip.
Who is Going to Love It
You really should not pass up an opportunity to visit Blount Cultural Park when you find yourself in Montgomery. Attending one of the world-class plays staged at ASF is a welcome bonus while you're there. The trails are friendly to kids and families alike, looping around nearly the entire park on paved pathways. Exercise some caution as the trails do cross the road at several points, though there are speed bumps to slow motorized vehicles down all around the park. Joggers and hikers share the trails as well, so be alert to accommodate the traffic.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Eastern Blvd, head east on Vaughn Road and turn left onto main park entrance. There is another entrance further north on Eastern Blvd, also by turning east onto Woodmere Drive just before I-85, but may be more difficult to find. There is ample parking at designated spots throughout. Pets must be leashed except within the Bark Park. No entrance fees. Park is open from dusk to dawn year round. Restrooms are available near the ASF ticketing office and inside the museum, which welcomes donations.