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. Four legged companions can romp around unfettered in 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. Montgomery denizens consider it to be their Southern version of Central Park.
What Makes It Great
Crossing the seemingly rickety stone- and-plank bridge past the thatched roof Wee Top and on to ASF grounds has been compared to driving in the English countryside. A casual stroll through its 3.5-mile trails opens up well maintained, verdant vistas gently sloping across 77 acres. Therein lies both its strength and weakness-the gentle slopes are easy enough for the beginner but do not provide enough of a challenge for the more experienced hiker. Even a novice hiker can complete the circuit in well under two hours with room for breaks.
Starting in the parking lot just past the aptly named Thunderhouse adjacent to the aforementioned noisy bridge, two roughly oval shaped trails meet near the center of the park. There are several ponds scattered throughout the grounds. You will also come across curious outdoor statues and the ubiquitous goose or duck waddling across your path. It is hard to resist ducking in to gander (pun intended) at the exhibits featured in the air-conditioned halls of the Museum, especially in the summer heat.
A big plus is that you can engage in other activities you would at any other park - fly a kite, pilot a remote-controlled plane, play soccer, picnic on the grass, etc. Since it is centrally located, it is a convenient drive from almost anywhere in the city.
Who is Going to Love It
You really should not pass up an opportunity to visit Blount 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 in 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 cyclists share the trails as well, so be prepared for the occasional side step to accommodate faster 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.