The area along the Alabama River has been a focal point of downtown revitalization in Montgomery over the past decade.
The transformation has seen the construction of a new Riverwalk Amphitheatre, Riverwalk Stadium for the town’s minor-league baseball team, a 347-room hotel, a riverfront overlook and plaza.
The newest development is the Alley, an entertainment district with several restaurants and nightspots.
“You can walk to it from the riverfront,” said Morgan Berney, marketing and events coordinator for the Montgomery Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The Alley now has four restaurants and a fifth is in the works. It is a New Orleans-style district with balconies.”
The open-grass amphitheater, which can seat up to 4,000, is the venue for concerts and special events, while the stadium in a converted former train depot is home to the class AA Montgomery Biscuits. Both were completed in 2004.
Riverfront Park has become a focal point for the city’s major festivals, including Jubilee City Fest, a music festival in the spring; the Riverwalk Wine Festival; the Watercross Jet Ski Tournament; and the new Montgomery Dragon Boat Race and Festival.
The Harriott II, a replica 19th-century riverboat, docks near the amphitheater and offers a variety of sightseeing, dining and specialty cruises.
Berney said a new shopping venue, Southern Trails and Outdoors, opened in late November in a former downtown brewpub across the street from the baseball stadium.
“We haven’t really had any shopping downtown,” she said.
Baton Rouge, La.
Louisiana’s capital city has long had an economic tie to the Mississippi River, and in recent years it has added a cultural connection to the river.
The gleaming seven-year-old Shaw Center for the Arts, which has won awards from the American Institute of Architects for its design, towers above the river just across the street from the Old State Capitol. The glass-walled structure houses the LSU Museum of Art, which spans the entire length of its fifth floor, and the 325-seat Manship Theatre, site of concerts, plays and movies.
“There are all kinds of things going on at the center at any time,” said Christina Zito, communications coordinator for the Baton Rouge Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “There are several restaurants, and one overlooks the river. It has one of the best views of the river in the city.”
Also on the river near the Shaw Center in a historic railroad depot is the Louisiana Art and Science Museum and its recently renovated planetarium.
“Also along the river we have the USS Kidd, a restored World War II destroyer, and the Veterans Memorial Museum,” said Zito, “and we have two casinos — the Belle of Baton Rouge, which also has a hotel, and a little farther down the river, we have the Hollywood Casino.”
Beginning this year, Baton Rouge will be a stop for three riverboat cruise companies: the Great American Steamboat Co.’s American Queen will make 13 stops, American Cruise Lines will have nine stops and Blount Small Ship Adventures will have two stops.
The current state Capitol, a 1930s-era skyscraper style building a few blocks from the riverfront, provides a different perspective on the river. “It has an observation deck on the 34th floor, and you can see the entire city and across the Mississippi,” said Zito. “It is a nice place to see all the river traffic and the barges coming up the river.”