First settled as a fort in 1702, the city of Mobile has influences from the French, British, and Spanish that appear to visitors to be reminiscent of cities like New Orleans or Savannah. It was first named the capital of French Louisiana the same year. The city is Alabama’s only saltwater port so much of its industries involve the water, specifically shipping and seafood. Also known as the “original home of Mardi Gras,” the Carnival season began in Mobile in 1830. The city’s motto is “born to celebrate,” which is evident from the to-go drinks you can walk down Dauphin Street with. It’s also becoming a destination for its cruise port, which will have regular embarkations with Carnival. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the city and learn more about its history. And remember that Dauphin Island and Gulf Shores are nearby if you want some beach time.
What to Do
GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico– Give yourself plenty of time to explore this museum devoted to the area’s maritime history. Among the exhibits are interactive displays, short films, and artifacts from the area. 155 S Water Street
Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center & IMAX Dome Theater– Geared towards younger visitors, the Exploreum has hands-on experiences to bring science to life. Top off your visit with a film at the unique IMAX dome theater. 65 Government Street
Mobile Carnival Museum– The only museum in the country devoted to the history of Carnival, this museum has rooms upon rooms of the lavish attire the court of various krewes wear every season. You’ll also get to see how the celebration has evolved over the last 100+ years. 355 Government Street
Fort Conde– Mobile’s humble beginnings are on display at the fort, which is a smaller replica of what once stood nearby. The seven-point star design protected the city with cannons and other weapons. While the original was demolished in the 1800s, today you can see displays on the time period and artifacts found by archaeologists. 150 South Royal Street
Alabama Contemporary Art Center– This modern art facility emphasizes art by Alabama natives and regional artists like Thornton Dial. Their exhibits change regularly but the center seeks to bring together global talent and the local community. 301 Conti Street
Mobile Museum of Art– Located further out of town, this more traditional art museum has a permanent collection featuring American, European, African, and Asian art spanning sculpture, paintings, prints, drawings, and decorative art. 4850 Museum Drive
Gulf Coast Ducks– The latest attraction to arrive in Mobile is the duck boat craze, which leaves from the USS Alabama and shows you the city from both street and sea. Kids will love the experience when given their own duck whistle. Just be prepared to get wet! 2703 Battleship Parkway
Hank Aaron Childhood Home & Museum– This modest three-room home was the childhood residence of baseball legend Hank Aaron. Displays include information on Aaron’s life as well as the baseball traditions of the Mobile area. Stop by before a minor-league game. 755 Bolling Brothers Boulevard
Where to Eat
The Noble South– This small, historic space is one of Mobile’s most popular restaurants for its modern take on Southern cuisine. The menu is seasonally inspired and uses as many local ingredients as possible. The crawfish pie, catfish etouffee, and pepper jelly are delicious, as are the cocktails. 203 Dauphin Street, (251) 690-6824
Dauphins– There’s no better view in town than from Dauphin’s, located at the top of Trustmark Building. Opened by former Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Bob Baumhower, the menu has crowd-pleasers like gumbo and gulf shrimp. 107 St. Francis Street, Suite 3400, (251) 444-0200
Wintzell’s Oyster House– If you ask a local where to eat, they’ll likely mention this oyster spot’s location in LoDa. The 75-year old restaurant is known for their seafood, starting with the chargrilled oysters as well as gumbo and fried whole fish. 605 Dauphin Street, (251) 432-4605
Cafe 615– Brunch is on another level at this cafe, which has the “original champangel,” a girl dressed as an angel that tops off your bottomless bubbles. The chicken and waffles are worth the stop, but on their regular menu, the cafe serves breakfast and burgers. 615 Dauphin Street, (251) 432-8434
Panini Pete’s– Another local chain, this sandwich restaurant is popular at lunch for its grilled paninis, shoestring fries, and addictive beignets topped with lemon juice. Other options include burgers and salads. 102 Dauphin Street, (251) 405-0031
Von’s Bistro– Southeast Asian fusion is the main attraction at Von’s with dishes like fried rice, fish tacos, and daily specials. They also carry a number of craft beers and cocktails. 69 St Michael Street, (251) 375-1113
Ok Bicycle Shop– Bikes hang from the ceiling at this eatery and bar. The menu is an offbeat combination of Mexican and sushi. Drinks include microbrews and margaritas. 661 Dauphin Street, (251) 432-2453
Kitchen on George– The garden district restaurant’s menus change seasonally and feature dishes like shrimp and grits, crab cakes, and jambalaya. 351A George Street, (251) 436-8890
Where to Stay
Mobile has accommodation options for all budgets, including chain budget hotels, luxury properties, independent inns, and even camping. The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa is perhaps the most well-known and iconic in the city but has all the amenities of a modern hotel. Even if you don’t stay here, take a look inside the lobby. The Admiral Hotel Mobile, Curio Collection by Hilton feels more like a boutique hotel, located near Fort Conde. It has modern furnishings with two in-house restaurants. Hampton Suites Mobile Historic Downtown is exactly what you expect from the chain, including free WiFi and breakfast daily. Parking is also available. If you’re looking to “rough it,” Dauphin Island Park & Beach Board has sites a ferry ride across the bay. You can also book a stay with AirBnB, who has properties around town, for a local experience.
My stay in Mobile was organized by Visit Mobile and Geiger Public Relations.
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