Navigate the Gulf Coast’s lively cultural center that brims with the arts, festivals, maritime history and much more for an unforgettable family vacation.
Behold marvelous Mobile—a uniquely Southern travel destination that embraces its colorful past and celebrates its exciting present.
Blessed with a striking coastal location, a remarkable 300-year history steeped in tradition and a welcoming, easygoing attitude, this jewel of a city marked by giant live oaks and a vivid tapestry of azaleas grew up as a melting pot of people, flavors and cultures.
Modern Mobile kicks up its heels during Mardi Gras season with an exhilarating, family friendly rendition in the place where the celebration originated in 1703. Food is a delicious centerpiece of the Mobile experience, where fresh Gulf seafood is showcased, along with a distinctive mix of African-American, Cajun, Creole, French, Spanish and other cuisines. And boasting a strong cultural profile that once earned it the title of “Paris of the South,” Mobile is an intoxicating blend of rich history, captivating culture and the arts, natural beauty and a brand of hospitality that captures “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”—the famous Cajun expression meaning “Let the good times roll!”
Here’s a look at some of the attractions that help define Mobile’s joy of living—a spirit that permeates this landmark Gulf Coast city.
Mobile Carnival Museum
Claiming the city as the rightful birthplace of the annual celebration more closely associated with its Louisiana neighbor New Orleans, Carnival season comes to life here. Housed in a historical Government Street mansion not far from Bienville Square in downtown Mobile, is a comprehensive timeline of Mardi Gras history, including artfully designed costumes, majestic crowns, scepters and robes, vintage photographs and videos of parades, coronations and balls. Discover that while Mobile has a kinship with New Orleans, it proudly carries on the centuries-old pomp and pageantry of Mardi Gras with krewes that stage elaborate parades and parties during the season, which in 2017 runs from January 28 to February 28, Fat Tuesday. Stock up on beads and other Mardi Gras accouterments in the museum’s shop.
Bellingrath Gardens and Home
This 65-acre garden estate opened to the public in 1932 and belonged to Walter and Bessie Bellingrath, owners of the Mobile Coca-Cola Bottling Company, one of the country’s most successful franchises. Every season at Bellingrath boasts gorgeous blooms, from the winter camellias—Alabama’s state flower—to spring’s azaleas and summer’s roses, hydrangeas and lush tropicals. Fall highlights mums with the dazzling cascading chrysanthemum display. Tour the 15-room, 10,500-square-foot home that includes a collection of Boehm porcelain and reflects the region’s architectural heritage. Open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico
Engaging and educational, the spectacular GulfQuest, which sits in Mobile Landing on the downtown waterfront, is a sprawling museum comprised of 90 permanent and temporary exhibits, theaters, displays and simulators designed to personify the Gulf of Mexico’s rich and important history. Billed as one of only three interactive maritime museums in the worldGulfQuest’s unique structure is shaped like a vessel headed out to sea. A giant replica of a full-sized ship illustrating containerization—a concept pioneered in Mobile in the 1950s by entrepreneur Malcom McLean—is one of the museum’s most fascinating exhibits and encourages hands-on exploration of maritime history. Kids and adults alike delight in GulfQuest’s diverse array of immersive experiences like early settlements and trade routes, marine archeology and shipwrecks, Gulf marine life, weather and hurricanes, shipbuilding and much more.
Mobile Museum of Art
The largest museum along the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Tampa, this facility is home to a permanent collection of 10,000 works, world-class traveling exhibits and sculpture garden. A small percentage of the permanent collection is on display at any given time, including an assemblage of American, African, Asian and European art, including paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and decorative art and a stunning collection of Chinese bronzes.
The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa
Considered one of the South’s premier hotels, The Battle House is a legendary member of the prestigious Historic Hotels of America and recognized as a AAA Four Diamond residence. Pampering is a specialty of this beautifully restored, pet-friendly accommodation centrally located near the port in downtown Mobile. Relax in one of the beautifully appointed guest suites; book a massage or facial at the full-service spa; unwind in the zen-like Quiet Room that features a fire pit; relax in the Royal Street Tavern with a martini and live piano music; or savor a meal at the Trellis Room. Built in 1852, The Battle House burned down in 1905 and was rebuilt, opening in 1908. Located on the site of President Andrew Jackson’s headquarters during the War of 1812, The Battle House also served as a makeshift Confederate hospital during the Civil War.
Fine dining is elevated at this gem of a restaurant located at the top of the RSA Trustmark Building. Owned by former collegiate and NFL great Bob Baumhower, Dauphin’s extensive chef-driven menu serves dishes influenced by French Creole and soul cooking. The ambiance is cool, hip and sophisticated, enhanced by artwork from local artists and a breathtaking panoramic view of Mobile’s downtown skyline. Reserve a spot at the kitchen chef’s table where acclaimed executive chef and sommelier Steve Zucker will help you with your dinner selection and accompanying wine.
Felix’s Fish Camp
A popular choice for casual dining, award-winning Felix’s Fish Camp features a menu chock-full of the Gulf’s finest seafood. Situated on scenic Mobile Bay, the restaurant affords views of waterfowl and even a few alligators that call the banks of Felix’s shores home. The robust menu offers classic dishes like gumbo, crab soup and turtle soup, oysters, po’boy sandwiches, tuna and shrimp, along with burgers and juicy steaks.
Three Georges Candy
Sweets aficionados who like a heavy dose of nostalgia satisfy cravings in this quaint store located in Mobile’s historic downtown district. Part of the Three Georges Southern Chocolates family of confectionaries, the Mobile tradition stocks handcrafted caramel apples, heavenly hash, milk chocolate turtles, praline candy, seasonal goodies and homemade ice cream. And don’t miss the addictive savory cheese straws.
Wintzell’s Oyster House
One of Mobile’s tastiest traditions since 1938, family-owned Wintzell’s is renowned for serving up thousands and thousands of oysters each year that are “fried, stewed and nude.” Whatever your oyster pleasure, Wintzell’s has six preparations, including raw, Rockefeller, Carnival, Monterey, chargrilled and Bienville. Don’t miss their famous shrimp boil and other regional faves like West Indies salad, fried green tomatoes, blackened redfish, stuffed flounder and juicy steaks. Polish off your Wintzell’s feast with from-scratch bread pudding or a slice of Key lime pie. Entertainment at Wintzell’s is free thanks to hundreds of witty sayings posted on the restaurant’s wall from founder J. Oliver Wintzell.