Mobile, Alabama, was founded in 1702 by the French along the Gulf Coast. The British later took over the colony from France before they were dethroned by the Spanish. It became the first capital of Louisiana and joined the United States in 1813. On April 12, 1865, the Union forces took the city after defeating the Confederates. Over the years, Mobile nurtured a unique cultural blend and played a critical role in the region’s economy. Today, the Port of Mobile is the 12th-largest port in the U.S.
The influences of the French, British, and Spanish still define the city. The first Mardi Gras in the US was hosted in Mobile by French Catholic settlers in 1830. As the cultural hub of the Gulf Coast, Mobile has something for everyone. Here are the top twelve things to do in Mobile, Alabama.
12. Head Over to the “East Coast”
(image via Fairhope French Quarter)
On the other side of Mobile Bay sits Fairhope, Alabama. A large municipal pier juts out into the bay. It offers a great place to fish or to simply watch the sunset over the water. Fairhope’s Community Park, near downtown, has a large playground and pirate ship splash pad for kids. Downtown Fairhope has its own French Quarter. It may be smaller than New Orleans, but it has a unique culture all its own. It’s also a good area for a day shopping trip.
11. Shop LoDa (Lower Dauphin)
The Lower Dauphin Arts District, or LoDa as the locals know it, is a historic and vibrant part of downtown Mobile, Alabama. Once a month (every second Friday), the Dauphin is closed and businesses, artists, and residents talk to the street for the LoDa ArtWalk. Being an arts district, numerous galleries dot the area. These include Sophiella, Gallery 450, and Lupercalia Art Society.
There are also unique shopping opportunities from Citrus & Cane (hand-crafted candles and body products) to the Haunted Book Shop to Urban Emporium (essentially an entrepreneurs’ marketplace). When you need to take a break, recharge at places like Hayleys Bar (the oldest in the city) and Loda Bier Garten.
10. Stay Out Late
(image via Fathoms Lounge)
Mobile offers everything, from vibrant nightlife to good food. You can indulge in beer drinking, wine-tasting, and mouthwatering delicacies at Firehouse Wine Bar and Shop. Then, visit the best nightclubs like Haberdasher, B-Bob’s, and SkyView Lounge. For the best Southern barbecue, head to Moe’s Original Bar B Que. Then, visit Noja on North Jackson Street for the savory Mediterranean and Asian delicacies.
The historic Dauphin Street in downtown Mobile is home to Crescent Theater, Mobile Symphony Orchestra, Larkins Music Center, and Mobile Saenger Theater. You can visit Crescent Theater to watch locally-produced films and live performances. If you’re a baseball fan, attend minor league matches at the Hank Aaron Stadium.
9. Enjoy Mobile Bay
(image via Neal Howard)
On the Gulf shoreline, Mobile Bay has something for everyone. Nature lovers can visit the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve or the bird sanctuary on Dauphin Island. Built in 1702, Fort Conde offers a peek into the defense strategies used by French colonialists. To learn more about the Civil War, take a guided tour of Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan on Pleasure Island.
Adventurous souls can explore Mobile’s lovely beaches at the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Mobile Bay also offers tons of outdoor activities, including biking, golfing, and tennis.
8. GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico
(image via GulfQuest Museum)
GulfQuest National Maritime Museum was opened in 2015 to celebrate the maritime heritage of the Gulf Coast. Here, kids can learn and experience life out on the sea from displays and exhibits like America’s Sea and Tools of the Trade. The museum is also home to two theaters – Take the Helm Theater and Discovery Hull Theater – that educate and entertain visitors throughout the day. Visiting GulfQuest National Maritime Museum is one of the top things to do for families with kids in Mobile, Alabama. Admission is $18 for adults, $16 for youths and seniors, $14 for kids aged 5-12, and free for children under 5 years.
7. Celebrate Mardi Gras!
You cannot tour the home of Mardi Gras in the US without indulging in this tradition. Mardi Gras celebrations are held in February, with lively and colorful parades. During this eventful day, you’ll see decorations all over the city streets, from balconies, storefronts, and parks.
The Mardi Gras spirit hangs around the city for several days. You can visit the Mobile Carnival Museum throughout the year to experience Mardi Gras traditions. You’ll learn how the floats and costumes are created and the history of Mardi Gras, from the 1830 parade to the most recent celebrations. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for military and students, and $3 for children under 13 years.
6. Tour Mobile’s House Museums
(image via Bellingrath Gardens and Home)
Several buildings and homes played critical roles throughout Mobile’s long and illustrious history. You can visit Conde-Charlotte Museum House, the city’s first jail and courthouse constructed in 1822. Conde-Charlotte was restored to capture distinct periods of Mobile history.
To get a glimpse of life in the Old South, visit the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion on Springhill Avenue. This 1855 mansion featuring antebellum architecture was the center of Mobile’s social life. You should also visit the 17th-century Richards DAR House Museum, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other house museums in Mobile include Historic Oakleigh House and the Bellingrath Gardens. Admission ticket prices vary from one house museum to the other.
5. The Mobile Botanical Gardens
The Mobile Botanical Gardens has been attracting nature lovers and families since its founding in 1974. This oasis of tranquility on Museum Drive features has several sections with unique flora. You can visit the Rhododendron Garden with hundreds of evergreen and native azaleas.
If you’re into camellias, go to the Camellia Wintergarden. Other sections include the Japanese Maple Garden and Longleaf Pine Garden. A stroll through this beautifully manicured wonderland can wash away all the stresses of the day. You can also take a guided tour to learn from the experts or join a program or workshop to enhance your gardening skills. Admission is $8 for adults and teens, $3 for children aged 3-12, and free for members.
4. The History Museum of Mobile
(image via History Museum of Mobile)
The History Museum of Mobile is the best place to learn everything you need to know about this city. The museum features artifacts and exhibits spanning 300 years of Mobile history. Here, you can travel back in time to explore the city’s fascinating past. You can sample Native American artifacts to learn about the first inhabitants. Then, proceed to the Colonial Period, slavery, the Civil War, WWII, and the Civil Rights Movement. There is a 5,000-pound Civil War cannon from the Confederate ship CSS Alabama.
The museum is housed in the Old City Hall, a National Historic Landmark built in the mid-1850s, with Italianate style of architecture. During your tour, visit the Mary Jane Slayton Inge Gallery to explore decorative arts from Old Mobile’s high society. The History Museum of Mobile can take any visitor on a journey through time. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, military, and students, $7.50 for teens, $5 for kids aged 6-12, and free for children under 6 years.
3. Exploreum Science Center
(image via Exploreum Science Center)
Along 65 Government Street, the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center educates young minds. It features over 150 hands-on science adventures and interactive exhibits. Each exhibit provides a unique opportunity for kids to learn through exploration and discovery. If your child is interested in human anatomy and nutrition, check out the interactive “My Body Works” health exhibit. Kids can explore the mechanics of magnetism at the “Hands on the Wall” hall.
Older kids can conduct experiments at the center’s interactive science lab, such as ExploreTEC, ChemLab, and BioLab. At the “Wharf of Wonder,” kids under six years interact, play, and learn. There is an IMAX theater at the center that features science-based films. Visiting the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center is one of the top things to do with your kids in Mobile, Alabama. Admission is $13 for adults and teens, $11 for seniors and kids 7-12, and $8 for kids under 7 years.
2. Mobile Museum of Art
(images via Mobile Museum of Art)
As the region’s largest art museum, the Mobile Museum of Art is a must-visit attraction site in Mobile. It is located in Langan Park and is home to over 10,000 works of art from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. You can also find 2000-years-old decorative arts.
The museum complements its permanent collection with rotating temporary exhibits and regional arts. During your tour, watch out for Native American arts and artifacts. You can also participate in community-based programs or join one of the art classes offered by the museum. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for military and students, and free for kids under 6.
1. USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park
(image via USS Alabama)
This memorial park is designed around a decommissioned BB-60 battleship from the WWII era. The USS Alabama was launched in 1942 and converted into a veteran’s memorial park in 1965. This top tourist attraction in Mobile is a US National Historic Landmark. You can visit this park to learn the inner workings of this historic ship.
The USS Alabama Memorial Park is also home to the USS Drum submarine. After touring this historic submarine, check out the park’s impressive collection of aircraft and military equipment. Here, you’ll find Red-Tail P-51 and Boeing B-52 bombers used in WWII. The A-12 Black Bird spy plane from the Cold-War era is also displayed in this park. Entrance and guided tours cost $15.39 per person.
As you can see, Mobile has a lot to offer everyone. If you are looking to do more in the surrounding area, check out other weekend trips from nearby Mobile, Alabama.
These areas are perfect for a quick day trip or a long weekend getaway. Explore our favorite things to do or peruse some pre-built itineraries.