A port city located on the Gulf Coast, Mobile has played an important role in the maritime, military, and trading past of Alabama. This city was also once the capital of the state. Mobile is also known for art museums, performing arts, historic architecture, and for having the oldest Mardi Gras and carnival celebrations in the United States. It is a tourist destination that offers a diverse range of experiences for visitors, as there are activities and attractions for everyone. To help you plan your trip to this city, here are the 20 best things to do in Mobile, AL for first-timers.
20. Dine at Kitchen on George
You will find many fantastic places to eat while you are in Mobile, but one of the most popular restaurants to visit is the Kitchen on George. Located in the Oakleigh Garden Historic District, this restaurant serves sustainable American cuisine using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. There are separate brunch, lunch, and dinner menus, all of which feature farm-to-table fare created by executive chef Gillian Clark. The restaurant also has an excellent range of beers, wine, and cocktails to accompany your meal.
19. Take a Trip to Dauphin Island
Dauphin Island is a town and a barrier island in Mobile Bay. It is a popular place for tourists to spend their time when visiting Mobile. One reason for this is the stunning stretches of white sandy beaches. These are ideal for relaxing, taking a stroll, or playing with the kids. The island is home to several bird sanctuaries that you might like to visit while you are on the island. Another activity to enjoy is Fort Gains, which is a historical attraction that teaches you about the lives of people in the 1800s.
18. Go to Bellingrath Gardens and Home
Walter Bellingrath became very rich during the 1900s when he started bottling coke and selling it so people could drink it at home rather than from a soda fountain. His wife, Bessie, believed that her husband was working too hard, and she encouraged him to buy a fishing camp so that he would take time off work and relax more. She then had their English Renaissance-style home built on the 65 acres of land. The property is now open to the public, and you can tour both the house and the gardens.
17. Learn About the Delta
At the 5 Rivers Delta Center, you can learn about the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta through a range of fun and educational interactive exhibits. The Mobile-Tensaw River Delta is the second-largest delta system in the United States, with only the Mississippi River delta being larger. It is where the Balekly, Appalachee, Tensaw, Spanish, and Mobile Rivers meet at Mobile Bay. Visitors to this attraction also get to see live animals, such as owls, osprey, swamp snakes, and many other creatures that call the delta home. There are some opportunities for visitors to interact with the animals, such as at feeding times.
16. Go Kayaking Amongst the Alligators
As there are five rivers leading to the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and Mobile Bay, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy water-based activities. One option is to kayak amongst the alligators. Knowledgeable guides lead group kayaking tours around the delta. This is a fun way to enjoy the outdoors, see the natural beauty of the area surrounding mobile, and to see some wildlife in their natural habitat.
15. Take a Duck Tour
Traveling Mom recommends taking a Duck Tour while you are in this city. A Duck Tour involved riding in an amphibious vehicle that can drive along the streets and then seamlessly enter the water to give you a boat ride. The guided Duck Tours in Mobile take you through the downtown area of the city, and then out on Mobile Bay. You get to see some of the best landmarks in Mobile, and then to enjoy the fresh air out on the bay while enjoying the city skyline from a different perspective.
14. Oakleigh Period Museum House
Located on Oakleigh Place, the Oakleigh Period Museum House is a Greek Revival mansion that was built for a prominent merchant called James Roper in 1833. The property has been restored, and it contains furnishings from the Victorian, Empire, and Regency periods. When you visit this mansion, there are two further properties to visit. The first of these is the Cox-Deasey House. This is a raised Creole cottage form the 1850s that shows the life of the middle-classes during this period. The second is the Cook’s house, which was built in 1850 as slaves’ quarters. This property showcases the lives of laborers and domestic servants of the time.
13. Stroll Around Mobile Botanical Gardens
The Mobile Botanical Gardens are on Museum Drive in the Spring Hill area, and they were founded in 1974. These gardens consist of sections that showcase a variety of natural habitats and cultivated areas. Just some of the sections in this botanical garden include the Japanese Maple Garden, the Camellia Wintergarden, the Longleaf Pine Haven, and the Rhododendron Garden. There is the option to take a guided tour of the gardens so that an expert can give you more information about each of the habitats and the plants that grow there.
12. Go to the University of South Alabama Archaeology Museum
This museum is devoted to archaeological objects and artifacts from the Gulf Coast, and it is located on the campus of the University of Alabama. The artifacts in the exhibitions span a period of more than 12 thousand years that cover history and prehistory. There are dioramas with life-size exhibits that show different periods of history, including prehistoric culture and early European settlers. Throughout the year, there are a series of temporary exhibitions. The venue is also used to host various events.
11. See the Art at the Alabama Contemporary Art Center
If you enjoy art, then an interesting attraction to visit is the Alabama Contemporary Art Center. This art gallery, which was established in 1999, is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary works of art. Although the focus is on art themes relating to the Gulf Coast, there are examples of contemporary art from around the world.
10. Go to the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion
According to Vacation Idea, one of the best places to visit in Mobile, AL for first-timers is the Bragg Mitchell Mansion. This property was built in 1855, and it was once important to the social life of those involved with the cotton port. It is now a museum, and visitors can take guided tours of the building. The rooms have been beautifully restored, and it is set in pretty gardens.
9. Visit the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
The cathedral was established in 1704 but was then moved to its current location in 1711. There have been many additions since, so it is significantly larger than the original building. It is an architecturally interesting structure, as it is built in the Roman Basilica style and features two towers, a barrel vault ceiling, and eight Roman Doric columns. Some other interesting features include the stained glass windows and the cathedral’s impressive organ.
8. Learn About the Area’s History at the History Museum of Mobile
If you are interested in learning more about the history of Mobile, then one of the best attractions to visit in the city is the History Museum of Mobile. The exhibits in this museum cover topics as far back as the Native Americans, who were the first people to inhabit this area. Other topics covered include the Colonial period, the Civil War, slavery, the role Mobile played in WWII, and the Civil Rights Movement. One of the highlights of the museum is the five thousand pound Civil War cannon that once stood on the Confederate ship CSS Alabama’s decks. Another interesting aspect of this museum is the Mary Jane Slayton Inge Gallery. In this gallery, you will see the fine crystal, china, cultures, and other decorative arts from the high society of Old Mobile.
7. Enjoy Educational Fun at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center
The aim of this museum is to educate visitors about various fields of science through displays and interactive exhibits. There is something for people of all ages at this museum. Some of the topics covered include biology, health, the Gulf of Mexico, human interaction, boating, fishing, and ocean life. There is an interactive science lab where children can conduct experiments, and one of the highlights of a visit is the IMAX theater, which shows films about science throughout the day.
6. Learn About Maritime History at the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico
Every aspect of the Gulf of Mexico is explored at the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico. Topics covered include the gulf’s importance as a maritime trade center, the natural habitat, and the weather. There are many interesting and educational displays, many of which are interactive. Visitors can try out their navigational skills, see a steamboat station, and explore coral reefs and submarines in a submersible simulator. There is a section of the museum devoted to children called the Junior Mariners Play Area. This is filled with costumes and props for children to enjoy.
5. Experience Carnival Fun
If you are in Mobile on Fat Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, then you can get involved in all the carnival fun. However, you can still enjoy some of the fun of the carnival at other times of the year if you visit the Mobile Carnival Museum. This is a chance to learn about the history of the Mardi Gras traditions in Mobile and how the floats are created. There is also a fantastic display of carnival costumes to see.
4. Visit the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park
Planetware recommends a visit to the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park during your trip to Mobile. First launched in 1942, the USS Alabama was then decommissioned after WWII. In 1965, it was made the centerpiece of the Veteran’s Memorial Park. Visitors to the park can take a tour of the battleship’s decks, mess, turrets, wardroom, captain’s cabin, berth compartments, and bridge. Other features of the park include an impressive collection of aircraft, and a historic submarine called the USS Drum.
3. See the Art at the Mobile Museum of Art
The best attraction in Mobile for art enthusiasts is the Mobile Museum of Art. The museum was founded in 1964, and it is the only accredited art museum in Southern Alabama. There are approximately 10 thousand pieces of art in the museum’s vast and diverse collection. These include pieces from America, Asia, and Europe. Visitors can learn about art form the classical period right through to the current day.
2. Go to the Richards DAR House
One of the best-preserved houses in Alabama is the Richards DAR House, so you should include a visit to this attraction if you are interested in history and architecture. The house was built in 1860 for Charles and Caroline Richards. It has been open as a museum since 1973, and it is also an attraction that attracts those who are interested in the paranormal as some people believe it is haunted by the voices of children.
1. Visit Fort Conde
According to The Crazy Tourist, one of the best things to do in Mobile, AL for first-timers is a visit to Fort Conde. Sitting right in the middle of the city, this attraction offers a unique and historical experience. All the rooms in the for are historically accurate, and the cannons are directed towards the skyscrapers that sit opposite. There are many hideaway holes around the fort, so you can spend some of your time there trying to find them. One of the best aspects of this attraction is that it is free to visit, so it is a great choice for those with a limited budget.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn