“Mobile Alabama is like the quirky teacher you had in high school, you know that one who wore mismatched Crocs?” ~ a Mobile resident.
Born to Celebrate
Born to celebrate is exactly the right tag line for Mobile Alabama. Rarely have I been to a city so exuberant, colourful or tasty. A couple of months ago, I landed in Mobile Alabama on a girl’s trip with three travel writers who are also friends. We arrived via Coastal Mississippi and our Mobile Alabama Girl’s Trip started with seafood at a famed restaurant. I mean, honestly, for me, that just hits a high note right out of the gate.
Alabama was the last state we visited on our three state adventure and it was our second last stop on our hosted media trip. We were guests of Mobile Alabama for the two days that we stopped here during our Gulf Coast girl’s getaway.
From the food tour that wowed us, to the vibrant art scene, Mobile is a rich spot to explore history and cultural influences in Alabama. Make it a spot to visit before your family cruise, or after a short cruise out of Mobile’s port, or do what we did and add it into a Gulf Coast girl’s trip.
What is There to Do in Mobile Alabama?
Mobile is a combination of funky, artistic destination and a heartbreaking city that has a tragic history. In 1860, buying and selling slaves was still legal, but importing slaves had been illegal for 50 years. The discovery of the last known slave ship, The Clotilde, happened here in Mobile Bay, Alabama. The slave trade in the US is inextricably tied to Mobile and it’s clearly not shied away from in art and history museums.
But, there’s also this playful side that’s clear from the Oyster Art Walk to Mardi Gras and the Moon Pies and secret societies. If they made a movie about Mobile Alabama it would be a genuine blend of drama, comedy and historical biopic. At the start of said movie you might think “Wait, pick one….what are you? There’s too much going on here,” And, yet it works.
Let’s Start with Where to Eat in Mobile Alabama
Wintzell’s Oyster House
Fried, stewed or nude? Google oysters in Mobile Alabama and Wintzell’s Oyster House is sure to pop up. This famous restaurant in downtown LODA’s entertainment district has it all – great food, excellent service and atmosphere in spades. Rumour has it that many celebrities have dined here.
Our server, Miss Pinky, shown here, was a genuine southern character. If you want the inside scoop on what to eat and why this place is famous, you need to ask to sit in her section. Our oyster platter had a bit of everything you could imagine. Oysters Rockefeller, Oysters Bienville, and Chargrilled too. YUM. Highly recommend this place.
And FYI, Mobile is one of those open carry destinations. So, in fact, we were encouraged to fill up our beverages before we headed off to the Gulf Coast Duck Tour. How awesome is that for a girl’s trip?
Old Mobile Evening Tour with Bienville Bites Food Tour
The Bienville Bites Food Tour was a highlight of the visit to Mobile Alabama for me. This evening was spectacular starting at Dauphins, located on the 34th floor of the RSA Trustmark Bank Building, with breathtaking views of the 75 nautical surrounding miles. We tasted the Gumbo here and got a tour of the kitchen as well as a private discussion with the chef. From there, we walked throughout Mobile and on to The Cheese Cottage. The guide was knowledgeable and we enjoyed her insider’s insights into the architecture and history of Mobile.
In fact, I discovered gumbo on this trip through the Gulf Coast. My first ever true gumbo was in New Orleans and I actually had no idea it could vary so wildly. I mean the basic concept is the same, but the flavours and the time spent layering spices for me seems to make the most difference. The gumbo we had at Dauphins was very good, but this stop was mostly about the views and the time spent with the chef.
The Cheese Cottage
Located on historic “Automotive Alley,” The Cheese Cottage features locally grown cheese and a scrumptious charcuterie not found anywhere else in Mobile. Our tasting featured a special wine and cheese pairing. You’ll be educated on how to taste it and what makes this tasting the “perfect pairing.”
Squid Ink for Lunch
Squid Ink Eclectic Eats and Drinks is one of Mobile Alabama’s newest restaurants in the downtown core. It’s a fun environment with a great menu. Best meal here was clearly the chicken sandwich Sharon ordered.
Dinner at Southern National
A sensational new restaurant, Southern National, is blessed with an extremely talented executive chef. Chef Dwayne Nutter, a James Beard award nominee, is right out front at an island cooking table ensuring every plate is perfect. From the decor to the server’s uniforms – denim, leather, utilitarian, everything here was spot on.
The seafood stew was rich, locally sourced, fresh and flavourful. I thoroughly enjoyed the dinner and the atmosphere. The Pimento Cheese appetizer featured a hearty helping of my new favourite southern appetizer cheese.
This is one spot you need to add to your Mobile Alabama Girl’s Trip itinerary. You owe it to yourself to dine here. Make reservations and go shopping first on Dauphin Street in the downtown Mobile area.
This stop was also on our Bienville Bites Food Tour and it is extremely well known. Also white BBQ sauce? UM, what? That’s a new one for me.
Other Food Hotspots:
Three Georges –
Candy, chocolate…pure yum. Fine southern chocolates since 1917 located on Dauphin Street.
A & M Peanut Shop –
A Mobile institution also on Dauphin Street. Buy all of the roasted peanuts you can imagine. If you are
Things to Do in Mobile
Gulf Coast Duck Tour
Tour Mobile by land and water. Why? Because it is an amphibious vehicle and totally fun. Also, why not? You will get some great photos on the water, so don’t forget your cameras. Did you know that amphibious vehicles were made during the war? It’s true.
Fort of Colonial Mobile
Mobile is a super quirky little destination and, because it is a port city, it was also guarded. The Fort of Colonial Mobile guarded citizens for almost 100 years until 1820. It was built by the French and guarded against an attack by the Spanish and British.
History Museum of Mobile
Spend some time here at the History Museum of Mobile. Well worth it. Permanent exhibit Old Ways New Days 1 takes you back in time to Mobile’s earliest days. The history of Mobile Alabama is rich and this exhibit doesn’t shy away from discussing Mobile’s 300 year history which includes Colonial era, Slavery, WWII, the Civil Rights movement in Mobile, and more.
Mobile Community Oyster Trail
This is a very informal self guided art walk. But, in 2013 Mobile elected to have 13 large Oyster art pieces installed in various places. They are as quirky and charming as the city itself. This is a project that was initiated by the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program and the trail itself feature four foot Oyster sculptures painted by local artists. Fun to check a few of these out on our Mobile Alabama girl’s trip.
The USS Alabama
Explore the Mighty A, the USS Alabama which was deployed for 37 months starting in 1942. Located on Battleship Parkway, the tour is self guided. The battleship was one of the lost ships, until a group of school kids collected enough money to have her towed from Washington State to Alabama in 1964/1965.
Mobile Mardi Gras Museum
Did you know Mobile was the birthplace of Mardi Gras? It was not first celebrated in New Orleans, although New Orleans is synonymous with it now. The Mobile Mardi Gras Museum is a great place to learn all about how Mardi Gras started. The costumes, floats and displays here are stunning.
Shop at Urban Emporium LLC
My favourite shop in downtown Mobile Alabama. Everything from gorgeous clothing at affordable prices to kid’s clothes and jewellery. The jewellery was super cute and I think we all ended up buying a new top or sweater while here.
Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
Visit the first Catholic Parish on the Gulf Coast.
Alabama Contemporary Art Center
Mobile has quite a thriving arts scene. The Alabama Contemporary Art Center is a launching pad for emerging artists to cultivate their practice, hone skills and give a wider audience access to their work.
The Moon Pie Shop
Find the Moon Pie Shop and stock up on the cutest containers and Moon Pie merchandise. Rumour has it they are also opening a restaurant. YUM! Did you know that Mobile Alabama drops a huge Moon Pie for New Year’s Eve in downtown Mobile?
Mardi Gras Park
Take a quick stroll in Mardi Gras Park. One of the nights we stayed in Mobile, the tree lighting took place. Such a pretty display.
GulfQuest National Marine Museum
Stunning new museum that incorporates some gorgeous technology to make marine history of the area real for all who visit. This building is dynamic and exhibits are very much hands on. So, this is also a very family friendly place to add to your trip if you are here with kids.
Where to Stay
Stay at the Renaissance Riverview Mobile Plaza Hotel. One of my favourite hotels of the entire 12 day trip through the Gulf Coast. The service here during our Mobile Alabama Girl’s Trip was exceptional and honestly the views from the higher floors are amazing.
Stay Where We Did
Highly recommend the Renaissance Riverview Mobile Plaza Hotel. Great location and even better service. Moon Pies delivered to our door two of the nights we stayed and that was the sweetest touch ever. We had high rooms facing the river and loved the view of the port and park. The guest lounge is open several nights a week, but not on Fridays. Snack on all the Moon Pies!