Fun things to do in Mobile Alabama include remarkable restaurants, cool museums, fun outdoor adventures, gorgeous oaks, oldest US Mardi Gras, and much more.
Major investments by RSA (Retirement Systems of Alabama) have rejuvenated downtown Mobile and a variety of enticing places to eat, visit, and enjoy await visitors to this great US Gulf Coast city. Enjoy this McCool Travel guide of things to do in Mobile AL and let us know some of your favorites.
We were hosted guests of Visit Mobile AL but this content is carefully crafted with the McCool Travel audience in mind.
Congratulations to chef Duane Nutter at Southern National for being nominated as a James Beard award semi-finalist for Best Chef: South. See all 2020 James Beard semi-finalist nominees here.
15 Fun Things to Do in Mobile Alabama on a US Gulf Coast Getaway
Mobile Alabama is the largest US Gulf Coast city between New Orleans and St Petersburg, Florida. In 1702, Mobile served as the first capital of France’s New World colony, La Louisiane. Today, Mobile is the capital of LA (Lower Alabama) and gateway to the exciting Eastern Shore.
Please enjoy my list of fun things to do in Mobile Alabama and leave a comment with your favorites.
Getting to Mobile Alabama. Mobile AL is located along highway I-10 about a 2 hour drive from New Orleans and 3 1/2 hours to Tallahassee. Drivers from Atlanta can reach Mobile in about 5 hours on highways I-85 and I-65. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines fly into Mobile Regional Airport. More airlines fly into Pensacola airport, about an hour’s drive from Mobile. Many popular Carnival cruises to the Caribbean on Carnival Fantasy depart from Mobile.
Here is a custom Mobile AL map featuring the places mentioned in this article.
1. USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park
USS Alabama and USS Drum are two of the four National Historic Landmarks in Mobile Alabama. The other two are listed below (places to see on future visits). In 1964 children from Mobile schools raised $100,000 in nickels and pennies to save the USS Alabama from a salvage yard in Bremerton, Washington. It was then towed here, at the end traversing a three mile dredged channel. USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park houses USS Alabama, USS Drum, and dozens of historic military aircraft.
Choose from three self guided tours of the floating city. Learn about the ice cream shop, chapel, baseball team (Hall of Famer Bob Feller played on it), orchestra, and the 2,500 people who worked aboard. USS Alabama earned nine battlestars and its big guns were accurate to 21 miles. No USS Alabama crew members were lost in battles.
USS Alabama is transitioning into a WW2 museum and 36 rooms will have sound effects. Visit the fascinating diver exhibit which opened this past October. Re-enactments occur five times a year, with vintage planes flying overhead and propane powered guns battling them. Visiting then would be a fun thing to do in Mobile with children.
Near USS Alabama, the USS Drum is the oldest US submarine on public display. It sank 15 enemy battleships and earned 12 battlestars.
McCool Travel tip: Save time (and maybe money) by buying USS Alabama tickets in advance.
USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial ParkVisit MobileVisit Alabama
2. GulfQuest National Maritime Museum
The GulfQuest National Maritime Museum represents all of the Gulf of Mexico. Before entering GulfQuest, look at the building from the parking lot. The lot was flooded by Katrina and is 8’ above the river level. The first floor is 16’ above water and the building is designed to look like a ship—with bow and bridge, stairwells are life boats, cafe is called Galley, and gift shop is Treasures.
Inside GulfQuest, learn about the Gulf of Mexico’s people, history, geography, and more. Pay attention to the maritime sayings on the hand rails when walking up or down levels and be surprised by the dozens of everyday terms with origins from the sea.
Definitely make time to steer your own cargo ship on the top level. Other games, activities, and displays sprinkled throughout the building will inform and entertain you. Learn how containers changed the world’s history. Containerization started here in Mobile and when Malcolm McLean invented the container cargo ship.
Check here for GulfQuest admission prices and discounts.
Sooooooooo, did you know the container cargo was invented in Mobile, Alabama? See the cool major display at GulfQuest…
3. Mobile Carnival Museum
Did you know that the first Mardi Gras in USA was in Mobile Alabama in 1830? Indeed, Mardi Gras is big business. Mobile Mardi Gras generated $400 million to Mobile’s economy in 2019. Learn about the 73 Mobile mystic societies and view the world’s largest collection of Mardi Gras coat trains at the Mobile Carnival Museum.
The Mobile Carnival Museum offers three guided tours a day plus a self guided tour any time. They also own the second largest animal folk piece in world. It is worth $2 million and being leant to Met Museum in NYC in 2021.
4. History Museum of Mobile
Visit the History Museum of Mobile for a fascinating journey through all historic eras of Mobile up to the present. Permanent exhibits detail history of Native American artifacts through Old Mobile, Confederate Naval History, Civil Rights, and current history in the making. Temporary exhibits change every few months. The current exhibit about the 1960s runs through August 2019.
Hank Aaron’s 754th home run ball. The people’s home run champ. ????????????History Museum of MobileVisit MobileVisit Alabama
5. Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center
Try the dozens of hands-on science adventures at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center in downtown Mobile.
An amazing Genghis Khan exhibit is here through the end of April 2019. GO! Includes 400 artifacts including objects and ritual, some 8000 years old. Artist Gankhuyag Natsag recreates traditional masks and 58 of the 108 designs are displayed here. He is friends with Dalai Lama (wow!) and his daughter does artwork live at Exploreum.
Love the Genghis Khan exhibit at Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center in Visit Mobile. Runs through April 28 so put it on your Spring Break travel itinerary.Visit AlabamaUS Gulf Coast | McCool Travel
6. #LiquidRoadTrip on a Kayak with WildNative Tours
Explore the 250,000 acre Tensaw Delta on a kayak tour with WildNative Tours. On my morning paddle I learned that Alabama has more navigable waterways than any state, Tensaw delta is 2nd (or 3rd) largest in the USA, and blooming of Choctaw lilies marks the start of spring. Stay in one of the dozen primitive camping platforms for a real special experience. Visit the Alabama Delta Resource Center and say hello to Wahlberg the resident owl. WildNative also offers boat tours from downtown Mobile.
7. Conde-Charlotte Museum
Operated and owned by National Society of Colonial Dames of Alabama (Mobile chapter), the Conde-Charlotte Museum displays Mobile’s history under five separate flags. The building served as Mobile’s original jail (until 1848) and as a private residence since Jonathan and Elizabeth Kirkbride bought the place in 1850.
The Conde-Charlotte Museum rooms are arranged according to the timeline of occupation. French arrived in 1702 to settle the area. In 1763, the British came and named fort Fort Charlotte after King George’s wife. The Spanish came in 1780 and set up water system.
8.Mobile AL Walking Tours
Bienville Bites Food Tour
The LoDa (Lower Dauphin) walking tour from Bienville Bites Food Tour was fantastic. We had Mobile’s best gumbo at The Royal Scam, Laotian/Southern/seafood fusion at Von’s Bistro (see more below!), two items on Alabama’s 100 Dishes to Eat Before You Die (praline at Three Georges and crawfish/spinach dip at Heroes Sports Bar), amazing BBQ at Moe’s (but also get their killah Bushwhacker), and the remarkable oysters at Wintzell’s. In between bites, Meghan provided interesting and entertaining Mobile trivia and history. I miss those oysters!
Secret History Prohibition Tour
Todd Duren leads Secret History Tours around Mobile Alabama. Check out his Secret History Prohibition Tour to learn about the dive bars and drink a couple of Prohibition era cocktails.
Avenue of the Oaks at Spring Hill College
OK, this is not a formal walking tour nor is it in downtown Mobile but, my goodness, you have to experience the Avenue of the Oaks at Spring Hill College. I last visited a couple of weeks after graduation, when I am told the sight is even more spectacular (with magnolias is full bloom).
Joe Cain’s Grave at Old Church Street Cemetery
The Church Street Cemetery (aka Church Street Graveyard) was set up in 1819 outside then Mobile downtown but now is surrounded by churches, public library, and other commercial buildings. Among the historic people buried here are Joe Cain, considered the founder of USA’s Mardi Gras phenomenon.
9. The Fort of Colonial Mobile
In 1702, the first fort was built 27 miles away at, conveniently named, 27 Mile Bluff. A second fort was built on this site in 1723 and the current fort is a 1/3 size re-creation built in 1976 to celebrate the USA bicentennial. Walk through the history of the Fort of Colonial Mobile and experience 18th century lifestyle in Mobile.
10. Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
In 1703, the first Catholic parish along the Gulf Coast was created in Mobile. Bishop Michael Portier—the first Catholic Bishop of Mobile as of 1829—envisioned this grand and majestic cathedral. Construction of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile began in 1835 and building was dedicated in 1850 by Bishop Portier (he died in 1859). On Cathedral Square, in front of the building, Satchel Paige was flinging oyster shells and was first “discovered” and signed to a baseball contract.
Just made a quick trip to Europe in the middle of Mobile, Alabama.Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate ConceptionVisit MobileVisit AlabamaUS Gulf Coast
11. Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum
The house where Hank Aaron grew up was moved to the current location (next to the minor league stadium). Inside are mementos of his childhood and playing days. The Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum is a great pilgrimage stop for baseball and civil rights fans.
12. MoonPie General Store in downtown Mobile Alabama
For something fun in Mobile Alabama, stop in the MoonPie General Store. Located on the ground floor of the RSA Trustmark building, here is a place to buy a snack or unique souvenir, have a sweet treat at the soda fountain counter.
A MoonPie store. Yikes. Peligroso!MoonPie General Store, Mobile, ALVisit MobileVisit AlabamaUS Gulf Coast | McCool Travel
13. Places to Eat in Mobile Alabama
Dew Drop Inn
Tara, my tourism host, told me the only proper order at Dew Drop is a loaded hot dog and half fries/half onion rings order. I did not buck tradition.
They call themselves a Mediterrasian place but NoJa is all that and so much more. After receiving strong words of encouragement from Chef Alex Perry of Vestige in Ocean Springs that “NoJa is the one place to eat in Mobile” it moved to the top of my list of things to do in Mobile. Everything on the menu is remarkable, I was warned, but I settled on the halibut entree; it was sublime. I must return to NoJa to try everything they have!
Ginger donut and popcorn ice cream at Noja Restaurant in Visit Mobile. My server Zack said he expected tears in my eyes…
I am a sucker for buzzwords and Von’s Bistro filled my BINGO card. Laotian, Asian, seafood, Southern, food truck, and storefront. After getting a quick sample on the Bienville Bites Food Tour (see above), I simply HAD to return to Von’s Bistro for a full lunch experience. The choices here are inspiring and dizzying—fried green tomatoes, Bahn Mi taco, Asian jambalaya, Pad Thai nachos. My group opted for Pho, drunken noodles, and Pad Thai, and all were exceptional. Von’s Bistro is another place I can go to again and again and again.
Original Oyster House
People love Original Oyster House for the $3.99 salad bar, fire-grilled oysters, and Royal red shrimp—plus a dizzying array of po’ boys and seafood entrees. They sell key lime pie and chocolate chip peanut butter pie by the slice or whole pie. But I was extremely impressed with the community outreach and sustainability practices of Original Oyster House. A wind turbine generates power for the external lights, solar water heaters operate at both restaurants (there is also one in Gulf Shores), and vegetable oil is recycled. Most impressive is that Original Oyster House actively participates in restoring Mobile Bay oyster beds—which equates to fresher oysters, cleaner water, and a healthier eco-system.
Spot of Tea
Enjoy a sit down breakfast in downtown Mobile at a Spot of Tea. For 25 years, people “cannot visit Mobile without stopping at Spot of Tea.” If the weather is nice, opt for outside with a view of Cathedral Square. Seafood omelettes are a wise choice! And as the owner and hostess told me, “Everyone needs a Spot of Tea in their life.”
I love finding local favorites and more than one person spoke about eating at Pizzeria Delphina multiple times in the same week. That type of testimonial resonates more than reading online reviews. Well, I was lucky that my host selected Pizzeria Delphina as our meeting spot prior to the Secret History Prohibition Tour.
The Noble South
In the heart of Mobile’s Entertainment District, The Noble South serves creative new Southern cuisine. Chef Chris Rainosek continually changes the menu based on what hyperlocal ingredients are available. I totally recommend the deviled eggs appetizer and plate lunch special (catfish was my choice).
Stop into Panini Pete’s for his amazing Mobile-style beignets. His walls features tweets from Tyler Florence and Kate Bosworth—but not @CharlesMcCool. Pete is a member of The Mess Lords, a group of chefs who cook for troops all over the world. McCool Travel NOTE: Chef Pete opened (July 2019) a new restaurant called Squid Ink Eclectic Eat & Drinks in the same location.
Diving into Pete style, Mobile Alabama style beignets at Panini Pete's of Mobile. Oh my gursh.Visit MobileVisit AlabamaUS Gulf CoastMcCool Travel
James Beard nominee and Iron Chef guest Chef Duane Nutter serves creative and innovative dishes to tempt all your senses. This appetizer at Southern National had 10,000 ingredients and I cannot possibly list them all. Let Duane and his partner Reginald take you on a culinary journey while you enjoy a delightful craft cocktail (or several).
One of Mobile’s finest dining experiences, Dauphin’s occupies the top floor of the RSA Trustmark building. Arrive just before sunset for one of the best Instagrammable spots in Mobile.
The tuna poke at Dauphin’s is remarkable. Dauphin’s also caters the food on the Perdido Queen cruises.
Watch this video of a kitchen tour and chef table at Dauphin’s.
14. Where to Stay in Mobile AL
The Admiral Hotel Mobile, Curio Collection by Hilton
The Admiral Hotel Mobile is the first Curio property in the state of Alabama. On hot days, refresh yourself in the outdoor pool or at the Corner Bar.
Watch this video for a room tour at The Admiral Hotel Mobile.
The Admiral HotelVisit MobileSweet Home Alabama
Posted by Charles McCool on Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Battle House Mobile AL
Battle House Renaissance is a four star, restored historic hotel, and is close to the Mobile Convention Center. The Battle House is a member of the Historic Hotels of America, has Mobile’s only four star restaurant, and you must check out the whispering arches.
Watch this video of my suite at Battle House house.
Another lodging option in Mobile is vacation rentals, including condos, apartments, and houses. >>> To receive $40 off your first Airbnb rental, use this Airbnb discount code.
Or look at these fun places to stay in Mobile on Airbnb.
The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa in Pointe Clear—between Mobile and Gulf Shores—is changing perceptions of Alabama. Its Alabama hospitality (a step beyond Southern hospitality), loyal employees (many over 40 years), repeat visitors (for several generations), and admirable focus on sustainability make Grand Hotel a fantastic getaway location. Another unique event that the Grand Hotel celebrates is known as a Jubilee—which only occurs here and in Japan. Jubilees occur only when conditions are right—on warm summer nights, often in pre-dawn hours, with a full moon—they take on the aspect of a joyous community beach party, adding yet another reason why this corner of Alabama is treasured as a one-of-a-kind destination.
15. Other Places to Visit in Mobile Alabama
Hopefully this article provides an idea of the variety of fun things to do Mobile AL. On future trips, I hope to explore some of the following Mobile Alabama attractions and discover even more.
Please leave a comment and let me know your favorite Mobile attractions, restaurant, museum, or secret place.
Other places on my wish list of places to visit in Mobile AL include:
- Government Street Presbyterian Church (National Historic Landmark)
- City Hall and Southern Market (National Historic Landmark)
- Meaher State Park
- US Sports Academy and American Sport Art Museum
- Alligator Alley, 1/2 way between Mobile and Gulf Shores. AL gator farm.
- Many Mobile Restaurants Some Mobile AL restaurants I will try on future trips include Loda Bier Garden, Trellis Room, Iron Hand, Serdas, Haint Blue, Camie’s Old Dutch ice cream.
Please share your favorite places to eat in Mobile in the comments below.
When planning your Alabama vacation, see our Alabama and #USGulfCoast travel articles:
- Cool Things to Do in Gulf Shores Alabama
- Fun Places to Kayak in US
- Fun US Gulf Coast Bars, Breweries, and Beverage Spots
- 15 Fun Day Trips From New Orleans LA
- Best US Gulf Coast Restaurants and Chefs