15 Fun Things to Do in Mobile Alabama on a US Gulf Coast Getaway

Fun things to do in Mobile Alabama include remarkable restaurants, cool museums, fun outdoor adventures, gorgeous oaks, oldest US Mardi Gras, and much more.

Things to do in Mobile Alabama include remarkable restaurants, cool museums, fun outdoor adventures, gorgeous oaks, oldest US Mardi Gras, and 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.

Things to do in Mobile Alabama include remarkable restaurants, cool museums, fun outdoor adventures, gorgeous oaks, oldest US Mardi Gras, and so much more. #travel #thingstodo #MobileAlabama

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.

colorful Heart of Mobile wall mural
Heart of Mobile Alabama street art wall mural

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.

view of USS Alabama in Mobile AL
USS Alabama is a top Mobile AL place to visit

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

Posted by Charles McCool on Wednesday, March 13, 2019

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.

nautical sayings sign at GulfQuest in Mobile AL
you can spend all day reading these sayings at GulfQuest in Mobile AL

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.

simulated cargo ship experience at GulfQuest
but you will want to steer your own cargo ship. Fun!

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…

Posted by Charles McCool on Thursday, March 14, 2019

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.

Mardi Gras costumes at Mobile Carnival Museum
enjoy Mardi Gras fashion at 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.

Mardi Gras float concept drawings
concept drawing to Mardi Gras float. Cool!

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

Posted by Charles McCool on Thursday, March 14, 2019

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

Posted by Charles McCool on Thursday, March 14, 2019

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.

Choctow lilies in Tensaw Delta
Choctow lilies in the Tensaw Delta means it is spring time in Mobile Alabama

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.

Colonial French decor at Conde-Charlotte Museum
French room in the Conde-Charlotte Museum

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.

original floor at Conde-Charlotte Museum
get a peek into Alabama history at Conde-Charlotte Museum

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!

four types of grilled oysters at Wintzells in Mobile AL
oysters at Wintzells on Bienville Bites Food Tour

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.

prohibition style drinks in Mobile Alabama
Secret History Prohibition Tours in Mobile Alabama

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).

Avenue of the Oaks at Spring Hill College
Avenue of the Oaks at Spring Hill College

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.

Old Joe Cain tombstone with Mardi Gras beads
Joe Cain tombstone in Church Street Graveyard

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.

view of The Fort of Colonial Mobile
walk through pre-colonial Mobile history at The Fort of Colonial 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

Posted by Charles McCool on Friday, March 15, 2019

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.

Hank Aaron memorabilia
Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum

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

Posted by Charles McCool on Thursday, March 14, 2019

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.

lunch items at Dew Drop Inn in Mobile Alabama
Dew Drop Inn in Mobile Alabama

NoJa

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…

Posted by Charles McCool on Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Von’s Bistro

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.

drunken noodles at Von's Bistro
exceptional food at Von’s Bistro

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.

fire-grilled oysters
order the fire-grilled oysters at Original Oyster House

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.”

French Toast with bananas and syrup
scrumptious breakfast at Spot of Tea in downtown Mobile AL

Pizzeria Delphina

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).

beautiful deviled eggs at The Noble South
delectable deviled eggs at The Noble South in Mobile AL

Panini Pete’s

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

Posted by Charles McCool on Thursday, March 14, 2019

Southern National

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).

colorful food item at Southern National restaurant
amazing appetizer at Southern National in Mobile Alabama

Dauphin’s

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.

view of Mobile from Dauphin's restaurant
Wow. Dauphin’s in Mobile AL can be your best photoshoot location in Mobile

The tuna poke at Dauphin’s is remarkable. Dauphin’s also caters the food on the Perdido Queen cruises.

colorful tuna poke at Dauphin's
award-winning tuna poke at Dauphin’s is a must order item

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.

Corner Bar in The Admiral Hotel
relax with a drink at Corner Bar in The Admiral Hotel

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.

majestic ceiling of Renaissance Battle House hotel
McCool Travel tip: visit the Whispering Arches on the second floor of the Battle House

Watch this video of my suite at Battle House house.

See the Visit Mobile complete list of places to stay in Mobile AL, including hotels, B&Bs, and campgrounds.

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.

Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa in Pointe Clair—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:

Things to do in Mobile Alabama include remarkable restaurants, cool museums, fun outdoor adventures, gorgeous oaks, oldest US Mardi Gras, and so much more. #travel #thingstodo #MobileAL

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4 thoughts on “15 Fun Things to Do in Mobile Alabama on a US Gulf Coast Getaway”

  1. I had no idea there were so many cool museums in Mobile Alabama. Steering a virtual cargo ship looks fun, and I’d love to go kayaking in the Alabama Delta. Then I’d reward myself with those delicious oysters. Looks like a great place for a getaway.

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