10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Mobile
Set along the Gulf of Mexico at the head of Mobile Bay, Mobile is a historic city with beautiful old homes, lovely squares, and a vibrant cultural scene. This port city is also home to the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, one of the main attractions along this stretch of coast. Visitors can spend a day wandering the historic districts, visiting some of the museums, touring Fort Conde or the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center, or exploring the beaches and small towns along Mobile Bay. Mobile is also known for being the home of the oldest Mardi Gras celebrations in the country, a tradition it still celebrates in a lively fashion each year.
See also: Where to Stay in Mobile
1 USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park
The USS Alabama, docked here in Mobile, was launched in 1942 and decommissioned in 1947. The decks, turrets, mess, berth compartments, bridge, wardroom and captain's cabin of the USS Alabama are open for tours. The park also contains an impressive collection of aircraft and military equipment from the Vietnam, Korean, and Cold War Eras, including a Boeing B-52 bomber. The Battleship Memorial Park is dedicated to Alabama veterans who served from WW II to Operation Desert Storm.
2 Mardi Gras
Mobile is home of the oldest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States. The event is lively and full of color with a traditional parade watched by onlookers who fill up the balconies of surrounding homes and businesses. Storefront windows are decorated and beads can be found all over the city streets, balconies, and park trees for days after the actual event. Some of the city's premier social events include Mardi Gras masquerade balls. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.
3 Fort Conde and the Museum of Mobile
The original Fort Conde was built in 1702 of wood and relocated in 1711 due to flooding. In 1723 a new fort was constructed, built of brick, stone, earthen dirt walls, and cedar wood. The fort which stands at this historic site today is a smaller size replica of this 1720s fort. The structure, which houses the Museum of Mobile, underwent renovations beginning in 2010 to do repairs, improve the safety, and upgrade exhibit space.
Address: 150 South Royal Street, Mobile, AL 36602, United States
4 Mobile Historic Districts
Visitors can gain a sense of Mobile's history by walking through the city's lovely historic districts. There are seven designated Historic Districts in Mobile, each with its own unique character and architectural heritage. Self-guided driving or walking tours are available to explore these interesting areas.
One of the highlights is the De Tonti Square in downtown Mobile, with historic buildings in Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne and Victorian architectural styles. The clay-brick townhouses and houses were built in the 1850s and 60s along brick sidewalks which still maintain the original gas lamps. The Oakley Garden District, which covers over 60 blocks, is home to a mix of mansions and cottages characterized by varying architectural details from the 1830's to the 1930's. The Old Dauphin Way District is west of Mobile. The older structures consist of simple frame cottages, while larger homes line Dauphin Street and Spring Hill Avenue. Church Street East is the most diverse of Mobile's historic districts. Many of the colonial French, Spanish and English structures were destroyed by fire and then rebuilt in the late 19th C. Lower Dauphin Street is Mobile's only predominantly 19th C commercial district with two and three story brick structures built in the Victorian, Federal, Italianate, and 20th C Revival styles.
5 Mobile Museum of Art
The Mobile Museum of Art is located in Langan Park. This large facility displays thousands of items which spans a period of 2,000 years. The permanent collection features decorative arts, African art, contemporary crafts and American art. Temporary exhibits complement the permanent collection with an ever changing program.
Address: 4850 Museum Drive, Mobile, AL 36608, United States
6 Oakleigh Period Museum House
the Oakleigh Historic Complex consists of three homes. Oakleigh, a Greek Revival mansion, was built in 1833 for James Roper, a prominent merchant. The house has been restored and furnished with antiques of the early Victorian, Empire and Regency periods. Next to the mansion is the Cox-Deasey House, a raised Creole cottage typical of Mobile's middle-class city dwellers in the 1850s. Built by a brick mason for his wife and 11 children, the displays cover the period up to and including WW II. The third home is Cook's House, built in 1850 as the slaves quarters. This three-room structure highlights everyday life for craftsmen, laborers and domestic servants. Interaction between the owners and servants is explained, along with the effect of urban slavery on this commercial city.
Address: 300 Oakleigh Place, Mobile, AL 36604-2910, United States
7 Mobile Bay
Mobile Bay, on the Gulf of Mexico, has a number of lovely beaches, small towns, and historic sites to explore. At the southwest entrance to Mobile Bay lies the Dauphin Island bird sanctuary, with Fort Gaines, which played a part in the Civil War. From there visitors can take a ferry to the western point of Pleasure Island, home to Fort Morgan. In the southeastern corner of the bay are fine bathing beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
Dauphin Island is home to an Audubon bird sanctuary, an important site for bird migration. On the island is a freshwater lake with opportunities for swimming, fishing, and relaxing on the beaches. Also located on Dauphin Island is Fort Gaines, a location that changed control from France to Great Britain and then to Spain, eventually stopping with the United States seizing control in 1813. Fort Gaines was completed in 1861 and played a major role in the Battle of Mobile Bay. The fort was used in WWI as an artillery garrison and in WWII as a US Coast Guard station.
Another point of interest is Fairhope, located high on the bluffs of the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. The town is ideal for outdoor activities such as biking, golfing, tennis, and fishing off the Fairhope Pier. The Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve near Fairhope is home to a diverse habitat with a variety of fish and crustaceans. This living laboratory educates visitors about estuaries. Guided walks or self-guided tours can be enjoyed on the elevated boardwalks as well as on over two miles of ground trails.
8 Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center
Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center is home to interactive science exhibits and an IMAX theater aimed at entertaining and educating young minds. There are a number of permanent displays which focus on physiology, biology, as well as a fun learning area for children up to five years of age. The IMAX theater shows science-based films daily.
Address: 65 Government Street, Mobile, AL 36602, United States
9 Bragg-Mitchell Mansion
The Bragg-Mitchell Mansion is a combination of Greek Revival and Italianate architecture. The structure, built in 1855, is considered one of Mobile's finest antebellum mansions. During its heyday the home was the center of a lively social life in the thriving port of Mobile. The interior displays antiques and draperies, although only a few original items remain. Touring the home offers a glimpse of life in the Old South.
Address: 1906 Springhill Avenue, Mobile, AL 36607-2304, United States
10 Condé-Charlotte Museum House
The Condé-Charlotte Museum House was built in the 1840's to serve as the City's first official jail. Each room is furnished to reflect a period and a nationality including French Empire, 18th C English, American Federal, and the Confederate room. A walled Spanish garden, designed in an 18th C plan, complements the house.
Address: 104 Theatre Street
Where to Stay in Mobile for Sightseeing
Mobile has a lovely downtown area with many revitalized historic buildings. This is also where many of the city's major attractions, including Fort Conde, the Science Center, and several museums are located. For visitors looking to explore the city, this is the best place to stay. Below are some highly-rated hotels in good locations:
- Luxury Hotels: The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa is one of the city's finest hotels. Set in a beautifully restored historical building, the hotel offers first-class amenities in an excellent downtown location. The Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel is ideally situated right on Mobile Bay and just steps from the historic district, great restaurants, and entertainment options. Near the Convention Center is the new Hampton Inn & Suites featuring large rooms and balconies with lovely views.
- Mid-Range Hotels: In a great downtown location, near the Carnival Museum, the boutique Malaga Inn is housed in two historic antebellum homes and offers rooms with true southern charm. The Homewood Suites by Hilton is an all-suite hotel just southwest of downtown. The hotel offers rooms with full kitchens and is a 10-minute drive to the famous Bragg-Mitchell Mansion. Just west of downtown, the newly renovated Mobile Marriott is located in Mobile's shopping and entertainment district across the street from the Colonial Bel Air Mall.
- Budget Hotels: At the upper-end of the budget category and in the heart of downtown, is the Holiday Inn. Rooms here offer fantastic views over Mobile Bay, and the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center and IMAX Theater are only a short walk away. A little further out but walking distance from the Mobile Museum of Art is the Wingate by Wyndham, with a pool and complimentary breakfast. A 15-minute drive south of downtown and just a short drive from the Carnival Cruise Line port is La Quinta Inn & Suites.