11 Fun Things to Do in Mobile, Alabama

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Mobile, Alabama, is a quaint and small southern city with a great mix of modern and historical. It is the oldest city in Alabama, founded in 1702.

It’s called the Azalea City, the Port City, and the Birthplace of Mardi Gras. You got it! Mardi Gras actually started here.

Not only do Mobilians know how to party, but there are many fun things to do in Mobile, Alabama. Here are my favorites from visiting my friend who has lived there for quite a while!

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1. Mobile Carnival Museum

Did you know Mobile was the birthplace of Mardi Gras? I had no idea, and to think I almost skipped this museum! You can do a self-guided tour of this museum. However, I highly recommend walking through with a docent if you want to learn more about the museum and most importantly, Mardi Gras.

This museum is a flashy and an exhilarating treasure trove of information and beautiful things to look at. Some of the artifacts in the museum include gowns with ornate trains, costumes, floats, and decorations.

It’s a must-see when you visit Mobile. It will open your eyes to the incredible behind-the-scenes festivities of Mardi Gras in Mobile.

You May Also Like Mardi Gras Mobile: The Original Celebration

What You’ll Learn at the Carnival Museum

I knew Mardi Gras was a big party, but I had NO IDEA how huge a thing Mardi Gras is. Events are going on throughout the year. In fact, 11% of the local economy is funded by activities associated with Mardi Gras. I

t’s not just a big party! There are people whose job it is to make the floats, to design the traditional costumes and the dresses worn to society events.

Mardi Gras has continued annually since 1703, with the exception of times of war. It was canceled during the Civil War and World Wars I and II. Even during the Great Depression, Mardi Gras continued, though a bit more modestly.

Mardi Gras in Mobile represents art, economy, a good time, and a family affair. It is a huge part of the identity of this city and worth learning more about.

The Mobile Carnival Museum is located at 355 Government St, Mobile, AL 36602. It is open from 9 to 4 Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Admission is $8. You can tour on your own or join a docent at 9:30, 11:00, and 1:30.

2. Historic Oakleigh House Museum

James Roper purchased the land in what was once far from the city of Mobile in 1833 to build his family home. Now, Oakleigh is located right in the heart of the city. It was designed in the Greek Revival style, and construction was completed in 1837.

Oakleigh means “oak meadow” and was named after the many oak trees on the property. One of the first things you notice about Oakleigh is a large round staircase in the front and it’s an interesting design element.

Roper made bricks for his living and was clearly a man of means when he built the home. You can even see a few in a large tree in front of the building placed in a joint to stabilize it. Most of the current furnishings are all from the period but not original to the house. However, there are some items that are.

Unfortunately, Roper’s time in the home was short-lived as he lost his money in the panic of 1837. He then sold it to his brother-in-law and the Irwin family lived there during the Civil War.

The home escaped being destroyed as Margaret Irwin draped the British “Union Jack” flag over the balcony to protect it. Margaret was from England and, of course, didn’t mention that her two sons both supported the Confederate army.

Oakleigh House changed hands a few more times, and you can see some personal items from each of the families who once called it home.

Visit Oakleigh House Museum

You can learn all about the families who lived in the home as well as about some of the amazing 1,000 artifacts that interpret life in Mobile from 1830 to 1900. This includes one of the largest china sets from the 1830s, a Haviland Limoges china set featuring a cotton ball on top of the pieces.

It also includes a charming dollhouse that has been lovingly hand-made for over a year for a young girl’s Christmas present and a large antique music box that was original to the house.

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Oakleigh Belles

Tours at Oakleigh House are provided by the Oakleigh Belles, a group of young women in high school who gain the skills and knowledge needed to serve as docents. They represent the Historic Mobile Preservation Society as ambassadors of hospitality, southern history, and culture. 70 try out every year, and only 12 are accepted.

I had the opportunity to talk with the two Belles, Olivia and Sophia, who provided my tour, and I was so incredibly impressed by them. Only a junior and senior in high school, and they were friendly and so knowledgeable about the home and the history of the area. It really was such a nice experience going on this tour and I highly recommend it.

Historic Oakleigh House Museum is located at 1906 Springhill Ave, Mobile, AL 36607. It is open Monday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 to 4 and on Sunday from 1 to 4. Guided tours are offered every hour on the hour.

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Oakleigh Belles, photo credit: Historic Oakleigh House Museum

3 – 4. Visit Other Antebellum Home Tours

If you love visiting historic homes and one just isn’t enough, check out these other mansions that also offer tours.

Bragg-Mitchell Mansion

This 13,000-square-foot antebellum mansion was built in 1855 in the Greek Revival style by Judge John Bragg. It was the center of the lively social scene in the area, and the family lived here from Thanksgiving through Mardi Gras.

This home also features a circular staircase, huge double parlors, and large rooms. Four families lived in the mansion following Judge Bragg, and the last private owner lived there until the late 1970s. The mansion was then donated to the Explore Center to become an interactive science museum.

Instead of potentially destroying the historic integrity of the mansion, the Explore Center began restoration work and built a separate science museum. The Bragg-Mitchell Mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and opened to the public in 1987 after $3 million in renovations.

The Bragg-Mitchell Mansion is located at 1906 SpringHill Ave, Mobile, AL 36607. Tours are offered on the hour from ten to three for $10. Pictures are not allowed inside the building.

Condé-Charlotte Museum

A number of historic mansions became public-use buildings like schools, but the Condé-Charlotte Museum moved in the opposite direction. It began as Mobile’s first courthouse and jail but became home to the Kirkbride family.

It’s now a historic house museum filled with antiques that reflect Mobile’s rich and varied history under French, English, Spanish, Confederate, and American rule.

This home is on the National Register of Historic Places as one of the older structures in the area. It was constructed in the 1820s on the site of the old Fort Conde, later called Fort Charlotte.

The rooms reflect the different periods of time, featuring a British Commandant’s room representing Mobile under British rule (the 1760s to the early 1780s) and two Confederate parlors depicting the antebellum period.

There is also an American Federal dining room showcasing the early 1800s and others.

Condé-Charlotte Museum is located at 104 Theatre St, Mobile, AL 36602. It is open from 11 to 3:30 Tuesday through Saturday, and admission costs $10.

5. Battleship Memorial Park

This was one of the things I was most excited about seeing in Mobile. My grandfather served on a battleship in the Navy during World War II. The opportunity to visit and tour it was too much to pass up.

It’s hard to imagine my grandfather as a young man, but I closed my eyes and could almost envision him and the other men wandering the decks of his giant battleship all those years ago. He went to reunions for many years; it was such a big part of his life and the lives of his crewmates.

In 1965, the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park opened to the public. Though many similar battleships were scrapped in the early 1960s, the USS Alabama was destined for greater things.

The park, and in particular, this ship, is one of the most recognizable symbols of the state of Alabama. It’s dedicated to citizens of Alabama who have served in all branches of the United States Armed Forces. It is joined by the USS Drum submarine and an airplane museum.

USS Alabama

The USS Alabama is a 45,000-ton battleship hailed from the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia, on February 1, 1940. She was in the North Atlantic in 1943 during World War II and went to the South Pacific later that year.

The “Mighty A” led the American fleet into Tokyo Bay on September 5, 1945, and received nine Battle Stars for meritorious service. She became known as the “Heroine of the Pacific” during her three-year tenure.

There are several self-guided tours you can go on to see the ship that is marked by different-colored arrows. It’s very easy to lose track of the arrows as you walk around!

You can visit the engine room, the control room, where the sailors slept, where they ate, the sick bay, and many other areas. Some are staged as they may have looked when they were in use. It’s really interesting and hard to imagine living on it for months at a time.

USS Drum Submarine

When you walk through the submarine, the battleship seems positively spacious in comparison! It is a National Historic Landmark and the oldest American submarine on display.

A 72-member crew lived and worked on board, and there was even a dog who served. Quarters are very tight on the submarine, as you may imagine. But I’ll tell you, walking through it is pretty amazing.

It’s hard to believe people stayed on it for long periods when you realize how cramped it really is.

The USS Drum was donated to the park on April 14, 1969, and was opened to the public for tours on July 4th.

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USS Drum

Medal of Honor Aircraft Pavilion

The pavilion is dedicated to the Alabama Medal of Honor recipients and includes a memorial wall paying tribute. There is an impressive collection of aircraft, historic vehicles, and war artifacts. You need to walk through it to get to the USS Drum, and it is worth looking around.

The collection includes a Red Ball Express display honoring the men who ran supplies during WWII. Marine One is a helicopter used by Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Regan, and George Bush (a VH1-N/Bell 212 helicopter, if you’re interested in the details).

There is also a Red-Tail P-51 plane similar to the ones flown by the Tuskegee Airmen. Another interesting plane is the A-12 Black Bird used by the CIA in 1965 for spy missions. It can fly 2,300 miles per hour and is almost 95,000 feet high.

Battleship Memorial Park is located at 2703 Battleship Pkwy, Mobile, AL 36603. It is open daily from 8 to 6, and tickets for the park cost $15, including the USS Alabama, USS Drum, and the airplane museum.

6. The Fort of Colonial Mobile

Fort Louis was founded in Mobile in 1711 when the original Fort (also called Fort Louis) at 27-Mile Bluff was relocated due to flood damage from the Mobile River. The Fort started as a wooden stockade but was updated to be a brick fort with a stone foundation.

It was later named Fort Condé in honor of Louis Henri de Bourbon, Duc de Bourbon, and Prince de Condé. It was later called Fort Carlota by the Spanish, and later, when Mobile was under British rule, it was called Fort Charlotte after King George III’s wife.

The Fort was responsible for guarding the people of Mobile from 1723 to 1820. It was strategically located on the eastern tip of the French Louisiana colony protecting access between the Mississippi River and the colonies along the Tombigbee River and the Alabama River. You can tour the Fort today and consider over 300 years of history.

In 1820, Congress authorized the sale and removal of the fort as it was no longer being used for defense. It was demolished, sadly, and reconstructed to open on July 4, 1976, during Mobile’s United States bicentennial celebration.

Today’s fort is around a third the size of the original. If you want to see a piece of Mobile history, albeit a recreation, this is a good place to do it.

The Fort of Colonial Mobile is located at 150 S Royal St, Mobile, AL 36602. It is open from Wednesday through Friday from 10 to 4 and Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 5. The entrance costs $8.

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The Fort

7. History Museum of Mobile

This is a great museum; if you are a history nerd like me, you will love it! There is a really in-depth exhibit on the history of the Mobile area that I found really interesting. Another exhibit shares the impacts of the “great wars” of World War I and II and the depression on the Mobile economy.

The History Museum has several other interesting exhibits, including a small Mardi Gras exhibit and an exhibit of some incredible intricate dollhouses that were donated to the museum by a local family.

Brief History of Mobile

Mobile was originally founded in 1702 as the capital of the French colony La Louisiane. In 1711, the city location was moved to its current location due to the unpredictable flooding of the Mobile River.

Mobile later came under British rule after the Treaty of Paris gave Britain all of the French territories east of the Mississippi. It later fell under Spanish rule when it was seized in 1780 during the Revolutionary War. In 1813, Mobile became part of the United States.

In 1721, the first slave ships arrived, and there is an exhibit that talks about slavery and the cotton trade. It also helps you to better understand what it might have been like to be a slave in those times.

Mobile wasn’t heavily damaged during the Civil War as the city was blockaded but not attacked, however, the city went through tough times, and in 1879 it went bankrupt and the state took over.

It was interesting to read through the exhibit to get a better understanding of the larger events of the times and the impact they had on the city.

The History Museum of Mobile is located at 111 S Royal St, Mobile, AL 36602. It is open from 9-5 every day except for Sunday when it is open from 1 to 5. It costs $10 to visit.

8. Dauphin Street

The Lower Dauphin Street Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places. It runs from Water Street to Jefferson Street, consisting of 551 acres of land and 736 buildings.

Many of the buildings on this street are from the 1820s and include many architectural styles, including Queen Anne, Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, and Victorian.

It’s a quaint area with many great shops and restaurants, and it’s fun to walk around when the weather is good. Some of the best restaurants on this street include

Some great restaurants on Dauphin Street are Noble South and Southern National.

9. GulfQuest

GulfQuest/National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico is dedicated to the maritime heritage and culture of the Gulf of Mexico. This massive 120,000-square-foot museum is designed to look like a ship heading into Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. I sadly didn’t have time to see this museum, and it’s at the top of my list for the next time I visit.

The museum has 90 interactive exhibits, theaters, simulators, and artifact displays in a full-sized replica of a container ship. It’s the only fully interactive maritime museum in the world.

It shares the history, culture, marine science, and maritime traditions of the Gulf of Mexico region and is designed for visitors of all ages. It’s a popular place and one of the top attractions in Mobile.

GulfQuest is located at 155 S Water St, Mobile, AL 36602. It is open from 9 to 4 Tuesday through Saturday and from 9 to 5 on Sunday. It costs $16 to visit.

10. Bellingrath Gardens and Home

These stunning gardens are about 25 miles outside of Mobile, but the drive is definitely worth it. Walter and Bessie Bellingrath owned the home and lived there until 1934.

You can tour certain areas of the home and then visit the stunning 65-acre gardens. Since the weather in Mobile is mild all year round, the gardens are always blooming and beautiful.

There are also many different species of birds and bees throughout the gardens.

Bellingrath Gardens and Home is located at 12401 Bellingrath Gardens Rd, Theodore, AL 36582, United States. It is open every day from 8 am to 5 pm, and tickets cost $25.

bellingrath gardens, bridge going over the lake, pink flower bushes and trees among the greenery

11. Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

First established in 1703, this cathedral was the first Catholic Church on the Gulf Coast. You can admire the beautiful stained glass windows inside the church. The organ is also stunning and custom-made for the church.

If you’re interested, you can also attend a mass service. Many people find the cathedral really peaceful whether they visit it for mass or just for fun.

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is located at 2 S Claiborne St, Mobile, AL 36602, United States. The hours and mass schedule can be found here.

Where to Eat in Mobile

Mobile, Alabama, is a treasure trove of great restaurants. Seafood is huge here, and, of course, southern cooking, but there are many food options. If you’re looking for something fun, check out this downtown Mobile food tour of the LoDa area.

Wintzell’s Oyster House

Wintzell’s is a Mobile institution founded in 1938 by J. Oliver Wintzell. It began as a six-stool oyster bar in Mobile on Dauphin Street and now has 7 locations throughout Alabama. The walls are covered in hundreds of Oliver’s witty sayings, and they are fun to read.

And the food is fresh and really good. They are known for fresh Gulf seafood and dishes like crawfish etouffee, gumbo, crab, cakes, and others. If seafood isn’t your jam, he offers lots of other options.

Try the cooked Oyster sampler for a little twist with chargrilled, Monterey with jalapenos, smoked bacon and cheddar, Rockefeller with spinach, and one with cream and shrimp. Their raw oysters are to die for if you like oysters, and their gumbo is award-winning and worth at least a cup.

I was also told their West Indies salad is great as well, which is a Mobile original including crab, chopped onion, and spices blended and marinated in oil and vinegar for 24 hours.

The cornerstone location of Wintzell’s Oyster House is located at 605 Dauphin St, Mobile, AL 36602. It’s open from 11 to 10 Sunday through Thursday and 11 to 11 on Friday and Saturday.

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Wintzell’s Oyster House Oysters


If you’re looking for the best brunch in town, look no further than Dauphin’s. This place is really wonderful and features live jazz on Sundays. Amazing views, great food and drinks—try the poinsettia or the bloody mary for a treat. It’s located at the top of one of the tallest buildings in the city.

The menu is a “celebration of French creole … historic flavors including Spanish, Native American, African, Islander, and more. Brunch includes some traditional brunch classics with a twist.

I got what was similar to eggs Benedict with a definite Creole flare, with eggs over easy over fried green tomatoes and a Creole hollandaise sauce. Yum. When I went, they had a former Christmas tree repurposed in its Mardi Gras finest.

Dauphin’s is located on the top floor of the RSA Trustmark Bank Building, 107 St Francis St #3400, Mobile, AL 36602. It is open from 10 to 4 from Wednesday to Friday and 10 to 5 on Saturday and Sunday.

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View from Dauphin’s

Dreamland Bar-be-que

This is a very casual joint with a sign that makes the point, “Ain’t nothin’ like ’em nowhere.” Dreamland BBQ is a popular and famous restaurant in these parts, and it has been around since the 1950s, so you know it has to be good!

We decided to go check out this place that John “Big Daddy” Bishop founded so long ago. I’ll admit that I was a bit wide-eyed and wasn’t expecting much after they served us a few pieces of sliced white bread with a cup of barbeque sauce to dip it in while we waited for our meal.

Apparently, that’s a “thing” in this area, but it sure was new to me!

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Our Side of White Bread and BBQ Sauce

I’m pleased to say it got much better from there, and their barbeque is quite good! I got a brisket sandwich drenched in barbeque sauce, and it was tangy and good. Everyone enjoyed their dishes, and we even enjoyed the pecan pie a ‘la mode as a side.

Dreamland Bar-be-que is located at 3314 Old Shell Rd, Mobile, AL 36607. It’s open from 10 to 9 Monday through Wednesday, 10 to 10 from Thursday to Saturday, and 11 to 9 on Sunday. There are also several locations in Alabama and Georgia.

Where to Stay in Mobile

Here are some hotel options in Mobile, ranging from chain hotels to inns/B&Bs in historic homes to boutique hotels:

  • The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa: for a bit of a splurge, check this place out. It’s right in the downtown area, just off Dauphin Street, and within walking distance of many of the tourist sites.
  • Drury Inn Mobile: A more affordable option and a 15-minute drive from the downtown area. There are a number of other hotel options in the area.
  • The Petrinovich House, also known as The Mardi Gras House, is another downtown option in a restored Victorian-painted lady house. This B&B is steps from downtown Mobile’s art and entertainment district.
  • Fort Conde Inn is an affordable boutique hotel and B&B in the heart of town. It has the feel of 19th-century Mobile.
  • Hampton Inn and Suites is another downtown option within walking distance of many of the city’s attractions and restaurants.

How to Get to Mobile

The Mobile Regional Airport (MOB) is 13 miles west of the city. There is a great bus system called the Wave. Many of the sites are walkable in the downtown area, but you will likely need a car or Uber if you don’t want to take the bus.

It is only a two-hour drive from New Orleans, Louisiana, a four-hour drive from Atlanta, Georgia, a little over three hours from Jackson, MS, and three-and-a-half hours from Birmingham, Alabama. There are a lot of great areas to navigate to or from Mobile.

Mobile Weather & When to Visit Mobile

The best months of the year to travel to Mobile, based on the weather, are April through June and late September through November. Mobile summers are long, hot, and humid, and winters are short and cold.

Temperatures overall range from 42°F to 90°F (around 5.5°C to 32°C). In the summer, average highs range from 84°F to 90°F (around 28.8 to 32°C) and lows from 67°F to 74°F (around 19°C to 23°C). In the winter, average highs range from 60°F to 66°F (around 15.5°C to 19°C) and lows from 42°F to 48°F (around 5.5°C to 9°C).

Is Mobile Worth Visiting?

Museums, historic homes and forts, and battleships. Oh my!

Mobile is a delightful mix of old and new, which pays homage to its roots while being a modern city. The birthplace of Mardi Gras sure knows how to party, making Mobile a great city to visit any time of the year.

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