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Founded in 1702 as the capital of French Louisiana, the coastal city of Mobile has a similar cultural identity and roots to the Big Easy, but with a more family-friendly spin. Its prime location near Alabama’s famous white-sand Gulf Coast beaches makes it a common stop for travelers passing through, but with an increasingly accomplished food scene and plenty of activities to fill a weekend twice over, there’s considerable reason to make Mobile your main stop. Here’s how to spend a weekend in Mobile. 

Where to Eat

(Tad Denson/Contributed)

Dining out in Mobile is all about getting the best of both—or actually a few—worlds. You’ve got fresh seafood brought in directly from Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, you have traditional Southern eats, and you have plenty of Creole/Cajun influence that dates to Mobile’s founding. The best spot for breakfast is aptly named Spot of Tea. Housed in a historic downtown building, Spot of Tea is a Mobile institution known for its breakfast and brunch specials like the Bananas Foster French Toast and Eggs Cathedral, a Cajun mashup dream featuring an English muffin topped with a crab cake, scrambled eggs, and homemade seafood sauce made with blackened Mexican grouper and crawfish. 

For more seafood specialties, try Wintzell’s Oyster House, Half Shell Oyster House, or Felix’s Fish Camp. When it comes to dinner out in Mobile, secure a table at Southern National, where head chef Duane Nutter earned a 2020 James Beard Finalist nod for Best Chef South. Featuring a menu of globally inspired Southern cuisine, there’s always something unexpectedly wonderful to try at Southern National. For drinks, go casual at neighborhood watering hole Callaghan’s Irish Social Club or upscale with craft cocktails at The Haberdasher

Where to Play

(Tad Denson/Contributed)

Though many credit New Orleans for the weeks of revelry surrounding Fat Tuesday each year, we actually have Mobile to thank for making Mardi Gras the notable celebration it is. Whether or not you visit the city during Mardi Gras season, a trip to the Mobile Carnival Museum is a must. The historic museum features 14 gallery rooms filled with Mardi Gras costumes and memorabilia from each of Mobile’s yearly celebrations. 

Another of Mobile’s defining characteristics is its proximity to the water. One of the best ways to explore the area is via a speeding airboat tour with Airboat Adventures through “America’s Amazon,” also known as the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. As you traverse the shallow marshes, you’ll have a chance to learn about and spot the area’s diverse flora and fauna. And yes, that includes gators!

Back on land, round out a day of play by exploring Dauphin Street’s many boutiques and specialty shops, including Three Georges Southern Chocolates, Urban Emporium, and Sophiella Gallery. If a visit to Sophiella piques your artistic cravings, head to the Mobile Museum of Art to see more than 10,000 works of fine and decorative arts from across the globe.  

Where to Stay

(Malaga Inn/Facebook)

History is the name of the game when it comes to finding your home away from home in Mobile. In the center of downtown, the Battle House Hotel has a long history as hotel. First opened in 1852 by brothers James, John, and Samuel Battle, the Battle House has retained much of its historic character in the almost 170 years since. With a spa, fitness center, pool, and several restaurants—plus one of the best views of Mobile’s annual Mardi Gras parade route —the Battle House is a perfect home base for any trip to Mobile. 

Across town, the Malaga Inn offers classic Southern charm in a boutique hotel setting. The 1862 structure was originally built as twin townhouses by two brothers-in-law during the Civil War. Today, the Malaga Inn features 39 traditionally decorated private rooms, many of which overlook a central and utterly charming courtyard.