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Mobile for First-Timers

From Mardi Gras carnival to the Gulf of Mexico

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Being one of the oldest cities on the Gulf Coast, Mobile has always been able to offer visitors exciting, entertaining and educational experiences year-round. You’ll find museums and attractions showcasing everything from art to Mardi Gras, history to science, the military to mums. How about dancing in the street with thousands of new friends at the region’s largest outdoor music festival, catching Moon Pies thrown from fire-breathing dragon floats during Mardi Gras or taking in millions of glittering holiday lights on a 65-acre garden estate?


Mobile Mardi Gras

Did you know that Mobile is the birthplace of America’s original Mardi Gras? That’s right, Mardi Gras originated in 1703 right here in our port city. It was revived after the Civil War when citizen Joe Cain, fed up with post-war misery, led an impromptu parade down city streets. We’ve been doing it ever since and we mark the annual occasion with majestic parades, colorful floats and flying Moon Pies. Mardi Gras celebrations begin two and a half weeks before Fat Tuesday and the Port City comes to life. Elaborate themed floats manned by masked mystic societies, mounted police and marching bands wind through downtown Mobile and surrounding areas, entertaining nearly a million revelers each year.

Our carnival is a family-friendly time of parties, balls, parades and revelry. Find your spot and get ready to catch Moon Pies, beads and trinkets. And not to forget the man who kept Mardi Gras alive, Joe Cain Day is observed the Sunday before Fat Tuesday.


Mobile On the Water

If water is more you’re thing, you’ll discover water-based adventures that bring you eye-to-eye with giant gators or have you shaking “fins” with gentle sting rays. Maybe you’ll find yourself paddling toward an ancient Indian mound accessible only by water or sipping wine on a sunset cruise on the bay — being on the water is a simply a part of life around here.

The Gulf of Mexico is a national treasure, serving as the international doorway to the Americas, from its discovery in the 1500s to the present day. Until now, no maritime museum has been established to celebrate the historical, economic and cultural significance of “America’s Sea” and its coastal region. The GulfQuest National Maritime Museum is an exciting, 90,000-sq-ft riverside venue that offers over 90 interactive exhibits and activities.

Located only a 45-minute car ride from downtown Mobile, the sprawling sandy beaches of Dauphin Island beckon visitors to come out and play. You’ll even want to leave with plenty of time to stop at the unique shops and produce stands along the way. Once you cross the bridge, you’ll be transported into another time. This quaint little beach community boasts a casual, quiet, even vintage 1950s feel and offers plenty of wholesome fun for the entire family. Home to historic Fort Gaines, The Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Estuarium, the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, a public beach, pier and boat ramps, Dauphin Island has been the sandy backyard for generations of Mobilians, as well as a popular beach destination for thousands of tourists each year who prefer a simpler, beach experience.

Bayou La Batre is a charming fishing village is located along the Mississippi Sound. Founded by Joseph Bosarge, who was granted the land from the King of Spain in 1786, Bayou La Batre was the first permanent settlement on the South Mobile mainland. Now known as the seafood capital of Alabama, the town immortalized in Winston Groom’s Forrest Gump is home to oodles of fishermen and shrimpers. One of the rites of spring here is the annual Blessing of the Fleet. Bayou La Batre is also host to a successful boat building industry, producing everything from barges and tugs to the Black Pearl from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.


Mobile Arts and Culture

Mobile is full of artistic souls and spaces sure to quench your cultural thirst. Downtown is home to a wide variety of studios and centers featuring murals, sculptures, paintings, abstract art and more. Theater buffs and musical mavens alike will find something they enjoy, whether it be seeing a performance at the historic Saenger Theatre or taking in the Mobile Ballet. Mobile’s creative community is thriving and visitors will not want to miss the dozens of arts-related events and activities that take place around town.

Every second Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., downtown Mobile comes alive during the wildly popular LoDa ArtWalk, where thousands of folks gather to enjoy the latest in local art, music, food and culture. Stroll along, browsing eclectic local galleries, public spaces and pop-up markets at your leisure. Much like the city of Mobile itself, ArtWalk showcases immense diversity; visitors will find both the contemporary and traditional, from down-home crafts to elegant furnishings, while enjoying anything from street food to sophisticated hors d’oeuvres. The community-wide art show is a perfect way to rub shoulders with locals while getting a taste, ear- and eye-full of the funky, Southern charm that our Bay culture has to offer.


Mobile Nightlife

Mobile’s music scene has always been lively and even more recently, has become one of the top stops for many bands making their way across the country with dreams of stardom and adoring fans. The Alabama Shakes and Saint Paul and The Broken Bones are just recent visiting bands who have stopped — and come back through — Mobile.

Our nightlife and entertainment options provide visitors a unique glimpse into the heart and soul of this lively southern city, with a nod to the spirt of Mardi Gras. Many bars in downtown Mobile can stay open past 2 a.m. due to private club rules, and a blocks-long entertainment district on Dauphin Street allows folks to walk from bar to bar with drinks in their hands.

This itinerary is compliments of Visit Mobile.


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