City atop a bay: Why you should visit Mobile, Alabama this summer

By dani2011dhs@gmail.comMay 18, 2023No Comments

City atop a bay: Why you should visit Mobile, Alabama this summer

By Linda Blackwell Simmons

Mobile’s powdery Gulf beaches put it on the itineraries of many fans of surf and sand, but this city’s rich history is worth more than a side trip

Mobile natives are quick to correct if their city’s name is mispronounced. “The accent is on the ‘beeel’ not the ‘Mo,’” they say as they easily draw the word into three syllables.

My first introduction to Mobile was on a drive to New Orleans from northern Alabama — a lunchtime stopover.

Now it’s mid-March of another year, and I’ve returned, starting my adventure by strolling west on Government Street on a mild, sunlit morning. Majestic live oaks – with their gnarled roots and low-hanging limbs that seem to go on forever – provide plentiful shade. A lover of grand old mansions, I turn left onto Charles Street and enter the Oakleigh Garden Historic District, every bit as tranquil as it sounds, with an aura of days gone by. Here, residents showcase their centuries-old architecture with pride. Pink azaleas line the sidewalks, the fragrance capturing my attention.

I then head toward Royal Street to explore the rich and vivid history of this thriving port city, more than 320 years old, that sits atop Mobile Bay.

History Museum of Mobile

Located in Old City Hall, circa 1856, this National Historic Landmark is where history comes alive, and Mobile is unafraid to bare its past — the good and the bad. First timers should stop by the Visitors’ Center on the first floor and meet manager Walter Calhoun, a Mobile native. Imbued with that generous dose of Southern hospitality, Calhoun ensures travelers gain their bearings. “Mobile was born to celebrate,” he says. “We can turn just about anything into a vibrant event.”

Where: 111 S. Royal St.
Website: historymuseumofmobile.com


Mobile will celebrate the opening of the Africatown Heritage House on July 8. Africatown is a few miles north of downtown Mobile and was the final stop for the last known transatlantic shipment of slaves who, in 1860, were brought from Africa on the ship Clotilda. Cudjo Lewis, one of the longest-lived of the 110 slaves who survived the journey, was born in Africa in 1841. For decades until his death in 1935, Lewis shared his story with writers and visitors. The headstones of many of the slaves and their descendants in the community’s Old Plateau Cemetery face east, toward the rising sun and Africa, their homeland. In late 2022, Netflix released “Descendant,” a documentary honoring the legacy of Lewis and the others who came over on the Clotilda.

Where: 2465 Wimbush St.


The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa

Originally opened in 1852 and rebuilt after a fire, Battle House is in the heart of downtown and is the city’s premier place to stay. For over a century, this ornate hotel dominated Mobile’s social scene and was home to stately parties and opulent balls. Meet George Moore, concierge and historian, who, at age 90, will share the hotel’s past. Member, Historic Hotels of America.

Where: 26 N. Royal St.
Website: marriott.com

Malaga Inn

Built in 1862 during the height of the Civil War, the inn’s genteel ambiance will captivate guests. Those fortunate enough to encounter Charlotte, the manager, can be assured their every need will be met with kindness and efficiency. Visit earlier in the year, too, when the Malaga Inn is home to a host of Mardi Gras festivities, including over 40 parades that begin and end near the inn. “Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras,” one innkeeper tells me; indeed, the city lays claim to hosting the first celebration, in 1703.

Where: 359 Church St.
Website: malagainn.com


Callaghan’s Irish Social Club

Opened in 1946, Callaghan’s offers Irish music and serves plentiful beer and, according to USA Today, the most scrumptious hamburger in Alabama.

Where: 916 Charleston St.
Website: callaghansirishsocialclub.com

Felix’s Fish Camp Restaurant

Ask any Mobile native about fresh Gulf seafood and the response will likely include Felix, noted for its customer service. Patrons can enjoy scenic views of Mobile Bay.

Where: 1530 Battleship Parkway



The bay’s eastern side leads to Gulf Shores; along the way, a stop at Fairhope is worth an afternoon. A haven for writers, artists and art lovers, the town was highlighted earlier this year in Southern Living magazine as one of the South’s best small towns.

“Even us Mobilians never tire of the Gulf waters,” one local tells me. Considered part of the 100-mile stretch often referred to as the Emerald Coast, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are a short drive from Fairhope and both have powdery white soft-to-the-touch sand, blue/green water and a variety of places to stay, eat and drink. Gulf Shores offers kid-friendly activities off the beach as well — a zoo, adventure golf, water and amusement parks. And for adults, bicycle rentals and hiking trails are nearby. Upscale Orange Beach, lined with high-rise condos, caters to a more adult crowd.


As in much of the Southeast, mid-to-late summers are hot and muggy. June is ideal – some schools are still in session and it is also the mildest month of the summer. July 4 draws the crowds The hottest part of summer is perfect for lying on the beach and browsing air-conditioned museums.