Nevada's #1 News Source for Senior Services and Community
Simply Smart Travel
by Jeff Orenstein
Mobile, Alabama - A Booming Center Commerce With Great Southern Hospitality
Mobile, Alabama is a friendly and fascinating place that is well worth a visit. It is blessed with a rich history and good weather year around. It also boasts a lively restaurant scene, some memorable hotels and many local and nearby attractions. Put this together with a flourishing economy, cultural diversity and a contemporary environment of ethnic and racial cooperation and you have all the attributes to make Mobile a magnet for a simply smart vacation.
Located adjacent to the delta of a large river system that flows into beautiful Mobile Bay, this buzzing city has a well deserved reputation as the cultural center of the northern Gulf Coast. Perhaps because of its long history of having been under four different flags and location on the sheltered bay that served as a haven for commerce and people of varied backgrounds, it is a crossroads and a melting pot with surprising sophistication and a unique local character.
It is rapidly emerging as a city of great hospitality with a wide spectrum of lodging, great food (oh those oysters!) and enough attractions to keep visitors happy and well fed for days and days. Along with modern architecture, there is a spirit of historical preservation that includes lovingly maintained historic homes and buildings, an African American Heritage Trail and a rich tradition of Mardi Gras.
Yes, it was Mobile, not New Orleans, that was home to the original Mardi Gras and the town celebrates its history with a museum and an active Mardi Gras culture. It begins with events in November, then mystic society balls on Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve and culminates in parades and balls in January and February, celebrating through Fat Tuesday, ending at midnight before Ash Wednesday, when the revelry is put on hold and planning begins in earnest for the next year.
Complementing the region’s cultural depth, Mobile has a vibrant economy, with the latest generation of U.S. Navy ships being built by Austel on the downtown waterfront and a new assembly line for Airbus commercial jets at Mobile’s airport.
Lastly, the delta, the bay and the region’s many bayous and islands offer substantial opportunities for outdoor recreation and exploration.
Mobile can be easily reached by highway, air, cruise ship or train.
By car, Mobile is on I-10 and is the southern terminus of I-65.
By air, the nearest airport is Mobile Regional (MOB), 18 miles away. Another nearby commercial airport with good connections is in Pensacola, Fl (PNS), 58 miles away via 1-10.
By train, the nearest Amtrak station is New Orleans with connections to the north and west. Amtrak provides connecting bus service from Mobile.
Mobile is a cruise port, served by Carnival. The cruise terminal is downtown, within walking distance to several hotels. New Orleans, 146 miles away, has both ocean and river cruises.
Must Sees/Dos for A Short Trip:
Tour the Mobile Carnival Museum.
Tour the harbor and downtown area with Gulf Coast.
Fort of Colonial Mobile.
Eat at Dauphin’s the food is as good as the view and Wintzell’s Oyster House
Walk Dauphin Street for shops, food and entertainment.
If You Have Several Extra Days, enjoy:
Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center.
History Museum of Mobile
USS Alabama Battleship and Memorial Park.
Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Theodore, AL. Gorgeous!
Dauphin Island, 36 miles away. Visit the aquarium, Lighthouse Bakery, Audubon Bird Sanctuary.
A sunset safari in the delta aboard the Osprey.
The National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola, 65 miles away. • Harrah’s Casino in Biloxi, 61 miles away.
Ginny O’s Tips For Dressing:
Dress comfortably for the season. Resort casual is appropriate for all but the most upscale restaurants. Polo shirts, sundresses are usually fine. Forget the tee shirts and jeans unless you are doing outdoorsy things.
This Destination At A Glance Over 50 Advantage:
A great town for a leisurely stroll, boat or bus tour. Memorable museums and good restaurants beckon seniors.
Low. Mobile is on fairly level ground and no special access issues exist.
When To Go:
Anytime. Summers are hot, rainy.
Jeffrey Orenstein, Ph.D. and Virginia Orenstein are travel writers from Sarasota, Florida. Their Simply Smart Travel column appears in newspapers and magazines in eight states. Reach them at jorenstein@SimplySmartTravel.com