From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
The song doesn’t call it “sweet home” for nothing — and of all of Alabama’s many charms, Mobile has to be toward the top of the list. Considered one of the main cultural centers along the entirety of the Gulf Coast, Mobile is home to a great variety of art museums as well as a thriving foodie scene, and also has the oldest organized carnival/Mardi Gras celebration in the country.
Even for people who have long called the city home, there are so many places to explore and things to do in Mobile, you could easily spend a lifetime here and not experience everything. Whether you’re trying to get reacquainted with a town you consider an old friend or you’re exploring for the very first time (or under new circumstances), this guide is for you: all of our favorite local gems in Mobile, Alabama!
Let’s dive in.
While there’s plenty of city livin’ to do in Mobile, there are also some incredible preserved natural spaces to explore and get familiar with. Here are some of the coolest state and national parks to add to your to-visit list while you’re in Mobile, AL.
Located about an hour south of the hustle and bustle of Mobile is the pristine beauty of Alabama’s gulf beaches — and Gulf State Park is the perfect place to experience them. Whether you’re looking to relax on the white sand, meander along the boardwalk, or cast your line in pursuit of redfish, bass, bream, flounder and lots of other fish besides, this destination is an Alabama classic for a reason.
Two centuries ago, the town of Blakeley was a thriving riverside community — and was, in fact, one of Mobile’s competitors in terms of population and industry. It was also a major battle site in the Civil War, when Confederate soldiers garrisoned and fought during the Battle of Fort Blakeley in April of 1865. Today, the area is a preserved wilderness with towering oaks, rolling grasses and marshy waterfronts to explore. It’s also home to a generously appointed campground that’s perfect for RVers and tent dwellers alike.
Located on Big Island, which lies at the north end of Mobile Bay, Meaher State Park covers about 1,300 acres of scenic waterfront, giving visitors a one-of-a-kind look at the beauty of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. Along with its 300-foot pier, perfect for sunset strolling and anytime fishing, there’s also a boat ramp (with a $4 fee) and an affordable campground with electrical hookups up to 50 amps!
Although there are plenty of natural spaces within an easy drive of town, you don’t have to go very far at all to enjoy some beauty from the comfort of your own two feet. Here are some of the best hiking trails in Mobile.
Measuring just two miles all told and seeing only about a hundred feet of elevation gain, the White Route of the Glenn Sebastian Nature Trail system is easily one of the most popular in Mobile. It’s an easy, yet scenic getaway that’s accessible for a wide variety of skill and fitness levels, and it’s also popular amongst trail bikers as well.
That said the Glenn Sebastian system is large and complex, and although this route may be one of the best known, there are plenty of others to choose from. You might pick the Yellow, Red, or Blue route… or create a longer adventure by stringing a few of them together!
A moderately-trafficked 1.9-mile loop close to downtown Mobile, Cottage Hill Park Loop offers a forest-covered trail through a recreational city park, with plenty of amenities like playgrounds, sports fields and restrooms. An easy stroll, this route is beloved by local hikers as well as runners and dog walkers.
Langan Park Loop is, as its name implies, nestled in the municipal property of Langan Park, and measures approximately 3 miles all told. It doesn’t see much elevation gain, and as a loop, it allows travelers to easily wind up back where they started from, making it a good option for beginners. Side trails are also available for those looking to extend their adventure.
It may be less than a mile long, but the beautiful trees that are this loop’s namesake make it well worth your time. Longleaf Pine Treasure Forest Loop also offers visitors the opportunity to see wildlife as well as to get more familiar with other types of local flora.
With so much exploring on the docket, you’re bound to work up an appetite in Mobile. Fortunately, this town is well known for its plethora of dining options. Here are some of the best restaurants in Mobile, whether you’re after Italian, Mexican, Indian, or something else entirely.
If you don’t eat barbecue while you’re in the south, have you even really been to the south? And Alabamians know that Alabama barbecue is its whole own separate issue — and a delicious one at that. The Brick Pit is a beloved barbecue institution offering an array of meats that have been slow-smoked over hickory and pecan logs. Trust us: you want to add it to your itinerary.
Mobile may be nowhere near the border, but you can still get classic Mexican eats at Villa Del Rey Cocina Mexicana. Whether it’s some fresh and flavorful guacamole you’re after, or a heaping plate of fajitas, the food is all authentic and generously portioned. Delicioso!
When you’re looking for the best Italian restaurant in Mobile — or anywhere else, for that matter — what you’re probably after is a family-owned, from-scratch kind of place that knows exactly how to bring a smile to your face and satisfaction to your palate. Via Emilia has been a beloved Mobile institution for more than 25 years, so you’re sure to find the flavors you’re after!
In a town that might be best-known for its savory, smoky meats, you might think you’d be hard-pressed when looking for vegan and vegetarian fare. Not so! Yak the Kathmandu Kitchen offers up a fun spin on your favorite Indian cuisine, much of which is totally plant-based and animal-friendly. It’s also served up in a colorful and warm environment, which always makes everything taste better.
Yes, Japan is literally a world away from Mobile… but you can still enjoy its vibrant and diverse flavors. Chef Sake’s Restaurant and Sushi Bar serves up an array of classic and specialty rolls, as well as other hot Asian favorites like Hibachi and fried rice. Yum!
You’ve been fed and you’ve explored the countryside. Now what?
Good news: tons. Here are some of the top things to do in Mobile this weekend… or whenever you feel called.
If you’ve got the kids along with you, you’re in for a treat, because Mobile is a great place for families. Here are some of our top to-dos for those with youngsters of all ages.
GulfQuest brings the history of the seas to life with a series of interactive exhibits, exciting film features, simulators and displays. Summer Maritime Academies are also offered on a yearly basis for 1st through 8th graders to help engage them with this unique and exciting legacy while also stimulating and nourishing STEM skills.
Even if your kids are of the “museums are BORING!” mindset, it’s hard to argue with the Mobile Carnival Museum — which offers a fascinating and sometimes creepy look into the history of festivities of all sorts. From coronations to Mardi Gras and everything in between, this museum is sure to intrigue every visitor, regardless of age. And where better to enjoy this unique history than in the city who boasts the oldest running carnival in the nation?
We’ve covered some of the amazing things to do in Mobile during the day — but don’t worry, this isn’t a town that rolls up the sidewalks at 6 p.m.! Here are some great after-hours options, whether you’re with your sweetheart, solo, or even bringing along your four-legged friend.
An art walk is a wonderful way to get acquainted with a different side of any town, even if you’ve called it home for years — and Mobile’s monthly LODA Artwalk is one of our favorite suggestions for those looking for things for couples to do in Mobile. Peruse galleries, chat with local artists, enjoy live entertainment and snack on hors d'oeuvres… what could be better (or more romantic)?
If you’re the type who needs to bring their four-legged friend with them absolutely everywhere they go, BrewHounds is the perfect place to transition to once the daytime dog park has closed. A combination bar and puppy play park, you may as well call this place by its real name: heaven.
Good news: plenty of the best things to do in Mobile don’t cost very much at all. Here are some of our favorite options.
The “Mighty A,” as it’s otherwise known, is one of the most lasting relics of our country’s history — and it’s open for tours at prices starting at just $15 for general admission. (Plenty of discounts are available, including FREE admission for children under 5 and those on active duty military with valid ID.)
Considered by some to be one of Mobile’s best-kept secrets, the MODA Trolley System allows you to hop on and hop off at 20 popular stops, and takes off every 20 minutes. Fare is just 50 cents for a one-way ticket, making this one of the cheapest and most effective ways to see the city.
Flea Market Mobile is the largest flea market on the Gulf Coast, and meandering its many stalls is a great way to spend a lazy weekend afternoon. While it’s free to enter, we can basically guarantee you’re going to find something you want to take home with you — so be sure to bring at least a little bit of pocket change!
It’s true: some of the top things to do and places to explore in Mobile are 100% free of charge. Here are some options.
While meandering through a burial ground might strike some as a morbid activity, one glance at the beautiful, rolling landscape of Magnolia Cemetery will have you singing a different tune. Plus, it’s the final resting place of many important figures, such as Confederate General Braxton Bragg, Battle House Hotel owner James Battle, renowned physician Dr. Josiah Nott and others.
One of the most beautiful houses of worship in the state of Alabama, if not the entire south, Mobile’s Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception first opened its doors back in 1850, and it’s still open to visitors and worshippers today. It’s especially well regarded for its beautiful stained glass windows, which were custom crafted in Munich, Germany by Franz Mayer & Co.
Everyone needs a little R&R from time to time — and Mobile offers some great places to get it. Here are some of the best salons and day spas in Mobile, AL.
With over 20 years in the business, Nouveau on Dauphin is an iconic Mobile oasis at this point, and offers just about every service you could possibly imagine (and some you probably haven’t). From massage therapy and body treatments to professional makeup application and hair styling, if you want to be beautified and buffed, this is the place.
If its name makes it sounds like an antagonistic place to get some relaxing done, think again: the Spa at the Battle House, a Marriott property, is a luxurious and indulgent atmosphere offering equally-plush services and amenities. Hair and nail care as well as facials, massage, and body treatments are available.
Staying in shape doesn’t just help you look great: it helps you feel great, too. Here are some of the best gyms and yoga studios for those looking to work up a sweat in Mobile.
Don’t get us wrong: there are plenty of recognizable big-box gyms on offer in Mobile. But if you’re looking for the kind of down-home establishment where, if you actually talk to the patrons, you find many of them have been coming to the same facility for years, or even decades, at a time, Jason’s Fitness is probably more your speed. Do work!
When it comes to their yoga, some like it hot — and if that’s you, Mobile’s Glow Yoga is a great place to get started on your sweaty, smiling practice. Offering a wide range of classes and events for beginners to experienced yogis, this is a calm and comfortable atmosphere that will have you moving and grooving in no time.
Clearly, there’s no shortage of things to do in Mobile, proper to keep you occupied. But there are plenty of amazing places to explore within an easy day’s drive, too. Here are some cool day trips to add to your itinerary if Mobile is your home base.
Northern Alabama offers a whole new landscape — and there are so many wonderful nooks and crannies to explore. One of our favorite options is the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, which is home and haven to a wide range of mammals and birds, many of whom are hard to sneak a peek at in any other context.
If you really want to get wild, and you’re headed toward northern ‘Bama, the famous Talladega National Forest is probably the wildest place you’ll come across. Composed of nearly 400,000 acres of stunning southern countryside, this forest is the perfect place to hike, bike, swim, horseback ride, or simply kick back and enjoy the great outdoors.
Less than an hour away from Mobile is the gem of Florida’s scenic panhandle, offering both urban adventures and some beaches that will leave you absolutely breathless. This part of the state is known as the “Emerald Coast” for a reason, so enjoy those endlessly turquoise waters!
We hope this guide has given you a little bit more of Mobile to enjoy, no matter how long you’ve been or are planning to stay in this beautiful place where the skies are so blue.
Note: some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Mobile that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Mobile? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.