Mobile, AL, is a city booming with culture, cool restaurants, and an all-over fun vibe. When this Northern gal headed south for a month this winter, Mobile was my last stop on the whirlwind visit and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a cool city to visit with kids or as a couple and offers plenty of culture-filled activities and outdoorsy spots to enjoy the weather. Here are the 6 coolest, funnest, and best things to do in Mobile with kids.
Disclosure: I was graciously hosted by the folks at Visit Mobile to give you the scoop on what makes it a great city to visit. All opinions are my own!
The Scoop on Mobile, AL
Mobile has been on my radar as a place to visit for at least a decade. Not only is it a city filled with military and marine history (it sits on the gorgeous Mobile Bay that eventually leads to the Gulf Coast) and it’s location offers an ideal view of Southern city life. Another cool feature about Mobile that I didn’t know until I visited: it was founded as the capital of French Louisiana at the turn of the 18th Century. Mobile is less than an hour from Orange Beach & Gulf Shores, AL, so it’s a fun day trip or weekend visit as well.
And if I’m giving you road trip ideas, it’s just under an hour to Biloxi, MS.
Its downtown area has the same sort of vibe as New Orleans but without the uber party scene, making it a really good place to celebrate Mardi Gras for families. So, when you’re walking around, you’ll get to see the quintessential Creole Townhouse architecture and wrought-iron railings and balconies. Ahh….
So, my teen daughter and I spent three days touring the city and learning about not only the cool things to do but the things to eat in Mobile as well. Here are my must dos.
1. Mobile Museum of Art
Art museums are my jam, and the Mobile Museum of Art was one of the first things we did when we arrived. For a uuick, little backstory, the museum was founded in 1963 and once a 14,000 sq. ft. space is now 95,000 sq. ft. and houses about 6,400 art pieces. If you are flying into the mobile Airport, make sure to check out its Pop-Up Museum installation as a teaser before you visit the real thing.
A cool feature about the museum is that it sits in Langan Park, so the art displays are both inside and out. If I had to choose a favorite, especially if I was visiting with children, it would have to be REFLECTORAMA by Bob H. Miller. It’s not everyday that you get to walk into a dark room with a flashlight in hand and check out reflective art.
Second, the exhibition from Key-Sook Gum is a must-see as well. As my daughter is fascinated by Asian culture, the South Korean artist does amazing things with both traditional and modern Korean designs.
2. USS Alabama
Man, I could have spent an entire day exploring the USS Alabama and its Battlefield Memorial Park. Truly, if there was one place in Mobile that made a lasting impression on my teen, it was here. Yes, there’s an aircraft pavilion and a recreational area (as well as the smaller ship, USS Drum) to explore, but the battleship itself is the shining star.
The ship was a moving city and home to a crew of 2,500 soldiers at one time. And the tour, a self-guided one, is such an eye-opening experience. Level after level and corridor after corridor, we climbed up and down its floors and decks and I’ve never seen such a beautiful sight.
When you visit, please leave at least three hours to explore the ship and its park. There’s a cute gift shop and some pretty places to sit if you’d like to bring a meal and relax. Additionally, you’ll want to wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes as well.
3. History Museum of Mobile & Fort Condé of Colonial Mobile
The History Museum of Mobile is a super cute museum, especially if you want to spend an hour or two learning about how the city came to be. In the same building as the Visit Mobile Welcome Center, the museum offers details on Mardi Gras and the Sunday before the popular holiday, Joe Cain Day.
There’s a room with intricate miniature doll houses all built by one man, Aaron Friedman, that you won’t want to miss, either. I always wanted one as a child, but learning about the history of each makes me want one now.
Included in museum admission is a self-guided tour of Fort Condé just across the street. Originally built in 1723 (it will be 300 years old in three years!), we really enjoyed climbing up to the top of the recreated version and seeing the modern city from its roof area – what a contrast! Both inside and out, there are cute, hands-on activities including an escape room and photo booth to check out when you visit.
4. Feed the Squirrels at Bienville Square
This must-do might look a bit out of place but, trust me, you’re going to want to do this. The squirrels in Bienville Square are used to folks and they have no problem coming right up to your hand and grabbing peanuts in the shell to snack on.
But where do you get peanuts? On Dauphin Street (the same street Bienville Square is on), head to A & M Peanut Shop and let them know you want to feed the squirrels. The have inexpensive roasted nuts put aside for them and they’re less expensive than the ones in the cases.
5. Visit the Mobile Carnival Museum
With a few levels, a short movie, and a self-guided walking tour, the Mobile Carnival Museum is definitely worth a visit, especially if you want to see glitzy krewe costumes from holidays past. Kids will love the giant Mardi Gras float that you can actually climb onto and adorable Disney-themed pieces, but for me it was the intricate, handmade dresses and history of Joe Cain, the man credited with modern-day Mardi Gras celebrations in Mobile.
When we visited, we spent about an hour touring the floors, but if it’s your first visit, I’d recommend carving out a couple of hours to be safe.
6. Take a WildNative Delta Safaris Pontoon Boat Ride at Cooper Riverside Park
If you enjoy a good nature and historical tour via water, taking a two-hour tour of Mobile Bay. Ours was in a pontoon boat – a must-do. Our guide was highly knowledgeable and made me feel at ease, even though the water was pretty rough due to high winds. For most, that won’t be a problem, and for me it wasn’t, but just giving you the heads up that we hit a fluke.
By far, the coolest parts of the tour were seeing the USS Alabama from the water (we’d toured it the day before) and moseying along the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, a gorgeous spot for birding and alligator sightings.
Where We Stayed in Downtown Mobile
Located on N Royal Street in downtown, we couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay during our visit at Candlewood Suites Mobile Downtown. Not only does it have a fitness center, free wifi, and 24-hour fitness center, the outdoor pool looked lovely. Yeah, it was too cold for us to use, though. A great perk of staying? There are free laundry facilities to use. Yep, free. Apart from detergent, that’s all we needed to have on hand – and we literally used it everyday. I mean, after three weeks on the road, we had plenty of items to wash and dry.
Okay, now that I’m done with the additional perks, let’s talk about our suite for a minute. The beds were super comfy, we had plenty of room to move about, and the kitchen had a full fridge. It was very clean and housekeeping couldn’t have been any nicer. If you need additional items for cooking, ask about its Lending Locker near the main elevator.
If you have a car, the property has its own dedicated parking lot. Its proximity to the entrance came in very handy, especially when loading and unloading the car. When we were out exploring the downtown area, we left the car and walked to the attractions.
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