Three reasons I fell in love with Mobile, Alabama
Every once in a while you will visit a place and know that a return trip is needed. It’s mobile
Travel took me to many places that I really enjoyed. Mobile is one of those rare places that makes me want to pick up and leave home for a month just to enjoy the Port City experience. Here are three reasons why:
THE HISTORY OF MOBILE INTERESTS ME
In a 300-year-old community, you don’t have to look far to discover a rich history. French, Spanish, Creole, Catholic, Greek and African cultures have each had an impact on the history of Mobile. You can see it in the architecture and taste it in the food.
The Mobile History Museum is a great place to start. The National Historic Landmark building is located in the South Market. One of the six permanent exhibitions that a visitor must see is the âFaces of Mobileâ. Be sure to allow time for the “Old Ways New Days Part I” and “Old Ways New Days Part II” exhibits.
The oldest Mardi Gras carnival celebration in the United States is in Mobile. The place to discover all the details of Mardi Gras’s birthplace is the Mobile Carnival Museum. There is history and traditions to explore as well as the crowns, scepters, robes and costumes of Mardi Gras monarchs. Check out float building and videos of parades and balls.
Architecture certainly contributes to the history of Mobile. The Richards-DAR House Museum is a gem. This historic landmark is an Italian townhouse from the 1860s with unique lacy ironwork that tells a story. The Bragg-Mitchell Mansion is Mobile’s finest pre-war mansion. Built in 1855, this Greek Revival was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The Conde-Charlotte Museum was Mobile’s first courthouse and prison before being renovated in 1855. Bellingrath House at Bellingrath Gardens and Home was completed in 1936. The original furniture and extensive collections of art, silver, porcelain and crystal are on display. Each of these home museums offers tours.
The mix of four cultures in a southern port city is certainly the recipe for an exceptional meal. Gulf shrimp, crabs, oysters and fish are all fresh. Enjoy soulful delicacies including southern fried chicken, greens and oatmeal, or a slow cooking pit barbecue. From southern and contemporary seafood to barbecue restaurants and pubs, the choices are endless, with the majority practicing farm-to-table.
SEEING HIM GROW FASCINES ME
Growing up, my aunt’s and uncle’s trips to the farm were always fascinating. The fields surrounding the farm seemed immense to this young man. The family garden and flower beds provided many gifts to take home. Fast forward to the present and one of my hobbies is keeping a huge range of potted plants on my patio.
It’s understandable that I’m drawn to Bellingrath Gardens and Home, the 65-acre estate’s garden. Alabama’s oldest public garden opened in 1932 and blooms year round. There are azaleas in the spring, a magnificent cascade of chrysanthemums in the fall, and the magical Christmas in light after Thanksgiving that continues until the end of the year.
Three kilometers of trails through the gardens are perfect for a self-guided tour at your own pace. To tell you what blooms on a visit, head over to bellingrath.org for a monthly list of what you can expect to see.
A must visit is the over 100 acre Mobile Botanical Garden. The mobilebotanicalgardens.org website details what is blooming throughout the year. A map and garden guide are a necessary addition to a walking tour. Guided tours are welcome upon prior request.
The city of Mobile and the surrounding county are located in the middle of the richest biological part of North America. In addition to Bellingrath Gardens and Mobile Botanical Gardens, Langdan Park and many private homes and public buildings keep Mobile in bloom.
ART IS TOP ON MY LIST
There is no attempt to deceive you. My artistic skills and knowledge are minimal at best. I just love museums and art galleries and have rarely come across one that I haven’t enjoyed.
Along the Gulf Coast, the Mobile Museum of Art is the largest art museum between New Orleans and Tampa. The art begins with the panoramic views of Langan Park. The museum has a permanent collection of over 6,400 pieces. It features paintings, sculptures, and decorative art showcased by a collection of 19th-century American landscapes, paintings from the WPA era, and international contemporary glass, turned wood, and ceramics.
Special exhibitions are presented throughout the year. Local and regional artists as well as collections of international artists on loan from other museums are presented.
One of the purposes of a museum is to provide a haven of calm for the community. The Mobile Museum of Art is such a place, and that’s what attracts me. Throughout the establishment, seating is available where you can quietly enjoy the beauty of your surroundings.
The American Sport Art Museum is considered the largest collection of sports art in the world. The museum’s collection includes over 1,800 works in a variety of media, from paintings and sculptures to prints and photographs. Whether you are a casual sports fan or can’t get enough of any sport, this is a must visit. Located on the campus of the United States Sports Academy, the museum is open to the public free of charge. Group visits are welcome.
Located in the heart of historic downtown Mobile, the Alabama Contemporary Art Center has come a long way since its founding in 1999. Committed to the works of living artists, they initiate 10 to 12 exhibitions per year. Through various programs, they have created opportunities for artists to market their work to the world by taking risks and exploring different avenues. Add it to your list of must-see stops in Mobile.
For over 65 years, the Mobile Arts Council has made art from all sectors available to the community. The gallery’s free exhibits are open Tuesday through Friday and change monthly. Plan to join the council on the second Friday of each month during LoDa ArtWalk to meet the artists at an exhibition reception. Held downtown, the ArtWalk is an incredibly popular event and features local art, music and food.
Although focused on the visual arts, we certainly enjoy symphony, ballet, and opera and plan to attend one or more of them on my next visit to Mobile.
There are my three big reasons, but those who know me know that I won’t leave home without my golf clubs. Over 25 courses can be found in the Mobile area, including three in Magnolia Grove on the legendary Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.
Learn more about Magic Mobile at mobile.org/groups
By Dave Bodle