Southern Hospitality In Mobile, Alabama

Above: The Oakleigh Historic Complex in Mobile, Alabama

There’s a certain allure to the South, especially to us living in Canada. We have visions of sipping sweet tea, that drawl of an accent and, of course, the hot, sticky weather–and a visit to Alabama offered all of that up and then some. But it wasn’t Birmingham, the largest city in the state, that we visited, but rather the smaller yet seriously charming Mobile. Here are five reasons you should get yourself down to Mobile, the birthplace of Mardi Gras.

You can stay at the gorgeous Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel and Spa

This beautiful historic property was established in 1852 (making it the younger sibling of the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort located about a 40-minute drive away in Point Clear, which was opened in 1847). The opulent Battle House is actually located on the site of Andrew Jackson’s military HQ during the War of 1812, although the spacious, elegant rooms are make it hard to imagine it as such. On sweltering days, be sure to fit in some swim time at the luxe pool on the rooftop by the spa, and be sure to carve out 10 minutes to visit the atrium. Here, stand at one side of the archway and have your buddy at the other end and whisper–the acoustics created by the archways are such that you can hear each other loud and clear.

You can eat delicious Southern food

Hopefully, you’re not on a diet when you visit Mobile as you can enjoy plate-loads of yummy food–much of it fried. Our top choice is the downtown location of Wintzell’s Oyster House, which serves up 180,000 pounds of oysters a year. Ask to be seated in Miss Pinky’s section; in fact, this jovial server herself is worth eating here. “It’s one of those drinks that talks to you later on,” she told us, approving of our order of the watermelon margarita. Oysters in any of the ways they’re prepared will please you, but don’t have too many of them as you must leave room for the creamy and soul-fulfilling shrimp and grits. Adventurous foodies who want to nosh on some gator can do so at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort (when fried, it tastes, you guessed it, like chicken). If it’s some ’que you’re hankering for, truck on over to Moe’s Original BBQ where you can get all sorts of barbecued meat, but it’s the pork we continue to crave (especially the Moe Nachos, a pile of home-fried chips, topped with baked beans, pulled smoked prok, nacho cheese, jalapenos and more.)

You can sightsee while working on your fitness

As you’ll be downing more calories than usual, chances are you’ll be wanting to work off some of them while in Mobile. Get out on the 5 Rivers Delta and kayak the Bartram Canoe Trail, where you can work up a sweat paddling through the water; however, if you prefer a more leisurely time on the water, a pontoon delta safari will give you a good overview of the Mobile Tensaw Delta and you’ll likely spot alligators, herons, pelicans, and egrets, all while also learning about the area’s history and nature (did you know black willow, which you’ll be able to find along the river shores contains salicylic acid, aka the pain-relieving ingredient, and animals nibbling on this plant for that very reason?). If walking is more your activity of choice, then pack your binoculars and head to the Dauphin Island Audobon Bird Sanctuary (even if it’s not during migration–that is March to May and mid-September to October, it’s still worthy of a visit for some peace and quiet) or the Bellingrath Gardens and Home, where you’ll find 65 acres to explore as you enjoy fresh blooms such as chrysanthemums and hibiscus.

You can visit impressive historic homes

Before you go visit the pretty homes of the area, know that it may make returning to your much more modest and likely smaller abode a bit difficult. For example, you may find yourself wishing your place also boasted a set of cantilevered steps on the outside, like the Oakleigh Historic Complex, the home of James Roper, a mercantile store owner from the 1830s. Or if you’re with your partner, you may find yourself making plans to exchange vows at the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion. With 14,000 square feet of space on 12 acres of property (the other 13 acres were sold off by the owner to a number of doctors, which earned it the moniker, Pill Hill) and tall, majestic, mature oak trees, it’s easy to see why this 1855 home is the venue for about 100 weddings a year.

You can (soon) visit GulfQuest

Slated to open in early 2015, the 90,000 square-feet GulfQuest, National Museum of the Gulf Coast, is a $60 million dollar project where the focus is on interactive exhibits rather than artifacts, such as an underwater submersible simulator, pilot simulator and a hurricane simulator that’ll allow you to experience winds of 78 miles/hour–activities that let you try things firsthand, all while learning about the Gult of Mexico.

Tags: Alabama

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