Year of the Staycation: Visit Mobile, Alabama

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staycation ideas in Mobile Alabama

Vacation is the one splurge we give ourselves each year. I feel very strongly that every family needs a vacation because you need a break from the everyday normal routine. You need the stress relief. At the same time, I understand what it is like to check prices and realize that you simply cannot afford to get away. That is why I wanted to be a part of Year of the Staycation.

Let me encourage you not to be depressed that you cannot take an expensive vacation but to look at your city with fresh eyes. Grab a map and make a circle of everything you can reach within a 90-minute drive. For me, this would be Mobile, Alabama. Come and tour the area with me!

 

Downtown Mobile

Aside from the beauty of oak-lined streets, downtown Mobile is an amazing place to just go and walk. So, park the car for free behind Fort Conde, which you can tour at no cost, and take a stroll. The Museum of Mobile is a gorgeous place to start and the admission cost is extremely reasonable at $5 per adult and $3 per child with a maximum of $20 per family. Children ages 6 and under are free. Visit on the first Sunday of the month and everyone gets in for free.

staycation ideas

Bienville Square and Cooper Riverside Park make perfect spots for a picnic lunch or swing into The Spot of Tea for a reasonably priced meal with southern flavor. Of course, I am particularly fond of Cathedral Square with its beautiful view of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and neighboring art gallery, Space 301, since it is one of the stops Bill and I made on our first date.

staycation ideas in Mobile Alabama

If you have children with you, you might also consider the Gulf Coast Exploreum. While the Exploreum is a fabulous place with numerous hands-on exhibits and Imax Theater, it does cost a bit, but hey! You are saving a ton by sleeping in your own bed. You have to live just a little. And speaking of, you need to swing by Three Georges Candy Shop for a sweet treat or Serda’s Coffee Company for a quick shot of caffeine.

South Mobile County

One of the most beautiful gardens in the United States is nestled under the oaks at Bellingrath Gardens and Home. Full of fragrant blooms throughout the year and featuring a cruise of Fowl River aboard the Southern Belle, these gardens are a pleasure for all ages. Did I mention they were the 2004 Top Public Rose Garden in the United States? Make a note of it just in case you are quizzed later.

A little further to the south is one of Alabama’s most beautiful beaches at Dauphin Island. The public beach boasts a fishing pier stuck over dry land due to the relocation of the Sand/Pelican Island Shoal System aggravated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

If you are on The Island, you should also visit Fort Gaines and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium which highlights the four main habitats of coastal Alabama: the Mobile Tensaw River Delta, Mobile Bay, the Barrier Islands and the Northern Gulf of Mexico.

The Eastern Shore

A staycation would not be complete without a trip across the glittering waters of Mobile Bay to the eastern shore, Baldwin County. With a treasure trove of golf courses like Craft Farms and Rock Creek, the Eastern Shore boasts several destinations for “retail therapy” at The Eastern Shore Centre (where the children love to play in the fountain) and Tanger Outlets. (Just stick to the clearance racks!)

staycation ideas for the family

The Eastern Shore also has a historic side at Fort Morgan. One of our favorite activites is to ride the Mobile Bay Ferry across the mouth of the bay, which arrives just behind the fort. We stand along the side of the ferry, hoping for a glimpse of dolphins.

You can also spot dolphins playing off the coast of Gulf Shores. There are only two beaches in the world where the sand will squeak under your feet and this is one of them. If the sun gets too hot, you can seek refuge at The Track or cool off at Waterville USA. (Note that both of these are “tourist destinations” which can also be called “expensive.” So, look for coupons available in local coupon books.)

how to have a staycation

Other Sites to See

Mobile Carnival Museum ~ Mobile is often overlooked as the birthplace of Mardi Gras but this museum keeps its heritage clearly focused. You can discover how floats are constructed and inspect the intricate robes, crowns and scepters.

USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park ~ I am proud to say that I have visited this glorious ship about a bazillion times and never grow weary of the history it holds. Children get especially excited as they traverse through the bunks and kitchen of the ship. You can also tour a submarine, the USS Drum, and view amazing aircaft in the adjacent pavilion. There is a pier where you might catch a glimpse of an alligator and picnic areas for a relaxing nibble… for you, not the alligators.

Bragg-Mitchell Mansion and/or Oakleigh Historic Complex ~ Be transported back in time with a tour of these beautiful antebellum homes. Both provide a gorgeous backdrop for family portraits, but the Oakleigh Complex has several areas available for tour that reveal daily living in mid-19th century daily living:  society, servant and working class.

Hank Aaron Museum and Stadium ~ Tour the childhood home of Hall of Famer, Hank Aaron, and catch a game from the Mobile Bay Bears. Avoid the costly concessions by sticking a few water bottles in your purse.

Mobile International Speedway ~ If you love car racing, then take a night to visit the Speedway. Check their website for special events throughout the summer.

Blakeley State Park ~ A sanctuary for the outdoorsman, this park boasts nature trails, camping, Civil War battlefield, and eco-tour by boat of the Delta. You can explore the area by walking, cycling, or horseback riding. (Bring your own horse.)

There is truly so much to do in south Alabama that I could write for days and probably miss something wonderful. So, I encourage you to do some investigating of your own and search out things to do. (Maybe you will win some Swagbucks as you search!)

For my fellow Mobilians, share with those from out of town… what is your favorite thing to do around here?

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Comments

  1. From Susan B on our Facebook page ~ Ft. Conde has a discount coupon handout that will give the following discounts to local attractions. Bellingrath – $2.00 off a combo ticket. Dauphin Island Estaurium – $1.00 off. Exploreum – $1.00 off combo ticket. Museum of Mobile – $1.00 off. Mobile Museum of Art – $2.00 off Adult admission. USS Alabama – $2.00 off Adult admission. All of these have a limit of 4 admissions per coupon.

  2. Mirinda says:

    What a great list! I love living in Mobile….not only do we have access to ALL you listed(and it is a lot) but we also are not far from Biloxi, New Orleans and Pensacola! We have young children so we like the Exploreum but yes, it is pricey. We also love going across the bay to hang out at the Bass Pro Shop, which is one of the largest in the nation…and visiting the pier in Fairhope!

  3. We are leaving from NE AR this afternoon to drive down. We’re staying in Saraland and will be driving down to Dauphin Island on Saturday and Sunday. We lived in Mobile back in 2001, so we pretty much know our way around. Suggestions for budget-friendly places to eat/get fresh seafood?

    • LOL… Amy, I have to confess that I do not eat seafood. But, thanks be to God, I have a husband and tons of family-friends who do. So, here is what they recommend:

      Lighthouse Restaurant (251) 824-2500 ,12495 Padgett Switch Rd, Irvington, AL 36544. Amazing fresh seafood at an amazing price!

      Boiling Pot (251) 602-8405 5300 Halls Mill Rd, Mobile, AL 36619. http://www.theboilingpotllc.com (There is one on Airport Blvd too.)

      And Bill says Wintzells. They even have a location in Saraland… http://www.wintzellsoysterhouse.com/

      I will update this if anyone else has a good recommendation. :)

      • Kimberly Camp says:

        If you EVER come back to this area. There is a place call “the Shrimp Basket.” Boiling Pot and Wintzells aint got NOTHING on the shrimp basket! It is the best seafood that I’ve ever had and its CHEAP! wintzells is NOT cheap and I’ve found that they dont really have “fresh” seafood! I was in the hospital for TWO months after eating boiling pot last from seafood poisoning. But the Shrimp Basket has never let me down! There are several locations one is in mobile on old shell road others are all over baldwin county!

      • Jennifer C. says:

        The Lighhouse Resturant is wonderful… or at least if was 20 years ago when I lived in South Mobile!

  4. We pass through Mobile on our way to Orange Beach quite often. I have been to several of these places, but I will definitely have to check out more of these! Check out my post about Birmingham today at http://thehillhangout.com/?p=541. Thanks!

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