College Town Guide to Mobile, Alabama
Situated on Mobile Bay, about two hours east of New Orleans and 45 minutes west of Gulf Shores lies the city of Mobile. Home to two universities and one college, Mobile doesn’t give off the vibe of a college town—it’s smaller than most other college towns, even most cities, the streets aren’t paved in hometown colors, and bookstores filled with shirts and hats and key chains are hardly found outside of campus. However, this city in the Deep South provides it’s patrons and visitors with rich history and a multi-faceted culture.
Eats in Mobile
Regardless of whatever plans you make to visit MOB, you’ll have to eat eventually! Being a foodie myself, I have ravaged the Mobile area for the best grub around. Mobile provides it’s patrons with a wide array of culinary options: traditional BBQ found at Moe’s or Brick Pit, Southern comfort food at Mama’s Kitchen (or any local “Mobilian’s” kitchen), ethnic cuisine establishments providing eclectic dishes ranging from Jamaican jerk oxtail to Vietnamese pho to handmade Italian pasta to Middle Eastern vegan and vegetarian options. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Mobile also has an amazing seafood scene.
Alabama gulf seafood is delicious and fresh—Felix’s dishes out some of the best chowder I’ve eaten, Half Shell Oyster House has raw, broiled, grilled and fried oysters, all to die for, Wintzell’s is a popular seafood chain, and if you don’t know what a mudbug is, you’re missing out. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, visit Cammie’s Old Dutch to try amazing ice cream. With unique flavors like Creole Praline and Rum Raisin, you’ll find the decor and friendly service sweet. I’d visit Mobile just to eat the food, so if that doesn’t say something, maybe my next few words will.
What to Do and Where to Go:
After you’ve had your fill, check out some of the great attractions that make Mobile so unique.
The USS Alabama floats just off the causeway, a majestic sight if you’re coming in from across the bay. Surrounded by old wartime planes, helicopters and other fighting machines, the USS Alabama Park is the military junkie’s haven.
University of Mobile, University of South Alabama and Spring Hill College—you’ll find the opportunity to watch many a college sports, from basketball to football to rugby and more. Mobile also houses a minor league baseball team, the Mobile Bay Bears as well as a local dog track.
Head over to the Crescent Theater on Dauphin Street, one of the main streets of downtown Mobile. Self described as “Alabama’s premiere independent movie theater,” the Crescent premieres 2-3 films per week, including independent films and blockbusters. After that, mosey on down LoDa, Lower Dauphin Street, and check out the local bars and restaurants.
Mobile has two major and essential hubs: downtown Mobile and Airport Boulevard. Most of everything you can find in Mobile will most likely be in those two areas or somewhat near them. Downtown Mobile sports more unique and independent restaurants, shops and the major nightlife scene while during the day it is more relaxed, casual and is familiar with local festivals and events. On the other hand, Airport Boulevard is home to restaurants, bowling alleys, shopping centers, connections to major highways, fitness centers, groceries, pharmacies, you name it–anything essential and necessary, Airport Boulevard has got it.
Mobile and Beyond
Maybe you want to explore outside of the city. That’s cool, no problem. From small-town Southern charm to the rowdy Flora-Bama, Mobile is a hop, skip and jump from quite a few well-known locations. Only about two hours within the major cities of New Orleans and Pensacola, with Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Dauphin Island less than an hour away, and Fairhope just across Mobile Bay, Mobile proves to be in a prime and convenient location.
Laissez le bons temps rouler: Mobile’s party scene
If you want to stay, however, Mobile is a great place to come during major holidays, especially Mardi Gras. Unbeknownst to the majority of the world, Mardi Gras was born in Mobile. Yes, you read that right: Mobile started Mardi Gras (but as some say, New Orleans perfected it). The stigma surrounding Mardi Gras can be a negative one, but Mobile’s is much more family-focused, historical and casual, with fabulous floats and daiquiris come beads and toys, not to mention the famous Moon Pies. Although the slow, Southern lifestyle during the day might deter you from thoughts of having a good time at night, don’t be fooled—Mobile can be a party, and LoDa is where it’s at. O’Daly’s Irish Pub is a three-part bar that serves up daiquiris, Irish car bombs and a great indoor and outdoor scene. Boo Radley’s and Pat’s are popular student watering holes within spitting distance of each other, just down the street from the more upscale T.P. Crockmeyer’s and LoDa Bier Garten, which serves up a burger on a Krispy Kreme donut. Yes, a donut bun. Saddle Up is exactly what you think it is: a country bar, but make sure to go when they’ve got the mechanical bull out.
Whether you’ve got plans that are set in stone or your flight somehow gets displaced and sent to Mobile, this city is full of hidden gems for visitors and residents to unearth.