Founded as the capital of French Louisiana in 1702 with a beautiful waterfront location, Mobile, AL boasts a rich history and is home to the country's oldest Mardi Gras celebration. The city features some impressive distractions such as over 60 miles of spectacular Gulf of Mexico coastline just a short drive from the town, and the charming town of Fairhope. Mobile also offers an excellent selection of restaurants at which to enjoy romantic wining and dining in style. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
8.The Noble South
10.Half Shell Oyster House
11.The Royal Scam
15 Best Restaurants in Mobile, Alabama
- Dauphin's, Photo: Dauphin's
- Dumbwaiter, Photo: Dumbwaiter
- Five Bar, Photo: Five Bar
- Noja, Photo: Noja
- Osman's Restaurant, Photo: Osman's Restaurant
- Pour Baby, Photo: Africa Studio/stock.adobe.com
- Southern National, Photo: Southern National
- The Noble South, Photo: The Noble South
- Via Emilia, Photo: Via Emilia
- Half Shell Oyster House, Photo: Half Shell Oyster House
- The Royal Scam, Photo: The Royal Scam
- Trellis Room, Photo: Trellis Room
- Roma Cafe, Photo: Roma Café
- Briquettes Steakhouse, Photo: Briquettes Steakhouse
- Cover Photo: CL-Medien/stock.adobe.com
Attraction Spotlight: Mobile Symphony Orchestra
The Mobile Symphony Orchestra, currently under the direction of Scott Speck, has been a fixture of Mobile, AL since 1997. The mission of the orchestra is to enhance lives through music education and live performance. The orchestra offers ever-changing concert programming one weekend per month. Performances take place Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons.
Classic performances include the works of Beethoven, Gershwin, Vivaldi, Haydn, Mahler, Mozart and others. Each December, the orchestra offers Mobile’s Magical Christmas, which includes performances by Mobile’s Singing Children. The Mobile Symphony Youth Orchestra offers public performances free of charge at several venues throughout town. The Symphony also performs for the Mobile Opera, which offers public performances monthly in October, February and March.
Scott Speck is the relatively young orchestra’s first musical director. Under his guidance, the orchestra has grown to become the premier classical music experience on the Gulf Coast. Outside of Mobile, Speck has toured with the orchestras of Paris, London, San Francisco and Beijing and has participated in gala performances with world-class conductors Itzhak Perlman, Midori, and Yo-Yo Ma among others.
The historic Saenger Theatre has been the symphony’s home since it’s inception in 1997. The theater, built in 1927, is modeled after the great European opera houses, with décor inspired by Greek mythology and the oceanic theme of the Gulf Coast. The theater has changed management many times since its founding, and in the interim, over $6 million in renovations have been completed. Today, the Saenger Theatre is operated by SMG World, a global venue management company. In 2014, the Symphony Orchestra donated a new acoustical shell to the theater, exponentially improving the quality of sound and the detail of sound that is able to reach even the furthest seat.
History: Mobile has a long history of Symphony Orchestras, which have thrived then faltered over the years. The first Mobile Symphony Orchestra was formed in 1908, lived a brief life, then disassembled. Attempts at a Mobile Orchestra began again in 1924. The orchestra did not survive through the Great Depression and World War II, yet formed again in 1966. In 1970, Symphony Concerts of Mobile was established in lieu of a home-based orchestra to bring first class orchestras from across the United States to Alabama for performances. By 1996, the Board of Directors decided that to truly serve the citizens of Mobile, the city needed an orchestra with a home base in Mobile that would employ local professional musicians. Thus, in 1997, the organization changed its name to the Mobile Symphony Orchestra, and a new era began, with Jerome Shannon as the orchestra’s interim conductor. Between 1998 and 2000, the orchestra expanded its educational programming for youth, and became the home of the Mobile Opera as well. In 2000, Scott Speck was hired as the organization’s first director and has ushered in a new era for the Mobile Symphony Orchestra enhanced by the construction of a new acoustical shell over the symphony’s performance space, along with the purchase of a rehearsal building on Dauphin Street. The building additional hosts youth programming and administrative offices.
Ongoing Programs and Education: The Symphony has spearheaded efforts to bring music education to Mobile’s youth. Symphony members teach music classes to students in pre-K through 8th grade at local schools, once weekly, for a period of 25 weeks. The Mobile Symphony Youth Orchestra allows students across the Gulf Coast who have achieved proficiency with their instruments to practice, study and perform with an orchestra. The symphony introduces youth to music in a variety of ways, by offering free weekday performances to youth groups, by inviting youth to attend Sunday matinees for free, and with the Instrument Petting Zoo and the Instrument Exchange. The ‘Petting Zoo’ brings a variety of instruments to public schools and lets children touch, play with and hear the sound of each instrument. The Exchange offers community members who have unused instruments at home to donate the instruments to children who otherwise would not be able to afford musical education. Adult education includes the Bay Area Strings Community Orchestra. No audition is required to join, only a basic knowledge of one’s instrument is required, and rehearsals are held weekly. A program called Take Note! is a public talk that offers classical concert attendees more background and history prior to each of the orchestra’s public performances.
257 Dauphin St. Mobile, AL 36602, Phone: 251-432-2010
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Attraction Spotlight: Alabama Contemporary Art Center
Inspiring as well as socially engaging, the Alabama Contemporary Art Center (located in Mobile, Alabama) is a great place to visit for people of all ages. The center helps visitors see art in a new light, while also learning more about the history of the area. After a successful, multi-million-dollar campaign to help raise the funds to renovate the building that now houses the arts center, it was opened to the public in 2003.
In 2015, it was renamed and paired with the current ACAC, which has been in operation since 1999 and has provided over 80,000 people with art classes, camps, and other arts based education and conversation.
Although the art center features a variety of rotating exhibits, many of them are featured for lengthy periods of time to make sure to allow plenty of opportunities for visitors to see their specifically procured collections.
Back to Havana - The current nine-month exhibit being featured at the art center is the Back to Havana exhibition. Focusing on the similarities between Havana, Cuba and Mobile, Alabama as the first Cuban American sister cities pair, this exhibit goes into detail about the economic, cultural, educational, and civic issues that these cities have in common. Part exhibit, part community initiative, Back to Havana takes a look at Cuban culture with a focus on Home and Family, Play and Recreation, Communications and Technology, Travel and Transportation, and Dreams. This exhibit also features multimedia works from fifteen of the most exciting contemporary Cuban artists: Alejandro Alfonso, William Perez, Sandra Ramos, and Kris Perez (among others). The exhibit continues the art center’s mission statement of connecting interests, ideas, and other global significant issues to the region. Along with this exhibit comes frequent cultural events hosted at the center with Cuban food, music, and activities!
State of the Art - After Back to Havana leaves in 2018, State of the Art is set to replace it on exhibition. This exhibit celebrates Alabama’s bicentennial with the theme “Honor Our People” with a focus on art of the contemporary variety. All artists featured are residents of, or a native of, Alabama.
Public Conversations - The art center also offers what they call public conversations, specifically tied to current exhibitions on display. These moderated talks are meant to further the conversation around the mission of each exhibition, allowing for multiple viewpoints and lively (but civil) discussion. Alabama Contemporary frequently partners with local cultural and social groups for these discussions.
Classes and Workshops - The center also offers a wide range of workshops and classes for all ages and skill levels. These mostly art classes are led by artists and other professionals and focus on the current exhibition. Recent classes and workshops have featured things like printmaking, art symbolism, creative writing, and found object art creation.
The arts center hosts many special events throughout the year, as well as being available for rental for guest’s own special events.
For rental inquiries, there is a form available on the center’s website that guests should fill out when looking into renting the center. This will allow the staff the ability to contact them and provide them specific information about availability, cost, and any restrictions to renting. There are few gallery options and staff will go over all available options after the form is filled out.
The website also hosts an up to date calendar of all events offered at the center. There are frequent events for both adults and children, like story time and yoga lessons. There are even classes that are geared toward senior learners of all skill levels. Members usually will not have to pay the additional fee. See the website for details, including cost, time and specifics including age restrictions.
The Alabama Contemporary center offers field trips to student groups. Contact the center for information about reservations, as they are recommended in advance to verify that the center is able to handle the group size. Designed to spark a fire of imagination and creativity in students of all ages, from kindergarten through senior year of high school, a field trip to the art center is educational while also engaging and inspiring to students. Every tour makes sure to focus on Discipline-Based Arts Ed’s four standards: art history/culture, arts production, criticism/aesthetics, and core curriculum. The field trips hit many of the main school subjects, including science, English, math, and social studies/sciences and is a great resource to allow for outside of classroom learning while still hitting all applicable school standards. It also provides students with fresh perspectives on what arts can mean to them personally, as well as to the community.
Alabama Contemporary Art Center, 301 Conti Street, Mobile, AL, 36602, Phone: 251-208-5671
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Attraction Spotlight: Oakleigh House
The historic and beautiful Oakleigh House, located in Mobile, Alabama, is one of the top rated and visited destinations in the entire state. Guest can view the fine art collection while accompanying one of the Belles on a guided tour of the grounds. The house was built in 1833 by James Roper, a cotton broker from Virginia.
It was one of the first residences to be built outside of city limits and the Greek Revival architectural style is renowned for being just as unique as it is beautiful.
The attraction of the Oakleigh home is the actual house itself. Offering tours of the home on the hour, from 10am to 4pm Mondays and Tuesdays as well as Thursdays through Saturdays (the house is closed on Wednesdays and Sundays), guests can see this beautiful and historic home and browse the collections inside. The home is still one of the top destinations in the area, due to the grandiose architecture as well as the fine arts found inside. Group tours must be reserved more than 7 days in advance, so guests should keep that in mind when planning their visit to the house. There is a form on the website to fill out and a small fee per tour is required.
Oakleigh Belles - The Preservation Society of Mobile is home to the Oakleigh Belles, young women who volunteer their time to act as tour guides for the house. This program is open to young women who maintain a B average in high school, communicate well, and are interested in historic preservation. They must fill out an application on the website and attend monthly meetings. The Belles make any tour of the house a fun, educational, and interactive experience!
Art collections - The Oakleigh home plays host to museum collection of more than 1000 different artifacts that represent the way life was in Mobile between 1830 and 1900. Visitors should make sure to pay special attention to the Conning silver (made by Mobile native and well-known silversmith James Conning) collection, the Haviland Limoge set of fine china, and the large art collection by artists like Thomas Sully, William West, Louise Heustis, and Roderick McKenzie.
Union Barracks - Also known as the Cook’s House in a previous iteration, admission to the Oakleigh House also includes a tour of the barracks. Built in 1867, the barracks was built to house Union soldiers that were stationed there during Mobile’s Reconstruction period. In fact, the barracks are one of the few surviving buildings from period that are still in existence in the South. Tour the building and learn not only about the Reconstruction period but also Emancipation in Alabama. Admission to the barracks does not include a guided tour. All tours are self-guided.
Throughout the year the Oakleigh puts on a variety of special events at the house. One of the most popular is Christmas at the Oakleigh house. Complete with seasonal decorations, the Christmas event displays the silver collection, allows guests to visit with Santa Claus while listening to Christmas music, and is a perfect opportunity for guests to purchase unique gifts from the onsite gift shop. Tickets must be purchased in advance and that can be done on the website.
There is also a monthly book club meeting for visitors who live in the local area. Hosting a lively discussion of a different book every month, the Oakleigh is the perfect setting to relax and enjoy a great book while hanging out with friends. Check the website for information about what book is being read that month, as well as the time and date for the monthly book club meeting.
There is a specialized program for field trips at the Oakleigh, focusing on the history of Alabama (with a special emphasis on Mobile, Alabama) as well as the Civil War and the impact it had on the area (both during and after with the Reconstruction and Emancipation eras). The tours are recommended for groups of students no younger than middle school age, and school affiliation is not mandatory (home school students are also both welcomed and encouraged to visit).
Reserving a tour must be done by groups of at least 15 students, but may include no more than 40 students at a time. Contact the museum, either by filling out the form on the website or by calling them directly, for more information about cost (there is a discount rate available for field trips) and to book a tour. Payment can be made ahead of time or at the time of the tour.
Historic Oakleigh House, 300 Oakleigh Place, Mobile, AL, 36604, Phone: 251-432-1281
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