Sitting about halfway up the West Coast of a bay that empties into the Gulf of Mexico, Mobile is Alabama’s third-largest city and only seaport. It also proves an interesting place to spend a weekend. Metro packs its bags and heads down to see what the Deep South has to offer.
If your knowledge of the South is limited to Harper Lee and Lynyrd Skynyrd, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised by Mobile. Grand old plantation houses line its oldest streets, while modern attractions include a well-appointed art gallery, a museum exploring the local Mardi Gras tradition and a botanical garden.
Seafood, basically. Lots of it. The poor Gulf Coast’s image has taken a battering of late — first Hurricane Katrina, then Deepwater Horizon. While some oyster beds remain closed in the aftermath of the latter, the area’s slowly regaining its reputation as a seafood mecca, and locals are anxious to demonstrate that regional food is as safe and delicious as ever.
Sweet tea is the specialty, but Alabama’s generous licensing laws also mean that you can get on the booze pretty much 24/7. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on your point of view. If it’s the former, there are plentiful bars along Dauphin Street — Mobile’s very own mini-Bourbon Street — to try out.
If the decidedly weird phenomenon called a “jubilee” happens while you’re in town, you’re in for a photo opportunity. It involves a cornucopia of fish, shrimp and other deepwater denizens spontaneously beaching themselves on the shores. Locals, unsurprisingly, eat particularly well on these nights.