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In April, Visit Mobile launched a new campaign designed to encourage beach goers to stop in Mobile either on their way to the beach or back from it. With that spirit, along with an Anthony Bourdain show called “The Layover” and the New York Times “36 Hours” series, The Business View editors thought it would be fun to ask Chamber staff, members and social media followers how they would plan a mini #SoMobile vacation of 36 hours here.
Below is what we came up with. Have some better ideas? Send them to email@example.com. We’ll blog on this topic about a week after the magazine hits the streets, and we’ll try to add other ideas to the post. Because beach rental check-in usually happens on Saturday afternoons in the summer, below is a 36-hour journey that begins around 8 p.m. on Thursday and runs through 8 a.m. on Saturday.
Thursday – 8 p.m.
After checking in to your hotel in downtown Mobile, it’s time to do what we love best – EAT! Dinner tonight is at NoJa (www.nojamobile.com) on Jackson Street. Highly recommended by Chamber Facebook fans, they raved about owner Chakli Diggs and some of the restaurant’s signature dishes – Ethiopian Spiced Chicken, Smoked & Sous-Vide White Duck and Pickled Beet Salad. Reservations in advance are highly recommended, as Thursdays are always popular. Call 251-433-0377 to reserve your spot. If the weather’s nice, courtyard dining is a must.
Thursday – 9:30 p.m.
After a full meal and knowing you have a busy day tomorrow, it might be relaxing to finish up the evening with a nightcap at the Royal Street Tavern located in the first floor of the Battle House Hotel. Typically there’s live piano music and the chairs are comfortable. Locals enjoy hanging out here too. If you’re up for live music, there’s plenty of options as well. Lagniappe (lagniappemobile.com/category/music/listings/) offers the most up-to-date listings of music of all genres on both sites of Mobile Bay.
Friday – 7 a.m.
Head out of your downtown hotel for a walk/run. Leave downtown Mobile heading west into the Oakleigh Historic District. About half way through it, stop for a cup of coffee, a Conecuh sausage biscuit and fresh fruit at Cream and Sugar café (www.creamandsugarmobile.com). There you’ll have a chance to talk with locals, and read up on all to do in Mobile as the restaurant is always stocked with the latest issue of Mobile Bay magazine (www.mobilebaymag.com) and other local publications. You may choose to walk back.
Friday – 9 a.m.
After a shower, it’s time to head out for a fun-filled day in Mobile. And a must-see first stop will be GulfQuest (www.gulfquest.org), located in downtown Mobile on the waterfront. Opened in 2015, this massive museum dedicated to Mobile’s rich waterfront history features more than 90 hands-on activities, theater displays and simulators. It’s also hosting its first national touring exhibit through 2016 called “Treasures of NOAA’s Ark.” The museum is open Tuesdays-Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Costs range from $14-18 per person. A bit of warning – it’s easy to spend the whole day here, but since you’ve only got 36 hours in Mobile, try and cram most of the fun through morning, and head out just before lunchtime.
Leaving the museum, it’s time to get even closer to the water for fresh seafood – lunch at BLUEGILL Restaurant (www.bluegillrestaurant.com) on the Causeway. Known for “Famous Flaming Oysters,” they also serve crawfish on Fridays and Saturdays. A lesser-known Chamber staff favorite is the French Dip Roast Beef Debris sandwich. Trust us, it’s delicious.
Friday – 1:30 p.m.
About a mile west of BLUEGILL is 5 Rivers – Alabama’s Delta Resource Center (http://www.outdooralabama.com/5-rivers-alabamas-delta-resource-center). Where the Mobile, Spanish, Tensaw, Apalachee and Blakeley rivers flow into Mobile Bay stands an incredible facility for outdoor recreation, conservation and land stewardship in Alabama: 5 Rivers. It’s the ultimate place to begin your adventure onto 250,000-plus acres of scenic waterways, woods and wetlands. Or, simply soak up the natural beauty and history of the region with plenty to do and see at the facility itself. But today you’ve got two choices – both are on the water.
If you’re a kayaker, experience the swamps of the lower Mobile-Tensaw Delta on a wildlife kayak tour. Float in the open marsh watching for a variety of wildlife including alligators, bald eagles, ospreys and more. A guide provides commentary on the history, geology, ecology and characters of the delta, as well as the Alabama state lands mission in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and the ‘Forever Wild’ program. This is the “hands-on” tour for all avid lovers of nature and its creatures. Cost is $49 for adults and $34 under 21.
If kayaking is not your thing, then experience the delta kicked back and relaxing on a two-hour tour on 5 Rivers Delta Safaris (www.5rds.com) pontoon boat, “The Osprey.” The daily ecotour is $20 for adults and $15 for children 6-15. Children 5 and younger are free. Make reservations for either kayaking or the pontoon boat by calling 251-259-8531.
Friday – 5 p.m.
After a quick trip back to the hotel for a shower and change of clothes, it’s time to hit Happy Hour atop one of Mobile’s newly renovated skyscrapers – the RSA Trustmark Building. Dauphin’s restaurant (www.godauphins.com) sits on the 34th floor. The libations are half-off from 4 to 6 p.m. including all cocktails, beer and wine (bottles under $100 also included). Plus, you can enjoy an appetizer of Oysters Bienville (pictured above) or freshly-shucked oysters.
Friday – 6:30 p.m.
Grab an Über from Dauphin’s and head out west a bit to Hank Aaron Stadium to take in a Mobile BayBears (www.mobilebaybears.com) baseball game. The team is at home on the following Fridays in July – July 8 and July 22 at 7:05 p.m.). Tickets can be bought at the box office and range from $7-15. Friday night means a fantastic fireworks display following the game. Make sure to grab a hot dog, Cracker Jacks with a couple ice cold beers. You’ll need food before heading back downtown to take in some live music before turning in.
Friday – 9 p.m.
If you’re not exhausted after a jampacked day, there’s a bustling late-night bar scene in Mobile. A great venue for live music on the weekend is Moe’s BBQ in the upper Dauphin entertainment district.
Saturday – 7 a.m.
Wipe the cobwebs out of your eyes, and start the day off with a walk to Cathedral Square for Market on the Square (www.facebook.com/MarketsInMobile/). This farmer’s market is a must-do for locals living in downtown and midtown on Saturday mornings. Be sure to pick up fresh veggies, flowers, and baked breads and treats to either take to the beach or home. The market opens at 7:30 a.m. every Saturday through July 30.
Saturday – 8 a.m.
Before checking out of your hotel, walking back from Market on the Square be sure to stop at Panini Pete’s (www.paninipetes.com) on Dauphin Street for beignets and fresh coffee. Here’s a little known trick: make sure to squeeze a lot of lemon juice on the beignets (trust us). Sit back and relax a little to reflect on all the fun you’ve had in Mobile over the last 36 hours. Are you sure you want to leave?