First of all: the correct pronunciation of the city name is 'mo-beel', given the soft emphasis on the second syllable by its French founders. Now we're ready to talk about the city, which has so much to offer that it shouldn't be missed when traveling to Alabama.
Mobile has a couple of nicknames, one is "All America City", an award that recognizes a city for downtown revitalization, housing rehabilitation, and successful efforts in the areas of crime-fighting, beautification, and education.
Mobile is also called the Azalea City, due to the fact that one finds here about 50 varieties of this flower which was once brought to the city by Fifise Langlois from his father's garden in Toulouse, France in 1754.
Mobile is home to many attractions, museums, and other venues for visitors to enjoy. Whether you want to explore the past of the city with a visit to the Museum of Mobile, which is located in a historic building that was once an open-air market and city hall and exhibits now over 100,000 artifacts or you want to enjoy modern-day attractions and southern lifestyle, Mobile has something to offer for everybody. The U.S.S. Alabama Battleship Memorial Park is your onramp to adventure. Visitors can climb aboard the Battleship that won nine World War II Battle Stars, delve into the depths in the Submarine U.S.S. Drum and fly with 21 combat planes in the aircraft pavilion.
Mobile’s other anchor attraction, Bellingrath Gardens & Home, is about 20 minutes southwest of the city. It encompasses 65 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens around the historic home of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath. The Gardens are in "bright bloom" during the holiday season when Magic Christmas in Lights illuminates the grounds with millions of lights.
The neon lights of Dauphin Street, within walking distance of downtown hotels, mark the "Little Bourbon Street" of Mobile with restaurants and nightclubs offering something for everyone. The rest of downtown Mobile is a maze of interesting shops and palate-pleasing restaurants, with most storefronts restored to illustrate the city’s historic architecture.
The southern hospitality can be experienced also during the carnival season:
Mobile is home to the original Mardi Gras in this country, instituted in 1704, sixty-two years before New Orleans adopted the celebration.
Another place for history lovers: Mobile’s role in the history can still be seen during a visit to Fort Morgan at Gulf Shores and Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island. The 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay was a turning point in the Civil War when Union troops attacked both forts to take control of the last active Confederate Port on the Gulf of Mexico. Determined to take the Port of Mobile, after losing the ironclad Tecumseh to torpedoes Confederate defenders had planted, Admiral David Farragut cried, "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" and overtook the Port for the Union.
Five historic house museums take you back to days gone by and oak-lined streets wrapped in Spanish moss guide you through a renovated downtown. During December, the historic homes offer candlelight tours and "open houses" that invite visitors to enjoy the holiday decor while sipping on Christmas punch and listening to a holiday ensemble. Even Old Saint Nick usually slides down the chimney of each home sometime during the holidays.