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Situated in that small section of Alabama that steals the Gulf shoreline away from Florida, Mobile is a treasure that often remains under-the-radar as travelers plan parties in New Orleans and vacations in Florida. But this picturesque, Port City offers visitors a quaint escape full of history, seafood, and Spanish moss – oh, and a family-friendly, annual Mardi Gras Carnival with a saga that started long before New Orleans.

From Azaleas to Antebellum homes, here are eight reasons to make Mobile your next adventure:

1. Experience the impact of Fort Conde in battles throughout American history.

The Port City has seen many flags flying over its bay during its culturally rich history, and Fort Conde is a reconstructed nod not only to French influence but many battles since. The recreated, red-brick French fort protected the city for a century. In this hands-on-history tour, you’ll learn about the significance this site played during the American Revolution, Civil War, and more.

2. See the natural beauty, military history, and working waters of Mobile Bay.

Straddling the line of fishing rivers to the north and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, Mobile Bay offers great sites and spots for strollers, sitters, historians, and fishers alike. Anchor down on a park bench and watch pelicans and large freighters float past, or grab a line or cast a net and hope for a catch. You can also take a step back in time at the bay’s Memorial Park, with Battleship USS ALABAMA, Submarine USS DRUM, and more than 25 aircrafts full of military pride and history.

3. Taste the day’s catch along the Caseway.

Cruise the scenic Causeway that cuts through Mobile Bay for some of the freshest seafood in the region. You’ll find everything from laidback patios offering al fresco fresh fish to upscale dining on this scenic stretch.

4. Stop by Callaghan’s Irish Social Club for a dive bar burger like no other.

Disguised as a humble pub, Callaghan’s Irish Social Club offers a rare mix of comfort and dive bar classics that will immediately lure you through the door. If the easygoing air of the place isn’t enough, its legendary L.A. (Lower Alabama) Burger should be reason enough on its own for Mobile travelers to stop by.

5. Celebrate Mardi Gras where it originated – in the streets of Mobile.

When you think of Mardi Gras, you likely picture New Orleans streets packed with parades and parties. But Moblie locals claim that stateside Mardi Gras celebrations originated in their neck of the woods. Tracing the traditions back centuries, Mobilians’ celebration of the Mardi Gras season provides everything from parades and masked balls to mystic societies and kings and queens, all in a bit less rowdy of an atmosphere than it’s French Quarter equivalent.

6. Go behind the masks of Mardi Gras.

Not able to make it into Mobile for the Mardi Gras season? Have no fear. You can experience the history and highlights of the birthplace of Mardi Gras at the Mobile Carnival Museum. Here you can go behind the masks to discover the art of float and costume design, play dress up with the kids, and even climb aboard a rocking float.

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7. Take a trip to Bayou La Batre.

Forrest Gump fans, rejoice! In Mobile, you’re just a few miles from the hometown of “Bubba” Blue, which in real life, is a small town with big views. Colorful shrimping boats bob among drawbridges and scenic views for a picturesque trip outside the city.

8. Experience Mobile’s majestic historic districts

From iron cast balconies to historic homes that showcase the intermixing of cultures over centuries of time, it’s easy to understand why there are seven nationally recognized historic spaces in Mobile. The area boasts neighborhoods ripe for the architectural enthusiast and the everyday stroller alike. Be sure to visit the recently revitalized De Toni Square Historic District, where the allure of architecture, walkable theaters, like the Saenger and Crescent theaters, and shops are a can’t miss. Many of the district’s original sidewalks and gas lanterns still remain. The Oakleigh Garden District is a must-stop as well, with 60 blocks of cottages, mansions, and live oak canopies waiting to be explored.