Along the Gulf Coast of Alabama, Mobile Bay draws tourists for its beautiful beaches in places like Dauphin Island. We explored the area and discovered that beyond the sunshine, seafood, and southern hospitality, there’s a rich history.
Mobile is has a storied past, and we decided to start our exploration downtown at the historic Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel and Spa on North Royal Street. This area provides great value, and the website lists packages that include services in their sumptuous spa, like Ashiatsu, a barefoot deep tissue massage.
The hotel, named for founder John A. M. Battle, is on the site of Andrew Jackson’s military headquarters during the War of 1812. It was from here that Jackson marched to meet the British in New Orleans.
Stephen Douglas stayed here the night he lost the election to Abraham Lincoln. It was also here that President Ulysses S. Grant authorized the establishment of the National Weather Service in 1870.
Destroyed by fire in 1905, the hotel was rebuilt and was the site of a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in honor of President Woodrow Wilson in 1913.
It closed in 1974 and was renovated by the Retirement Systems of Alabama. The Battle House Hotel and Spa was named “One of the Top 500 Hotels of the World” by Travel & Leisure in 2009, and is a member of the Historic Hotels of America. It continues to be a hub of the area’s social scene.
There’s an array of architecture and attractions of historical interest in the area, including Fort Conde and the Museum of Mobile.
The Mobile Carnival Museum reveals mysteries of this festive celebration. The first Mardi Gras was here in Mobile in 1703.
Mobile is also home to one of America’s top military parks, the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Exhibits in this tribute to those who have served or are serving in the United States Armed Forces include World War LL tanks, artillery, the submarine USS Drum, the USS Alabama, and combat aircraft, including those flown by the Tuskegee airmen.
Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is the largest golf course construction project ever attempted. With eleven locations throughout the state, it includes Mobile’s cloverleaf bunkers and contoured greens on Magnolia Grove on the Falls Course. Magnolia Grove was voted into Golf World Magazine’s Reader Choice Top 50 Public Golf Courses, and the Falls and Crossings courses were listed in America’s Top 50 Affordable Courses.
Mobile, like many American cities, is experiencing a renaissance. For the latest in entertainment and technology, there’s the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center and IMAX Theater.
Downtown Mobile has also become a magnet for independent art galleries, and the second Friday of every month there’s LoDa (Lower Dauphin Street) ArtWalk. And if you are there New Year’s Eve, don’t miss the live entertainment and opportunity to see what happens to the giant Moon Pie–right across from the Battle House Hotel and Spa.