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Senior Spectrum Newspaper
July 2018
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Senior Spectrum Publications

Simply Smart Travel
by Jeff Orenstein
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Mobile, Alabama - A Booming Center Commerce With Great Southern Hospitality

Jeff Orenstein
The gorgeous lobby of the historic Battle House Hotel in downtown Mobile is one of the city’s most treasured historic spots

Mobile, Alabama is a friendly and fascinating place that is well worth a visit. It is blessed with a rich history and good weather year around. It also boasts a lively restaurant scene, some memorable hotels and many local and nearby attractions. Put this together with a flourishing economy, cultural diversity and a contemporary environment of ethnic and racial cooperation and you have all the attributes to make Mobile a magnet for a simply smart vacation.

Located adjacent to the delta of a large river system that flows into beautiful Mobile Bay, this buzzing city has a well deserved reputation as the cultural center of the northern Gulf Coast. Perhaps because of its long history of having been under four different flags and location on the sheltered bay that served as a haven for commerce and people of varied backgrounds, it is a crossroads and a melting pot with surprising sophistication and a unique local character.

It is rapidly emerging as a city of great hospitality with a wide spectrum of lodging, great food (oh those oysters!) and enough attractions to keep visitors happy and well fed for days and days. Along with modern architecture, there is a spirit of historical preservation that includes lovingly maintained historic homes and buildings, an African American Heritage Trail and a rich tradition of Mardi Gras.

The fascinating Mobile Carnival Museum
The fascinating Mobile Carnival Museum has artifacts, gowns and costumes that pay tribute to the town’s rich Mardi Gras history. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

Yes, it was Mobile, not New Orleans, that was home to the original Mardi Gras and the town celebrates its history with a museum and an active Mardi Gras culture. It begins with events in November, then mystic society balls on Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve and culminates in parades and balls in January and February, celebrating through Fat Tuesday, ending at midnight before Ash Wednesday, when the revelry is put on hold and planning begins in earnest for the next year.

The cannon at Fort Gaines
The cannon at Fort Gaines overlooks the sea where Admiral Farragut issues his command of “Damn The Torpedoes-Full Speed Ahead” during the battle of Mobile. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

Complementing the region’s cultural depth, Mobile has a vibrant economy, with the latest generation of U.S. Navy ships being built by Austel on the downtown waterfront and a new assembly line for Airbus commercial jets at Mobile’s airport.

Lastly, the delta, the bay and the region’s many bayous and islands offer substantial opportunities for outdoor recreation and exploration.

Before You Go, Check out:

Imposing new high-rise buildings and historic structures are tastefully integrated in Mobile.
Imposing new high-rise buildings and historic structures are tastefully integrated in Mobile. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

Getting There:

Mobile can be easily reached by highway, air, cruise ship or train.

Must Sees/Dos for A Short Trip:

The beautiful azaleas at Bellingrath Gardens beckon visitors in the spring. Something is in bloom year-round.
The beautiful azaleas at Bellingrath Gardens beckon visitors in the spring. Something is in bloom year-round.

If You Have Several Extra Days, enjoy:

Ginny O’s Tips For Dressing:

Dress comfortably for the season. Resort casual is appropriate for all but the most upscale restaurants. Polo shirts, sundresses are usually fine. Forget the tee shirts and jeans unless you are doing outdoorsy things.

This Destination At A Glance Over 50 Advantage:

A great town for a leisurely stroll, boat or bus tour. Memorable museums and good restaurants beckon seniors.

Mobility Level:

Low. Mobile is on fairly level ground and no special access issues exist.

When To Go:

Anytime. Summers are hot, rainy.

Jeffrey Orenstein, Ph.D. and Virginia Orenstein are travel writers from Sarasota, Florida. Their Simply Smart Travel column appears in newspapers and magazines in eight states. Reach them at jorenstein@SimplySmartTravel.com