Mobile, Ala. By Tom Stanley

Our visit to Mobile comes immediately prior to a three-day stint in fun-loving New Orleans, a transition that's just crazy enough to work. I've heard Mobile flatly described as a scaled-down version of New Orleans, in terms of architecture, cuisine, and of course, Mardi Gras. In fact, Mardi Gras saw its start in this quieter neighbor of the Crescent City, only to be usurped over the years by hordes of New Orleans-bound partygoers.

It's probably for the better that we're having a lower-key day on the eve of our sojourn into party city, USA. But this is not to detract from my expectations for this coastal Alabama locale. Mobile is another one of our scenic indulgences, with beautiful beaches and plenty of lively summertime activity. A colony of France centuries ago, and a colorful blend of southern, cajun and creole influences, this city promises us a deep dive into a cultural feast of sight, sound and flavor.
Mobile lets us enjoy the Gulf Coast on a more serene basis, without so much noise around us to distract from our enjoyment of the area itself. We've got some grand ideas for our visit, thanks in large part to the wonderful people at the Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau. Here's a look at our potential itinerary.

-Bellingrath Gardens and Home (at left)

-The Museum of Mobile

-Mobile Carnival Museum

-Five Rivers Delta Safari

-Callaghan's Irish Social Club

-Mobile Museum of Art (at right)

-Battleship USS Alabama

-Oakleigh House

-Nightlife on Dauphin Street

(From top) Photo © Tad Denson -; photo courtesy Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau; photo courtesy Bellingrath Gardens & Home; photo courtesy Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau