Our family moved to Atlanta, Georgia a year and a half ago when I was about three months pregnant with baby #2. After months of pregnancy, followed by months of newborn/toddler wrangling, we are finally getting around to exploring this new region of ours.
When Woods and I had our 7 year anniversary come up, we decided to celebrate with one of our favorite pastimes: Taking a road trip to somewhere new with absolutely no planning and seeing what happens.
Destination selected: Mobile, Alabama
About a 5-6 hour drive for us, making it a perfect weekend roadtrip from Atlanta.
When we settled on visiting Mobile…full disclosure…neither one of us was incredibly excited. We were expecting to (keeping it honest here) find a worse version of New Orleans.
Guys? We. Were. Wrong.
Mobile is a phenomenal little city that completely stole our hearts. For vacationing purposes only. Hurricanes and humidity, ya know? 😉
The people were warm and welcoming everywhere we went. And we were completely blown away by how many independent businesses (restaurants, coffee houses, shops) there were — all of which seemed to be thriving.
A few of our favorite finds in Mobile were:
1. Grits and Gumbo
You can’t really get more Gulf Coasty than having Grits and Gumbo for breakfast. This was from a charming little spot called Cream & Sugar, which is a great place to visit if you want to jump right in and experience some of the best that Mobile has to offer. Other features that won me over at C&S were…
2. Front Porch Sitting
I got there right as they opened and had the whole porch to myself. I was super thankful that we decided to visit in late winter/early spring because the weather was WONDERFUL. Warm enough, and very little humidity. Win.
And of course, the reason I found Cream and Sugar in the first place…
If you’re in a new city and you are overwhelmed at where to start exploring, start with a local coffee shop. You’ll immediately get introduced to the culture (much more so than hitting up a Starbucks), and will get to do so in an extremely low-stress way. This technique is especially helpful when traveling with young kids. Just order your latte to-go, and if things start to head south, you can stand up and walk out. No big deal.
The coffee and Cream and Sugar was good, but our FAVORITE coffee in Mobile was from Carpe Diem Coffee & Tea Company. Smooth coffee, chill vibes, and VERY FAMILY-FRIENDLY.
4. Quirky Charm
The drive around Cream and Sugar is a fun one. It’s located in the heart of what seemed to be a historic Mobile neighborhood. There was such a mix of houses to look at. So many featured fun little decorations for the spring.
A lot of houses still had decorations up from the Mobile Mardi Gras. Apparently Mardi Gras was actually started in Mobile, not New Orleans, and each year they hold a celebration that’s comparable to the one in NOLA, but more family-friendly.
Yep. We will certainly be heading back to experience that next year with the kids!
One of the best things about Mobile is that it’s located on the Mobile Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico. This means proximity to lovely little beaches and water views for days.
We took a drive from Mobile past the USS Alabama (didn’t stop to visit, but could very clearly see it driving by), over the Mobile Bay, and down to the city of Fairhope, Alabama. Let me tell you — this. drive. is. gorgeous. You’re literally going over the Mobile Bay and get so many beautiful views of the water. At parts of the drive, it almost feels like you’re in the water. Even without stopping anywhere, the drive over the Bay is a must if you’re visiting Mobile.
Once we were over the Bay and made our way down to Fairhope, we stopped at the Fairhope Municipal Pier. There was a huge parking lot in front of the pier which made it super easy to pop out with the kids and go exploring. Bonus: there is a beach right next to the pier where our family played for a little bit (pictured above).
Parking in front of the pier is free. There was a booth set up in front of the beach and it looked like maybe they charge for admission to the beach during busy season. On the day we went, we were able to just walk in, as no one was in the booth.
Such a great spot to take some pictures and run around.
Other little things we loved about Mobile:
Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean everything needs to be over-the-top and touristy. We found a local playground to take the girls to, and it ended up being one of our favorite things. We loved spending an early evening at the tree-covered, fenced in Lavretta Park, and so did our girls.
Last but in no way least…
Woods and I dream about one day taking a road trip through the South that includes nothing but beer and barbeque. Until that glorious day arrives, we make sure to try new barbeque spots whenever and wherever we can. The Brick Pit is darn good and did not disappoint. And some of the best potato salad we’ve ever had.
When you’re traveling with kids, don’t feel like you need to go into restaurants for a sit-down meal to experience new eats. So many places have takeout—take full advantage of this! Our girls were exhausted after the park time, so we ordered some takeout and brought it back to our hotel room to enjoy. Got the experience. Reduced the parental stress level.
All in all, Mobile, Alabama proved to be a wonderful, family-friendly little town that we will definitely be visiting again!