This is Alabama

If Mobile isn’t on your must-visit list this year, it should be. Conde Nast Traveler named the South Alabama city as one of the best places in North America to visit in 2024.

The national publication didn’t cite Mobile’s vibrant, thriving downtown, excellent culinary scene or beautiful architecture as the primary reason to visit, although those are certainly reasons to make the Port City your next getaway. Instead, Conde Nast Traveler cited the city’s yearlong celebration of its Black heritage.

Here are five places you should visit during your Mobile getaway.

Many national publications have praised Mobile’s Africatown Heritage House. (Visit Mobile)

Africatown Heritage House
2465 Wimbush St., Mobile

Africatown Heritage House opened last summer to lots of fanfare and publicity. The museum is first-of-its-kind – it’s devoted to the Clotilda, the last known slave ship. The Clotilda sailed into Mobile Bay nearly 164 years ago.

Clotilda: The Exhibition tells the stories of the people on the vessel. It talks about their time as enslaved people, but it also tells about the community, Africatown, they made after the end of the Civil War. The exhibit focuses on the individuals and their stories, from Africa to Africatown, and their perseverance and triumphs. You really get a feel for the survivors of the vessel and the lives they led.

In 2019, the shipwrecked Clotilda was discovered in Mobile River, and you can see some of the objects they found at the exhibit. Recovered remains like bolts discovered near the wreckage are on display. Visitors listen to audio excerpts from Cudjoe Kazoola Lewis, born Oluale Kossola, the third to last adult survivor of the Clotilda and founder of Africatown. His 1920s accounts of life in Africatown have been essential in telling the history of Clotilda survivals.

Africatown Heritage House hasn’t been open for a full year yet but it’s already gotten nationwide attention. It was even named one of the top 10 best new museums nationwide.

Make sure to make time for the Dora Franklin Finley African-American Heritage Trail. (Courtesy of Visit Mobile)

Dora Franklin Finley African-American Heritage Trail
111 S. Royal St., 2nd floor, Mobile

Another must for history buffs is the Dora Franklin Finley African-American Heritage Trail. The trail explores some of the city’s forgotten African-American history. You’ll learn about 40 landmarks including the Stone Street Baptist Church, the state’s oldest African-American Baptist church, and historical figures like Wallace Turnage, whose narrative was published in A Slave No More. Mobile has a rich baseball history because of legends like Hank Aaron and Satchel Paige, and you’ll learn more about them on this trail as well.

There are several different tour options for the trail. Walking tours, step-on tours and motor tours are all available.

Mobile Carnival Museum
355 Government St., Mobile

By now we’re all aware that Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras. The Azalea City has a rich 300+ year Carnival history, and the museum offers a celebration of its evolving nature. The museum is home to 14 gallery rooms, a theater, gift shop and more.

In 1938, what is now known as the Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association (MAMGA, for short) was formed as a positive outlet for Black youth in the city. One of Mobile Carnival Museum’s most popular exhibits is one devoted to MAMGA. It shows off the long, beautiful trains and textiles of MAMGA king and queens. (They are absolutely gorgeous, you have to see it in person to really see the work that was put into the ensembles.) There’s also information about the Black history of Carnival.

Creole Firehouse Museum
13 N. Dearborn St., Mobile

The state’s first firehouse,Creole Fire Station #1, was founded in 1819 in Mobile, by the area’s Creole community. It not only had a reputation of being a great firehouse – they were often first on the scene – but it was also a community gathering spot for Creole Mobilians. Hundreds of weddings were held there, and it was the home of the Excelsior Band, who are believed to be the country’s first marching jazz band. (John Alexander Pope, fire chief of the station, founded the band in 1883.)

The fire station was in operation until the 1920s and is now a private residence. (It still maintains many of the station’s furnishings.

Historical Avenue Cultural Center
654 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Mobile

In late 2023, the Historical Avenue Cultural Center opened its doors. In the past, it was a segregation era library branch known as the Davis Avenue Branch, far smaller than the white-only main branch of the library. It later served as the National African American Archives and Museum. No matter its iteration, it was the cultural hub of the area, and after renovations, it’s again the heart of a community.

There is space in the building for meeting rooms and exhibits. Right now, you can visit its REMEMBERING THE AVENUE exhibit, focusing on the history of the Black business district throughout the decades.

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