A city whose elegant architecture and courtly downtown reveals its Spanish, Creole, African-American, and French heritage, Mobile is Alabama's third-largest city and one of the most charming communities in the Gulf South. You'll find a number of worthwhile attractions here, including the stellar Mobile Museum of Art, the USS Alabama at Battleship Memorial Park (an easily recognizable landmark as you approach the city from the east, driving along the I-10 bridge over Mobile Bay), and the lush and spectacular Bellingrath Gardens and Home, which are just south of the city in the small town of Theodore.
Although this city of about 195,000 has a somewhat conservative reputation that's consistent with this part of the country, Mobile does have a sizable - and quite visible - GLBT community, which convenes for the Mobile Gay Pride Festival and Parade in mid- to late April - and the festival is held right in the historic downtown area at Bienville Square, 150 Dauphin Street. This is one of the most charming landmarks in the city, a leafy square that was established in 1824 and is now shaded by swaying live oak trees and traversed by paved pathways lined with park benches.
Note that the Mobile Gay Pride committee does have a number of other events throughout the year, from parties to planning meetings. You can get a look at upcoming events by checking out the Mobile Pride Facebook page.
Mobile is served by a mid-size regional airport that flights on the major three carriers from Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and Charlotte. It's also at the confluence of interstates 10 and 65, just a little over two hours by car from New Orleans, an hour from Pensacola, just under four hours south of Birmingham, and a little under a five-hour drive from Atlanta.
Mobile AL Gay-Friendly Hotels
During, Pride, Mardi Gras, or any other visit to this charming Southern city, it's worth choosing a hotel in the downtown area that's within walking distance of Bienville Square (which also puts you close to many worthwhile restaurants and a handful of gay bars). Overlooking the square is the Hilton Garden Inn Mobile Downtown, a brand-new property with comfortable and spacious rooms. Fans of local history might wish to consider the elegant and inviting Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa, which occupies a grand dame built in 1908 that's been carefully restored and now contains a full-service spa - it's just a couple of blocks from Bienville Square.
Other nice hotel options in the downtown area include the fashionable Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown Historic District, which is close to Fort Conde and the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico, and the hip and artfully designed Admiral Hotel Mobile, Curio Collection by Hilton, a 1940s building with a snazzy art deco interior that's undergone a stylish makeover and is now one of the trendiest addresses in town.
Mobile AL Gay Resources
Mobile gay bars, as well as gay-popular restaurants, hotels, and shops, have special events and parties throughout Pride Weekend. Also take a look at the excellent travel site produced by the city's official tourism organization, the Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau.