Ah, summer... a lovely mixture of long days, seemingly endless free time, and, in Alabama, sometimes brutally excessive heat.
Seeing as I have not yet moved my residence to Auburn University, I aim to take a somewhat nomadic approach to these first few articles... Filled with wanderlust by my recent voracious consumption of travel essays, and aided by my fascination with the little things in life, I wish to spend my first few articles exploring hidden gems that lie within the heart of a city. I have traveled these local routes numerous times with both friends and family, and all the places that I will mention are extremely meaningful to me. I sincerely hope that you all enjoy reading along as I make some quick trips to lovely places!
The first stop? My hometown of Mobile, Alabama.
Every city has things about it that make it unique. Here are some of those things that define my City of Mobile.
The City of Mobile has a rich history of appreciation for the arts. To ensure that local artists are recognized for their talent and hard work, the LoDa Art Walk is held downtown every second Friday night of the month, from 6-9 P.M. by the Mobile Arts Council. During this night, lower Dauphin Street is blocked off to vehicular traffic for the public to spend their evening strolling through the city and taking in its sights and sounds. There are numerous local artists featured in galleries all throughout lower Dauphin Street, and most art is available for purchase.
Some of the galleries that are involved in LoDa Art Walk are Mobile Makerspace, Serda's, Gallery 450, Art(ology), Spire, and the Cathedral Square Gallery. Artists and vendors that are not featured within the galleries themselves have the ability to set up tables along Lower Dauphin street to enable them to mingle with the public, while also showcasing their talents.
Within this night alone there are plenty of paintings, drinks, and sunset-colored skies to make one fall in love with Lower Dauphin and all it has to offer.
Mobile boasts as home to some of the greatest sounds on the Gulf Coast. In the spring, the South Sounds Music Festival is held on Dauphin Street -- its soulful sounds filling up bars and venues for blocks. In the fall, TenSixtyFive stakes its claim on Lower Dauphin, allowing locals to spend time downtown familiarizing themselves with both the city and its music, at no cost.
Music can be heard at almost any time in the Port City: there are many local venues that host a slew of concerts and shows year round. Callaghan's Irish Social Club, located off Canal street in a small downtown neighborhood, hosts an average of two shows per week. It's small size offers an intimacy with the band, as they perform mere feet in front of attendees. The regulars here are incredibly familiar with the bands, as those who play at Callaghan's often do so numerous times within the year. Callaghan's offers a full bar and serves some of the best burgers in town, for those looking to consume more than the music or atmosphere.
Soul Kitchen, Mobile's more famous venue, hosts numerous shows per month -- it is home to eight events in the month of July alone. Soul Kitchen Cardholders are able to experience both local and national talents within this venue, and updated schedules can always be found on their website.
Though there are numerous coffeehouses across the city, three of the best are Serda's, Carpe Diem, and Satori. Serda's Coffee Co. is located on Royal Street in the heart of downtown Mobile. It is well loved and well visited, and not only serves as a coffee shop, but also as a restaurant for breakfast and lunch, a stop-off for cool gelato, and a bar on weekends.
Carpe Diem, located in Springhill, is an old two story house that serves as a coffee shop, study room, and meeting place. Its laid back atmosphere welcomes in anyone who wishes to enter, and the coffee there is so delicious, people often lose track of time as they pour themselves deeper into conversations, and into their coffee.
Satori is located on Old Shell Road near the campus of South Alabama. It is a tiny blue coffee house that is intimate and inviting. It's a perfect place to study or to read, and if a study break is what you are seeking, they also host an entertaining open mic night every Thursday, beginning at 8 P.M.
Ever adherent to the stereotype of serving up good, southern food, the City of Mobile hosts a variety of restaurants that allow visitors and locals alike to experience the taste of the south, or more informally known as "South in Your Mouth." Places like Moe's BBQ and Meat Boss serve up the best pulled pork in town, while a restaurant like Panini Pete's fries beignets so good, you would think they are shipped fresh from New Orleans. Fresh seafood can be found at Wintzell's Oyster House and the Shrimp Basket, while classic American burgers and hot dogs can be found at "Mobile's Oldest Restaurant," the Dew Drop Inn.
Bienville Books, located on Dauphin Street, is a small, two story building that houses books of all kinds. It stores everything from the classics to modern novels, local ghost stories to volumes of political scandals, and it even has it's own "Blind Date with a Book," shelf midway up the stairs in the back. It is a quirky place where many can go to find their own little getaways -- within the pages of a novel.
In truth, I could write a book about my city and the wonderful things it houses. I know all of these things because I spent time as an official ambassador for my city, and the more time I spend in it, the more I fall in love with it. If you have questions about anything mentioned in the above article, or suggestions of places you'd like me to visit -- feel free to send me a message! I am always looking for new and exciting things to discover.