Mobile's tourism industry will receive a shot in the arm starting November 2016, when the 2,052-passenger Carnival Fantasy begins offering jaunts to Cozumel, Costa Maya and Progreso, Mexico. It is the cruise industry's first return to Mobile after pulling out in 2011.
The late writer Eugene Walter called Mobile "sweet lunacy's county seat." Walter's grave, which can be found in the historic Church Street Graveyard only a mile west of the Mobile cruise terminal on oak-canopied Government Street, is marked by a tombstone etched with the words, "When all else fails, throw a party." Mobilians are certainly good at that. They have been doing it since the city was founded as the first capital of French Colonial Louisiana in 1702. This predilection for an active nightlife has often given rise to comparisons with New Orleans, as have the city's French street names (some of which are identical to those in New Orleans' French Quarter), architecture, Cajun and Creole cuisine (fresh seafood is always on the menu), and an economy centered around a bustling seaport. But Mobile has a spirit all its own.
Situated on Mobile Bay with Gulf beaches only a short drive away (it's the largest coastal city between New Orleans and St. Petersburg, Florida), beach culture runs deep in Mobile. Singer-songwriter -- and beach life aficionado -- Jimmy Buffet spent part of his childhood here and played some of his first gigs in the city. Bring your seersuckers and flip-flops, and you'll fit right in.
Also known as the Azalea City, for the vivid flowering bushes that blanket yards and parks in the spring, Mobile boasts a mild subtropical climate with high temperatures in the 90s during the summers and 60s in the winters. Be sure to bring an umbrella: Mobile is wetter than Seattle with approximately five feet of rain each year.