Downtown Mobile IS Safe!
Mobile, Alabama is, to many visitors, a beautiful surprise. Founded in 1702 and subsequently moved to its present location along the Mobile River, the city has earned its "Movable" moniker from the French founders. However, one look around the city's downtown might make one not from here wonder. Homeless men hang out regularly in Bienville Square, a city respite of greenery since 1711. Will you be safe as you explore the city downtown, which is where all the cool museums are, or should you stay at the boring hotels lining the Beltline along I-65? Downtown is safe and it is where I tell everyone to stay. With a few tips, you'll get the most out of a short stop in Mobile.
Dauphin Street Scene
What Streets Are Safe?
I stay downtown during Mardi Gras every year ,and once I heard this question, "Don't get offended by this, but what streets aren't safe to park or walk on?" The answer is downtown is now fairly safe, thanks to a police station being downtown and regular patrols.. In addition, the downtown has organized ambassadors, who wear purple and yellow, to provide assistance with walking to cars,etc. They can even help if your car has broken down, all you do is call 251-327-SAFE-. Keep in mind that summertime is somewhat a dead time downtown since we are so close to the beaches. Many people have a more relaxed schedule and may leave on Fridays to go to their beach house.
You can walk down any street , but the best street is Dauphin Street and also the shorter Royal Street. To see a beautiful residential historic area, take North Conception Street north of downtown to visit the De Tonti district. The Italianate house museum, DAR-Richards house, is there on Joachim one street to the West. To the South of the downtown, take Claiborne Street to see the Church Street East historic district. Visit the Carnival Museum to learn about Mobile Mardi Gras. If you ever get tired, hop on the MODA transit, which makes a 30 minute FREE loop following the streets Dauphin Street to Royal Street, Church Street to Washington Street. Look for the lime green umbrellas.
A great way to see Mobile's historic homes is to walk or jog past them. Government Street is the best street to run on even as far as Houston Street since its sidewalks are the best. This was once where the wealthiest cotton brokers lived, but many homes have fallen to Mobile progress. Dauphin Street is also safe to run along, and features beautiful houses all the way to Fulton Street, when it was home to the Port City's ship captains and shippers. The sidewalks are horrible, though.
Downtown Dauphin & Royal Street
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Don't Forget About the Western Edge of Downtown Dauphin Street
Like Walking On Dauphin!
During the boom days of the Cotton City Port, Dauphin Street was where everything extremely fine resided. Before the advent of malls, all shopping was done downtown. The phrase "Like walking down Dauphin!" 'twas used to denote something extremely nice and top- drawer. Today, Dauphin Street is slowly gaining speed to get back to what it once was. It's still your best bet for sight-seeing in downtown and the best road used to get where you need to get.
One common mistake visitors make is turning back when they see a long stretch of nothing just after the Catholic Cathedral. Keep walking. Actually, there are many great restaurants and upscale bars along the west portion of Dauphin street with Washington Avenue being the border of it. Shopping retail hasn't made it fully yet, as rents are too high coupled with lower foot traffic. But some favorite shops along Dauphin are the Urban Emporium, Bienville Books, Artology, Portier House museum gift shop, Jack Out of the Box, Lunatix, and Cathedral Art Gallery.
Western Dauphin Street and Church Street East Historic District
Royal Street and Government Street
Royal Street features the majority of the museums and is fairly short. There is an excellent gift shop called the Sail Loft just past St. Francis. There is also a tattoo shop, Royal Street Tattoo, if that floats your boat. Otherwise you are dealing with hotel and museum gift shops.
Some of the museums are the Exploreum, a really great science museum kids LOVE. It features even an area for pre-teens and teens, as well as an IMAX theater. The Museum of Mobile is a state of the art history museum that is worth a visit, as is the Fort Conde , a replica of the 1720's French fort. In addition, do make time to walk around Fort Conde to the collection of old historic buildings called Fort Conde Village. They are all that is left of what was a large historic housing stock, torn down to build I-10. Check out Fort Conde Inn, an unusual example of a Creole home that is now an award-winning hotel.
Government Street is only worth a walk no further than the Carnival Museum at Spanish Plaza Park, although it is very safe. There are fast food restaurants such as McDonald's and Arby's further. With large, wide sidewalks, Government Street is excellent for jogging even past Broad Street to Ann Street for a beautiful peek at the live oak shaded mansions of Government Street. I have jogged it for years and the homeless people you may pass won't bother you.
The Battle House Hotel at Night
Safety Concerns Late Night
While I feel Mobile is safe, there are many Mobilians, usually those who moved to the suburbs, who don't go downtown because once it was known for robbing incidents quite a few years back. In more recent years, there were shootings that appeared to be tiffs between kids from rival neighborhoods. Fortunately, police began a crack down on underage curfews which has helped tremendously. A problem bar called Atlantis subsequently closed. It's just not a problem anymore. So, while it's safe to have fun on Dauphin Street, even late night, please use caution. Don't drink too much and make yourself a target and always go with another person. I live in Midtown and go downtown a lot, even late night, and I feel it is safe. If you happen to want a late night meal, consider Mediterranean Sandwich Co. (open til 2 AM) or just drive to Midtown's Government Street Waffle House. I hope you enjoy your time in Mobile, Alabama and this hub has made you enjoy Mobile in a more satisfying way!
Demi (author) from Mobile, Alabama on February 02, 2014:
The Carnival Museum is fun and we have a great History museum. Fort Conde, a reproduction of the original French fort, just reopened from a renovation.
Mashikra on February 01, 2014:
I have two children ages 4 and 6. Any recommendations besides the Exploreum downtown? Thanks!