Day Trip: Mobile Bay History Tour
Posted on October 21, 2021 by Shelbey Ernest
Mobile Bay has an interesting past and lots of ways to learn about its history. From its role in wars to its current attractions, there is something for everyone to enjoy while exploring the Port City.
Mobile Bay and World War II
It’s hard to miss the large, World War II era battleship as you cross Mobile Bay. The USS Alabama found her home in Mobile in 1965 at Battleship Memorial Park.
You can take a self-guided tour of the battleship to experience the feeling 2,500 Americans had as they made the ship their home in 1943 during the war, and you also can tour the USS Drum, a Sturgeon-class attack submarine. There also are tanks, planes and artillery used in WWII, Vietnam and the Korean wars located at Battleship Memorial Park.
For more information, visit the USS Alabama website.
Beneath the surface of Mobile Bay, shipwrecks date back to colonial times.
The most recent discovery was the Clotilda, found by journalist Ben Raines near Twelve Mile Island in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. The Clotilda, which brought 110 African slaves into Mobile Bay, was the last known slave ship to come to America from Africa in 1860.
Historical accounts say the owners hid and burned the ship to destroy evidence of its existence and lied about the location of the ship to escape incarceration. At least 32 of the 110 people who arrived on the Clotilda formed a community just north of downtown Mobile that later became known as Africatown.
Plans call for the Africatown Heritage House to open in spring 2022. It will be a museum reflecting on the journey to and from Africa emphasizing the lives of the enslaved people and how Africatown was founded.
Forts and Ferries
There are three forts around Mobile Bay: Fort Conde, Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines.
Fort Conde is located in downtown Mobile and operated by the History Museum of Mobile. Both the museum and the fort are included in one admission ticket. The museum recently opened a new Children’s Discovery Room and a new exhibit, The Vikings Begin.
The History Museum is a huge hit for my family. I take my son, and we spend hours running around (toddler life!). He loves to investigate Fort Conde and run through the tunnels. Click here to learn more about the museum and fort, and to buy tickets.
Fort Gaines is located on Dauphin Island. Tours often are given by staff members in uniform, bringing the fort to life with cannon firing and blacksmithing. The fortress features original cannons, kitchens, a full blacksmith shop, tunnels and a museum.
I recommend going during an event weekend to truly experience a piece of history.
Once you complete your tour of Fort Gaines, drive on to the Mobile Bay Ferry to travel east across Mobile Bay to Fort Morgan.
Fort Morgan is located on Mobile Point in Baldwin County, and was built between 1819 and 1833. With nature areas, boat launches, picnic areas and beaches (including a dog beach), there’s something for everyone. Currently, tours are self-guided, and you are free to roam and learn wherever you would like within the fort.
Fort Morgan also offers annual passes. Click here to learn more about the historic site and tickets ahead of time.
I saved the best for last (because anything involving food is always a fan favorite). For delicious food and spectacular views of the bay, a Perdido Queen Cruise needs to be at the top of your to-do list. It offers dinner and brunch cruises on an old riverboat with food served by Dauphin’s and a fully stocked cash bar. The boat is docked behind the Mobile Convention Center in downtown, and parking is located at the convention center.
My first experience on the dinner cruise was for a friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner. The couple booked the cruise as a private event, and it was such a unique experience. The restaurant Dauphin’s catered the dinner, and a live band played on the top level of the boat throughout the evening. Dancing and great food made for such a memorable event.
I was able to go on the Mobile Murder Mystery Dinner Cruise for my birthday last year, and we had a blast. Not only was the cast fun and interactive, but the food was divine. The cruise was two and half hours, and you get to see the city of Mobile lit up at night while you cruise.
Several types of cruises are available:
- Mobile Dinner Cruise – dinner, cash bar, views
- Live Jazz Brunch Cruise – brunch, live jazz band, cash bar, views
- Live Music Dinner Cruise – dinner, live band, cash bar, views
The Live Jazz Brunch Cruise is offered on Sundays only, and it sells out fast. Be sure to grab your ticket ahead of time.
To book your dinner cruise, visit their Perdido Queen Cruise website. This is an event that is better with friends, so grab an extra ticket or two!