49 Ways to Play
Don’t let a single summer day go to waste with this list of essential local activities.
ABOVE Cousins Murphy Douglas (left) and Christopher Immel (middle) take the plunge in high style with neighbors Mary Lynn and Darden Cooper.
Photo by Matthew Coughlin
NO WEEKEND LEFT BEHIND THIS SUMMER. Grab the kids, call your mom, head out into the neighborhood or drive down to the Bay. It’s time to make the most of every last minute of sunshine, warm weather, no school, no worries. It’s summertime! We bring you the ultimate list of big and little fun for all ages and interests, taking place in every corner of Mobile and Baldwin Counties. There is something to surprise even those who think they’ve seen and done everything this town has to offer. Get up, get dressed and get out there!
1. JOIN THE FUN
Who says summer is just for kids? Round up the grown-ups in your crew and make the kids judge your adult cannonball contest off the end of the wharf or in the deep end of the pool. Slow motion iPhone videos are highly encouraged.
2. PADDLEBOARD ON THE BAY
Gain a new perspective of Mobile Bay — from atop a standup paddle-board. To test out your balance and exercise your core, rent a paddleboard from Eastern Shore Watersports in Fairhope or Go Go Kayak Rentals in Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan. Extra points if you can strike a yoga pose.
3. CAMP OUT ON DAUPHIN ISLAND
Spend a night outdoors at the Dauphin Island Campground with access to a secluded beach, the Audubon Bird Sanctuary and public boat launches. Call 861-2742 for availability and to make your reservations.
4. HAVE A LEMONADE STAND
No childhood is complete without a summertime lemonade stand. Teach your kids the value of a hard day’s work while supplying the neighbors with some fresh-squeezed citrus goodness. Set a good example by encouraging the children to donate the proceeds to a local cause or charity.
5. FIRE THE CANNON
Every afternoon, Point Clear’s Grand Hotel honors its military history with a cannon firing and historic presentation. After meeting in the Grand Lobby for tea, guests parade across the hotel grounds behind a troupe of Civil War-era drummers to the cannon, which is fired at 4 p.m.
6. FLOAT STYX RIVER
Styx River Tube and Canoe Rental in Robertsdale offers round-trip services on the windy, sandy Styx River. Sandbars line the route, offering ideal spots for swimming, fishing and picnicking. Website
7. BUILD A TREE HOUSE
If you’ve got the spare time and pocket change, what’s more American than building a backyard tree house with the kids?
8. RIDE THE FERRIS WHEEL AT THE WHARF
Start or end your day with a sweet Gulf breeze and a bird’s-eye view of the Alabama coast. For just $5 per person, take a ride on one of the Gulf Coast’s tallest Ferris wheels at The Wharf.
9. THE BATTLESHIP
Explore all 680 feet of history aboard the USS Alabama. Website
10. FORT CONDE
Tour a replica of the fort that protected Mobile and her citizens for almost 100 years. Website
11. BELLINGRATH'S CHILDREN WORKSHOPS
Nine self-guided workshops explain the relationship between science, the environment and everyday life. Website
12. MOBILE MUSEUM OF ART
Celebrate Alabama’s bicentennial with William Christenberry’s photos through July 9, and observe more contemporary Alabama artists’ pictures through August 27. Website
13. CARNIVAL MUSEUM
Learn about the oldest Mardi Gras traditions while looking at extravagant dresses, crowns, scepters and robes. Website
Explore all 90 exhibits inside the Maritime Museum. With new admission prices, this is a great excursion for the whole family. Website
15. MOBILE MUSEUM OF HISTORY
Learn our city’s rich history dating back to 1702, when Mobile was founded. Website
Bushwacker (Photo by Matthew Coughlin), Shux Ice Cream Window (Photo by Summer Ennis)
16. SIP A BUSHWACKER ON DOG RIVER
Visit the River Shack and indulge in a grown-up milkshake, but don’t forget to ask for a rum topper!
17. SPEND A DAY AT PIRATES COVE
Take the whole family — including your four-legged companions — for a day in the sand. Enjoy lunch, live music and family fun, all in your bathing suit and flip flops!
18. STOP BY THE SHUX ICE CREAM WINDOW
The only thing better than an ice cream cone is a cone with a view! this easy walk-up window sells soft-serve, snow cones and more!
19. SHELL OUT FOR PEANUTS IN BIENVILLE SQUARE
We all pass by A&M Peanut Shop, but how often do we stop to get some goobers and hang out in the park to munch? Just make sure to protect your stash from overzealous squirrels!
20. LEARN YOUR WAY AROUND THE KITCHEN
The Grand Hotel’s Cooking Academy pairs you with hotel chefs for an in-depth, two-hour cooking course. The monthly Beverage Academy is a one-hour course that teaches advanced cocktail techniques. Both include food and drink sampling, recipes and even a diploma. Website
21. ORDER A WEST INDIES SALAD AT BAYLEY'S
An iconic dish at its birthplace. Need we say more?
22. BOIL A POT O' LOCAL SHRIMP OR CRABS
Living so close to this many fresh seafood restaurants, it’s easy to forget the pleasure and fresh taste of simply doing it yourself. It’s time to reclaim the good old days of the DIY seafood boils.
Stock car (Photo by Nicole Quinn), Blue Angels
23. CHEER FOR YOUR FAVORITE STOCK CAR
Since 1965 cars have been fast-as-lightning at the half-mile Mobile Speedway track, where you can catch rising NASCAR and ARCA drivers.
24. WATCH THE TUGS WORK THE RIVER
Bring your little ones to Cooper Riverside Park for a peek at the barges, ships and tugs that work the waterfront. You can be sure your pint-sized captains will have sweet dreams of seafaring adventures for the rest of the summer. (Hint: A little gelato from Serda’s afterwards is the perfect finale.)
25. WATCH A BLUE ANGELS' PRACTICE
Avoid the crowds at the annual beachfront show on the first weekend in July by catching a weekday practice in Pensacola instead. Watch in awe as these nimble planes dance in the sky, and then learn more about the squadron of blue and gold at the National Naval Aviation Museum next door. Website
26. TAKE A BOUNCE OFF A BOAT
This ain’t your grandpa’s pontoon boat. The Tarzan Boat is a floating adventure park complete with slides, trampolines, ropes and high dive platforms. Best of all, it can be rented by the hour. Call Jeff at 689-2300.
17 Turtles Outdoors (Photo by Todd Douglas), Helicopter Tour
27. DUCK BOAT
See Mobile like never before on the Gulf Coast’s only land and water tour. The amphibious vehicle shuttles sightseers from Battleship Park to Downtown Mobile, the Mobile River and Bay. A treat for tourists and lifelong Mobilians alike! Website
28. AIR BOAT EXPRESS
Explore the shallow corners of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta that motorboats can’t access. Airboat tours are wildly fun and educational too, allowing an up-close look at the flora, fauna and wildlife that live just outside our reach.
29. DELTA ECO-TOURS
Let 17 Turtles Outdoors guide you on a personal eco-tour of local waterways by kayak or canoe, or take a powerboat tour led by local outdoor expert Jimbo Meador. Paddleboards, gear and overnight camping equipment are also available for rent.
30. HELICOPTER TOUR
You’ve seen the gulf from a beach chair, but have you seen it from the sky? Add a little altitude to your summer with a helicopter tour of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, departing from Perdido Key and The Wharf. Website
31. INDOOR GOLFING AT FAIRWAYS IN SPANISH FORT
These high definition simulators offer up to 87 different courses for your golfing pleasure. Players use real golf clubs and balls to enhance the golfing experience no matter your skill level. Website
32. EASTERN SHORE LANES
Obviously known for their bowling with more than 15 lanes of fun, Eastern Shore Lanes offers so much more. Laser tag, an arcade and even a challenging new indoor ropes course will keep you entertained all day long. Website
Breakout Escape Games is a real life adventure where you and your teammates have an hour to escape a room by solving different puzzles and mind games. There are five different Escape Games available to play at the Mobile location, each one featuring a different scenario filled with clues to solve. Website
34. CATCH AN IMAX MOVIE
Stop by the Exploreum to view A Beautiful Planet on the extra wide IMAX screen. After you take in this breathtaking portrait of planet Earth from space, stay for another show from the summer film series, during which the Exploreum will screen more than a dozen other classic IMAX titles. Website
Lemurs, Alligator Alley
35. PET A LEMUR
Experience an “Encounter” at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, where guests can mingle with kangaroos, lemurs, reptiles, sloths and tamanduas under the close supervision of a zookeeper. Check website for costs and times.
36. GO HORSEBACK RIDING
Take a trail ride around Oak Hollow Farm’s 300 gorgeous acres of grand oak trees and rolling grasslands. If you’re a bit timid, don’t worry — you’ll be with a professional the whole time. Call 928-4840 to make an appointment.
37. SEE SOME GATORS
When they’re blocking traffic on the Causeway, you’ll want to keep your distance. But when you’re at Alligator Alley in Robertsdale, it’s all about getting up close and personal. Watch your fingers! Website
38. WITNESS A WEIGH-IN
Did you know that the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo is the largest fishing tournament in the world? Pretty nifty! Stop by Dauphin Island from July 21 - 23 to watch more than 3,000 anglers compare their catches.
Crescent Theater (Photo by Major Adam Colbert), Glow in the Park
39. BRUSH UP ON THE CLASSICS
Don’t miss the chance to see some of your favorite classic films this summer at the Saenger Theatre. The Sunday shows include titles such as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Gone with the Wind.” Website
40. VISIT THE CRESCENT
Catch a film at Mobile’s favorite independent movie theater, complete with adult beverages and honor system concessions. Daily showtimes of 2 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Arrive early to score a comfy armchair. Website
41. BUILD A BACKYARD MOVIE THEATER
See fireflies and stars while you watch your favorite flick. A big white sheet, a few feet of rope and a laptop projector is all you need to turn your little patch of grass into the theater of your dreams. Popcorn and pillows are a must.
42. CATCH A SUNSET CONCERT ON THE ISLAND
What better place to catch live music on the beach than at the sunset capital of Alabama? One Sunday per month through October, bring your beach chairs and blankets to Dauphin Island’s live music series. Website
43. GLOW IN THE PARK
The Fairhope summer film series returns with family-friendly movie showings at Fairhopers Community Park. Shows start at 8 p.m. and include “The Lego Batman Movie” on July 6 and “Sing” on August 3.
44. HALLS MILL ROAD FARMERS MARKET
2245 Halls Mill Road // Tuesdays & Thursdays, 7 a.m. - 12 p.m.
45. MARKET IN THE PARK
Lavretta Park on Old Shell Road // Thursdays, 3 p.m. - 6 p.m.
46. MARKET IN THE PARK
Cathedral Square, 300 Conti St. // Saturdays, 7:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.
47. SPANISH FORT FARMERS MARKET
Spanish Fort Community Center // Saturdays, 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
48. FAIRHOPE OUTDOOR FARMERS MARKET
Behind the Fairhope Public Library // Thursdays, 3 p.m. - 6 p.m.
49. COASTAL ALABAMA FARMERS & FISHERMENS MARKET
20733 Miflin Road, Foley // Tuesdays, 2 p.m. - 6 p.m., Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.