While you might not think of Carnival or Mardi Gras to be the time to head out for family travel, that’s not quite the case with Mobile. The city is actually the birthplace of America’s Mardi Gras tradition, which began in 1703 before it started in New Orleans. Today it is known as the “American’s Family Mardi Gras,” and unlike the more risqué variety in New Orleans or elsewhere, this celebration is a bit less wild yet still vibrant and active. The two-week celebration culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent. During this time the streets are alive with marching bands, floats and seemingly non-stop parades, where you’re likely to catch beads, candy and other treats!

Mobile is also home to numerous historic sites and parks. The Dauphin Island Park offers campgrounds, a public beach, several small parks and even an Audubon Bird Sanctuary. Open year round, visitors can see wildlife or just cast a line for a relaxing day on the pier.

For a chance to step back in time take the family to the Phoenix Fire Company, which is a restored firehouse that actually dates back to 1855 and is features a collection of steamers and engines from the 19 th century.