As part of our deployment bucket list, we spent a busy and fun-filled day in Mobile, Alabama.
Of course, your sojourn in the Azalea City isn’t complete without a visit to Battleship Memorial Park and it’s showpiece the USS Alabama. This park is one of Mobile’s main attractions and makes for a fun experience for adults and kids alike!
We had only a single day in Mobile and we spent over half of it here. A decision that we don’t regret at all!
Here are 5 reasons Battleship Memorial Park should be at the top of your Mobile bucket list!
1. The USS Alabama
The main attraction at Battleship Memorial Park is, of course, the battleship. The USS Alabama, in all of its 45,000 ton glory takes center stage at the park and it is massive! You can’t fully appreciate the size of this beast until you stand before it. From the ground near the water where the ship floats in Mobile Bay, you have to crane your neck to see the top. We spent hours walking around the ship and still didn’t even see half of it.
The girls decided that we should go up to the top of the boat, instead of down into the belly of the beast. We scrambled up narrow ‘stairs’ (that were more like ladders), wound our way through living quarters and control rooms, and reveled in sparkling views of Mobile Bay from the ship’s upper decks.
Despite the fact that the USS Alabama was commissioned in 1942 and earned 9 Battle Stars during WWII, it is in pristine condition. Cerulean skies in addition to the clean gray walls on the ship’s deck made clear, vibrant pictures of my girls. I only wish I had dressed them in colorful sun dresses for our impromptu photo shoot.
2. The USS Drum
Just as exciting and interesting as the battleship was the WWII submarine – the USS Drum. Commissioned in 1941, it is the world’s oldest American submarine on display. Settled in a ‘cradle’ near the the bay, you can’t leave Battleship Memorial Park without a tour of this remarkable piece of history. It blew my mind to learn that this contraption earned 12 Battle Stars and sunk 15 enemy ships during its 5-year stint in WWII.
We manned the guns and rang the bell on deck before diving into the shadowy depths of the USS Drum. We explored the seamen’s living quarters, pushed the buttons and flipped the switches in the control rooms, and squeezed through the narrow passageways until we reached the end of the submarine.
Pictures were a little harder to take here due to the darkness inside the sub, but we had a good time learning about life under the sea. The kids especially loved that they could play with and touch the controls.
3. The Aircraft Pavilion
This collection of historic aircraft, vehicles, and other artifacts is a must see during your visit to Battleship Memorial Park. Wander around the planes and trucks until you find the memorial wall. This wall is dedicated and pays tribute to all of Alabama’s Medal of Honor Recipients.
The pavilion’s collection contains giant and fascinating pieces of military memorabilia, including a super-secret CIA spy plane. (Well, it was super-secret back in 1965, anyways.) There is also Marine One, a helicopter that belonged to Presidents past.
You can get up close and personal with most of the vehicles in the pavilion. There are staff members milling around who can answer your questions or tell you more about the aircraft and vehicles on display.
4. You’ll Get Lots of Exercise
Though a trip to see the battleship is quite literally a walk in the park, don’t underestimate the amount of cardio you will be getting in. The ship itself is FULL of stairs, not to mention all the walking you’ll do around the pavilion, through the submarine (which involves more stairs), and around the other memorials.
The kids were worn out and ready for lunch by the time we left the park and I couldn’t blame them. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes for your visit!
5. Very Educational
As with any historical monument, a trip to Battleship Memorial Park could prove to be highly educational. A trip to this park would make a great homeschool field trip. It’s a chance to show your kids real pieces of history.
The Battleship Memorial Park website gives a brief history of the USS Alabama and the USS Drum. It also lists fun facts about the different exhibits. Make sure you check it out before you go!
While we were still at the park, the kids were already talking about another trip to see the battleship again (so they could show their dad). And I have to admit, I wouldn’t mind going back either. There’s just too much to see in one day. Next time, maybe we’ll check out the lower half of the ship!
If you’re planning a trip to Mobile, make sure to add Battleship Memorial Park and the USS Alabama to your plans! It won’t disappoint!