1. Carnival’s re-launch at the Alabama Cruise Terminal
The city was met with a shockwave of criticism and disappointment when Carnival jumped ship in 2011. And while renting out the abandoned cruise terminal as an event and wedding venue held us over for the past five years, the announcement that a ship (another Carnival ship in fact) was heading back to the Port City was certainly the biggest development of 2015. The Carnival Fantasy will begin cruising out of Mobile on November 9, and word on the street is that space is already limited. In fact, demand has been so high that Carnival has adjusted its rates. Will the interest last? It's safe to say all eyes will be on Water Street this year.
2. The rise of Mobile’s dining scene
While 2015 saw the closure of some local favorites (The Bull, Whistle Stop, Bistro Escoffier…), it also celebrated the opening of some of the city’s coolest downtown eateries in Dumbwaiter, Montego’s, Von’s Bistro, Saisho and Pizzeria Delfina. It’s only January and we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Bob Baumhower’s new fine dining restaurant, John Serda’s long-anticipated brewery, the triumphant return of The Haberdasher and a new Mobile location of Chuck’s Fish and Five Bar on Dauphin Street. Bon appetit and happy drinking, y'all.
3. An Emphasis on Entertainment
If Mobilians have heard it once, they've heard it a thousand times, “There's nothing to do in Mobile!” And frankly, it's just not true. Maybe it used to be. But if you hear anyone utter those words in 2016, they don't even know what they're missing. Despite the immediate shock of BayFest's demise in 2015, Mobile's music scene got a welcome boost with the quick creation of the free TenSixtyFive Music Festival in October. Downtown Mobile also saw the addition of two hip new concert venues, The Merry Widow and The Listening Room, that showcase the talent of local musicians. In just the first three months of 2016, the Port City will see performances by Grace Potter, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Widespread Panic and the one and only Sir Elton John.
Beyond the music, Mobile welcomed miniature golf back to the city with the opening of The Putting Place (formerly Funtasia) and Port City Mini Golf, a 9-hole indoor mini golf course located on Conception Street. Teens rejoiced at the opening of Mobile's new skate park, thousands of locals and tourists celebrated the holidays ice skating at Riverside Ice and the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum finally opened its doors, revealing itself to be as cool as we all hoped it would be. In 2016, the new rage is bound to be Get Air Mobile, the new trampoline park opening on Schillinger Road. There's nothing to do in Mobile? This list only scratches the surface, and we can't wait to see what's next.
4. Increased Collaboration
Mobile finally jumped on the co-working bandwagon with the opening of The Exchange 202 on Government Street in September 2015. The Exchange offers small business owners, freelancers and entrepreneurs a shared workspace (and a pretty cool one at that) where they can handle day-to-day business as well as exchange ideas and inspiration. In 2016, the Fuse Project plans to open a new co-working space for local non-profits located at 200 Government Street. Fuse is recruiting a group of organizations to fill the space with the goal of increasing net revenue of the organizations through collaboration, networking and best practice seminars, because let's be honest, we all get by with a little help from our friends.
5. Celebrating our Green Spaces
Several of Mobile's green spaces are in need of a little TLC, and 2016 is shaping up to be a year of change and restoration. In November 2015, city leaders broke ground on the vacant lot at Government and Royal Streets that will one day become Mardi Gras Park, a space city officials hope will eventually become a Mobile version of New Orleans' French Market. Another highly-anticipated improvement kicking off this year is the transformation of the underutilized Three Mile Creek into a thriving walking and biking trail stretching from the University of South Alabama to the Mobile River. Both projects will take some time to complete, but we can't wait to witness the evolution from the ground up.
What are you most excited to see in 2016? Share your thoughts below.