By the Numbers
1974: The year a band of horticulturists founded Mobile Botanical Gardens to preserve the local environment
100: The number of acres filled with cultivated gardens, woodland trails, and longleaf pines
12: The oldest age a visitor can enter the gardens for free without parachuting in past the gate
The Longleaf Pine Ecosystem
The forest blooms with more than 165 species of plants, including longleaf pines, southern magnolias, and native wildflowers.
The Founders? Fragrance and Texture Garden
Benches, a Japanese footbridge, and a small koi pond distinguish this garden, which was designed for the visually impaired.
The Millie McConnell Rhododendron Garden
Nineteenth-Century architectural artifacts line the brick paths. Hummingbirds and butterflies often buzz about the shrubs and annuals.
Fresh fish is held in the highest esteem at Asiana Sushi Grill, where chefs expertly craft rolls composed of fresh tuna, salmon, and shrimp. They lovingly pat rice around the outside of rolls filled with spicy tuna, yellowtail and scallions, or yam tempura. They also create Asiana specialty rolls such as the Dancing Girl, which marries shrimp tempura and soft-shell crab with fried sweet potato, and the Red Dragon, which, like all mythical creatures, is actually spicy tuna and wasabi.
At Adventures Unlimited, infants to 12-year-olds develop their love of learning through hands-on exploration in a safe environment, overseen by a team of first-aid- and CPR-certified caretakers. The center combines a park-like outdoor play area, ideal for aspiring tag-players and botanists alike, with an onsite trove of dress-up clothes to aid children as they become pirates or tiara-wearing pirates. Adventures Unlimited also fuels fun with snacks throughout the day, though children are responsible for bringing their own sack lunches.
Age-targeted activities abound throughout the year, with story time for infants and toddlers, after-school activities and transportation to local elementary schools for school-age children, and a pre-school for 3- and 4-year-olds with semi-structured art, science, math, and language classes. A registered private kindergarten pampers 5-year-olds with attention before transitioning them seamlessly into local public schools. During the summer months, the center’s camp hinges on weekly themes that can transform participants into chefs or educate them on Oregon’s history of hiding gold in its rivers and children's ears.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
In 1997 a small group of concerned citizens joined together to fight the construction of a chemical facility on Mobile Bay's western shore. As it researched the environmental impact of similar plants, it discovered that a sustained effort toward drawing industry into the area had resulted in pollution levels that held the second-highest presence of carcinogens in the nation. Sparked by this realization, the small group transformed into the Mobile Baykeeper, which works to balance the needs of the economy with the protection of the local environment and the health of its people.
As a solutions-based group, Mobile Baykeeper works to preserve and protect the Mobile Bay watershed, a vast network of more than 200 separate rivers, lakes, bayous, creeks, and other water-sources that cover two-thirds of Alabama. Using established environmental laws, Mobile Baykeeper works to protect citizens' health and natural resources, form coalitions, educate communities, and restore damaged coastlines. The group also trains volunteers to fix ongoing issues, such as unsafe sewage systems and storm-water-runoff problems.