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25) that evolved in 1840 to today’s parades by krewes or social clubs.

That explains the giant Moon Pie on the corner of one of the tallest office buildings that is “counted down” at midnight on New Year’s Eve as locals and tourists cheer.

For family-friendly viewing of Mobile Mardi Gras parades, stand on Church Street near Fort Condé.

Royal Street is also a good area near many downtown hotels and restaurants, as well as Bienville Square.

If you’re considering a romantic getaway, put Mobile at the top of your list.

This beautiful city alongside Mobile Bay is an original French settlement more than 300 years old, with spreading live oaks that create shady canopies over the downtown and the wrought iron balconies on historic mansions.

Residents don’t really consider their city as part of Alabama, but rather as part of the Gulf Coast that stretches from New Orleans to Pensacola and Savannah.Because of the city’s fascinating history, you’ll find a number of museums and dramatic architecture that encourage strolls along broad sidewalks.The proximity to the Gulf of Mexico puts fresh seafood on most menus.The period from New Year’s Eve to the beginning of Lent is the best time to visit, because the semi-tropical climate coaxes camellias and azaleas to bloom while the rest of the Deep South is still chilly.Plus, there are football games, parades and parties in significant numbers.The National Football League practically takes over the city’s hotels in January during the week leading up to the in the New World, from a celebration in 1703 (Saint Louis Day on Aug.