Located right on the Mobile River, the Mobile, Ala., Convention Center, with its mastlike tower, looks almost like a sailing ship. Make that a ship that’s hoisted its anchor when it comes to Internet access. Wireless access, the latest addition to the center, now is available throughout the facility and on its terraces.

The center, which is just over 10 years old, still sparkles. In the bright, airy prefunction areas, glass window-walls overlook the river, and structural elements are painted gleaming white. The facility includes a 100,000-square-foot exhibit hall; a 15,500- square-foot divisible ballroom, 26,500 square feet of meeting space, a generous 52,000 square feet of lobby and prefunction space, and 45,000 square feet of function space on terraces, including riverfront terraces adjacent to the exhibit halls.

Connected to the convention center by a covered skywalk is the 377-room Adam’s Mark Hotel, the city’s largest convention hotel. The property’s 32,000 square feet of meeting space includes two ballrooms. Additional meeting and exhibition space is available at the Mobile Civic Center, which offers three facilities under one roof--an arena, theater, and exposition hall--each with its own entrance. The seven-story domed arena seats 10,600 people and has 80,000 square feet of exhibit space, 15 meeting rooms, and two small exhibit halls--6,000 square feet each--flanking the lobby. Popular with religious groups, the arena has booked Promise Keepers for 2005 and Baptist Missionary Association of America for 2006. The 1,933-seat Civic Center Theater can be used for general sessions or special events. The multipurpose exposition hall has 28,000 square feet of exhibit space and a combination of retractable and removable seating for 3,000 people.

Several venues for offsite events have a rich Southern flavor. At Bellingrath Gardens and Home, there are 65 acres of year-round formal gardens. The 15-room antiques-filled mansion has been featured on A&E’s "America’s Castles" series. Scenic river cruises on the Southern Belle begin at Bellingrath Gardens. Spanish moss on the live oaks dips down into the river, and there are osprey, pelicans, and egrets along the route.

As many as 900 people can be hosted at the antebellum Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, where murder-mystery dinner theaters are a specialty. Small receptions or seminars can be held in the elegant tearoom or the double parlor. At the Oakleigh Historic Complex, another antebellum mansion, docents in period costumes will guide your group through the home and the small Mardi Gras Museum. Mardi Gras actually originated in Mobile in 1703, and an official Mardi Gras museum will open in the city in 2005.

Two museums are also bookable by groups. Although the Museum of Mobile is in a National Historic Landmark building dating from 1857, it is an outstanding example of contemporary, innovative museum design, with many interactive displays. The exhibits cover Native American, Colonial, African-American, and antebellum influences on the city, as well as Civil War and world war history. The Mobile Museum of Art, which overlooks a lake in Langan Municipal Park, attracts world-class special exhibits and has an exceptional collection of glass art on permanent display.

US Airways serves Mobile from more than 100 U.S. cities, connecting through Charlotte, N.C.

—Rayna Skolnik