It’s almost the southernmost point on a U.S. map, but culturally it’s “south of the South.”

So says Ron McConnell, vice president of sales and services for the Mobile Bay CVB, who describes Mobile as an ever-evolving city of great—and often unexpected—diversity.

The city flew the French, British and Spanish flags before becoming an American territory in the early 1800s. But even though this rich pastiche of culture translated into the first official Mardi Gras celebration in American history, the 300-year-old port city has been influenced more by its maritime history than almost any other aspect of its past.

In honor of the region’s seafaring tradition, Mobile is currently completing construction on the $60 million GulfQuest Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico, which will house 90,000 square feet of meeting and event space, plus exhibitions that give conventioneers a taste of that history along with a spectacular view of Mobile Bay.

In addition to several Civil War-era shipwrecks, Mobile’s waterfront is also home to the USS Alabama, which after a tour of duty during World War II now rests above the waterline at Mobile’s 175-acre Battleship Park, a popular group event venue.

“If you are a conventioneer in our city, there’s a lot for you to take advantage of,” McConnell says.

The 317,000-square-foot Arthur R. Outlaw convention center is an ideal venue for meetings and conventions of almost any size, and is within walking distance of downtown Mobile’s restaurants, hotels and waterfront.

Mobile is well on its way to getting due recognition as a top group destination, according to McConnell.

“We’re using the words ‘secretly awesome’ now, but we’re pretty darn sure that ‘secret’ won’t be there for much longer,” he says.