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Southern Comfort is what you will find in the charming bayside village of Fairhope, Alabama. Conveniently located just miles from the Gulf of Mexico and a couple of hours from New Orleans, this is the perfect destination to kick off your shoes and unwind. From golf, shopping, fishing, exceptional seafood, local events and much, much more, there is something for everyone here. Gulf Coast TravelingMom shares her local insight with 6 Travel Tips for Visiting Fairhope, AL.
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6 Travel Tips for Visiting Fairhope, AL
Fairhope has been named “Best Small Southern Town” by Southern Living Magazine, one of the “Top 25 Places to Retire” by CNN Money and one of “America’s Happiest Seaside Towns” in 2016 by Coastal Living.
As a long-term resident of Fairhope, Alabama, and a mom who often travels, I’m excited to have this opportunity to share my travel tips from a resident’s point of view. Here are 6 travel tips for visiting Fairhope, AL.
1. Spend the Day in Downtown Fairhope
Downtown Fairhope is one of the prettiest places I have ever seen! Everywhere you turn, there are flowers, and more flowers, hanging baskets, flower beds, and even flowers on top of garbage cans.
Downtown Fairhope, Alabama, is a mecca for boutique shoppers. Pack your comfortable shoes (you know, your Disney shoes), so you can shop ‘til you drop! Whether you are looking for the latest fashions, something shiny and expensive, a piece of one-of-a-kind art, an update to your antique collection, or something uniquely Fairhope, you can find it all here!
Make sure to stop in and say hello to Gene at Mr. Gene’s Beans (one of my favorite places in town) and get his famous Fairhope Float. This concoction of ice cream and coffee is to die for. I can be found here often, sitting on the front deck with my children enjoying an ice cream cone.
Across the street at The Fairhope Store, you will find the best souvenirs in town. Local artist, Lisette Normann, has designed a signature Fairhope logo that can be purchased on all sorts of items.
2. Spend an Evening at the Fairhope Pier
Nestled on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, the Fairhope Pier is often referred to as “town square.” This is where I like to sit on benches and listen to the seagulls, watch the sailboats go by, and talk to the local fishermen who love to show off their daily catch. I often get my daily exercise by walking on the pier and have become fast friends with LuLu the pelican (we named him). This friendly fellow hangs out on the pier and socializes with passersby.
If you like fresh Gulf seafood, I recommend you plan your visit to the pier around lunch or dinner so you can dine at Shux on the Pier. Whether you are looking for flame-grilled oysters, fried green tomatoes, royal red shrimp, or a fried seafood basket, you simply will not be disappointed. My favorite thing on the menu is the crab cakes with fried green tomatoes. Delicious!
3. Visit the City’s Private Beach and Feed the Ducks
The City of Fairhope has a private beach for residents that you can visit for $8.00 per car, or $3.00 per walk-in. The beach offers picnic tables, playground equipment, volleyball nets, and a covered pavilion. Many times we have taken our charcoal grill down to the beach and fired up hamburgers and hot dogs at sunset. This is the perfect spot to kick off your shoes and relax. Located at the end of the beach area there is a pond where the kiddos can feed the local ducks and geese.
4. Come Hungry
There are so many amazing restaurants in Fairhope. You can choose from burgers, sushi, fresh Gulf seafood and more. Some of my family’s favorite places to eat include:
- Locals, located in downtown Fairhope, is home to the best burger in town! Their slogan “Local Flavor from your Neighbor” says it all. All of the items on their menu are from local area farmers and the bread is baked fresh daily. My son is incredibly picky, so his stamp of approval goes a long way.
- Old 27 Grill – Grocery & Restaurant is a absolute must-do for anyone visiting Fairhope, AL. Located just outside of town, this casual dining restaurant and grocery is where you’ll find the locals eating. I have known the owner, William Stitt, for many years and as my grandmother would say,”He’s good people!” Make sure to stop in the grocery after you eat and buy some of their famous Bill E’s small batch bacon. That stuff is to-die for.
- Warehouse Bakery & Donuts where you will find the most delicious pastries and donuts around! This is where you will find the famous Fairhope Roasting Company coffee. Make sure to arrive early, as lines start forming around the building when the doors open at 6:00 a.m. Yes, they are that good! Serving breakfast and lunch 6 days a week, this is a must-do experience!
Down the street, the Fairhope Brewing Company is home to the only local craft brewery in LA (Lower Alabama). Stop in and try out the Fairhope 51, I Drink Therefore I Amber, or any of the other fabulous craft beers.
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Things to Do in Fairhope with Family
5. Plan Your Visit Around Seasonal Events
One of the best things about living here is all of the family friendly events offered by the city. There are so many events taking place in Fairhope, there really isn’t a bad time to visit. The first Friday of every month you can participate in First Friday Art Walk. This is a great way to see the town.
Family Friendly Mardi Gras
During the winter months, Mardi Gras takes over the area. Did you know that Mobile, Alabama, is home to the very first Mardi Gras? While New Orleans holds notoriety for the event, it actually started in Alabama. Fairhope has three mom-approved parades each season that my family always attends. As a former masquerader, my best tip is to make sure you bring a bag to the parade, as you are sure to walk away with loot!
Spring Arts & Crafts Festival
In the spring, Fairhope hosts an annual Arts & Crafts festival where exhibitors from all over the country come to display their work. The three-day festival takes place every March.
Downtown Transforms into a City of Lights for the Holidays
My favorite event of the year is the annual Lighting of the Trees held in mid-November. Everyone gathers in the streets in anticipation of hundreds of thousands of white Christmas lights lighting up the trees in downtown. The city does an amazing job transforming downtown into a magical wonderland! The lights stay up through the Arts and Crafts festival in March so there are plenty of opportunities to see them.
Late Summer Jubilees
Mobile Bay is one of two locations in the world (along with Tokyo Bay, Japan) where the jubilee phenomenon occurs. A jubilee is when the oxygen in the water is temporarily depleted, causing the fish to rise to the surface in search of oxygenated water. When this occurs, shrimp, crab, flounder, eels, and other sea life are literally at the water’s edge.
This is a fisherman’s dream.
Many times in the middle of the night, I have received the call to rush to the bay as a jubilee was taking place. I recall one instance when I waded through the water and became distracted when my shoelaces continued to wrap around my ankles.
Upon further inspection, I learned that what I thought to be shoelaces were actually eels! EEK! Note: Participating in a jubilee is not for the squeamish.
Plan a visit to Fairhope during the summer months (particularly August and September) and you may be able to experience this phenomenon firsthand.
Helpful tip – bring a pair of water shoes with you. Stepping on flounder, crabs and stingrays is not something you want to experience, trust me!
6. Book your Stay at Marriott’s Grand Hotel & Spa
A visit to Fairhope, Alabama, isn’t complete without staying at Marriott’s Grand Hotel & Spa located in Point Clear (a little over three miles south of the Fairhope Pier). This luxury golf and beach resort has not one, but two golf courses. Send your husband to the course while pampering yourself in their European-style spa. What do we do with the littles? Why, you send them to Grand Camp. The Grand offers a two sessions every day where the children can go and play while mom and dad relax. Now that’s a win-win in my book!
If you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, THIS is a great place to visit. There’s a glass of sweet tea waiting for you in Fairhope, Alabama.
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