Unlike some other Travel Tuesday destinations, you’ve probably never heard of my town of Fairhope, Alabama, located on the beautiful shores of Mobile Bay on the Alabama Gulf Coast. A unique city with an interesting history, Fairhope is an excellent travel destination for…well, just about anyone!
Fairhope retains a special charm that’s been lost in many small towns. It’s home to a myriad of art galleries, restaurants, antique stores, and shops (kids especially love Fantasy Island Toys!) For great food, one “can’t miss” spot is Panini Pete’s (featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives), but I also love Mary Ann’s Deli and Pinzone’s Italian Downtown. Fairhope boasts a fabulous pier, lovely beaches, and a number of city parks.
Fairhope is a year-round destination. During the winter, the weather is generally mild (we welcome lots of snowbirds), and we celebrate Mardi Gras! Most people outside of the Gulf Coast region think Mardi Gras is a “New Orleans thing” and….ahem…not family-friendly. Not so in Fairhope! Visiting during Mardi Gras is actually what sold us on moving here in 2008!
In March, you’ll find the annual Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival. In recent years, the event has attracted over 250, 000 visitors for this prestigious juried show with works by hundreds of artists from around the nation. The event is free, although you might want to bring a little cash for shopping!
During the summer, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to witness a Jubilee – a unique natural phenomonen that regularly occurs in only one other location in the world. During a Jubilee, various species of crab, shrimp, flounder, eels, and fish come up to shallow bay beach areas. Jubilees occur very early in the morning with little warning and draw large crowds of people – some just to witness this unusual occurrence, others to grab up the easy-to-catch seafood!
Just a short drive from Fairhope in the cities of Foley, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, you’ll find pristine white sand beaches (no tar balls here, I promise!), prime outlet shopping, and the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, featured on Animal Planet’s show “The Little Zoo That Could.”
If history is your thing, you can head across the bay to tour Battleship Park, home of the U.S.S. Alabama, a World War II-era ship, or tour one of the three historic forts in the area. Fort Conde is located in Downtown Mobile, Fort Gaines is on Dauphin Island, and Fort Morgan is located near Gulf Shores (there’s also a ferry that travels across the mouth of the bay to and from Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines – fun for the kiddos!)
Want to visit? Although Fairhope has a few area hotels – most notably, the historic Marriott Grand Hotel and Spa – much of our local lodging is found in quaint guesthouses and cottage rentals, some overlooking Mobile Bay.
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten path destination loaded with Southern charm, come to Fairhope! You might just run into my family enjoying a few beignets one morning…