Sometimes you’ll catch the first glance at a place and think you’d love to live there. Downtown Fairhope, which visitors frequently describe as quaint and charming, often affects people in the same way.
The inviting shops, galleries, pubs, and eateries are a small portion of what this small city offers.
Come with us to coastal Alabama, and find out what Fairhope is all about.
Explore the Bay City of Fairhope
Magazines like Southern Living often list Fairhope as one of the best small towns in America. However, you don’t need a guidebook to tell you that Fairhope is a jewel. It’s not an exaggeration that people visit once and decide to move here. It’s one of the fastest-growing places in the country, and locals hope this sudden growth won’t spoil its charm.
To get there, drive toward Mobile on Interstate 10 and head east over a body of water called Mobile Bay. You’re getting close when you get to Exit 35 (for Daphne/Spanish Fort). Go south on U.S. 98, and you’re about 7 miles from downtown Fairhope.
The historic downtown area is the heart of Fairhope. You could argue that the soul of the place lies just a few blocks to the west. They call this area the Eastern Shore or Mobile Bay.
That’s where residents go to enjoy nature’s beauty and take part in many outdoor recreational activities. It’s also the aquatic gateway to the Gulf of Mexico and the vast Mobile-Tensaw River Delta.
7 Things to Do in Fairhope
Let’s explore what this lovely city has to offer. For our first stop, we’ll check out the gorgeous, laidback waterfront. Then we’ll follow up with downtown Fairhope and beyond.
Enjoy A Sunset Stroll at Fairhope Municipal Pier
The main street through downtown Fairhope leads to the shore. The centerpiece of the city’s wonderful bay front park is a pier that extends more than a quarter-mile over the water. It’s perfect for a scenic stroll. You’ll likely share the space with a few people fishing or crabbing, and crowds get more prominent in the evenings.
That’s when people gather to watch the sunset, which is often stunning. Notice the fountain and rose garden, and you may want to walk the paved loop to the south. In the opposite direction, the road winds past a small pond where ducks, geese, and herons congregate.
Learn History at Fairhope Museum
This Spanish mission-style building on Section Street, which used to be City Hall, tells Fairhope’s unusual origin story. A small group of Midwesterners founded it in 1894 as a Single Tax Colony, with somewhat Utopian ideals.
You can view artifacts from the ensuing decades and even look inside an old jail cell. Other exhibits focus on the area’s long pottery history and era as a resort getaway accessible only by boat.
Pro Tip: We think the Fairhope Music Festival is the Ideal Fall Road Trip to Alabama! Learn more about how you can go!
Sample the Brews at Fairhope Brewing Company
Brian and Michele Cane made history in 2012 when they opened Fairhope Brewing Company. The lively taproom was one of the first in the state after a new law made it legal. It quickly became one of downtown Fairhope’s favorite places to while away time.
Their well-traveled brews, available throughout the region, have also drawn more attention to the city. Many of them have colorful names that reflect the local flavor.
Play at Fairhoper’s Community Park
Just look for the giant dinosaur statue to find the Community Park on Church Street. Or roll down your windows and listen for the excited squeals from children. The only time you won’t see this space full of families is when it’s shut down for the night.
The park had a significant overhaul just a few years ago. There are two sets of playground equipment and shady sidewalks, benches, and pavilions. The splash pad area has a pirate theme, keeping with the schools’ mascots.
Appreciate the Arts at Eastern Shore Art Center
Downtown Fairhope is a place that loves to express itself artistically. There’s public art like murals and sculptures, and the community actively fosters it. You can tour exhibits for free every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m at the Eastern Shore Arts Center. It’s also open after hours once a month during a regular event called First Friday Art Walk.
The center changes its exhibits monthly, and it holds workshops to help artists improve their skills and learn new techniques.
Pro Tip: Looking for somewhere to camp after visiting Fairhope? Spend the night at one of these 7 Best Alabama State Parks for Camping.
Enjoy a Delicious Treat at Mr. Gene’s Beans
There are dozens of one-of-a-kind small businesses in downtown Fairhope. This one’s in an old house on De La Mare Avenue. The aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans hits you as soon as you cross the threshold. For many, the ice cream treats and flavored popcorn are even greater attractions.
Mr. Gene’s offers something for all ages, but you may want to avoid the after-school rush. You can always get your treats to go to continue exploring downtown Fairhope.
Pick Blueberries at Weeks Bay Plantation
A short drive outside of town will remind you that this is an agricultural area, too. You can get hands-on experience in harvesting at Weeks Bay Plantation, just 11 miles south of downtown Fairhope. Picking blueberries is a fun diversion, and they have 15 different varieties.
All of them are organic, grown without help from herbicides or pesticides. The blueberry season is relatively short, from late April to early July. They also offer fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and cabins for rent.
When is The Best Time to Visit Fairhope?
There’s no wrong time to visit Fairhope, though many may prefer to avoid the high temperatures of late summer. However, we’re fans of spring because the entire city seems to be in full bloom. After being cooped up over winter, Fairhope bursts with more activity in March and April.
Downtown Fairhope’s streets and sidewalks are at their most vibrant during the annual Arts and Crafts Festival. We wouldn’t recommend coming in mid to late March only because some of our suggested places might be too crowded.
We’d plan for late April or early May. The weather is usually warm but not hot, and the nights are cool from bay breezes.
Have you ever visited Fairhope, Alabama? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
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