If you’re ever in the Lower Alabama area, you would be doing a disservice to skip visiting Fairhope before you leave. Situated in Baldwin County, this adorable little town has all the old-world charms you would want from somewhere like New Orleans or even downtown Mobile, but without the touristy hustle-and-bustle. If you’re looking for that old-fashioned small-town Southern feel, you need to look no further than Fairhope. Let’s take a look at our top 5 reasons to love downtown Fairhope!
1. Walkable (& a gorgeous walk, at that!)
While it might seem kind of silly to point out that the downtown area of a city is walkable—the downtown area of Fairhope was designed to “prioritize the pedestrian over the automobile.” It’s very evident that city planners prioritized the walking experience over the driving one, so much so that public parking is available right inside the downtown area, so you can experience all downtown Fairhope has to offer without stressing over parking. The public parking also makes Fairhope feel super welcoming to guests, as you immediately have somewhere to park your car and explore Fairhope like a local.
Once exploring Fairhope, you’ll immediately notice how absolutely picturesque it is. Whether it’s the planters (both hanging and standing!) that line the streets or shops expanding to decorate the front of their business to be more enticing—there’s nothing but Insta-worthy-photo after Insta-worthy-photo in Fairhope. Even if you only go to Fairhope to walk around and marvel at how gorgeous, you’ll have a wonderful time.
2. Historic Downtown Fairhope
Fairhope Pharmacy. Plaque on Fairhope Pharmacy. Christmas Round the Corner dedication Olde Church Street
Of course, a town this quaint, walkable, and Downtown-Disney-esque is absolutely drenched in history. It was founded in 1908 by just 500 residents and has now blossomed to about 15,000. Downtown Fairhope is basically its own historic district, where you can see plaques that mark the building’s presence on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s truly awesome to walk the streets and see building after building rescued and preserved in downtown Fairhope.
We highly recommend the Fairhope Museum of History, a precious historic structure that tells the story of Fairhope in an immersive way. There’s also the famous Fairhope Pharmacy, a structure built in 1916 that still operates as an independent pharmacy to this day (with a side of fun novelties and gifts, of course!)
3. It has its own French Quarter!
Yes, you heard us right—its own French Quarter! Almost tucked away from the main drag of downtown Fairhope, the French Quarter is a charming collection of restaurants and boutiques. It feels like walking into a speakeasy when you enter through the topiary-draped archway reading “The French Quarter.” While there, you can check out some jewelry shops and boutiques, or stop by the ever-famous Fairhope Chocolate, where you can feast on decadent and handmade candies to your heart’s content!
Of course, like everywhere else in Fairhope, the Fairhope French Quarter is gorgeous and worthy of a few snaps, for sure.
4. Shopping galore!
The Book Inn, Fairhope. Aubergine antiques, Fairhope. The Happy Olive, Fairhope. Cool shops in Fairhope. Photo via Liv George for The Bama Buzz.
If there is one thing that I am always looking for in small towns, it’s the artisanal shops. Something about handmade soaps and candles or curated home decor is just so fun to peruse. Boy, oh boy, does Fairhope have that down! Shop after shop in Fairhope is absolutely packed full of personality—no big box stores anywhere. Plus, there are so many options, I absolutely guarantee everyone will find something they like. If you’re more the thrifting and antiquing type, Fairhope’s got you covered on that too.
Here’s just a few stores in Fairhope that we recommend, and a list of downtown Fairhope’s shops:
- Aubergine Culinary Antiques and Oriental Rugs: Opulent antiques and home decor with an awesome building to boot!
- 315 De La Mare Avenue
- Downtown Antiques: Your classic type of antique place, with that charming Fairhope twist!
- 31 South Section Street
- The Colony Shop, Inc.: Keeping Fairhope’s women well-dressed since 1946.
- 27 South Section Street
- The Fairhope Store: A fun, laid-back, beachy boutique to grab a moment of Fairhope before you go home.
- 323 De La Mare Avenue Suite 1
- Fairhope Soap Company: Remember the handmade soaps? Found ’em!
- 305 De La Mare Avenue
- The Spice and Tea Exchange: Wall-to-wall teas and spice blends for your perusal. Need something you don’t see? They’ll make custom spice or tea blends for you.
- 323 De La Mare Avenue
- Fairhope Brewing Company: Check out Fairhope’s local brewery for 15 beers on tap and a huge wine selection.
- 914 Nichols Avenue
- The Mill: A cute little market filled with 3 restaurants, bars, live music, and more.
- 85 North Bancroft Street
- Page and Palette: My personal favorite because it’s really an all-day hang. All in this one structure there’s a coffee shop, bookstore (with novelty items, of course), and a wine bar with live music. Seriously, go check it out.
- 32 South Section Street
5. All the good food & drinks
Sage restaurant Locals Restaurant, Fairhope.
After a long day of exploring Fairhope, you must be hungry! Luckily, Fairhope has a huge selection of equally-delicious restaurants for every craving. Here’s a few restaurant recomendations in Fairhope:
- Panini Pete’s Cafe and Bakeshoppe: This is an absolutely classic & famous Fairhope restaurant! Located in the French Quarter, they even make beignets every morning for authenticity! Panini Pete’s is so popular it was even featured on the Food Network.
- 42 1/2 South Section Street (French Quarter)
- Fairhope Inn and Restaurant: A classy yet cozy dining experience in the heart of downtown.
- 63 South Church Street
- Sage Lebanese Cuisine & Cafe: Delicious and homemade Lebanese food with an amazing atmosphere.
- 319 Fairhope Avenue
- R. Bistro: An awesome bistro of southern food with a French twist, along with cakes and pastries.
- 334 Fairhope Avenue
- Locals: A laid-back and casual mom-and-pop joint.
- 312 Fairhope Avenue
- Flybar: A super awesome bar with designer cocktails and small-bath brewed beers.
- 7 South Church Street
There’s simply so much to do in Fairhope, you can’t go wrong no matter how you spend your day. Just make sure to get some awesome pictures for the ‘gram while you do!