Fairhope is a southern vacation destination located on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. The pretty bay views and historic walkable downtown make it a fun foodie weekend getaway.
My travel friend and I came up with the best foodie philosophy: rather than have big meals, we opted to have small bites more frequently in order to try more restaurants. Highly recommend this approach to vacation!
Here are the things we did + recommend on our Fairhope, Alabama weekend getaway.
How to get to Fairhope, Alabama
It’s about a ten hour drive to Fairhope from Myrtle Beach, so flying is the faster choice. We chose Southwest from the Myrtle Beach International Airport and chose to fly into Destin, then drive two hours, because it was cheapest. Pensacola, an hour away, was another option. Mobile, Alabama is the closest airport (20 minutes from Fairhope.)
Sidenote: if you’ve never flown Southwest, it is like the Costco of flying: the best experience and affordable. You don’t have an assigned seat, and instead line up based on your number. It’s kind of the Wild West but it works so much better. Plus, we had a hilarious flight attendant comedian delivering the flight instructions.
The Fairhope Museum
When we asked locals to recommend their top Fairhope Alabama things to do, we were told to visit the Fairhope History Museum.
Since this was recommended by more than one person, we went.
The museum is located downtown and free.
It is a delightfully informative and entertaining two-floor experience that includes:
- a hall of oil paintings and one photograph of every former Fairhope Mayor
- a hanging mobile of antique lawnmowers
- the original wall + replica of the Fairhope jail
- front pages of the different Fairhope newspapers through the decades
- an antique Firetruck display
We did learn that the town was founded as a Single Tax Colony with the idea it would be a Utopia in 1894. The town owns all of the land, and homeowners lease the land from the town.
Cocktails at The Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel is one of the reasons Fairhope is a vacation destination.
Established in 1847, the hotel started with 40 rooms, later served as a Civil War hospital, grew in popularity and added more rooms, hurricanes and fires destroyed sections of the hotel, new owners added a marina and amenities, another visionary built a golf course, Hurricane Frederick forced it to close in 1979, more rooms and amenities expanded the property, and Marriott reclaimed its reputation as the Queen of Southern Resorts when it became a Marriott Autograph Collection property in 2018. Finally, in 2022, the Grand Hotel added quite possibly the preppiest of the preppy amenities: two championship croquet courts.
This is a must-visit spot on your Fairhope vacation.
Even if you are not a guest at the Grand Hotel, you can enjoy the restaurants, views, and spa. Located with gorgeous views of Mobile Bay, Bucky’s Restaurant at the Grand Hotel is the perfect spot for cocktails and a cheese plate. It was a little drizzly (but still a pleasant temp!) on our visit in January. Had the weather complied, we would have lounged with a glass of wine at a fire pits overlooking the bay.
Point Clear Shopping
You’ll find several fun shops around the Grand Hotel including the Punta Clara Candy Kitchen! This antique and candy shop is housed in a historic home. The candy kitchen opens into the retail section so you can watch the candy process while browsing.
We also loved The Garage Studio gift shop, an artsy collection of jewelry, entertaining pieces for your home, clothing, artwork, and gifts.
Downtown Fairhope Shops + Restaurants
The Fairhope Single Tax Colony somehow laid the foundation for the most charming downtown area in the South. The gorgeous historic buildings, pristine landscaping – even in winter! – and intricately lighted trees is beautiful.
Coffee at the Barn at The Hope Farm
The Barn is a cool coffee bar that makes the perfect first foodie stop on your Fairhope culinary adventure.
Fancy coffee concoctions with heart-shaped swirl patterns made out of dairy.
Savory items called Kolaches.
You have your choice of roasted mushroom + fontina, conecuh sausage, tasso ham and cheddar, and wagyu chorizo. We opted for mushroom and chorizo kolaches. They are basically cheesy, savory deliciousness wrapped in a pizza crust-like dough ball. Try one of each.
Sushi at Master Joe’s
If you love sushi, you’ll be thrilled with Master Joe’s Sushi in downtown. The intimate restaurant has a long sushi bar with seating behind it. The service is extra friendly, the menu has 27 specialty sushi rolls, a great wine list, and local craft beers on tap.
Tapas at the Dragonfly Foodbar
The best thing on the Dragonfly menu is the duck taco.
If you let your friend order it instead of you, you’ll forever regret it until you go back. It’s incredible.
We also sampled heirloom tomato tuna poke, mushroom soup, curry bowls, and shrimp tacos.
If we were Fairhopian Single Tax Colonists, we’d be frequent diners at Dragonfly.
Wine Flights at Provision
This large, open space has conversation areas for sitting and sipping, a wine bar, gift + food shopping, and counter service food for pick-up. Such a cool place! We ordered the chicken salad and a wine flight!
If you’re staying in Fairhope, Provision is a great place to stock up on gourmet snacks and wine for your stay.
Fairhope Soap Company
The perfect souvenir: bath bombs from Fairhope Soap Company! Everything in the store is bright and colorful with fresh, clean scents.
The Fairhope Pier is surrounded by a beautiful park with walking and biking trails along the water. Festivals and events are held here throughout the year.
Where to stay
We loved the Palmetto Cottage, an AirBNB find, which is located on a main road but with easy access to everything in Fairhope. We drove everyplace, but had the weather been nicer we would have enjoyed walking the neighborhoods. It’s a few minutes drive from downtown. The comfortable cottage had cute decorations and a bottle of Prosecco in the fridge to welcome us!
Fairhope is a fun spot for a weekend away with friends – the downtown is picturesque, the Pier is stunning. This is a laidback foodie destination, and a short drive to sandy white beaches for a day trip. Happy travels, friends!