A note from Andi:
Earlier this year I had an opportunity to travel to Fairhope, AL on a bit of a whim. I'd been writing a bit about solo travel and intended to take a drive to a new place to spend a little more time out on my own; as soon as the plan was made, however I was invited to cover a festival further down on the Alabama coast. I've gotten pretty good at going with the flow so I called my sister, invited her to meet me, and what started as a solo road trip turned into something seriously special.
Chelle and I stayed for the weekend at the Seaglass Inn. The place drips with relaxation. Deb, the Proprietor, has considered every detail from the luxurious linens to the locally made essential oil bath bombs. The Inn, a historically registered Mission style cottage, is on the bluff by the Mobile Bay and is perhaps one of the dreamiest b&b's anywhere. Each morning Deb prepared a breakfast full of local ingredients and in the evenings we enjoyed wine and cheese followed by steam baths and a retreat style soaking tub.
Susanna's hometown is Fairhope, AL, so of course I had to ask her for the full list of her favorite places! Between The Seaglass Inn and Susanna's recommendations below, when it's time for your next solo getaway, a weekend with your best girls, or even if you're planning a romantic weekend trip, Fairhope should be high on your list!
Enjoy Susanna's guide below!
Susanna's Guide to Fairhope, AL
Sometimes you have to step away from home to realize how beautiful it truly is. While I always knew Fairhope, AL was something special (a town that was founded by nudists, artists, and all around free spirits), I never really saw the beauty and particular charm until I came back as an adult with a fresh view. So if you’re visiting for the first time, or interested in taking a trip to an alluring little city on the bay, let me share a few must see spots us locals think you should put on your list.
The French Quarter:
Yes, we have our very own teeny tiny French Quarter that must be visited. Nestled between shops, a small cobblestone path leads back to a New Orleans-style courtyard filled with unique shops and savory dining spots. At the super popular Panini Pete's, people love to sit outside by the large fountain listening to New Orleans' jazz and eating some of Pete's delicious beignets (which I may be biased, but they're some of the best I've had). Another shop inside is The Bay Candle, with hand poured candles that are inspired by different areas of the city. Orange Street Pier, which smells exactly like oranges, and Fairhope Float, which is the best float found at Mr. Gene's Beans, are two of the most amazing candles you’ll ever purchase!
Mr. Gene's Beans:
This ice cream and candy shop has been around as long as I can remember. It used to be the place we would love to go to as kids, and I still go there whenever I'm in town. A small white cottage in the middle of downtown, this has always been a favorite place of the locals. Ice cream, candy, coffee, and like I mentioned above - The Fairhope Float, a coffee float that can be topped with cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, or nutmeg - is absolutely delicious! The same owner, Gene Leighty, has been running the place for over 20 years.
The Windmill Market:
A once abandoned 1960s car dealership, The Windmill Market is now a community for food, music, and all things local. Powered by a windmill that runs on collected rainwater and solar power, this marketplace is filled with all kinds of unique, healthy restaurants, with gardens of vegetables being grown on the premises. Fridays and Saturdays local bands hold concerts. Mary Ann's Deli, a longtime local favorite with some of the best sandwiches around resides there. Tom Jones Pottery has a small shop inside with tons of gorgeous pottery made from local Fairhope clay. (His actual shop is further out in Fairhope and a great place to buy all kinds of gifts- especially at Halloween when he makes clay jack-o-lanterns and witches).
The Fairhope Pier/Orange St. Pier:
This large pier is surrounded by parks and fishing boats and is gorgeous to walk on - especially at sunset. You can always find people fishing off the side, families heading down to the restaurant at the end to eat seafood, and couples just taking a walk. The parks and trails that go off down the beach are filled with running paths and dog parks. Overlooking the pier and the long stretch of beach are numerous parks along the bluff where the Baldwin Pops will put on Sunday night concerts for free in the summer. Stroll along and you’ll find access to other piers, such as Orange St. Pier, smaller, but just as beautiful a spot to enjoy the view.
Page and Palette:
This long time book store has been around since 1968 and hosts book signings and events. They also just opened a bar inside called The Book Cellar. Each drink has a literary name like Tequila Mockingbird, Rum Forrest Rum, The Old Man and the Seagram, etc. Who wouldn’t want to shop for books while sipping on a Gin Eyre?
What started out as an upscale Italian restaurant soon transformed an entire alleyway into a little piece of Italy. If you walk down this stretch of Fairhope, the cobblestone streets, the flickering lamps, outdoor tables, Italian music playing throughout, and themed buildings - for a few minutes it would look exactly like you were walking through Italy.
Fairhope is big on their art. Like other cities, the first Friday of every month is Art Walk night. On any given day though, you're bound to walk past artists set up on the side of the street or down on the bluffs overlooking the bay with their easels and watercolors. There are several galleries that are popular, but probably the oldest and best known for everyone in the city is Lyons Share. This large and beautiful two story gallery always features local and regional artists. Arts & Crafts is a huge event that happens one weekend every March. The whole downtown area is closed off and tents are put up with local and regional creations. Over the years it has grown with musical guests and plenty of food and parties.
Oak Hollow Farm:
A giant barn that's used for concerts (indoors and outdoors), horseback riding, and weddings. Surrounded by massive old oak trees, this place makes for a beautiful wedding venue. Bunk rooms are rented for anyone that wants to stay, and hayrides are given all over the farm. Visit this hidden gem and you’ll be able to capture some stunning images.
Susanna Williams is a creative writer in a variety of media. Spending years in the independent film industry in Los Angeles, she worked in screenwriting before becoming a distributor of festival winning films. When she's not working with her start up production company in New Orleans, she writes fiction and raises orphaned baby wildlife. 🐒🐻🐱 She's a huge travel enthusiast with a love for art, fashion, and beauty. (p.s. she wore baby blue velvet booties to her ouiwegirl.com interview. so between that and the baby animal love, clearly, she wins at life.)
All photos in Susanna's guide are her own.