Explore the City of Fairhope AL: Where to Eat, Shop, & Stay in Downtown Fairhope

Whether you're spending a week in Fairhope or just a day, this guide is here to help you make the most of your stay in this lovely village by the bay.

Fairhope, situated along the quiet eastern shores of Mobile Bay in south Alabama, is known for many things. 

For starters, it’s one of only two remaining single tax colonies in the United States (the other is Arden, Delaware). In 1908, the 500 or so residents established their city with a “fair hope” of fulfilling their dream of achieving a utopian society allowing for greater economic and social equality. 

These original freethinkers naturally attracted more open-minded individuals, and Fairhope quickly evolved into a haven for writers, artisans, and creative types from all over. 

While some locales become travel and resort destinations over time, Fairhope has been attracting vacationers since day one.

Grand hotel point clear alabama travel guide

With much to see and do in this idyllic spot, combined with the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the area, spending a long weekend in Fairhope combined with a memorable stay at the Grand Hotel & Resort at Point Clear is time and money well spent.

Spend a Picture-Perfect Day in Fairhope

Savor Beignets for Breakfast at Panini Pete’s

Powdered beignets with lemons at panini pete's
Beignets with Lemon at Panini Pete’s

Whether you go for breakfast, Sunday brunch, or lunch, eating at Panini Pete’s makes for a deliciously memorable experience. Pete’s “Muffaletta” Panini has even been listed as one of the “100 Things to Eat in Alabama Before You Die.” 

But what will keep me coming back every time I’m in Fairhope is an order of the “Hip Hip Beignets” served, oddly enough, with large wedges of lemon to squeeze on top. Fluffy puffs of delight blanketed with a heavy dusting of powdered sugar. When you squeeze the lemon and take a bite, the melding of the acidic lemon with the sugar and bread creates a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth combo. 

Panini Pete’s is located in the heart of Fairhope’s charming, vine-encased “French Quarter” accessed through one of two romantic alleyways. When you finish eating, take time to stroll to the other shops hidden away in the French Quarter.

French quarter fairhope sign
Fairhope’s French Quarter

Visit the Fairhope Visitor Center & Museum

Museum of fairhope
The Fairhope Museum

I had never intended to visit the Fairhope Visitor Center or even the Fairhope Museum for that matter, but after stepping into the visitor center to use the restroom facilities, the friendly guides with their helpful maps of the town and all of the businesses and restaurants concisely listed convinced me to pay a short visit to the museum next door. 

20-30 minutes is all you need, and it is an enlightening and entertaining experience. Here you can learn more about the origins of Fairhope and what the founders hoped to achieve.

You can also learn about the unique occurrences in the region, such as the famed and fabled “Jubilee,” the unpredictable, somewhat mystical occurrence where loads of fish, crabs, shrimp, and eels swarm to the surface and make towards the water’s edge. 

Fairhope alabama museum visitor center jubilee wall
Museum Information on the Jubilee

While there hasn’t been a Jubilee in a long time now, the few documented photos of the event are something to behold. Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be swimming in the bay when this happened.  

Shop Eclectic Fairhope Stores

Antiques fairhope store sidewalk
Fairhope Antiques

With over 50 shops to browse, it’s easy to spend a day in Fairhope searching for a one-of-a-kind antique, updating your wardrobe, browsing used books at The Book Inn.

Or, go check out the latest bestsellers at Page & Palette, which incidentally is also a fantastic place to enjoy a cup of coffee in their cafe Latte Da or imbibe with a cocktail in their bar and event venue, the Book Cellar.

Like The Happy Olive, many of the shops offer complimentary tastings of their products, so you’re not investing in a bottle of something you only think you’ll like based on the description. 

The happy olive fairhope alabama
The Happy Olive

As an added bonus, since the shops are all located in the heart of downtown Fairhope, it’s easy to walk and discover each store as you weave back and forth along the flat, brick-paved sidewalks. 

Copper column store fairhope
The Copper Column

Lunch Like a Local in Fairhope

Locals at the alley restaurant in fairhope
Locals at the Alley

If you want to eat lunch in downtown Fairhope, you have loads of options. It seems like there’s a restaurant or cafe every few feet.

Serving more than just their melt-in-your-mouth beignets, Panini Pete’s is a great option offering a variety of salads and, of course, paninis!

If you’re craving a burger in an atmospheric alleyway, check out “Locals at the Alley.” Even if you don’t choose to eat here, do walk through the alley because it’s just that lovely––a romantic hideaway in the shade of the buildings with stairways leading who knows where. 

For a quick, super casual bite, visit the “Bay Breeze Cafe,” where you can try their signature Tomato Bisque topped with bleu cheese with a savory sandwich.

Tomato bisque and toasted bread
Tomato Bisque at Bay Breeze Cafe

On my most recent trip to Fairhope, I had the opportunity to try the delicious food at “Sage,” and their Mediterranean and Lebanese food was delicious. I can’t wait to go back.

Sage restaurant fairhope al falafel salad
Greek Salad with Falafel at Sage

The Hope Farm

The hope farm restaurant exterior
The Hope Farm

Located 1.4 miles from the heart of downtown Fairhope, dining at The Hope Farm is truly a can’t-miss experience.

The Hope Farm is a beautifully designed, sprawling restaurant and event venue, offering the freshest ingredients grown locally in their gardens, all pesticide-free.  Even the cocktails are what they describe as Farm-to-Glass. 

Cocktails at the hope farm bar
Garden to Glass Cocktails at Hope Farm

And as good as those cocktails are, the farm-fresh food is the shining star of The Hope Farm. 

Baked oysters
Baked Oysters
Burger and fries on plate at hope farm in fairhope
Hamburger & Fries at Hope Farm

The Hope Farm menu changes regularly based on seasonal ingredients, so check their current menu offerings.

Vegetarian flatbread
Vegetarian Flatbread

So, depending on the time of year, you might be getting completely different offerings than what I was able to order, but if they happen to have the Warm Mushroom Salad with Strawberries, don’t hesitate to order it.

Warm mushroom spinach salad with strawberries
Warm Mushroom Spinach Salad

It was so good that I tried to recreate it as soon as I got home, and I’m happy to report I was pleased with the result! Click here for the recipe. 

The Hope Farm also serves up a Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, so if you’re in Fairhope for the weekend, save room for a Croque Madame or a Vegetable Frittata

Desserts in Fairhope

Chocolates in window case at fairhope chocolate shop
Fairhope Chocolate

Located in the center of downtown Fairhope on Fairhope Avenue, Fairhope Chocolate has loads of sweet treats to satisfy a sweet tooth. From chocolate truffles and bonbons to gelato and sorbet, treat yourself with a visit here.

Mr. Gene's beans coffeeshop
Mr. Gene’s Beans Coffeeshop

Mr. Gene’s Beans has been a Fairhope fixture for sweet treats and coffee for over 25 years now. It’s a friendly, casual spot to cool your heels and indulge in the Fairhope Float or gourmet popcorn.

While they don’t have an official website, follow them on Facebook or Instagram for the latest offerings and happenings at Mr. Gene’s Beans. 

Cocktails & Beer

Tongue and groove drinkery flaming cocktail
Image Courtesy of Tongue & Groove Drinkery

Tongue & Groove Drinkery

If you’re looking for an upscale yet laid-back speakeasy-style bar, then take a stroll to Tongue & Groove Drinkery, where the cocktails are crafted with care with fresh ingredients and change seasonally. 

They also serve beer and wine if fancy cocktails aren’t your style. Closed Monday & Tuesday, the bar gets in gear Wednesday – Sunday beginning at 4:00 and closing at midnight.

For up-to-date happenings at Tongue & Groove, check out the Tongue & Groove Drinkery website, or their Facebook and Instagram pages. 

Fairhope Brewing Company

Two beers at fairhope brewery
Fairhope Brewery

With a large taproom for tastings or just a casual spot to enjoy a pint, Fairhope Brewing Company is a community hub offering locally made brews from around the state of Alabama. 

Food isn’t served here, but they allow you to “BYOF” (bring your own food). Conveniently located across the street from The Hope Farm, my suggestion is to enjoy a meal there and then walk across the street to sample a brew. 

The Grand Hotel at Point Clear

Grand hotel point clear evening
The Grand Hotel at Point Clear

Fairhope has its fair share of Bed & Breakfasts and Inns to choose from if you want to stay within walking distance of the town, but my suggestion is to book a stay at Point Clear’s historic and sprawling resort––The Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel & Resort recently underwent a $35 million renovation which tastefully updated the rooms and revitalized the restaurant and common areas of the resort while still maintaining the roots of its original charm. 

Tree lined walking path at the grand hotel
Walking Path at The Grand Hotel

During my stay here, I enjoyed a suite with a balcony in the Spa Tower overlooking the peaceful marina.

Though the Spa Tower is located at the far end of the resort, one of my favorite aspects of my stay here was the easy access to the paved perimeter walking pathway that surrounds and connects the resort together.

Point clear marina sunset grand hotel
Marina Sunset at the Grand Hotel

The History of The Grand Hotel

Stone fireplace in lobby at grand hotel resort
The Lobby at the Grand Hotel Resort

The Grand Hotel & Resort opened its doors in 1847, and over the years, eventually became known as the “Queen of Southern Resorts.” It has endured fires and weathered hurricanes, but the resort has rebuilt and renewed no matter the catastrophe. 

During WWII, the hotel was even used as a training base for the Army Air Corps, but even they paid their respects by not wearing combat boots in the dining room to avoid scuffing the pristine hardwood floors. 

A walk through the circular lobby with its eye-catching stone fireplace reveals much about the hotel’s history and the area through the fascinating photos on the walls. 

Award-Winning Golf

Pond and golf course at the grand hotel point clear
The Golf Course at The Grand Hotel

Joining 10 other locations for a total of 24 courses, the Lakewood Club is a proud member of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Golf course green at the grand hotel
Golfing at The Grand

The club offers two courses, the Dogwood and the Azalea, that have undergone recent transformations to improve their original designs. 

Oak tree on golf course at the grand hotel
Golf Course at the Grand Hotel

Dining At the Grand Hotel

Southern roots dining room
Southern Roots

Fine Dining | Southern Roots

Tomato pie at southern roots restaurant
The Tomato Pie

If I had to choose a favorite dining experience at the resort, my evening spent enjoying Southern Roots’ savory entrees is the clear winner. Delicious. 

Basil crusted gulf grouper sweet pea crab risotto grand hotel point clear southern roots
Basil Crusted Gulf Grouper with Sweet Pea Crab Risotto

The menu centers on locally sourced ingredients, with many of the rest vegetables and herbs being grown in the large garden just outside the restaurant.  

The restaurant itself is picturesque in its circular design, with delicate gold leaves dangling above with views to the lawn and bay beyond. 

Reservations are recommended. 

Casual Dining at Bucky’s Lounge

Cheese plate at bucky's lounge
Cheese Plate at Bucky’s Lounge

Bucky’s Lounge is a relaxed spot to unwind and enjoy various food options ranging from a farm-fresh fruit and cheese plate to a hearty Grouper Reuben Sandwich with fries. The evenings are lively, with local musicians providing classic tunes on the large grand piano.

If the music gets a little too loud, spill outside onto the wide green space filled with flickering fire pits and cushioned chairs. However, if you want to catch the sunset from one of those fire pit tables, claim your spot early because they fill up fast. 

Nearby Fine Dining | The Wash House

The wash house dining room
The Wash House

If the resort gets too crowded or you simply want to try a standalone Point Clear restaurant, then take a look at The Wash House which melds a rustic feel with elegant touches. 

Wedge house salad
Wedge House Salad

Resort Activities

The Pool

Pool at the grand hotel resort
Resort Pool

Most resorts have a pool, but not quite like this one at The Grand. Living up to the name, this pool is truly grand, featuring waterfalls, slides, water spouts, a splash pad, and an adults-only swimming pool.

Even on a crowded weekend, there’s still plenty of room for everyone; however, if you want ultra privacy plus luxury, take the plunge and rent a private cabana for the day where you can relax in ultimate comfort. The wait staff is attentive as well, offering specialty beverages and food from the Jubilee Poolside Grill. 

Additional Resort Activities

Gardens and reflecting pool with red blooms
Gardens & Reflecting Pool

In addition to the amazing pool, the Grand Hotel and Resort offers a load of other free activities for guests. With every day offering a slightly different event schedule, staying here almost feels like the guests have a cruise director enhancing the stay. 

One of my favorite mornings I spent participating in the free yoga class on the green space at The Point, where cool morning breezes blew in off the bay while the instructor guided us through a gentle yet challenging enough class over the course of the hour. 

The pier at the grand hotel resort
The Pier

At sunset, it’s fun to walk to the pier where kids (and grownups) can make use of the free fishing poles and try their hand at catching a fish. It’s also an excellent spot for watching Great Blue Herons, who also enjoy fishing off the pier. 

Hammock at the grand hotel resort marriott point clear

Swings and hammocks are spaced along the walking pathways for when you want to pause and enjoy the view or rest your feet. 

While it’s easy to get caught up in all the activities offered here, don’t forget to take a stroll through their gardens that circle the lily pond. The trees and flowering plants are labeled so you can learn about the diversity of the plant life cultivated here. Plus, it’s an ideal space to capture a few memorable photos of your stay. 

Final Thoughts

Heron in bay pink sunset

Whether you’re visiting Fairhope and neighboring Point Clear for business or pleasure, I’m fairly confident you’re going to enjoy your stay, and I hope this guide helps to enhance your experience all the more. 

I plan to revisit the area soon, so check back for updates on any additional experiences that are worth checking out during your visit. 

Thanks for reading! 

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