Visiting Fairhope, Alabama with Kids
We’ve been missing the Netherlands a lot lately. I think we mostly miss the relaxed vibe that came with walking and biking everywhere. We were more subject to our whims there. Things in a car seem to require more planning. With that in mind we decided to do an overnight in Fairhope, Alabama. A small town with southern charm sounded like what we needed.
Our mid-November off-season visit to Fairhope was exactly what we needed. There isn’t anything particularity child-friendly about Fairhope, except the exceptional family playground. Yet we found plenty to keep the whole family entertained. We largely left the car at the hotel and wandered around on foot.
Where to Stay
The Fairhope Hampton Inn is smack dab in the middle of the town. The public parking garage (free) is directly behind the hotel and you can leave your car there during your visit.
We were upgraded to one of the balcony rooms, giving us a cute view down Fairhope’s main street.
Where to Play
Fairhope has a whole host of parks to enjoy. We visited the Fairhopers Community Park twice in our short visit. The boys just loved playing. When we stopped by on Sunday evening the park was packed with people. The boys made friends and ran off. On Monday morning the park was quieter, but still not empty, and the three of them played together testing out all the equipment.
Fairhopers Community Park is fully gated, with a field, splash-park, public art and large play structures for all ages.
We literally had to drag the boys away from this playground both days. It is a great place to burn off some energy. There are plenty of benches around as well, so we were able to get a rest.
Where to Shop
I love popping into a store just for a peek. That can be super difficult with the boys. We found a few cute shops that were completely kid-friendly. The toy shop, Fantasy Island Toys, was so much fun to browse. If you head to the back of the store there is a small play area. The Middle and Little parked themselves while the Big browsed the shelves. I love getting to look at the toys and discover new brands. European toy shops used to be my favorite.
I’m particularly proud of myself for cultivating a love of bookstores with my kids. We always pop into little bookstores when we travel and grab a book for one of the boys. The Big Little was looking for a new independent read and Page & Palette had so many offerings.
The bookstore workers had an opinion about everything, which I love. They pointed the Big Little toward a few options. Although everyone was excited about The Train To Impossible Places, the Big felt intimidated by its size. Instead he ended up with another title, which he read all through dinner.
There are plenty of other stores to check out as well. I preferred to window shop with the boys in tow. It was so relaxing just to wander the streets of Fairhope, peering into the windows.
What to See
Fairhope is not very large, so you can easily explore on foot. There is plenty of parking though if you’d rather go by car. We just enjoyed all the cute small town elements.
Fairhope’s clock is as iconic as the city itself. We loved walking by and the idea of saying “meet me at the clock.”
Make sure you take the French Quarter cut-through. It’s a cute little alleyway that evokes the feel of the French Quarter in New Orleans. There are a few shops tucked back here as well as Panini Pete’s, a cute little sandwich shop.
It’s a 13 min walk from city center down to the waterfront. The walk has sidewalks, shade and beautiful houses. We easily pushed the stroller down there. It is downhill on the way to the water and uphill on the way back. The only strenuous part is just before you reach the fountain.
The pier is fun to walk on. There is a little seafood shop and snow cone place about half way down the pier. We visited with the fishermen and enjoyed the views of the bay.
As Mercury was transiting the sun during our visit, we also stopped to check it out. A woman who is a NASA ambassador had set up her telescope to help people view it.
Fairhope also has a ton of roses growing around the fountain and in the adjacent parks. They were so fragrant and beautiful, despite it being early November.
You will need to hop in your car if you want to visit Tolstoy Park. This little hermit house is now in the center of a parking lot. It’s open year round so feel free to go in and take a peak. You can read more about the house on Atlas Obscura.
Where to Eat
One of the main reasons to visit Fairhope is to check out all the fun places to eat. We certainly didn’t starve during our visit!
We stopped by The Yard for one of their famous milkshakes. They are beautiful and delicious. One was more than enough for the whole family to share.
This is the sea turtle and it was filled with chocolate, caramel goodness.
The kids went crazy for it. It was such a fun treat. It tasted good…it also sort of just tasted like a lot of sugar.
It was totally worth it for me just for the beautiful photo. You also get to take the glass home with you, what a fun souvenir.
We opted for a pizza dinner at Section Street Pizza. We are pizza snobs, and this place was delicious. I didn’t take any photos because the Little Little fell asleep and the Big Little read during dinner. Jeff and I happily enjoyed some local beers and conversation with the Middle Little.
I love finding local coffee shops and getting a coffee for our morning walk around town. Luckily, Jeff has learned to indulge my love of little coffee shops. Refuge coffee was an adorable little shop, that without kids I would have sat in and read the paper. I got my coffee to go though and savored it on our morning walk.
Also not to miss are the beignets and iced cafe-o-lait from Panini Pete’s. This cute place is tucked back in the ‘French Quarter’ and was a perfect stop for our second breakfast. Just be aware that Panini Pete’s is closed between 10:30 and 11:00am as they shift their kitchen from breakfast to lunch.
We wandered up right at 10:30 and they took pitty on us (and our children) and served us breakfast anyway. Don’t be like the Newcamps though – show up on time!
Why Visit Fairhope?
Overall, Fairhope is packed with the small town charm we are always longing for. There is just enough to do in town for a good day trip. We liked staying overnight so we could enjoy some of the things on the way to Fairhope and some of the things on the way home. It was nice to ditch the car for a day and just enjoy walking around.
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through one of our links, Dutch, Dutch, Goose! receives a small fee at no cot to you. As always, all opinions are my own.