Where the Locals Go... Dining in Fairhope

Where do the locals go?  This question is asked all over town by tourists when considering restaurant options.  One of best things about our great town is the many restaurant choices.  Here are a few of our local favorites:

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For Breakfast
Julwin's   The oldest restaurant in Baldwin County, a favorite for both breakfast and lunch.
Buck's Diner  Our local "meat and three" restaurant that is a town favorite for breakfast and lunch.

Coffee Break
The Coffee Loft  The place for coffee and conversation with eclectic decor and energy.  Our "Down Home Starbucks".
Bean & Bistro This hidden treasure off Hwy 98, behind Pizza Hut, is a a wonderful place to meet friends with it's spacious back meeting room. 
Latte' Da Located beside the Page and Palette Bookstore, this coffee shop is the place to sip and read, or sit outside and watch the world go by.

For our Lunch Hour
Ben's Barbeque  From construction workers to lawyers. it's the place where the locals grab a burger or great BBQ. 
Windmill Market  "Meet me at the Windmill after Yoga!" Great eco-friendly place for healthy options and more!
Panini Pete's Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Panini Petes has made it's mark for the lunch spot in downtown Fairhope.  
Rae's Kitchen  Another local hidden treasure and right off the beaten path on Section Street offering sandwiches, wraps and salads
Two Sisters Deli  A wonderful place to grab a sandwich and sit on the deck overlooking the majestic oaks on Scenic 98.

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When we're with family and friends 
Old 27 Grill  A great place for hamburgers in Fairhope.  Located on Hwy 181 which used to be Hwy 27, hence the name. 
Big Daddy's On fish river, you can access Big Daddy's by car or boat.  Lots of food to choose from and great bushwackers!
Papa's Pizza  A local favorite, located right in the heart of downtown Fairhope.  A great choice for "Artwalk" First Fridays. 
Gambino's Italian Grill Gambino's has been around since 1975 and is well known for their Italian dishes, steaks and seafood. 
Dragonfly This is a local favorite for gourmet tacos.  They recently changed locations to a larger spot to accommodate their growing clientele. 

For a Date Night
Pinzone's Italian Downtown  A beautiful spot to eat a lovely dinner and enjoy downtown Fairhope.  Don't leave until you have your photo taken in the Italian Village surroundings. 
Sunset Pointe  Located on Fly Creek, this is the newest spot for the locals to enjoy a night out overlooking beautiful Mobile Bay.
Master Joe's  Many regard Master Joe's as one of the best places for Sushi.  Actually, even those who don't enjoy sushi love Master Joes' other options.   

When we want to get Fancy
Camellia Cafe With a newly renovated space in downtown Fairhope, Camellia Cafe has a gourmet menu with an incredible wine selection.
Tamara's Downtown  Tamara's offers a Tuscan inspired atmosphere and many great dishes from which to choose. 
The Fairhope Inn  Located in historic Fairhope, this is the elegant option for a special night out.

For Cocktails and Conversation
Red or White With an extensive wine selection and a great  appetizer menu, this is the spot to meet for a glass of wine and conversation. 
The Plow Offering live music with a bustling atmosphere, this is a great place to meet after dinner or for the game. 
McSharry's  Our local Irish Pub.  The place to enjoy a beer and a Reuben!

The History of the Lighting of the Trees

The Christmas Season is truly a magical time in Fairhope, Alabama.  One of the most cherished traditions is for families to go to "The Lighting of the Trees" in downtown Fairhope.  This event is in walking distance of DOGWOOD and it is one of our favorites.  

We recently came across a blog post from our friends at "The Fairhope Store" that explains this tradition and how it came to be.   By the way, The Fairhope Store is a wonderful store in downtown Fairhope that offers a wide selection of stylish Fairhope themed apparel and accessories.  Check out their selection here.  This store might seem somewhat of a tourist spot, and it is, but it is incredibly popular with the locals as well.  You will see many cars with Fairhope tags and folks with Fairhope shirts all over town. 

Courtesy of The Fairhope Store

Everyone in Fairhope gets in the holiday spirit when the trees are lit each Fall, but not everyone knows the story behind the Lighting of the Trees. We caught up with Donnie Barrett, director at the Fairhope Museum of History, to get the whole story.

Before any trees could be lit, there had to actually be trees lining the streets of downtown Fairhope. In the 80s, Mayor Nix began a beautification of Fairhope project, which inspired a certain Dr. Wolfe to suggest planting trees up and down the town. Dr. Wolfe, a native of Germany, said that his hometown had trees lining the streets, and thought doing the same thing in Fairhope would add extra charm to the town.

Dr. Wolfe convinced the Rotary Club to buy and plant 15 Bradford Pears on Fairhope Avenue. Some of the trees were in front of Stowe’s Jewelers, and Joyce Stowe decided she wanted to put twinkle lights on the trees for the holidays. She enlisted the help of the Electrical Superintendent for the city, Aaron Norris, to run power to the lights in the trees.

More and more people caught on to the idea of stringing lights in the trees, the Bradford Pears grew larger, more trees were planted, and the annual Lighting of the Trees became a tradition.

Now Public Works trim the trees, putting in more than one million lights over the course of several months. A ten-man crew works for hours a day stringing the trees before November. After the lights come down in the Spring, the crew cuts the lights out and replaces them. It’s a massive undertaking, requiring a large budget of both money and manpower, but it’s made for decades of spectacular Christmases in Fairhope.

Donnie said that if you look very carefully at some of the trees on the streets, you’ll notice some fresh dirt, meaning that one of the Public Works workers has come in the middle of the night and planted a Chinese Elm. The City plants Chinese Elms now, because Bradford Pears break easily, causing damage to vehicles or potential harm to pedestrians. He says you’ll notice that the eastern part of Fairhope Avenue has no parking spaces because of the hazard of falling tree branches!

If you want to hear the story of the Lighting of the Trees yourself, or learn more about the history of our town, visit the Fairhope Museum of History, open Tuesday- Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm.

You can find the original blog post by The Fairhope Store here.

To learn more about the great photography by Chris Riley visit here