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4 Fairhope AL

Updated: May 30, 2022

Dates: January 24-30, 2022


Day one in Fairhope, I am in love.




I’m pretty sure Fairhope is the backdrop for all Hallmark movies. They just pump in snow for the Christmas ones.



The AirBnb I rented was an apartment above some shops right on Fairhope Ave (the main street) which puts me a mere half-block away from the picturesque downtown and about three blocks from the waterfront walking trail on Mobile Bay. The whole space was large and comfortable.


After catching up on some emails I went for a walk. The people seemed relaxed and happy. Most are walking their dogs, running, pushing babies in strollers, pushing dogs in strollers… not a typo. I guess this is a thing?


I particularly enjoyed the energy of activity throughout the town. People enjoy life here. I know this because I caught sight of two bikers just sitting on a bluff overlooking the bay chit chattin’ away. Again it seems like it’s out of a movie, and if I wasn’t seeing it for myself I’d believe a place like this didn’t really exist, because who lives life like this on a Monday afternoon before 5pm? And in the month of January mind you.



Trying New Things

Little Book Library

During my walk, I stopped at two different little book library posts that are quietly placed on the trail. You know the box with a plexiglass window for a door where you take a book or leave a book for other people? It’s a free service and reminds me of the one I had in my old neighborhood that I never bothered to look inside of. Mainly because I’ve always purchased books from Amazon or downloaded them from the public library app.


I picked out When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. That’s right. A non-business, non-personal development, non-how-to-live-a-better-life book. This is a first in a very long time.


It follows a Japanese-American family after the attack on Pearl Harbor. I hadn’t ever thought about how they would have lived. The father was a successful businessman on the west coast. They were living the American Dream. Then the bombing happened and they were questioned as being the enemy. The dad was taken into a camp. The mom and kids sent to another camp. I can’t blame either side for how they felt or reacted. I’ve only heard stories about our troops so this was eye opening. The last chapter feels a little like a slap in the face to all other Americans and a little like… yeah if I were you I’d probably say the same thing.


Foot Detox



Is this snake oil? The water started clear and turned different colors as my body was detoxing. The therapist explained that each color correlated with different areas of the body so we’d know which area was detoxing at that time. The most toxic areas start first. I started with my lymph system, then liver, kidneys, and so on until it became a gross mess of murky water. The toxin colors aren’t coming out of my feet by the way. There’s a little machine box that spits out the colors. #thankstechnology I’m still skeptical. Wishing I’d have opted for a massage instead.


I did get the thumbs up that tap water is better for you than bottled water because of the oxygen. Bottled water is too pure - or something like that - so if you aren’t drinking alkaline water that they sell there the next best thing is good ol’ tap. I’m still going for convenience over anything.


Local Points of Interest

I took my laptop there one morning to taste a Vietnamese iced coffee which came highly recommended. It did not disappoint. After sucking down the last drop I asked what was in it. Sweetened condensed milk. Ah yes, sugary goodness, the secret to every sauce. I really wanted a slice of king cake too, but they only had an entire cake available. Knowing that I could easily eat it in its entirety, I figured it was best not to go there. It’s only week one.



Tapas Bar that will remain unnamed:

One evening I headed to try a Mediterranean place my landlords recommended. It looked busy and didn’t have a bar to sit up to. Just so you know, it’s kinda lonely sitting by yourself at a table so I tend to be drawn to bars if there’s no patio. Bartenders are usually good for friendly banter. I found the cutest little tapas bar next door so I opted for that instead. I pulled up a stool at, you guessed it, the bar.


Note to self: Stick to the list

If you sit in a semi empty bar in a very small place and it takes an insanely long time to be acknowledged, leave and go to the long list of recommended places your friends shared with you earlier. Facepalm. Lesson learned.


The Grand Hotel has an interesting history, having survived a few wars. It’s right on the bay and has an amazing view of the sunset. I might be biased but I do think Kansas and west Texas have more vibrant colors in their sunsets. But they don’t have the reflection off the water. Which is pretty awesome. It’s a toss up I guess.



In case you weren’t aware of Coca-Cola’s medicinal purposes: it’s better for you than iced cold water. This ad cracked me up. It has to be pre-FDA. The Grand’s lobby is full of historical pictures and clippings like this.




Tin roof. Wood floors. Walls covered in signs and old photos. Bacon on everything. I’m sure their beer list was legit but seeing as I was there for a working lunch I didn’t even look. The grilled shrimp and bacon wrap was mouth watering. The bacon was the meaty, thick cut kind. And some kind of aioli topped it off inside a tortilla that was grilled to crispy perfection. I feel like a food blogger describing this. I’m not a food blogger. The dessert menu tempted me with another bacon concoction that included a brownie, ice cream and salted caramel. My mind exploded and my mouth salivated just reading the ingredients. I’m still dreaming of it and thinking it’s worth going back for. Just one bite. Or maybe the whole thing. Who knows. I’m still sad I didn’t order it.


If you haven’t guessed yet, Bill-E’s is known for bacon. It gets shipped all over the place is what they tell me.



Places like this, covered in old road signs, remind me of a hole-in-the-wall back home called Sitka Social Club. It closed down when I was a kid in the 1990’s. A burger joint covered in old road signs off Highway 34 in southwest Kansas. I don’t recall it having this much bacon on the menu though.


Then this happened…


I went to this cool little taco place for dinner on Friday evening before the crowd showed up. I don’t think the bartender was super thrilled with all of my questions. Being so close to the coast, I’ve been trying hard to try new things - like fish. Which means I like to eat more local fare such as the seafood, because in case you didn’t know, I grew up on a cattle ranch. My main protein source is usually beef or pork. I love them both dearly, but I’m trying to expand my palate and see what else the world has to offer. The menu had poke tuna. I’ve had tuna rolls before but I have no idea if poke tuna is a tuna roll or if it’s something totally different. I should probably Google all of this before posting it out on the Internet. Going through the menu, I decide to ask the bartender if the tuna is local and if it’s caught in the Gulf, seeing as I have no idea where tuna comes from. Apparently neither did she because as soon as I asked the question the look on her face said “I’ve never had anyone ask me such a bougie thing.” I’m normally a dive bar kind of girl that will eat anything fried on the menu, but now I have this whole new level of curiosity in menus. I don’t think this curiosity translates to every establishment though. Back to my question.


The bartender had no idea how to answer my question, which led to a series of events of her asking another bartender, to asking someone in the kitchen who then reported back that the tuna comes from the Philippines and that the steak’s origins are from Indonesia. This got me thinking about how little I know about supply chain management and where our food really comes from. Moving forward I’ll be looking for that little symbol on food that says “sourced locally” because I want to support our local farmers. #shoplocal


This finally led me to ordering the turnip fries with spicy dill aïoli and a duck taco. I’m not even going there to ask where the turnip was farmed or the duck was raised. They were both fried which means they were absolutely delicious!


BTW if you want good American raised beef checkout gilesranch.com (yeah that’s my fam). You can order online. New site coming soon-ish. Their website developer is on some road trip and slacking on updating the online user experience.


My last full day in Alabama I bundled in layers in hopes of the weather warming up. After mass, I headed to Boudreaux’s Cajun Grill. It comes with a view! And in the spirit of trying new things I had the Zydeco plate with gator sausage (yum!), bacon (surprise, surprise) and some creamy, cheesy deliciousness sprinkled with Cajun dreams. Ahhhmazing!



Glad I layered up because the screened in deck was the best place to sit. It had a view of the bay. I can only imagine how nuts this place gets for Mardi Gras. I definitely want to come back some day for that time of year. Anyone want to join me?


I love my sisters. This is our family text thread that day:




Damn, I’m spoiled and blessed to live in America. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of the people who have served our country so that I can have the option to live this weird nomadic life.



Walking around the ship seeing how these guys lived, reading about all the different wars that have been fought for our freedom… Thank you to all of those who made it possible for me to follow my dreams. So if you’ve been hesitating on following one of your dreams you better get after it because a lot of people sacrificed their lives so that we would have this opportunity for freedom.


And this is the reason we spell check. Twice.





Photos never do the real thing justice. I have always enjoyed pictures of sunsets and ones that have cool things in the foreground like boats, but what those pictures never show you are the boats swaying in the water and how they add life to the scene. The boats aren’t just static objects like buildings. They’re constantly swaying with the water. I didn’t grow up around large bodies of water so this all still feels pretty new and I’m fascinated by a waterfront lifestyle. Whether it’s a lake or an ocean, it’s a totally different vibe from most other places. It feels more relaxed. Maybe that’s the attraction and why I decided to sell everything and move to the beach. In Fairhope, it feels acceptable to live slower and not always be on the go.


Best idea I’ve had so far:

Bringing my own bedding and pillows.

It’s so much more relaxing snuggling in at night when I get under my own sheets and my own comforter and all my own pillows that I know no one else has touched. It sounds silly that my biggest suitcase is dedicated to these nighttime necessities. Sorry, not sorry.


Second best idea: packing weights

As you can tell by now I like bacon. And sugar. And beer. I packed a bag of dumbbells so I can work it all off before the next round. A mobile gym is a necessity.


Fun Facts

Mardi Gras originated in Mobile, just north of Fairhope. This entire area goes nuts for Mardi Gras. It’s a three week celebration. Homes are decorated. I hear there are parades galore. And if I were a kid again I’d beg my parents to move here because the kids get an entire week off for Mardi Gras! And then another week off for spring break in April. My childhood feels cheated.


Routine This Week

Routines are funny things for me. I get bored when every day looks the same week after week. Month after month. I can’t even stick to a workout routine longer than a month. It gets too predictable. Boring. That’s one reason for this major life change. If you want to read up on how this has been a whole long time dream thing for me, you can read about it in the FAQs.


This week I’m really enjoying my daily routine which looks like:

  • Wake-up

  • Bible In A Year study

  • Mass & adoration in Daphne, AL

  • Spend the rest of the day working because it’s too cold to go outside

  • Eat something delicious almost every night trying different local joints


The part I don’t want to share… I slept terribly this week. I’ll be wide awake at 2:30am. So I get up and do the bible study at 3am, then go back to sleep until 6 or 7. Maybe it’s just stress still unloading from all this change?


The Church

Christ The King, Daphne, AL



I love Jesus. And I love being Catholic for a multitude of reasons you’ll discover over the course of reading. Lots of my rentals on this trip have been cross checked for distance to the nearest Catholic church. I have an app for it. Seriously. This particular church includes an adoration chapel. Once I learned about morning mass and the adoration chapel it was my first stop each morning. Some days I sat in for 15 minutes, other days I was there an hour and half. What a way to start the day.


Faith-filled thoughts this week:

  • Moral Courage is a recurring theme. It’s hard to try to live the way Jesus tells us when you’ve lived the way the world says is cool for so long.

  • Part of my daily prayer the past few years has been “I accept the abundance You have planned for me. I give You all that I am. Take over my life.” Prayers get answered. He’s blessed me with awesome clients and changing my cravings. I prefer morning mass to late nights out now. He must be supportive of bacon though because that craving has stayed solid.


There are a lot more insights, but I hesitate on how deep to go on here where it’s so public. Maybe I’ll save the big transformative heart stuff for a book someday?


This guy…

I passed this weird little mini-park with metal cutouts. Is it a goat? Is it a mermaid? Is it a mer-goat? It made me giggle every time I drove by so of course on the last day I had to stop for a photo op.




Meet My Biz Friends

A shout out to the friends I visit along the way.


C.J. Ezell: a Certified StoryBrand Guide who writes keynote speeches. I met C.J. a year ago when coming through Alabama for a different trip. He’s who introduced me to Fairhope. If it wasn’t for him coordinating a lunch with our other StoryBrand friends last year, I’d have completely missed out on this unique slice of heaven on earth. Thank you C.J. You’re the best! crossbaydigital.com


David Gibson: owns a bourbon brand which is hitting shelves near you in early 2022 called Judge Roy Bean Spirits. Judge Roy Bean is a local legend. It was a dirt floor watering hole that burned down in the 1970’s (feel free to fact check me because this is all by memory). The owner had a goat named Billy who roamed the property. You could drink with the goat. And Jimmy Buffet played there randomly. Kinda cool history. www.drinkwiththegoat.com www.judgeroybeanspirits.com


Kassidy Gibson: a commercial brand photographer. She has photo packages to help companies build their image library over time so they always have custom photos to pull from for social media, website or events. Work with her: www.focuscreativeco.com | Learn from her: www.brandpnotographersblueprint.com


Summary

Overall I’d say Fairhope is a winner. The architecture is amazing by the way! The way the houses all line up and fit each other so complementary of one another while simultaneously being completely different is amazing. A few homes are in need of a little TLC but overall it’s got to be one of the cutest towns I’ve crossed yet.


I didn’t want to look suspicious so took an awkward selfie to remember it should I ever settle down again.



When traveling to this quaint little town be prepared for people outside walking their dogs and waving with a smile as you drive by, even early in the morning.


Would I visit again?

No question. If I can’t find somewhere warmer for February 2023, Fairhope it is! I want to experience Mardi Gras here.


Would I live here?

I’d consider it. They still have winters so that’s a downer. I do love the vibe. It’s not a hard no.


Enthusiasm level: mid 40s.

Because it’s cold. That’s the temperature. Warm sunny beaches where are you?


Note to self: just because you’re near beachy like water doesn’t mean it’s going to be warm. For January and February 2023 look at weather reports before booking. I’m taking recommendations for next winter for places I won’t need a sweater.


Here’s to finding more Hallmark towns,

Megan “Not A Hallmark Movie” Giles


Sorry, no shirt

Not every blog post will have a fun graphic to commemorate that stop. Maybe I'll come back and think of a clever something one day to create for this cute town.


Edited by: Ali Garbero, Write Brand Marketing


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3 Comments


Catherine Brown
Catherine Brown
Mar 27, 2022

LOVE Fairhope. I was hoping you'd have a shirt. I'll keep watching for one. I brought my own sheet when I went to Europe and it was best decision EVER. Europeans love comforters with no sheet so I was delighted to have mine. Especially when I was there an extra 2 weeks for COVID and spent a lot of time in the bed. Happy birthday!!!

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Thanks for letting us tag along on the virtual side of this journey! Safe travels!

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Debbie Gerardi
Debbie Gerardi
Mar 27, 2022

Because of your rave reviews of Fairhope during our GGG retreat, my husband and I took a post-Pensacola jaunt to check it out. Hallmark-not-Hallmark setting indeed... and bedecked in Mardi Gras regalia! 👑📿 LOVE!

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