Fairhope, Alabama is a cute, small coastal town located on the east side of Mobile Bay. It has become an increasingly popular vacation spot because of its adorable downtown area, friendly locals, and countless activities in the area.
One of the main attractions in this town is the Fairhope Municipal Pier. This spot is even recognized as the "town square." No matter the duration of your stay, a trip to the pier is a must.
These are the top things to do at the pier:
- Watch the sunset
- Swim/beach activities
- Walk the pier and surrounding trails
Keep reading to learn more about the Fairhope Pier, the activities to do on and around it, and what else to do and see in the area.
Visiting the Fairhope Municipal Pier
The Fairhope Pier is surrounded by community parks. So, aside from the pier directly in front of you, there are also a few walking trails with beautiful views of the bay area. In fact, the park area at the pier is one of the most popular locations in the city to watch a gorgeous sunset.
The parking lot for the pier is a circular loop near the base of the pier. In the middle lies an immaculately kept rose garden and fountain. It's a rather small area but it's worth checking it out.
If you have trouble finding parking in this spot, there's additional parking to the side at North Beach (may be a parking fee in summer hours for non-residents) or a few spaces up top by the bluff lookouts.
If nature calls while you're on the pier, don't fret. There are public restrooms on the pier. The restrooms are located right across from the marina. The marina has a seafood restaurant on-site, but we couldn't manage to find the hours or tell if it's still open.
The city holds a variety of events throughout the year on the pier park grounds. Events range from Fourth of July festivities to local live music.
Now let's get into the top four things to do at the pier.
1. Watch the Sunset
Fairhope is known for its beautiful sunsets. It even seemed like a lot of locals go down to the pier to watch the sun settle down over Mobile Bay on a regular basis.
When we went to the pier area to watch the sunset one night, we saw lots of people bring their own chairs and blankets to sit down and enjoy nature and the changing evening colors. Bringing chairs didn't even cross our minds, but if you forget (or simply don't want to carry chairs) there are plenty of park benches scattered throughout the area that provide a clear view of the sunset.
Above the park is a bluff area that's also a popular viewing spot. You can either park your car up on the streets adjacent to the bluffs, or you can climb some wooden staircases (if you're feeling a little adventurous!) to get up to the top. Regardless of where you decide to sit, the gorgeous Fairhope sunset is sure to take your breath away.
Fishing off the pier is a popular activity. However, make sure you have your Alabama saltwater fishing license for doing so. You can look into Alabama fishing licenses here.
Cast nets are one of the most popular fishing methods that you'll witness off the pier (yes, these require licenses, too). It's a pretty fascinating process to watch. Whenever we visited, there were at least 5 groups using cast nets. They hauled in quite a few fish, too.
3. Swim and Beach Activities
We discuss this in more detail below, but there are lots of water-related activities to enjoy in the pier area. From swimming in the bay to lounging on the shore, you can easily spend the entire day here.
4. Walk the Pier and Surrounding Trails
Since the pier is a quarter-mile long, you can take in a lot of the surrounding scenery and activity. Watch the fishermen, look out for sea life, and observe the pelicans that Fairhope is known for. You can even see the skyline of the city of Mobile across the bay.
If you're feeling active, the Fairhope Pier area has several trails that run throughout the area. We only explored a small part of one trail (we did a ton of walking throughout the downtown area, so we were beat), but they do offer a nice outdoorsy experience for those interested.
We saw lots of other people enjoying nature and taking in all the beauty of the area.
Common Questions About Visiting The Pier
What are the Hours at the Pier?
The pier is open 24/7. The only time the pier will be closed is if there's ever construction or repairs being done on it or if it sustained damage or is considered unsafe from the effects of a hurricane or tropical storm.
We visited Fairhope about a week after Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana. By this point, the Fairhope pier and its services were opened back up, but the sign below was set to the side. If you're traveling to Fairhope after a hurricane hit the area, keep in mind that it may be closed. Luckily, this is not a frequent occurrence!
Do You Have to Pay to Walk The Pier?
No, there are no fees associated with the pier entrance.
How Long Is Fairhope Pier?
The Fairhope Pier is a quarter of a mile long. We even measured the distance ourselves! To be precise, it's 1,448 feet long. Even if you don't plan on fishing, walking the pier and taking in the surroundings is a great activity.
Can You Swim at Fairhope Pier?
Swimming is permitted at the pier. Do not jump or dive off the pier, though. There are beaches on each side of the pier: South Beach and North Beach Park. There are signs posted that display the water conditions; water conditions are tested every week from March 30 to September 30. Red = fail and green = passed. You can check the current status here.
North Beach Park
During the summer hours, non-residents typically have to pay an entrance fee to North Beach Park. The beach area is well-maintained. There are also public restrooms, benches, walking trails, pavilions, and even a duck pond.
Do note that since it is the bay area, you won't have your white sand beaches and emerald waters like at the gulf coast beaches. The water may be a bit brown, but if the looks don't matter much to you, it's nothing to worry about.
If you want the blue waters and white sand experience, consider making a trip down to Gulf Shores or Orange Beach. The drive from Fairhope is about an hour and under 40 miles.
When we visited, we saw quite a few families with kids relaxing out at this beach area all day.
The photos below will give you a better idea of what the little beach area is like.
Note: Fairhope Pier is directly under where this photo was taken; the pier in the shot is another small one that juts out from the beach.
This photo was taken closer to sunset, and as you can see, there are still several families enjoying this neat little area well into the evening.
Are Dogs Allowed at Fairhope Pier?
Dogs are not allowed on the pier. However, you can most certainly walk them around the surrounding trails and parks, provided they're on a leash. And as always, please be a responsible owner and pick up after your dog.
What Is There To Do Around The Pier?
Because Fairhope is a rather small town, all the restaurants and activities are pretty close to each other. The pier is only about a half-mile away from the downtown area that's full of shops and restaurants.
There are all kinds of shops to explore. Some options include antique shops, boutiques, art galleries, specialty food stores, book shops, and a museum.
These are some of the top restaurants in the area:
- Panini Pete's—this restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives
- Section Street Pizza
- Cactus Cantina
- Tamara's Downtown—a local we met raved about this place
- Gambino's Italian Grill
- The Bone and Barrel—enjoy live music here on many weekends
- The Fairhope Inn
- Camellia Cafe
- The Hope Farm–unique, tranquil atmosphere with sustainable food offerings
Desserts & Libations
Fairhope also has a few great dessert options:
- Mr. Gene's Beans—a local hot spot
- Fairhope Chocolate—they make yummy treats and baked goods in-store as well as import delectable Neuhaus chocolates, straight from the chocolatiers for Belgian royalty
- The Yard Milkshake Bar—this spot is too fun to skip over; The Yard offers lots of delicious, over-the-top milkshakes
- Provision—we loved this little spot; it's a specialty food market, coffee shop, wine bar, and home goods & decor shop all in one
- Refuge Coffee
- Bucky's Lounge—relax, kick your feet up, and enjoy a drink at this spot in the Grand Hotel; the inside features comfortable leather chairs and couches, and the outside offers cozy outdoor seating with firepits
- Fairhope Brewing Company
Where to Stay in Fairhope
There are three types of lodging experiences you can enjoy in Fairhope. First, you can stay at a grand hotel. Second, you can stay at a regular hotel. Third, you can stay at a bed and breakfast or house rental (such as Airbnb). No one lodging experience is better than the others; it all depends on the experience you wish to have.
The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa
If you're looking for a luxurious, high-class stay, then The Grand Hotel is for you. The Grand is located just southwest of downtown Fairhope right next to the Lakewood Golf Club. Being a luxury hotel right off the water, the grounds and scenery at The Grand Hotel are exquisite.
What's more, the hotel boasts an impressive number of restaurants that run the gamut from relatively casual dining to something a little more high-end. The grounds also have a golf course, tennis courts, a fitness center, an elegant spa, two outdoor feature pools, and more.
This hotel is located in the middle of downtown Fairhope. All kinds of shops and restaurants are just a quick walk away. We opted to stay here because of its central location in the town. There's a free parking garage located directly behind the hotel.
Bed and Breakfast or Vacation House Rental
Fairhope is home to a handful of adorable bed and breakfasts and vacation house rentals. You can even stay in a castle, provided that the dates you want are available, of course.
Some of the most popular bed and breakfast choices include Emma's Bay House, Fairhope Inn and Restaurant, Little Point Clear, and Bay Breeze Bed & Breakfast. Book early to guarantee a room or two.
Fairhope, Alabama is a quaint little town that has understandably become a hidden gem amongst tourists. The pier is the heart of the Fairhope experience, so if you decide to check out this neat town, going to the pier is a must! Safe travels!