Fairhope, Alabama

Fairhope lies along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, between Mobile and Gulf Shores. It's ironic that I'd never even been there prior to 2001, but since then I've visited several times, mostly for the big Arts and Crafts festival held there each March. It's an idyllic place; I've often thought about moving there.

The tree-lined downtown area of Fairhope consists of only a few streets. It has lots of neat little shops and galleries, and wonderful landscaping - its really a gem of a town. There's a definite New Orleans flavor to some of the architecture too - lots of places have second floor balconies with wrought iron railings.

If you continue west from downtown on Fairhope avenue, you'll come to the grand pier that stretches out into Mobile Bay. It's a good place to watch the sunset.

There are only a handful of restaurants in Fairhope. My favorite is probably Gambino's, an Italian place close to the bay. They serve salad and breadsticks like Olive Garden's (which is fine with me, since I always thought that was the best thing Olive Garden had anyway), and their pasta dishes are the real deal. My favorite dish there so far is probably the Shrimp Pomodoro, a linguini dish served with shrimp and vegetables in a butter-wine sauce. Yum.

One thing I really like about this area is that the homes aren't crammed together like sardines. Even on the west side of town (between hwy 98 and the bay), where there are actual neighborhoods, there's some breathing room between one house and the next. And they're nestled under these towering oak and pine trees, the likes of which modern suburbia may never see.

If you head east of hwy. 98, you'll find homes (and farms) on some real acreage. There are some homes to the south of Fairhope on rolling estates with white fences that look like they belong in the horse country of Kentucky. Further east are farms with acres of crops of corn, tomatos and other vegetables. Fresh vegetables are available here most of the year, but I think June is probably the best time for them, as that's the peak season for tomatoes and the sweet Silver Queen corn.

All in all it's a wonderful area. I could live here.

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