THE Definitive Guide to Fairhope, AL Everything you ever wanted to know, all in one place.
All About Fairhope
This page is intended to be THE Definitive Guide to Fairhope, AL containing everything you ever wanted to know about the town, all from an insider’s perspective. It is also to be used as a guide to help educate people moving to the area and to aid in their decision making when buying a home in Fairhope. Phillip Barham is both a full-time real estate agent and a full-time blogger with strong ties to the area and has compiled this information to help you gain a deeper understanding of this beautiful city and what all it has to offer. Be sure and check out his Blog as well as his Upcoming Events page to keep current on events happening in Fairhope as well as the rest of Baldwin County. If you have any questions, please contact Phillip at (251) 367-4322 or Phillip@ALCoastalLiving.com.
Fairhope is one of the most unique cities in America. First of all, it’s one of only a handful of cities that operate as a single tax colony. The Fairhope Single Tax Corporation (whose website can be found here) owns most of the land and leases that land back to the residents. It’s an interesting concept and the tax has helped fund what makes Fairhope so unique.
From delicious restaurants to high-end boutique clothiers, Fairhope has a very vibrant and pedestrian friendly downtown where locally-owned is the theme. Centrally located is a park for the children to play while moms shop. For nightlife, there are several bars including the renowned McSharry’s Irish Pub. Due to the wealth of the area there seems to be a bank on every corner as well, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Every December, downtown is the site for the Lighting of the Trees Christmas celebration. The lights remain lit through March and provide the perfect backdrop for romantic strolls down the sidewalks.
Adjacent to downtown is the Fairhope Pier and Bayfront Park which is the site for various activities throughout the year including open-air concerts, Earth Day celebrations, and 4th of July fireworks. The park is the perfect place for a stroll with your pet or just a place to relax and reflect on the abundance of natural beauty that surrounds you.
Another thing unique to Fairhope is the amount of landscaping on street corners. The city prides itself in maintaining the most beautiful flower beds year-round. The city also has a very active local art scene and boasts 3 golf courses: Rock Creek, Quail Creek (the city’s public course), and Lakewood. Thomas Hospital, the county’s largest hospital, is located in Fairhope as well.
Home prices tend to be higher near downtown, especially in what is known as The Fruit and Nut District. Downtown living affords the opportunity to utilize a golf cart as your primary mode of transportation since nearly everything is within 5 minutes from your home. Due to the increased demand for a Fairhope address home prices tend to be slightly higher in Fairhope versus other places on the Eastern Shore.
Statistics don’t tell the entire story, but they should, at the very least, be acknowledged when deciding to buy a home in Fairhope. Fairhope is definitely a small town; the 2010 census count had the population listed at just over 15,000 people, though 2017 estimates have the city population over 20,000. However, due to Fairhope being a principal city of the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL Metropolitan Statistical Area the city feels much larger than it is. Fairhope’s racial makeup is 91.1% white and 6.2% black. The median income for a household in the city was $66,157, and the median income for a family was $93,549.
Aside from the areas located directly on the water, Fairhope sits atop a 122 foot high bluff that overlooks Mobile Bay and is approximately 11 miles south of I-10. Below is are distances to nearby areas:
- Spanish Fort: 11 miles
- Mobile, AL (downtown): 20 miles
- Mobile Airport (West Mobile): 36 miles
- Pensacola Airport: 56 miles
- Foley: 20 miles
- Gulf Shores: 32 miles
- Orange Beach: 36 miles
- Bay Minette: 31 miles
Roads & Traffic
Highways 98 and 181 both run North and South through Fairhope with County Rd 13 running parallel between them. Fairhope Avenue and Hwy 104 both run East/West from the bay Eastward to the town’s edge. These 5 roads form a grid like pattern that helps define where things are located. Ex: Between 98 and 13, but just South of Fairhope Avenue. Traffic patterns should definitely be considered when looking to buy a home in Fairhope.
Insider’s Note: Both 98 & 181 experience major congestion in the mornings. Hwy 181 is usually the quickest way to the interstate, due to number of traffic lights on Hwy 98. In 2018, however, the traffic lights on 98 were synchronized to allow for smoother traffic flow. While that alleviated some of the congestion, 181 is still the quicker route despite only being 2 lanes part of the way. As of May, 2019 construction has begun to 4 lane Hwy 181 from Hwy 104 northward. CR 13 may be a better alternate route of travel at 5 o’clock, but with the number of schools located on 13 it should be avoided in the mornings as well if attempting to get to the interstate.
Fairhope Airport Authority owns the H. L. Sonny Callahan Airport, which is a public-use airport located within city limits and operates using the call sign of CQF. Commercial flights are available from the nearby Mobile & Pensacola airports which provide daily connections to Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Orlando, Miami, Charlotte, and Chicago which literally puts you one connection away to just about any part of the world.
Insider’s Note: I’ve flown numerous times and I greatly prefer flying out of Pensacola vs Mobile. All it takes is one wreck on the Bay-Way and you’ve missed your flight. Getting to Pensacola’s airport however, is very convenient. There’s rarely any congestion along the interstate and the airport itself isn’t far off the exit compared to Mobile’s airport where you’re forced to drive nearly 10 miles down Airport Blvd with dozens of traffic lights. Either way, living in Fairhope provides you convenience to an airport, less than an hour away, with access to the entire world.
Fairhope is ran by a full-time mayor along with a 5 member city council, who are all part-time. As of 2019, the mayor is Karin Wilson and the city councilmen are: Jack Burrell, Jay Robinson, Jimmy Conyers, Robert Brown, and Kevin Boone.
Fairhope has its own Police Dept and City Jail, with Stephanie Hollinghead serving as Chief of Police. Fairhope is served by a volunteer fire department.
The school system should be a prime factor in making the decision of whether to buy or sell a home in Fairhope, and there’s no disappointment here. Fairhope doesn’t have its own separate school system, rather its public schools are all part of the Baldwin County Public Schools system and follow the same school uniform dress code.
Insider’s Note: Being that Fairhope is an affluent area relative to other places within the district (i.e. Bay Minette, Robertsdale, Elberta) the city pays in more in school taxes than it receives. To offset this, Fairhope regularly hosts fundraisers that the community heartily responds to. The primary fund raiser is BoosterThon which raises tens of thousands of dollars each year that pours solely into Fairhope schools. As a side note, how well the community funds and stands behind its local schools speaks volumes about the area. Fairhope has a strong tradition of supporting and funding it schools, above and beyond that of taxes, and that’s one reason why Fairhope’s housing market remains so strong; some people want to move here just for the schools.
Schools located within Fairhope include:
- Fairhope High School (9–12) – 1,142 students. Rated 10/10 in both college readiness and in test scores by GreatSchools.org
- Fairhope Middle School (7–8) – 642 students
- Larry Newton School (K–6) – 731 students
- Fairhope Intermediate School (4–6) – 397 students
- Fairhope Elementary School (K–3) – 278 students
*Beginning 2020, Fairhope Elementary School and Fairhope Intermediate School will both be converted to K-6 like J. Larry Newton School.
* As of September 2019, the City of Fairhope voted to instill a 3 mil tax to solely benefit the schools in its feeder pattern. This is expected to make a huge impact on the quality of the facilities as well as the resources available to both teachers and students.
Other schools in Fairhope include:
- The Marietta Johnson School of Organic Education– organic education that should address the entire organism of the child: mind, body and spirit.
- St. Michael Catholic High School– beginning in 2016 with grades 9–10, adding a grade each year thereafter for a total enrollment between 360–400.
- Bayshore Christian School – K-12, focusing on classical education.
- Coastal Alabama Community College– Formerly Faulkner State Community College, has a campus in Fairhope that provides adult education, undergraduate courses, non-credit and community service programs
- The University of South Alabama– has a branch campus in Fairhope providing graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses in education, counseling, nursing and business alongside non-credit and community service programs.
When looking to buy a home in Fairhope, the availability of quality churches should also be taken into consideration. Churches, among many other things, provide a sense of community and belonging, and one shouldn’t have to leave their home town to find that. In no particular order, listed below is just a small sampling of the churches available in Fairhope.
- 3 Circle Church
- Celebration Church
- Eastern Shore Presbyterian Church
- Fairhope Avenue Baptist Church
- First Baptist Church
- Fairhope United Methodist Church
- Trinity Presbyterian
- Fairhope Church of Christ
- St. James Episcopal Church
- St. Lawrence Catholic Church
- Redeemer Lutheran Church
- Mars Hill Church
Fairhope has several quality day cares that serve the needs of its citizens. However, depending upon the direction of your commute, there could other day cares, just as convenient, in Daphne & Spanish Fort. Regardless, if you have young ones and are looking to buy a home in Fairhope, check out these day cares.
- The Learning Tree – operated by First Baptist Church
- Country Day School
- Kinder Academy
- Fairhope United Methodist Church Preschool
- Eastern Shore Kid’s Castle
- Eastern Shore Early Childhood
- Jubilee Shores Wee School – operated by Jubilee Shores United Methodist Church
Below is a list of grocery stores that can be found in Fairhope. Living in a convenient location to a grocery store is a must for many people looking to buy a home.
- Walmart Supercenter – the only grocery store located on the eastern side of town. Offers online shopping with curbside pickup.
- Winn-Dixie – located in the center of town on the corner of Fairhope Ave & 98.
- Piggly Wiggly – located directly across from Winn-Dixie on the corner of Fairhope Ave & 98.
- Publix – located on the Northern end of town on Hwy 98.
- Greer’s Market – located in downtown Fairhope and contains many unique items.
Many people don’t consider convenient access to a bank when buying a home, but they should. Luckily, Fairhope is the banking capital of Baldwin County and has dozens of options to suit anyone’s banking needs.
Larger banks, each with multiple Fairhope locations, include:
- Wells Fargo
- BBVA Compass
Mid-size banks include:
- Center State Bank
- Centennial Bank
- Servis First Bank
- M&M Bank
Community banks include:
- The First
- Community Bank
- United Bank
- Citizens Bank
- First Community Bank
- The Citizens Bank
- Alabama Credit Union
- Century Bank
- Vision Bank
Gyms / Fitness Centers / Yoga
When moving to an area, one should consider the availability of facilities that promote physical health. Fairhope has a multitude of fitness centers to choose from, each with a particular niche.
- Babb Fitness: Located on the corner of 181 & Gayfer, Babb’s is owned and run by Jimmy Babb. Babb Fitness is well suited for the hardcore weight lifter, since Jimmy is a former professional bodybuilder, as well as the person just looking to get fit. He offers group training for women, individual coaching and contest prep for men, as well as 24 hour access. Cost is around $35 per month.
- Planet Fitness: Located in the Winn-Dixie parking lot on the corner of 98 & Fairhope Ave, Planet Fitness is a great, cheap, place to get fit. While it’s not suited for hardcore weightlifters, it does offer near 24/7 access and a very clean and judgement-free environment.
- All Around Fitness: is probably the best combination in town. It offers free weights for strength training while also providing ample cardio and aerobic equipment as well. The cost is $24.99 per month and provides 24 hr access.
- Fairhope Fitness 24 LLC: provides mainly cardio equipment in a small location downtown.
- Fairhope Rec Center: suited mainly for those 50 and older.
- Lakewood Country Club Fitness Center: beautiful facility with limited free-weights.
- Crossfit Fairhope
- Yoga Birds, LLC
- Soul Shine Yoga
- Thrive Yoga & Massage
- Kudzu Aerial Yoga
- Fairhope Yoga
- Iron Grip MMA
- Gulf Coast TaeKwonDo
When moving to an area and deciding where to live, having access to a quality hospital is critical. Fairhope is home to Thomas Hospital, a full-service hospital which is owned by Infirmary Health. It was named as one of the top 100 hospitals in the nation by Women’s Choice for patient experience. Thomas Hospital employs over 1,100 staff and more than 200 physicians have privileges to practice at the hospital. The 162-bed facility is the only hospital in Baldwin County with an open-heart surgery program and full-service electrophysiology program. Thomas Hospital has a new state-of-the-art birth center, as well as radiology, endoscopy and inpatient and outpatient medical centers.
Insider’s Note: Due to the appeal of Fairhope, Thomas Hospital has much better doctors than similarly sized cities. Most small towns of less than 20,000 residents have nowhere near the number of quality physicians that Fairhope has. Also, due to our proximity to Mobile, if there is anything that Thomas Hospital can’t handle Mobile Infirmary and USA Women’s and Children’s hospitals are both located just across the bay.
Urgent Care Clinics
For cough, colds, and other minor medical issues after-hours that don’t necessarily warrant a costly trip to the ER, nothing is more convenient than an Urgent Care Clinic. Fairhope has AFC Urgent Care conveniently located in the Walmart parking lot on the corner of Fairhope Ave and Hwy 181.
Young families buying a home in Fairhope shouldn’t be forced to travel to another town every time they need to take their children to a doctor’s appointment. Thankfully, Fairhope has that covered with 2 pediatrics clinics consisting of 7 Pediatricians and several nurse practitioners. Check out Eastern Shore Children’s Clinic and Fairhope Pediatrics.
Another major factor when deciding where to live is the availability of women’s health providers. With Thomas Hospital being located in town, Fairhope has several choices for women to choose from including: Medical Park OB/GYN, Shoemaker OB/GYN, Diegmann & Henderson OB/GYN, and Brown, Pearson, & Guepet.
Pediatric Dentists & Orthodontists
With Fairhope experiencing such rapid growth, we now have 2 clinics dedicated solely to pediatric dentistry: Bay Pediatric Dentistry and Dr. Trey’s Children Dentistry, and 3 orthodontist clinics: Bailey Orthodontics, South Alabama Orthodontics, and Strickland Orthodontics.
Assisted Living Centers
Throughout all ages of life, Fairhope has facilities that make the decision to move here easier. Homestead Village provides retirement living and assisted living apartments in a self-contained campus. Country Place and The Brennity provide housing for those needing full-time medical care, all conveniently located within city limits.
Fairhope has more parks than most cities its size. Most notable of these are the ones along the bay. While each section may have its own name, most people just refer to them all collectively as the Bayfront Park. This area includes the Fairhope Pier, the duck pond, and a beautiful stretch of bay front walkways covered in majestic Live Oaks. Here is a brochure with a complete description of all of Fairhope’s parks, but below are highlights on a select few:
- FAIRHOPE MUNICIPAL PIER AND PARK: Dating back from 1894, the Fairhope Pier was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 1448 foot pier was rebuilt and reopened in November 2006. Designed for both strolling and fishing, the pier features benches, covered areas, restrooms, a marina and a restaurant. There is no cost to walk, but a saltwater license is required for fishing. The park is home to a lovely rose garden and fountain, plus picnic tables, pavilion, duck pond, tree trail, and a large sandy beach. Non-residents are charged park admission during the summer season. In addition to the waterfront park, numerous bluff top parks extend along the bay front. Click here to view a live camera overlooking to pier and fountains.
- FAIRHOPER’S COMMUNITY PARK & PLAYGROUND: The Community Park features a playground, splash pad, and open field. Its downtown location is perfect for moms who want to let their kids burn off some energy after eating at one of the many local restaurants just blocks away.
- VOLANTA SPORTS PARK: This 50-acre park is home to the rec center, a municipal football stadium (site of annual Senior Bowl practices), indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a disc golf course, seven baseball fields, a dog park, a skate park, two gymnasiums and plenty of open green space.
When buying a home in Fairhope, parents often wonder about the availability of youth sports. Well rest assured, Fairhope has plenty to offer both boys and girls. Below is a list of available sports.
- Fairhope Youth Baseball: played at Volanta Park
- Fairhope Girls Softball
- Fairhope Soccer Club: both boys & girls played at the brand new beautiful Fairhope Soccer Complex
- Fairhope Youth Football: both flag football and tackle football
- Fairhope Youth Basketball: both boys & girls
- Fairhope Tennis Academy: both boys & girls
- Fairhope Swim Team: both boys & girls
- Fairhope Upward Basketball: both boys & girls
- Fairhope Upward Flag Football
A city with as much history as Fairhope, museums are surely to follow. Fairhope currently has the following 3 museums all located within downtown.
- Fairhope Museum of History: The mission of the Fairhope Museum of History is to maintain collections and exhibits that tell the Fairhope story from the original Native American inhabitants through today.
- Eastern Shore Art Center: Though it doesn’t have the word “museum” in its name, it functions the same. It connects people of all ages and abilities with the arts through education, exhibitions and outreach activities.
- Marietta Johnson Museum: This museum is dedicated to one of its most remarkable citizens, a revolutionary educator who founded her organic school here in 1907.
The Fraternal Order of Police own and operate a pistol range on CR 13 at the southern edge of town. For $75 per year, along with proof of a pistol permit, anyone can enjoy a day at the range.
The city of Fairhope is maintains all of its own utilities (electric, natural gas, water & sewer). Payment can be made downtown via a drive thru window or online. Fairhope’s website provides information for requesting service and/or repairs. Some outlying parts of Fairhope may be served by Riviera Utilities for electricity; their website provides for service repairs as well as online bill payment.
DRINKING WATER- Fairhope regularly tests its drinking water and publishes annual reports with the results.
RECYCLING- To receive a recycling bin, please call the Public Works Department at 251-928-8003; you’ll need to leave your last name, address and phone number with the message. They provide 2-3 bins per customer depending on the request. The City accepts:
- Plastic bottles and containers labeled #1-7. Lids should stay on the items
- Tin, steel, aluminum and empty aerosol cans
- Glass bottles and jars with lids removed
- Flattened cardboard boxes
- Paper, including junk mail and paperboard like shoe or cereal boxes
Many people who are interested in Fairhope real estate are looking for golf course communities, even if they don’t golf. It’s the appeal and prestige of the neighborhood that speaks to them. Fairhope has three golf courses in town:
- Quail Creek: Quail Creek is an 18 hole public course that’s owned and operated by the City of Fairhope. Located just South of Walmart on Hwy 181, Quail Creek is open 7 days a week. The course is managed by Jeff Marks.
- Rock Creek: Rock Creek is an 18 hole championship course that’s open to the public and was designed by Earl Stone. Rock Creek’s signature No. 2 hole is not only visually stimulating, but is also a true test of golf combining both strategy and accuracy.
- Lakewood Golf Club: Lakewood Golf Club is a member of the prestigious Robert Trent Jones golf trail and features two 18 hold courses: the Dogwood Course and the Azalea Course. The club is located at The Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear.
- Be sure and check out our complete list of all golf courses in Baldwin County.
Fairhope is home to two private clubs, and here is a list of all private clubs in Baldwin County.
- Fairhope Yacht Club: Is a private club that promotes the sports of sailing and yachting and provides fellowship among its members. Membership in the Fairhope Yacht Club comes with reciprocal benefits among hundreds other Yacht Clubs nationwide. FYC is located just north of the Fairhope Pier on Mobile Bay and adjacent to the Fairhope Docks Marina. The Yacht Club offers boat slips and easy access to fueling at the nearby marina. The clubhouse features a restaurant, bar, and swimming pool and plays hosts to dozens of social events throughout the year. Membership is by application and vote.
- The Lakewood Club: The Lakewood Club is a part of the stunning Grand Hotel Marriott Resort and offers truly world-class facilities. Amenities include 2 Robert Trent Jones golf courses: The Azalea Course & The Dogwood Course, ten professional tennis courts, a posh 20,000 sq ft European-style spa, 2 amazing pool complexes complete with water slides, a fitness center, and dozens of exceptional dining options. The Lakewood Club is the definition of elegance and class. There are different membership options available depending upon the activities you plan to engage in with regularly scheduled social events throughout the year.
Internet service is such a major factor when buying a home nowadays that Baldwin REALTORS® even has a special section in their real estate purchase contract just for that. Internet service in Fairhope greatly depends upon the area/neighborhood in question. Most neighborhoods have fiber optic ran, or are currently in the transition, and internet service is not a problem whatsoever. The two major internet providers are AT&T and Mediacom. Fiber is available in select areas, DSL is available most everywhere else, and for areas where it isn’t, then satellite tv providers become the primary solution.
Insider’s Note: Based on my own observations, AT&T seems to be, by far, the most reliable service provider as I have never encountered anyone who was satisfied with Mediacom. In neighborhoods with fiber optics, AT&T internet combined with U-Verse seems to be carrier of choice, which is what we have at my home. We pay roughly $150 per month for internet with speeds of 1,000 Mbps combined with U-Verse for TV. Also, with U-Verse (which is basically tv through the internet) you don’t have to worry about tv going out due to inclement weather (like you would with satellite) or having the unsightly dish mounted to your roof.
People new to the area often have a lot of questions about grinder pumps; what are they and what do they do? Here’s what I usually tell them… When a developer is building a subdivision he has to design a sewage system to connect to the city’s main sewage line and has 2 choices: gravity fed or pressurized. However, when the terrain is as flat as it is in many Baldwin County neighborhoods, gravity systems aren’t feasible. The developer does have the choice to install pumping stations (just like the city has) to push the waste to the street, or he can take the cheaper route and have each individual homeowner responsible for pushing their own waste to main sewage line, and that’s usually the case.
A grinder pump consists of a tank (about the size of a 55 gallon barrel) that is partially buried in your yard, and all sewage flows into this tank. There is a float valve inside and when the waste reaches a certain level, the grinder pump activates. The grinder pump then chews up the waste into smaller pieces and pumps them out to the main city sewer line on the street where the city then pumps it away to the wastewater treatment plant.
Since grinder pumps are dependent upon electricity to pump the sewage away, the holding tank is large enough to hold sewage for about 3 days before it begins backing up into the home and yard. During periods of power outages, it’s advisable to limit the amount of water used. A shower or two can greatly fill up the tank storage and not leave any room for toilets to be flushed.
Insider’s Note: If power does go out, normal toilet flushing shouldn’t be a concern since you probably won’t have hot water to take a shower and the washing machine won’t be running either. If you have a portable generator, you can hook it up to the grinder pump and make sure you’re not in danger of a back-up as well.
Grinder pumps do break down and have to be replaced. To prolong the life of your pump avoid flushing anything other than waste or toilet paper. All it takes is one hair pin or children’s toy to get caught in the pump and burn the motor up. Also, limit what you put into the garbage disposal as excessive grease can clog up the pump as well.
- A grinder pump is not a septic tank.
- Grinder pumps are connected to city sewer lines, so yes, the house is on city sewer service.
- Grinder pumps last about 10 years.
- Grinder pumps cost about $3,000 to be replaced.
Yes, tiny Fairhope even has Polo. Sonny Hill Farms, located on on 60 plus acres is home to local and international polo players, their families and friends as well as polo enthusiasts. The beautiful complex is filled with live oaks, a fully stocked seven-acre pond,a fishing pier, wharf and the magnificent grandstand that can accommodate even the pickiest of chefs, friends and family that gather for the games. The outhouse (bathroom accommodations) has also become a popular attraction, as it is loaded with Polo memorabilia and six wide screen TVs, so no chukkar is missed.
Sonny Hill Polo Complex is open to the public for free viewing of polo matches unless private charitable functions are scheduled. Currently the Eastern Shore’s most prestigious charity sporting events including Polo at the Point, Chukkars for Charity and the Kentucky Derby are held at Sonny Hill Polo Complex. All are invited to come and be a part of the polo family while enjoying a day of family fun and fellowship.
Phillip is a full-time realtor as well as a full-time blogger. He lives in Fairhope with his wife, Jennifer – a Fairhope school teacher, and their two sons. Prior to real estate, Phillip had a decade long career in banking/finance in Fairhope. With his knowledge of mortgage lending, combined with his knowledge of the local area, Phillip is uniquely positioned to provide insight on the Fairhope housing market regardless if you’re a first-time home buyer or a seasoned investor. To schedule a viewing of a property, or to simply connect and ask a question, Phillip can be reached at (251) 367-4322 or Phillip@ALCoastalLiving.com.