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Sweet Home Alabama (We Found it in Fairhope)

Located on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, Fairhope’s motto is “You’ve Arrived” and after driving through some torrential tropical rains, we’re thankful we did – safe and sound!

Founded in 1894, Fairhope is a gorgeous, artsy town that oozes Southern charm. Its Downtown Historic District is packed with artists and writers’ galleries, studios, and outdoor gathering places for lively discussions. And, if you didn’t know better, you’d swear you were in New Orleans rather than Alabama.

Old fashioned dark wood storefronts, brick sidewalks, and facades, expansive front porches, and balconies perfect for people watching line the streets. Not having anything that even resembles a green thumb, Rorie was particularly drawn to the colorful flower pots and window boxes overflowing with beautiful flowers and plants. And, in the true spirit of Southern hospitality, everyone greets you with a warm hello and sends you on your way with a “Y’all enjoy your day”.

Ornate iron balconies, cool cobblestone alleyways lined with shops and bursting with flowers, and even a courtyard named “The French Quarter” blend beautifully with the old-world feel of the town.

And if all that exploring makes you crave some of N’awlins famous food, then stop in Panini Pete’s for a muffaletta sandwich and some warm, sugar-coated beignets. Your stomach will thank you. The sandwich is on the list as one of the “100 things you should eat before you die”. Thankfully we were able to check that off before it was too late!

A picture is worth a thousand words especially if you were taught not to talk with your mouth full.

The Fairhope Municipal Pier also known as the “town square” is a great gathering spot on the bay for fishing, picnics, swimming, and walking on the many trails along the waterfront. The perfect place to just relax, enjoy the award-winning rose garden and venture out on the pier.

Bart has a warm spot in his heart for folks who are civic volunteers. His firm created the Small Town America Civic Volunteer Award ( to honor and support people who give back to their hometowns. Its sponsor has been an awesome municipal tech firm called CivicPlus. We stumbled on to the Fairhope Volunteer Fire Hall and found out its firefighters have been serving the town and the surrounding community for over 75 years. Kudos to the hometown heroes!

If you’re a boating enthusiast (which we’re not unless it’s a cruise ship with unlimited buffets!) then a stop at the Fly Creek Marina on Mobile Bay in Fairhope is a perfect photo op. This is a view from the patio of Pete’s restaurant at Sunset Pointe at the Marina

Here are some shots of Pete at his new restaurant called, appropriately, The Waterfront.

Well, that wraps up today’s episode. Next stop: Oxford, Mississippi by way of Laurel, the location of Ben and Erin Napier’s HGTV show Hometown.

NOTE: Bart spent the morning interviewing Pete, who is a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, and whose restaurant has been featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives ( Pete’s not only a successful restauranteur, but he’s also an award-winning humanitarian. His story is so compelling that he’ll be the subject of a special “edition” of the Discover Small Town America reports in the future (Note: only one other person has received that acclaim: Dan Camp, creator of the Cotton District in Starkville, Mississippi -

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