You’ve been driving all day. You’ve heard the same songs over and over again on the radio, your last meal had been sitting under a heat lamp, and you’re barely talking to the person in the passenger’s seat. It’s time to call it quits until tomorrow. But an aging room in a cheap hotel chain definitely won’t help perk you up. You need to get away from the highway and enjoy some Southern hospitality.
Your heart rate starts to return to normal when you drive into Fairhope, Alabama. The small town near the Mississippi border overlooks Mobile Bay. The flower-lined streets, the shop-filled downtown, and the faint smell of seafood quickly bring a smile to your face. For the first time all day. You’ll be back to explore. The Fairhope Museum of History houses the town’s first jail and fire truck in a Spanish Mission Revival building. The Eastern Shore Art Center has five galleries that showcase paintings, pottery, and photography by local artists. And Fairhope Avenue has a wine and cheese shop, jewelry stores, and smaller galleries. But first, your room. Or, in this case, your cottage.
Just south of town, you’ll find Point Clear Cottages, a bed and breakfast along the bay. White rockers sit outside your cottage. A vaulted ceiling, handmade rugs, and regional artwork make the apartment-style room feel homey. Fresh flowers and high-thread-count linens await your arrival. The cottage is surrounded by magnolia and crepe myrtle trees, flowers and caladiums. You run down to the dock, where a hammock and a hot tub overlook the water. A breeze is blowing off the bay. Now you’re relaxed.
Spend the afternoon fishing off the dock, kayaking along the shore, or sleeping in that hammock. Juice, fruit, and even an ice cream treat are in the small kitchen when you return to your cottage. After watching the pelicans fly off into the sunset from the hot tub, eat dinner at the Wash House nearby. Start with crab toast or fried oyster lettuce wraps. Move onto blackened cobia with dirty rice. And wash it all down with a Sazerac. Or two. None of this sat under a heat lamp.
In the morning, drink coffee on your porch as you slowly rub the sleep from your eyes. Though you’re probably still full from last night’s dinner, enjoy a big Southern breakfast of crab omelets, pecan waffles, or shrimp and grits. And then ride a bike into town–you just can’t bring yourself to get back in the car, yet–to explore everything you noticed on your way in.
Fairhope was supposed to be a quick, overnight stop. But between the warm welcome, the huge plates of delicious food, and your adorable cottage, you’ll probably try to extend your stay a few more days. When you do eventually depart, a bag of fruit, candy, and water will be ready for your trip. Southern hospitality never ends.