Fairhope, Alabama, isn’t your typical beach town. Though the city is on Mobile Bay, you won’t find the sandy white beaches and bright blue water that the Gulf of Mexico is famous for. But Fairhope’s brown sands and estuarine waters have their own charm, and visitors will find plenty of kid-friendly fun to enjoy.
Find the Fun Indoors
When your kids have the wiggles but the weather isn’t cooperative, head to the Little Gym (thelittlegym.com). Your child can burn some energy at one of the classes -- karate and gymnastics are favorites -- or day camps. Check the calendar for the Eastern Shore Art Center (esartcenter.com) for upcoming children’s workshops. Depending on the season, your child could learn the basics of architecture, make two- and three-dimensional art or hone her digital photography skills. Kids will enjoy the interactive exhibits at the Fairhope Museum of History (cofairhope.com), but plan a short visit -- the museum is small, and kids who aren’t seriously into history will be ready to go after an hour or two.
Play in the Water
Pick up an Alabama saltwater fishing license, and let your child try her luck fishing off the Fairhope Municipal Pier (cofairhope.com). The attached park has a wide, sandy beach made for building sandcastles. Kids can swim in the play pool at the Fairhope Municipal Pool (cofairhope.com). The indoor-outdoor complex also has two swimming pools. If your kids want to learn how to scuba dive, Underwater Works (alabamadive.com) has classes for ages 10 and older. According to Underwater Works, 15,000 dive sites are in the coastal Alabama Waters, so taking a diving class together can be the beginning of a series of new adventures.
Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (weeksbay.org) has many natural wonders. Follow the signs along the reserve’s two boardwalks to take a self-guided nature tour of the wetlands, marshes and forest. Kids can spot the insect-eating pitcher on the bog boardwalk. Stop by the Interpretive Center to learn more about the animals and plants that make their home in this unusual ecosystem. The reserve is closed Sundays.
Make It a Park Day
Kids will appreciate the imaginative play structures at Fairhoper’s Community Park (cofairhope.com). The playground is decked-out with old-fashioned rope swings, cool lookout towers and lots of slides and ladders. Kids can burn energy at the Skate Park (cofairhope.com) near Fairhope Municipal Stadium. Bring helmets and safety equipment with you -- the park doesn’t have rentals. Challenge the kids to a game of disc golf at the Fairhope Disk Golf Course (cofairhope.com).