A beautiful Gulf-Coast beach town, Fairhope, Alabama has a population of approximately 25,000 residents. The weather is a subtropical climate, with mild winter and lots of rain throughout the year. Some of the strongest heat waves come through this region and Fairhope is not exempt from it.
Founded in 1894, there is historical significance in Fairhope, as it was the first single-tax colony founded by Henry George. The goal was to offer all residents an equal opportunity and eventually became a destination for snowbirds who wanted to seek out warmer winters.
In today’s time, the equal opportunity city has transformed into both a weekend getaway and suburb oasis for those who live in Mobile. Those who visit take advantage of the Mobile Bay views during the day and then enjoy some of the best seafood and shopping that Alabama has to offer. If you are not able to get to Fairhope, there are other towns lining the Gulf Coast that are similar in views, population and welcoming guests all the time.
1. Dauphin Island, Alabama
Just down from Fairhope is the mini beach town of Dauphin Island, Alabama. In order to get there, you have to take a boat or ferry, since is a small island away from the mainland. As you head over to the island, enjoy the view of clear waters to see the sea creatures and jellyfish that call the Gulf Coast home.
Like Fairhope, there is a big fishing economy and tourism is also very popular for those who are really looking to relax on their vacation. The average cost of a night at Dauphin Island is $130 for most locations during the peak season.
2. Destin, Florida
A few hundred miles over in the Sunshine state is Destin Florida. With a population of 13,000 residents, it is very similar to Fairhope in tourism. There is a bigger golf scene in Destin, however, so while there are tourists flocking to the area, they are different from the families at Fairhope.
They also have local state parks like the Henderson Beach State Park for the families who do want to visit the blue waters and white sand to picnic and relax. The average nightly rental in Destin is around $200.
3. Gulf Shores, Alabama
There are lots to do and get into when you spend a weekend at Gulf Shores, Alabama. It is a smaller beach town like Fairhope, so there are a lot of local businesses, restaurants, and galleries to enjoy when you visit. Right on the bay are dining options for those who need to have that incredible view before they leave.
Very much like Fairhope, tourism is critical to the livelihood of Gulf Shores, Alabama. There is a season nearly year-round because of long-term guests who avoid the winter in cold states or Canada. Expect to pay at least $200 a night for a room during the busy season.
4. Padre Island, Texas
A town neighbor all the way in Texas, Padre Island has some similarities and differences to Fairhope. It is much smaller in terms of residence and development. Padre Island is home to the largest undeveloped barrier, so sea turtles find it to be a safe haven for their nests.
Where the two towns are similar is their appreciation for their guests and their beaches. You can expect to get a lot of fishing done out of Padre Island with some of the freshest seafood around. There are a few hotels around that average about $150 per night.
5. Panama City Beach, Florida
Another home of blue water and white sand like Fairhope is Panama City Beach. While there are fewer full-time residents living there than Fairhope, there is just as much tourism, especially in the spring months. Panama City Beach maintains that same subtropical climate, so it is warm all year.
Unlike Fairhope, it is a spring break capital and can attract some of the most interesting tourists. Depending on who you are looking to stay with and where you want to be in Panama City Beach, a decent room will cost you about $150 a night.
6. Clearwater Beach, Florida
Another sunshine state destination, Clearwater Beach has the most sunshine compared to any other city in the United States. The population is a third of Fairhope, but tourism is very crucial. There is something for everyone to do, making it great for families, couples, or group trips as one of the top ten beaches in the country.
Like Fairhope, there is an airport nearby to help bring in these tourists who seem to visit Clearwater year-round and get views unmatched on the Beach Walk. Because of its popularity, you can expect an approximate rate of $175 a night at best and some parts of the year getting as high as $250.
7. Grand Isle, Louisiana
A small and cozy beach town, Grand Isle, Louisiana offers that same small town feeling that you get in Fairhope. It is much smaller in terms of population but it maintains that annual summer heat, with the average high temperature in January between 60 and 70 degrees.
While there are tourists in this area, the biggest economic boost is the fishing industry that brings in fresh seafood almost daily. Most of the town has preserves because it is a natural ability for migratory birds. Expect to pay around $95 a night when you stay in one of the few hotels around the town.
8. Biloxi, Mississippi
With double the population of Fairhope, Biloxi, Mississippi is one of the more popular Gulf Coast beaches. Since Hurricane Katrina ripped through the town in 2005, trying to get the tourism back up to where it was is something that Biloxi is struggling with. It has a long history of French history and then became its own township in 1839.
The casinos are Biloxi has been essential in the economy, as they offer to gamble around the clock. There is also a classical art culture in the area that is similar to that found in Fairhope. Look to pay around $140 a night during your next visit to Biloxi.
9. Gulfport, Mississippi
Another beach town found on the Gulf Coast, Gulfport offers over 25 miles of beautiful sandy beaches for visitors to enjoy. At night, you have casinos to enjoy for the adults, waterfront dining, and some shopping to bring a great day to an end. Like Fairhope, there is a similar population of around 20,000 residents and the tourists flock to the area just like Fairhope.
What is different is the economy, where their fishing industry has a larger impact on Fairhope than Gulfport. Both of these beach towns, have historical roots, however, making them great places to visit. Your family can expect to have a room rate of $150 a night.
10. St. George Island, Florida
While St. George Island has the Gulf Coast and beautiful sandy beaches in common with Fairhope, there are a lot of differences in what you can expect between the two towns. At St. George Island, you have to experience your stay at a slower pace as there are limited resources in the area. Most of the beach is protected and sea turtles enjoy these shores for nesting.
Fishing is also the biggest industry, with some of the most diverse seafood catches coming into St. George Island daily. If you visit this area, expect to pay around $100 a night during your visit.
11. Sanibel Island, Florida
With only 7,000 in residence, Sanibel Island has a much smaller population than Fairhope, Alabama. However, they both serve as suburb locations and weekend getaways for those who need a break from city life. It is actually one of the youngest cities on the list, becoming incorporated in just 1974.
One of the great things about this island is that at least half of it is dedicated to wildlife refuges at the national level and is protected. While you are visiting, you can get great food, culture, and entertainment just like you would at Fairhope. The average nightly rate for Sanibel Island is $150.
12. Rockport, Texas
With only a few hours of a drive from Houston, Rockport is like Fairhope as a bit city getaway beach town. There are lots of dining, shopping, and cultural events to enjoy when you come to Rockport for the weekend or just a few days. It is one of the smaller beach towns with a population of only 10,000.
There is a lot of great fishing and access to water sports for those who visit, so that is what you will find on a beautiful day looking out at the water. When you come, budget, for approximately $140 a night.
13. Freeport, Texas
With about half the population of Fairhope, Freeport Texas has a long history of being settled by the Freeport Sulphur company. The growth of this town did not come from tourism like Fairhope’s, but from the chemical, oil, and other manufacturing companies that called this location home. While there is some tourism in the area, the biggest part of the economy today is the chemical industry and factories. If you plan to visit Freeport and take advantage of their coastline, expect to pay about $120 per night.
14. Port Arthur, Texas
Like Fairhope, blending the culture and using it as a way to attract charm is important and that is exactly what Port Arthur does. It has a blend of the Louisiana Cajun and Cowboy Texas cultures blended into a once small beach town. In more recent decades, the population has grown substantially, making it much larger than the others or even Fairhope thanks to the oil industry.
Home to the largest oil refineries in the nation, this is the largest economical boost in the area. If you plan to visit Port Arthur for the views and the historical significance, expect a room rate of around $175 each night.
15. North Beach, Louisiana
When you cannot get to Fairhope for your family vacation, another great option is North Beach in Louisiana. Like Fairhope, you can expect your family to be accommodated, enjoying a large beach area for long days on the beach. You have access to family-friendly shopping, dining, and entertainment for your loved ones.
There are even beautiful state parks nearby so that you can enjoy all that North Beach has to offer. With tourism being one of the biggest economic strengths, there is also a large fishing industry in the area that the locals depend on. North Beach is not only family-friendly but an affordable option with rates averaging $110 a night for your family.