Courtland W. Richards
Setting: Daphne sits on Mobile Bay's eastern shore, between historic Spanish Fort and picturesque Fairhope. It's 15 minutes east of Mobile and two and a half hours east of New Orleans. With an average annual temperature of 65 degrees, the town boasts mild winters, colorful flora during spring and autumn, and long summers tempered by bay breezes.
Attractions: Daphne's climate is conducive to almost year-round boating, fishing, sailing, and golf. Newcomers enjoy the laid-back lifestyle; the well-tended parks; good public and private schools, including Bayside Academy and Christ the King; the springtime Fest Italiana's homemade pastas and sauces; and the annual fall Jubilee Festival, featuring artists and craftspeople.
Drawbacks: Hurricane season runs from June through November. Mosquitoes can be a problem during humid summers.
Housing Options: Homes on Daphne's small waterfront rarely appear on the market. Most development occurs inland. Houses in Olde Towne range from simple ranch houses to multistory contemporary structures. Lake Forest is the largest and oldest bedroom community of Mobile, but a multitude of newer neighborhoods have popped up.
What It Costs: The average sale price of homes in Daphne is $211,000. Waterfront property runs from $700,000 to more than $4 million. In Olde Towne, a small fixer-upper can cost $100,000, and large houses fetch in excess of $1 million. Houses in Lake Forest sell from $100,00 to $200,000-plus.
Your Next-door Neighbors: The town's population of 20,275 includes third-generation farmers, retired CEOs, lawyers, and restaurateurs. "Daphne is a nice melting pot of professions," says local Ceann Wachter, owner of the charming Frame Corner. "And you'd never know who was who."
Where You'd Spend Your Free Time: Fishing off May Day Park's pier, eating crab cakes at the East Shore Cafe or (on Fridays) seafood gumbo at Camellia Cafe, watching an English polo match, grabbing a beer at Judge Roy Bean's, taking a pottery class at Bay Rivers Art Guild.