A fully equipped marine laboratory, Dauphin Island Sea Lab provides marine science programs for students and visitors of all ages in an effort to propagate knowledge of marine science and help protect local ecosystems. Dedicated to education, it runs K–12 teacher education programs on the oceans and marine environments to help get these subjects into the classroom. Its summer college programs and graduate programs offer opportunities for further study in oceanography and coastal ecology. The Sea Lab also works to maintain coastal wetlands and resources, conducts research on the Mobile Bay watershed and shore waters, and maintains the Gulf of Mexico Science Journal.
In addition to its scientific work, the Sea Lab runs a public aquarium, the Estuarium, which depicts local marine habitats including the Gulf of Mexico, a drowned river valley, and a living salt marsh. These exhibits contain a variety of native plants and wildlife such as marsh grasses, recreations of cypress swamps, and an American alligator, and at the Estuarium, children can touch live fish.
Having taken up residency where Fairhope's Central Cafe once lived, Courtyard at 311 carries on the historic building's tradition with an updated, casual dining experience. Inside, waiters dole out seafood and sandwiches for lunch and dinner daily, including the Battle's Wharf, a po'boy that fuses hot turkey, ham, and sautéed shrimp with spicy melted cheese. Owners Harry and Alissa Johnson and Zack Smith–who also own Rosie's Grill–work with a staff of 30-plus employees to create an inviting atmosphere, which receives a musical boost on Thursdays and Sundays when live bands perform.
Ronald Doyle Jr. spent his entire life on a 42-foot shrimp boat with his dad. After spending that much time on the water, he was hooked. Now Ronald runs cruises and fishing expeditions through Another Fish Charters. Private dolphin tours search for stunning wildlife sightings while night fishing trips ensure solitude out on the water or at least a chance to see sleeping mermaids. Another Fish Charters runs these trips regularly along with shrimping tours, scenic tours, and Bull Red fishing on Dixie Bar.
Whether painting pottery or fusing together bits of glass, students at Paint'n Parrot leave the studio with a keepsake of their own design. With tons of ceramic pieces to choose from, artists can daub color onto plates, cups, and figurines during pottery-painting sessions tailored for kids or adults. Or they can create the surfaces themselves during fused-glass classes, which enable students to conjoin colorful slabs of glass into decorative dishes and Christmas-tree ornaments.