Foley is an adorable Gulf Coast town teeming with festive cheer and feels like something straight out of a Hallmark Christmas movie. From the magnificent live trees draped in Christmas lights to the quaint park, community activities, and a hometown parade, Foley is sure to put you in the holiday spirit. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into your favorite Hallmark movie — only this time it will be real!
Visit Foley and Visit OWA provided hosted visits and experiences. OWA Parks & Resort is an amusement park complex in Foley with a downtown shopping and restaurant area. All opinions are my own.
1. Christmas In The Park
Heritage Park is in the center of downtown Foley, and just like in Hallmark movies, it is where the community gathers the first weekend in December to celebrate the upcoming holidays. The events begin on Friday evening, December 2, with Christmas in the Park.
The park shines bright with all-white lights at every entrance and throughout the park. Music plays in the background, and everywhere you look, you will see lights — some in the shape of a snowflake, some in the form of angels, and some in the shape of stars. Others hanging from the branches of a gigantic tree in the corner of the park. A large pavilion painted white with white lights and other festive decorations is where the mayor talks to the people attending. He announces contest winners, and Santa will arrive to visit the children.
2. Festive Tree Lighting
In Hallmark fashion, the park has a countdown to light the giant Christmas Tree as the entire community watches with great anticipation. The tree will be illuminated on December 3 with thousands of glittering white lights that reflect off the red and gold ornaments.
3. Foley Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 4, is another community day, starting with the annual Foley Christmas Parade. The parade lasts approximately 45 minutes and includes everything from marching bands, twirling groups, fire trucks, floats, tractors and wagons, and more. Almost all the floats throw candy, and the streets are lined with people. We were fortunate to watch the parade from the balcony of the Hotel Magnolia last year.
4. Let It Snow Celebration
After the parade, everyone gathers in the park again for the Let It Snow Celebration. This family-friendly event has a variety of fun activities for the kids to participate in, such as crafts, face painting, photos with a mermaid, a petting zoo, and festive hair styling.
Just like in the Hallmark movie festivals, there is also a marketplace for crafts and goods.
You don’t expect to see snow in southern Alabama, but at the Let It Snow Celebration, there will be snow! When we visited, they had artificial snow machines running throughout one area of the park where kids could enjoy the snowflakes and be transported into a snowglobe-type scene.
5. A Welcoming Community
Foley is a welcoming community. When we visited, we honestly felt like we were in a Hallmark movie with all the friendly people we met. We were outsiders visiting their community, and they welcomed us as though we had lived there all our lives. Everywhere we went, there were happy people who greeted us. Even a mermaid was on hand to greet guests and pose for photos.
6. Foley Railroad Museum
The Foley Railroad Museum is housed in a train depot built in 1909. The depot was the hub of the city’s activities for over 60 years. When you visit the museum, you can enjoy the memorabilia, tools, and photos that document the town’s history and the role the railroad played in its development. Outside you can view some restored train cars.
Within the same building, a gigantic model train exhibit is displayed. Train lovers will enjoy this expansive layout with over a quarter-mile of track. Dedicated volunteers have put this showcase together and continue to operate it.
7. Train Rides Around Heritage Park
What better way to celebrate the holidays than hopping on a train for a ride around the festive park? That train is usually jam-packed during the fun-filled holiday weekend, with young and old passengers enjoying the lights and festivities.
8. Trim-A-Tree Annual Christmas Event
Local artists and artisans have their work on display at the Trim-A-Tree event. The Foley Art Center sponsors Trim-a-Tree, which begins on November 11 and continues till December 23. You can find all kinds of unique gifts, decorations, and tree ornaments.
9. YMCA Elf Ride
Another fun holiday activity is the YMCA Elf Ride parade. The organizers invite community members to dress as elves, decorate their bicycles, and ride in a parade throughout Downtown OWA within Foley’s OWA Parks & Resort. When we visited, prizes were given for best costume and bike decoration. This year the Elf Ride Parade will happen on December 10.
10. OWA’s Musical Tree
In the middle of Downtown OWA is a musical tree. It has dancing lights that move to the music. It is fun just to watch the tree and the different patterns programmed.
If you have younger family members with you, they will enjoy participating in the North Pole Experience and Mrs. Claus Crafty Christmas. Both have hands-on activities, photo opportunities and visits with Santa or Mrs. Claus, and more.
11. Great Photo Opportunities
There were outstanding Hallmark-type photo opportunities in both downtown Foley and at OWA. There were places along the street and in the Heritage Park perfect for photos. At OWA, they were everywhere, especially in the North Pole Experience.
12. Brunch With Santa
We were fortunate to be able to attend Brunch with Santa when we were at OWA. I think we were some of the oldest kids to enjoy the event. It was a fun event, and yes, I sat on Santa’s lap.
Breakfast is buffet style. It includes pancakes, hash browns, eggs, bacon, sausage links, fruit, OJ, milk, and mimosas for the adults. Last year, OWA also had a hot chocolate bar with various items that could be added to the hot chocolate.
13. Great Entertainment
OWA offers plenty of entertainment options for various age groups. The Brandon Styles Variety Show, for instance, offers music, comedy, magic, impressions, and more for your entertainment.
Each year the OWA Theater has different concerts and programs. Check out the OWA Theater site to see what will be playing when you are in town.
The Legends in Concert Christmas Show was held at the OWA Theater when we visited last year. It featured a spectacular lineup of tributes to Karen Carpenter, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Celine Dion. It was a full hour and a half of entertainment, and the performers greeted the audience afterward. I was able to get my photo with the man who portrayed Elvis.
14. Graham Creek Nature Preserve
Keeping with the holiday theme, 500-acre Graham Creek Nature Preserve creates a lighted Christmas trail. You walk through the preserve on a raised boardwalk and can enjoy various light displays, send letters to Santa, enjoy holiday scenes, and choose from numerous photo opportunities to capture those special new Hallmark-type memories.
Delicious Foley Restaurants
Just like in Hallmark movies, the people of Foley enjoy good food, and the locals are quick to let you know which restaurants will serve up a great meal.
Fish River Grille
On our first evening in town, we visited the Fish River Grille, where we were introduced to a local favorite, Swamp Soup. I wasn’t sure I wanted to try this, but the servers brought me a cup, and it was quite good. It was a chicken broth with greens, beans, and spices.
We enjoyed a catfish dinner and fried pickles at the Fish River Grille. The food was delicious, and the service was outstanding.
Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant
Another delicious restaurant in the area is Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant. I started with the Shaka Ceviche and had the seared tuna with mango-pineapple salsa as my entree. The atmosphere was fun. We were seated on the deck in a glider that overlooked the water. We were able to watch a beautiful sunset as we finished our meal.
Paula Dean’s Family Kitchen
If you enjoy eating family-style, then Paula Dean’s Family Kitchen is perfect for you. Located in Downtown OWA, the restaurant gives you the option of selecting several entrées and sides, and then everyone at your table enjoys the meal.
Wolf Bay Lodge
Wolf Bay Lodge is a Gulf Coast seafood tradition. Its menu is full of high-quality, fresh seafood, and the restaurant has a touch of local ambiance. I enjoyed the coconut shrimp with tropical marmalade. Our meal was terrific and a delicious way to end our time in Foley.
Places To Stay In Foley
The gorgeous Hotel Magnolia in downtown Foley is right across the street from Heritage Park, where the Christmas celebrations happen. The outside of this bed & breakfast looks like it is the star of a Hallmark movie with garland, wreaths, lights, bows, and sprays.
The hotel has a large and very inviting wrap-around porch. When we visited, we were able to watch the Foley Christmas parade from the balcony of the hotel.
The historic B&B’s common areas are furnished with antiques, including items from the 1800s. In keeping with the season, the dining, living, and hallway areas are embellished for the holidays with festive trees, lights, and decorations. The guest rooms are elegantly decorated with antique furnishings, and a Southern-style breakfast is served in the dining area each morning.
Even if you don’t leave the property, you will feel like you are living a Hallmark fairytale just staying in this adorable B&B where the owners treat you like relatives. It has such a welcoming feel to it.
The hotel also has an event area used for weddings, parties, and other festivities.
Marriott TownePlace Suites
Another lovely place to stay is the Marriott TownePlace Suites on the outskirts of town, near the OWA Amusement Park. The suites have a kitchen area with a full refrigerator and lots of room. Depending on which room you have, you can see the park and the fountains from the window. We were able to let our car parked and just walk over to the OWA events when we stayed at the TownePlace.
I could go on and on about this adorable Gulf Coast town that feels like a Hallmark Christmas movie. There are plenty of small towns in Alabama that have a charm all their own, but Foley has something special. The city is an ode to Christmas with gorgeous decorations and twinkling lights everywhere you look. It certainly has the charm and friendly characteristics so common in Hallmark towns. When you visit, you will feel like a Hallmark movie has come alive with you in it.
If you want more of that Hallmark holiday experience, read these articles:
- 9 Adorable Towns In Vermont That Feel like A Hallmark Christmas Movie
- 8 Quaint Virginia Towns That Could Star In A Hallmark Christmas Movie
- 8 Charming Towns In Maryland That Could Star In A Hallmark Christmas Movie
- 9 Adorable North Carolina Towns That Feel Like A Hallmark Christmas Movie
- 13 Colorado Towns That Feel Like You’re In A Hallmark Christmas Movie