Alabama boasts a diverse range of unique characteristics that you won’t find anywhere else in the country, from entertainment and pulled pork to heritage structures and buildings, Alabama is steeped in Southern culture.
While the major cities of Huntsville, Birmingham, Mobile, and Montgomery, as well as the coastal communities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, are wonderful destinations to visit, Alabama also has a wealth of small towns that reveal a stronger root of what makes the state special.
With small-town charm at every turn and numbers as low as 20 people, this list of the greatest small towns in Alabama will ensure you have a chance to see the most of what the state has to offer.
Baldwin County is home to Fairhope. The village is situated on a steep hill with spectacular views of Mobile Bay. Activists in support of a “Single-Tax” community founded Fairhope, Alabama, in 1894 (one tax is paid by the local government).
In 1907, a School for Organic Education was established here, continuing the school’s unusual thinking. No matter how long they’ve been in business, the Single-Tax Corporation of the past is now more of a tourist attraction. You must spend some time here resting in elegance, or you can even hike to Weeks Bay Nature Reserve or take a horseback riding excursion at Oak Hollow Farm.
At the Rock Creek Golf Club or Southern Antiques & Accents, you may play a couple of rounds of golf. So make yourself at home and head out on the cliffs overlooking Mobile Bay with your camera or sketchbook — don’t forget to bring them along.
Guntersville, Alabama, is a great place to visit if you’re on a road trip across northern Alabama and want to see cowboys and bald eagles. The community is famed for its links to Will Rogers, an American cowboy who became a national hero. John Gunter, Rogers’ great-grandson from the region, gave the place its name.
Additionally, Guntersville is notable for its large number of wintering birds because of its placement on the migratory route. The best place to watch them is Lake Guntersville State Park.
You may participate in public activities in the park to observe the eagles in their natural environment and participate in eagle awareness programs on numerous weekends in January and February.
3. Mountain Brook
Mountain Brook, Alabama’s most wealthy city, is located in Jefferson County. Nestled among the breathtaking beauty of Red Mountain and Shades Mountain Ridges, it was created as a residential subdivision with estate-sized lots or even visit this town to take in the picturesque roads and laid-back atmosphere.
Dram Whiskey Bar and Viola Fine Cigars are great places to relax after a day out in the great outdoors, and they’re both within walking distance of each other. At the Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook, Daniel George Restaurant is the place to go for a delicious meal before you retire for the night.
You might also like to know about the best places to live in Alabama.
Mooresville is a tiny town in Limestone County in the state’s northern region. It is one of Alabama’s oldest established communities and still portrays a charming 19th century hamlet. The community is on the National Register of Historic Places, and their post office is Alabama’s oldest still in operation!
If you arrive, you might recognize parts of the town because it was the primary filming location for the Disney film Tom and Huck. Once you’ve arrived, take a stroll along the picket fence-lined streets and stop by Java, Mooresville for a cup of coffee — their lemonade and apple pie are both fantastic.
You can even take a guided leisurely stroll with a local and stop by the Stagecoach Inn and Tavern. Town hall meetings continue to be conducted here! You may get anything from organic eggs to lavender linen spray at 1818 Farms, or fulfill your sweet taste at Lyla’s Little House, which is constantly full of sweets.
Athens, one of Alabama’s oldest communities, is a treasure trove of traditional Southern culture. The Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention and the Athens Storytelling Festival are two yearly events that draw thousands of individuals to downtown Athens each year.
You shouldn’t miss roaming around Athens State University campus and the downtown area, which includes several eateries for foodies, during the remainder of the year. Former Governor George Houston’s renovated mansion is conveniently located downtown at the Houston Memorial Library and Museum.
The ancient U.G. White Mercantile Store, which offers anything from antiques to modern-day things, is a delightful place to visit while in town. You feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you stroll inside the old general shop that was built in 1917.
6. Muscle Shoals
Visitors to Muscle Shoals will never forget their time there. To think that so many well-known musicians got their start in the modest recording facilities of this town is mind-boggling. You must visit the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and the FAME Studio, where performers such as Aretha Franklin and Mick Jagger, Paul Simon and Percy Sledge had their musical beginnings.
See Hank Williams’ stage costumes and the gold records that famous musicians have won at Alabama’s Music Hall of Fame, where you may continue your musical journey. In terms of location, the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa is in the middle of everything.
Try checking out the best places to visit in Alabama.
Colbert County’s seat, Tuscumbia, was established in 1816 by the Dixon’s. To get their hands on the land in the Tuscumbia Valley, they struck a bargain with Chief Tecumseh. In 1822, the town was formally renamed Tuscumbia in honor of Chickasaw Chief Rainmaker Tuscumbia.
In Tuscumbia, there is a Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard dedicated to the late Key Underwood. Take a drink at Rattlesnake Saloon and a walk around the nature preserve of Cane Creek Canyon while you’re here.
Eufaula, in Barbour County, stands on territory that was formerly home to three Creek tribes, near the Chattahoochee River. After white settlers started to intrude into the Creek Indian Territory, union soldiers were sent in to evict them. Eufaula was established in the mid-1830s after the Creeks relinquished territory that permitted strangers to live here lawfully.
Seth Lore and Irwin Ton’s historic identity has been preserved in the Seth Lore Historic District. Go to Lake Point Resort State Park, where you may hire a boat, or take a stroll through this area and check out the stores.
The lake and village of Eufaula may be seen from the Yahola Micco Indian Trail or the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge. Visit Blue Moon Coffee Shop for a pick-me-up and Barb’s Country Kitchen for just some hearty fare.
9. Fort Payne
DeKalb County’s seat, Fort Payne, was once home to the important Cherokee community of Wills town. Sequoyah, a silversmith who resided in this area, is credited with creating the Cherokee syllabary, which allowed the Cherokee language to be recorded in writing.
Once named after a mixed race man, Wills town became a fort where Cherokees were held before being transported to Oklahoma, and so it became Fort Payne today. No matter how you feel about the area’s terrible past, a trip to Little Canyon National Preserve and DeSoto State Park is a must. Martha’s Falls is also nearby.
You should visit Orbix Hot Glass to see some amazing glassblowing in action, or visit Big Mill Antique Mall for some serious antiquing. There is a place called Vintage 1889 that serves delicious food, while Sally’s Smokin Butt BBQ offers mouthwatering barbecue. Also, Fort Payne Inn is a convenient place to stay if you’re too stuffed to drive.
Decatur, tucked in the Tennessee River Valley, is known as “the river city” for its accessibility to water and abundance of outdoor leisure. Flint Creek, which feeds into the Tennessee River, has water slides and a sandy beach.
There is a natural scientific museum which is an interactive museum that examines the natural sciences and different species in the area. Walking around Decatur’s Albany Historic District reveals several late-19th and early-20th century residences with excellent construction.
11. Gulf Shores
Gulf Shores, Alabama’s most southerly community, sits on the coast of Baldwin County, on the Gulf of Mexico. Due to its geographic location, the town has become popular among tourists who come to enjoy the beach vistas and cool coastal breezes.
Craft Farms and Kiva Dunes, two of Alabama’s best-known golf facilities, are located in Gulf Shores, making it a great destination for golfers. You don’t have to play golf if you don’t like it. There are lots of other activities you may participate in. A few examples include fishing, boating, water sports, and watching dolphins.
Visit the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo or stroll down the pier at Gulf State Park Fishing Pier. If you want a more natural setting, visit the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge or Waterville USA! Enjoy your beach holiday at Island Winds East, a resort on the East Coast.
Mentone, a small mountain hamlet on the Alabama / Georgia state line, features some of Alabama’s most beautiful scenery from its perch atop a mountain. Take a picturesque trip to the DeSoto State Park or visit the antique stores in the ancient downtown area.
If you want to spend more time in the wilderness, you may go hiking, camping, or renting a cabin. Look for the Hitching Post, a former general store that is now home to a variety of small businesses, as you stroll around the historic district. A jazz concert, flowers for sale, and a cup of coffee may all be found inside this historic residence built in 1887.
13. Magnolia Springs
Magnolia Springs, one of the small towns in Alabama, is bordered by the crystal-clear waters of the Magnolia River, and many of the homes in the town have magnificent magnolia trees planted in their front yards.
Both St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Moore’s Grocery are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making them both must-see destinations for anybody who visits the area. Prior to enjoying lunch or supper at Jesse’s Restaurant, it is essential that you read the Alabama Historic Marker.
One of the oldest soda fountains in the country may be found in Florence, a small town in northwest Alabama that stands on the banks of the Tallapoosa River. Take a break from your sightseeing and dine at one of the restaurants that have opened in the refurbished historic buildings in the heart of town.
Enjoy the boutiques and little shops. Even if you don’t need new clothes, it’s worth your time to visit the Billy Reid store. Fashion designer Billy Reid’s main store is located here, and he is known for both men’s and women’s apparel. As a result, it is also a vintage bookshop. The University of North Alabama campus and Wilson Park, a lovely public park along the lake, are both within walking distance of downtown. Music fans should not miss a trip to W.C Handy Museum and Library.
It is possible to view a collection of instruments and memorabilia from the man known as the “Father of the Blues” who was born and raised in Florence. Before you leave town, get an ice cream sundae from Trowbridge’s Ice Cream and Sandwich Bar and enjoy it as you wait in line.
Marion is a historical town in Alabama’s Black Belt region with a lot of military history to explore. The Marion Military Museum, Marion Military Institute and Judson College are all located there. There are two popular parks in Marion which would be fantastic places to go bird watching.
The parks have various picturesque walks and a 100-foot birdwatching viewing station where you can get the greatest picture of the park’s animals. The Moore-Webb-Holmes Plantation, not far from Marion, is a functional plantation worth seeing. It’s worth a trip only seven miles down the road to witness how the plantation’s sixth-generation proprietors manage the 80-acre organic farm.
A city in western Alabama is called Tuscaloosa. The University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide football team plays at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Minerals and fossils are on display at the Alabama Museum of Natural History. The Battle-Friedman House and Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion serve as historical markers for the region.
On the Gulf Coast of Alabama, Mobile is a port city. In Battleship Memorial Park, the USS Alabama battleship from World War II is berthed. The Mobile Carnival Museum’s floats, costumes, and images shed light on the city’s centuries-old Mardi Gras custom. German stained glass in the 1850 Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is highly detailed.
Getting to know the people and little villages of a state is the most crucial part of discovering its actual beauty. Finding out more about the legacy of these little communities will open your eyes to the wealth of experiences they have to offer.