A hub of the Southern United States, the “Cotton State” of Alabama is indeed a place of great intrigue for any traveler. Here, hot weather and captivating history come together to create a unique American experience for all visitors, and an exploration of its small towns will surely leave one with lasting memories. With stories of Native Americans and European colonists, splendid natural surroundings, and loads of Southern charm, the small towns of Alabama are a treat to discover on any road trip and certainly reveal why this land of the “Heart of Dixie” has earned its name.
Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Shores is Alabama’s southernmost town where just over 15,000 residents call home. A popular tourist centre, Gulf Shores is known for its year round warm weather and offers visitors and residents alike stunning views of the ocean and splendid beach areas. Here wonderful opportunities for swimming, fishing, sailing, and old fashioned sunbathing make this a veritable hot spot for people from across the State and nation. In addition one can enjoy a relaxing game of golf at several courses with extraordinary views or spend an afternoon at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo sure to entertain the young and old. And for the music lover the Hangout Music Festival is not to be missed. Every May a variety of musical acts perform directly on the beach for a most special artistic and scenic experience for all.
Just under 50 inhabitants live in the town of Mooresville (according to 2020 census numbers), yet this charming community should certainly not be missed by any passing motorist. One of Alabama’s oldest towns, Mooresville was founded back in 1818 and it continues to resemble a village straight from the 19th century. Indeed the entire town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and visitors can explore such fascinating landmarks like the Stagecoach Inn and Tavern (1825), the Brisk Church (1839), and the Mooresville Post Office (1840). In addition with such a small population, every one knows each other, and a friendly smile and welcoming hospitality is never far away. Enjoy authentic Southern cooking, peruse through a cute boutique store, or simply enjoy a casual walk through history, Mooresville is one Alabama place sure to be remembered.
Four years before Alabama’s admission to the Union in 1819, the town of Tuscumbia was founded making it one of the “Cotton State’s” oldest urban centres. Seat of Colbert County and home to a modern population of just over 9,000 people, the historic Tuscumbia is indeed a culturally rich place to discover for all. Explore the Historic District and its assortment of significant landmarks listed on the National Register of Historic Places bringing guests through a period of some 110 years of America’s past. Also known as the birthplace of the famed blind deaf activist Helen Keller, visitors can learn more about this American pioneer at her Birthplace Museum which will surely inspire.
In addition, one can enjoy the nearby Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve for great opportunities for cycling and hiking in a most splendid natural environment. And for the music lover a trip to Tuscumbia would not be complete without a stop at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Here the talents and contributions of Alabamans to the State’s and nation’s music scene is celebrated with rare memorabilia and informative exhibits.
Home to a population of nearly 15,000 residents, the town of Fort Payne is a fascinating historic place with something to teach the casual and ardent followers of history. Seat of DeKalb County, the town was once an important Cherokee settlement before being founded in the late 18th century by British colonists. Explore such places like the eponymous Fort Payne, travel to the Little Canyon National Preserve, discover the wonder of Manitou Cave, or even enjoy a scenic afternoon at the DeSoto State Park. And with Fort Payne’s mild winters and hot summers, there is truly never a bad time to visit town to learn history and take in the sights of nature.
Developed in the 1920s, the scenic town of Mountain Brook is home to a population of just over 22,000 people and is considered part of the greater Birmingham metropolitan area. Complete with majestic views of the Red and Shades Mountain Ridges, this Jefferson County locale is indeed a place where nature and the comforts of modern living come together. Enjoy time spent at the cute Shades Cree, where photos with the Old Mill are always popular, or take in an authentic Southern meal at any of the assortment of tasty eateries including the Daniel George Restaurant. And while here why not spend a night or two at the Grand Bohemian Hotel where some of the best mountain views can be enjoyed by the whole family and guests of all ages.
With a population of just 811 residents (according to the 2020 census), the southern Alabama town of Magnolia Springs is indeed a quiet and charming community where the beauty of nature also abounds. Located on the headwaters of the Magnolia River, plenty of great opportunities for swimming, sailing, and strolling along the water’s edge are always popular for guests and inhabitants alike. Meanwhile history lovers can also appreciate Magnolia Springs where several landmarks here are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Including the Historic District, the Sunnyside Hotel (1897), and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (1901) amongst many others, this wonderful little town gives a truly special flavor of Southern Americana at its finest.
Founded as a lumber camp in the 1870s, the town of Loxley is now the home to nearly 4,000 inhabitants and is indeed a special place to enjoy the peace and quiet only smaller communities can offer. As a suburb of the nearby larger cities of Mobile and Daphne, guests and residents can enjoy the comfortable amenities of big city life within a more relaxed and smaller setting. Known as the “Biggest Little Town in Baldwin County”, Loxley offers such fun activities like fresh fruit picking at the Burris Farm Market or a round of golf or two at the Steelwood Country Club. And of course a freshly cooked authentic Southern meal is never hard to find here and establishments like Kraver’s Seafood Restaurant and the Southwood Kitchen will surely fulfill a variety of appetites.
The town of Fairhope was founded in the late 1890s and is beautifully situated on the eastern shores of Mobile Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. Home to a population of nearly 22,500 inhabitants, this relaxing southern Alabama town is a great place to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors in a subtropical climate. Known for its humidity, visitors can enjoy such outdoor places like the Rock Creek Club for golfing, the Weeks Bay Nature Preserve, and of course the stunning vistas of Mobile Bay. And if one is looking to escape some heat, a visit to the Eastern Shore Art Center, the Fairhope Museum, or the Olde South Antique Mall, amongst others are also a great way to become acquainted with local history and regional artists.
Known as the “Sunset Capital of Alabama”, the coastal town of Dauphin Island is situated on the barrier island of the same name in the Gulf of Mexico. With a colonial history dating to the 16th century, the island and town were important trading centres for centuries and today it remains a fascinating cultural and historic attraction. For the history lover visits to Fort Gaines (built in 1821), the site of the famed Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War and the nearby Fort Morgan (completed in 1834) are a must, while an afternoon at the Alabama Aquarium is an informative and fun outing for the whole family. Meanwhile at the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, guests can enjoy sights of migratory birds in an area spanning some 164 acres. And of course as an island town, there is never a shortage of fine beaches to take in the sun, go for a swim, and sail on the water in a most spectacular Southern getaway.
The town of Eufala can trace its history to the mid 19th century, and today is the largest town of Barbour County. Home to a population of just under 13,000 residents, Eufala is a definite treat for those looking for small town charm and historic intrigue. Full of many buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, visitors can explore such important landmarks like the First Baptist Church (1834), the Shorter Mansion (1884), and Fendall Hall (1860) amongst many others which can be found in the Lore Historic District. Meanwhile at the nearby Lake Eufala opportunities for camping and fishing can be enjoyed. And of course the Eufala National Wildlife Refuge cannot be missed where chances to see beautiful bald eagles, peregrine falcons, alligators, and other native species make for quite the special experience.
Also known as the “Heart of Dixie” and the “Cotton State”, Alabama is indeed one of the Southern United States’ most beautiful locales. From fascinating American history to charming communities, and loads of beautiful natural surroundings, Alabama and its cute small towns are wonders for travellers of any age. Whether it is the beautiful beaches of Gulf Shores or the historic ambiance of Tuscumbia, these and other small Alabama towns continue to prove why the State is undoubtedly a jewel of not only the American South, but of the nation as a whole.