Aerial view of the Fairhope, Alabama Municipal Pier on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay

8 Delightful Towns To Visit In Alabama

Of the 50 US States, Alabama is the 30th largest and 24th most populous state in the American Southeast having a stunning shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico and bordered by the neighboring states of Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee. Boasting diverse topography ranging from the flourishing agricultural valley of the Tennessee River, the rugged terrain of the southwestern periphery of the Appalachian Mountains, a band of lowland prairies, piney woods, and stretches of sandy beaches to extensive untarnished coastal plains, Alabama is a bucolic destination that every vacationer would crave to explore.

Nevertheless, the Yellowhammer State has innumerable picture-perfect towns worth touring outside the bigger urban metropolises such as Mobile, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Huntsville. So, what is all the wait for? Pack your bags and embark on a delightful trip to these gorgeous towns in the ‘Heart of Dixie.’

Fort Payne

Gault Avenue in downtown Fort Payne, Alabama
Gault Avenue in downtown Fort Payne, Alabama. Image credit: Thomson200 via Wikimedia Commons.

This DeKalb County’s seat of government is set in the narrow Big Wills Valley in the Cumberland Plateau region of northeastern Alabama, betwixt Sand and Lookout Mountains, exactly 70 miles southeast of Huntsville. Dubbed the “Official Sock Capital of the World,” Fort Payne was initially a crucial Cherokee settlement that expeditiously developed in the late 19th century following the arrival of the European-American settlers.

While in town, look at the ancient Fort Payne ruins, survey the amazing Manitou Cave, gain knowledge about the local history at the Alabama Fan Club & Museum and the Fort Payne Depot Museum, watch fantastic theatrical performances at Fort Payne Opera House, and discover the nearby 14,000-acres Little River Canyon National Preserve and the 3,502-acres DeSoto State Park. Other than being a favored stop on the lengthiest yard sale in the world, Fort Payne hosts umpteen events, including the DeKalb County VFW Agricultural Fair, Christmas in the Park celebrations, DeKalb County Fiddlers Convention, and Boom Days Heritage Celebration.

Orange Beach

Aerial view of Orange Beach, Alabama
Aerial view of Orange Beach, Alabama.

Orange Beach is a teeny resort town in southern Baldwin County, around 35 miles from Pensacola and 56 miles from Mobile. Bounded in the west by the town of Gulf Shores and to the east by Perdido Key - Florida’s unincorporated community in Escambia County, this Gulf Coast’s easternmost settlement enthralls sightseers to witness its immaculate sugar-white beaches, crystal-clear blue waters, and partake in an array of recreational activities. The Wharf, Orange Beach Sportsplex, Adventure Island amusement park, Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum, Orange Beach Waterfront Park, and three prominent stops on the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail are some popular attractions.

Do not forget to take note of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail system running through the Gulf State Park and providing opportunities for biking, wildlife-watching, skating, rock climbing, and jogging. In March, the two-day fine arts festival - the ‘Orange Beach Festival of Art’ features various performing artists as well as food vendors, musicians, and a hands-on ‘Arts Alley’ where youngsters get to create artworks.


Fall scenery along the Little River near Mentone, Alabama.
Fall scenery along the Little River near Mentone, Alabama.

A quaint alpine community in Dekalb County of Northeast Alabama, Mentone is located on the western rim of Lookout Mountain, less than a two-hour drive from Birmingham. Christened after the Menton commune in France, the town is well-known for its multiple summer camps.

Apart from these camps, Mentone houses the Sallie Howard Memorial Baptist Church, Mentone Market, Mentone Arts & Cultural Center, Groovy Goat gift shop, Hatter Café, Wildflower Café, Mentone Inn, Shady Grove Dude Ranch, providing lovely horseback rides to equestrian enthusiasts, and the adjacent 90-foot Old Union Crossing Covered Bridge spanning the West Fork of the Little River. Annually, every third weekend of October, this Alabama mountain town invites holidayers to bask in the mind-boggling fall colors and celebrate the season at the Mentone Fall Festival.

Gulf Shores

View of the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama
View of the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Image credit: DiscoverWithDima via Wikimedia Commons.

Gulf Shores is a peaceful resort town alongside the Gulf of Mexico in southwestern Alabama’s Baldwin County. Having warm weather throughout the year, this southernmost settlement of the state enchants residents and holidaymakers alike with its unsullied beaches, extraordinary ocean views, abundant aquatic adventures, plentiful shopping, dining, and varied family-centric entertainment options.

Additionally, indulge in a round of golf at the famed golf courses, appreciate the attractiveness of Gulf State Park, and spend time with loved ones at the 20-acre Waterville amusement waterpark or the 25-acre Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, housing over 300 animals. The National Shrimp Festival - a four-day event in October and the Hangout Music Festival - a three-day music festival held in May on the Gulf Shores’s white-sand beaches lure thousands of merrymakers.


Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama.
Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama. Editorial credit: Larry Porges /

Cullman County’s seat and its biggest community, this appealing Northern Alabama town, sits atop the Brindley Mountain plateau, approx. Fifty miles north of Birmingham. Founded in 1873 by German immigrants led by Colonel Johann Gottfried Cullman, the countless important buildings in the town flawlessly reflect its German roots.

Cullman’s most prominent site of interest is the 4-acre park Ave Maria Grotto, which features superb minuscule replicas of significant religious structures created on St. Bernard Abbey grounds in an old quarry by Brother Joseph Zoettl. To learn about the town’s past, stop by the Cullman County Museum, enjoy picnics at Sportsman Lake Park, sample premium craft beers at Goat Island Brewing, and attend the yearly “Rock the South” country music festival and Bloomin’ Festival.


Aerial view of the Fairhope, Alabama, on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay.
Aerial view of the Fairhope, Alabama, on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. Editorial credit: George Dodd III /

The chief town of the ‘Daphne-Fairhope-Foley Metropolitan Area,’ this picturesque Gulf Coast community sits on Mobile Bay’s eastern banks in Baldwin County, roughly 10 miles south of Spanish Fort and 6 miles south of Daphne. Established in November 1894 by the Fairhope Industrial Association as a Georgist single-tax colony, Fairhope has slowly metamorphosed into an inspirational retreat for artists, craftsmen, authors, and entrepreneurs.

Holidaymakers can learn about the glorious bygone days at the Fairhope Museum of History, tour the iconic Fairhope Municipal Pier, savor delectable dishes at top-class restaurants like Panini Pete’s Café, peruse the uncountable boutique clothing stores, art galleries like Seeley’s Gallery by the Bay, antique stores like Copper Roof Antiques, locally-owned bookshops like Page & Palette, and survey the nature trails of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta around half an hour from Downtown Fairhope.


Rear view of Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Alabama.
Rear view of Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Alabama. Editorial credit: Carla Sloke /

Guntersville, ‘Alabama’s Lake City,’ occupies the heart of Marshall County at the Tennessee River’s southernmost point, abutted by 69,000 acres of Lake Guntersville - the state’s biggest lake. This mesmerizing lakeside town’s more than 1,000 miles of shoreline and year-round mild temperatures make it perfect for a laidback getaway, as well as impressing visitors with an excellent blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities.

Lake Guntersville provides outdoorsy types the best opportunities for water-based recreation, while Lake Guntersville State Park’s several miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, woodlands, and sandy beach areas are must-visit for adventurists. Furthermore, browse the antique shops, boutiques, one-of-a-kind gift shops, cafes, event spaces, wine shops, and eateries like Rock House Eatery in Guntersville’s walkable Main Street.


Home of Harper Lee
Home of Harper Lee in Monroeville, Alabama. Image credit: JR P via

Having a population of 5,951 inhabitants as per the latest US Census, Monroeville serves as the administrative center of southwestern Alabama’s Monroe County. Primarily set up on lands ceded by the indigenous Native American tribes, the town was first called ‘Walker’s Mill & Store’ and then ‘Centerville’ briefly before being officially renamed in honor of US President James Monroe. Being the hometown of literary giants including Truman Garcia Capote, Nelle Harper Lee, Mark Childress, and Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist Cynthia Tucker, Monroeville has been aptly designated the “Literary Capital of Alabama” by the State Legislature.

Holidayers visiting Monroeville must tour the magnificent town square in addition to the Old Monroe County Courthouse & Heritage Museum, Truman Capote Historical Marker, Monroeville Market, Monroeville Veterans Memorial Park, and Atticus Finch Monument. Annually every May, the Monroe County Heritage Museum presents an amateur play based on Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” on the courthouse premises.

From Fort Payne - the “Official Sock Capital of the World,” to Monroeville - the “Literary Capital of Alabama,” the postcard-pretty towns in the Cotton State offer a relaxing escape far away from the daily grind of bustling metropolitan centers. With exquisite natural sceneries, fascinating historical architecture, and heartening Southern hospitality, the undeniable distinctiveness of each Alabama town provides memorable experiences for everyone visiting, either for short trips or long vacations with families.

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