Alabama is best known for its southern food specialties, rich history in the civil rights movement, and as the home for space discovery. While the state's largest cities, like Montgomery and Birmingham, are worth visiting, Alabama has many intriguing small towns ideal for a relaxing and quiet getaway. If this sounds like a place you are looking for for your next vacation, discover nine of the most quaint small towns in Alabama.
Located at the peak of Lookout Mountain, Mentone sits at the highest elevation level in Alabama. However, that is not where the uniqueness stops with this stunning location. Mentone is home to a fascinating chapel, the Sallie Howard Memorial Baptist Church, built in 1937 by Colonel Milford Wriarson Howard for his first wife Sallie Howards. It is modeled after the Annie Laurie Church in Scotland that Milford and Sallie had visited on their trip to Europe. This chapel, however, has a unique feature to its design: built with a massive rock, one of the walls inside said rock holds Sallie's and Milford's first wives' remains. Milford's remains were interred inside the rock after he died in 1937.
This town also has folklore behind it called The Madoc legend. A legend that many of the locals believe in. They believe that Prince Madoc visited Mentone in 1170 CE. This vicinity also played a role in the 1863 campaign that resulted in the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga. It is said that several small caves in the steep bluffs of Desoto Falls are part of a fort constructed by Madoc and his followers.
Bayou La Batre
The Bayou, as it is familiarly called, might be small with its 2,500 residents, but this town is most notable for being featured in the 1944 film Forrest Gump. It was the hometown of Forrest’s friend Bubba and Forrest’s eventual home when he became a shrimp boat captain. Bayou is also well-known as the "Seafood Capital of Alabama," making it the ideal spot for fish enthusiasts. Visitors can also enjoy numerous special events, such as the Crawfish Festival in the springtime, the Bayou Bay Bash in the summer, and the Seafood Fiesta, which celebrates the local fishermen. Lastly, visit the Bayou La Batre City Docks for picturesque coastal scenery.
Tuscumbia, a historic hub, is one of the oldest towns in Alabama, and it is also the birthplace of the remarkable Helen Keller. You can visit her childhood home, Ivy Green, to learn more about her extraordinary life and where she grew up. Discover world-famous musicians from Alabama by visiting the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Visiting Tuscumbia Railroad Depot will fill you in on how early railroads impacted the area. If history is your thing, you can also visit the Belle Mont Mansion, located just 10 minutes outside of Tuscumbia.
A visit to the quaint town of Mooresville is like stepping back in time, as the entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places. This town was also the first town to be incorporated into the Alabama Territorial Legislature. Despite a small population of just 47 residents, do not let that deter you from visiting this alluring town.
Starting with the "heart" of Mooresville, the Mooresville post office was built in 1840, which makes it the oldest operating post office in the state of Alabama. There are also two historic churches here, The Brick Church and another church that former President James A Garfield once preached at, named the white Clapboard Church of Christ.
Water is the way of life in this town, surrounded by the state's largest lake, a whopping 69,000 acres of water. However, water is not the only interesting thing in Guntersville. The Guntersville Museum and Culture Centre is itself a stunning work of architectural design. The museum building has a history of its own; it used to be an armory for Guntersville, then it was turned into a firehouse, and until now, it stands as a museum.
However, if outdoor activities are more up your alley, Guntersville has many of them. You can visit Lake Gunters State Park, where you can fish, go hiking or biking down the trails, or hit the beach for a swim. There is also an 18-hole golf course at Gater's Landing Golf Course that also has a 2,500-foot custom pool and tennis courts onsite.
Just 90 miles southeast of Montgomery, this lakeside community is also known as the "Bass Capital of The World." For history buffs, Shorter Mansion, built in the 19th century, has neo-classical architecture and an abundance of historical memorabilia. The District has over 700 historic structures of various architectural styles from the 19th century as well.
For nature lovers, there is an astounding 11,184 acres belonging to the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge, just a 13-minute drive from the town. Visit the Lakepoint State Park for enjoyable outdoor activities from fishing, boating, and swimming to wildlife watching and hiking. Shops here offer a unique array of gifts and goodies, from jewelry and clothing to candies, and pecans at Superior Pecans & Gifts.
The "Literary Capital of Alabama'' Monroeville is well known for producing many famous writers, most notably Harper Lee, who wrote the famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which made Monroeville a tourist attraction with 30,000 tourists visiting here in 2006. There is a monument in downtown northeast of the courthouse for Atticus Finch, a central character in To Kill a Mockingbird. Visit the Monroe County Museum to learn more about Harper Lee as well as her childhood best friend Truman Capote, who is also an author.
Formally known as the Alabama sock capital, once housed around 100 sock mills that produced more than half of the socks in America. When visiting here, you can dine at Vintage, a charming restaurant set inside the historic Big Mill Co & Vintage, which was once used for making hosiery and socks. You can dine under the onsite water tower when it is warm outside. Located within the same building is an antique mall where you can browse antiques, collectibles, and artwork. You can also stroll through the old mill and visit The Fort Payne Depot Museum, formerly the Alabama Great Southern Railroad depot in 1891. If relaxation is on your agenda and you have ever wanted to experience watching a movie on the big screen outdoors, then you are in luck because Fort Payne is near the 411 Drive-in Theater.
Alabama is a vibrant state with rich culture and heritage within its roots as the home to the US Space and Rocket Center, great literary legends, and former sock-producing capitals. If you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities, consider a visit to one of these quaint towns to take in the peaceful and picturesque surroundings and embrace the true heart of southern hospitality.