Driving along the rolling cotton fields is how one will know to be in Alabama. The "Cotton State" heart holds a rich history and culture dating back to the American Civil War and is well known for its hospitality and excellent fried chicken. Whether you seek an adventurous exploration of the majestic caves of DeSoto Caverns Park near Childersburg, a quieter stroll along the beautiful Magnolia Springs streets, or simply want to enjoy a chicken sandwich at the Ousler gourmet restaurant in Mountain Brook, these small towns of Alabama are a treat to discover on any road trip and certainly reveal how Alabama has earned its fame. These nine small towns undoubtedly deserve to be praised for their unrivaled beauty.
Within the undulating curves of the Magnolia River, the gorgeous town of Magnolia Springs developed from a Spanish land grant in the year 1800. By the end of the War Between the States, it rapidly became a refuge for the families and descendants of many of the soldiers who had fought on both sides. With a population of less than a thousand citizens, this community thrives where the beauty of nature also abounds. The Magnolia River provides plenty of great opportunities for swimming, boating, and strolling along its banks. This wonderful little town gives an extraordinary flavor of Southern Americana at its finest. A majestic canopy of giant oak trees lines some of the town's streets. Magnolia Springs is replete with azalea, wisteria, dogwood, camellia, and the defining magnolia that blossoms in the spring.
Tuscumbia accompanies the Tennessee River as it joins Wilson Lake at the foothills of the Appalachians, a region ablaze with beauty. Tuscumbia is one of the best small towns to visit in the state, home to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the birthplace of Helen Keller. Tuscumbia lies in the area of Colbert County, originally traversed by French traders between 1815 and 1817. It emerged as the primary overland transportation pathway for the region. The town underwent several name changes, officially incorporated as Occocopoosa in 1820, then renamed Big Spring in 1821, and ultimately rechristened as Tuscumbia in 1822, paying tribute to a Chickasaw leader.
Art lovers are going to adore the Tennessee Valley Art Center. It grants curated exhibitions that change each month and a permanent collection of various artifacts, paintings, and sculptures from artists all around the region. In addition, one can enjoy the nearby Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve for great opportunities for cycling and hiking in a splendid natural environment.
With around 4,000 inhabitants, Loxley recently received official city status, but its roots are still engrained in relaxed Southern living. Beautiful white-sand beaches are just a small drive away, while Loxley Municipal Park provides a quiet green space replete with majestic tall conifer trees. The park also is the background to the Annual Strawberry Festival every April. As a suburb of the nearby larger cities of Mobile and Daphne, visitors and residents can enjoy the comfortable amenities of big city life within a more relaxed and smaller setting. If one is looking for a Southern meal, they are easy to find here, and establishments like Sea & Steak Restaurant provide a variety of shrimp appetizers and juicy ribeye steaks.
Mooresville stands on Wheeler Lakeshore as it flows into the Tennesse River. It might be puzzling to figure out what attracts visitors to this tiny spot in Limestone County that boasts a population of fewer than 60 people in a one-quarter square mile area. Still, there are many reasons to take a short detour and see it for yourself. It is one of Alabama's oldest towns. Mooresville was founded back in 1818, and it continues to resemble a village straight from the 19th century. The entire town area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Tourists can explore beautiful landmarks such as the Stagecoach Inn and Tavern, the Mooresville Post Office, and the Brisk Church. Strolling through Mooresville streets feels like walking through history.
Fairhope overlooks Mobile Bay and the calm Gulf Shore waters. The town of Fairhope was founded in the late 1890s, and today, it is still a great place to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors in a subtropical climate. Visitors can enjoy outdoor locations, such as the Rock Creek Club for golfing, the Weeks Bay Nature Preserve, and, of course, the stunning vistas of Mobile Bay. Amongst others, Antique Mall's distinguished collections of artifacts and trinkets make this shop an exciting stop for many tourists. From Fairhope's earliest inhabitants, the Native American Indians, to the potters attracted to the abundant, high-quality clay to the Single Taxers looking to create their own Utopia, the Fairhope Museum of History provides an enjoyable and informative presentation of Fairhope's interesting history.
Mountain Brook spans along the Birmingham suburbs on the undulating Red Mountain range. Mountain Brook is home to the Birmingham Zoo and the adjacent Birmingham Botanical Gardens, featuring diverse floral displays and a glass conservatory. This Jefferson County town is indeed a place where the beauty of nature and the comforts of modern living come together. If this gorgeous scenery attracts your liking, the Grand Bohemian Hotel can provide the best mountain views for a luxurious stay in this appealing small town. Additionally, feel free to indulge in tasting one of Ousler's delectable chicken sandwiches; you will only be able to stop once the box is empty.
The Coosa River bounds the small town of Childersburg and contributes to the undeniable Southern charm that one can breathe here. Childersburg holds the claim of being the "Oldest Continually Occupied City in America." The Coosa Tribe lived here from 1540 until the Europeans settled in 1836. For those looking to learn more about the history of the area, the Butler-Harris Rainwater Museum tells the story of what Childersburg is and was all about. One of the town's major landmarks is the pretty Kymulga Grist Mill Park, which features an old wooden mill that belongs to a Southern storybook. Furthermore, the more adventurous visitors can venture deep into the majestic caves of DeSoto Caverns Park. These caverns are full of jaw-dropping stalagmites and stalactites and can be explored along with a tour guide, which grants educational insight into this beautiful natural phenomenon.
Monroeville sits amidst the rolling hills of Monroe County. The town holds the title of "Literary Capital of Alabama" for its many connections to famous American authors Truman Capote and Harper Lee. Monroeville was the inspiration for Harper Lee's fictional town of Maycomb. Visitors can enjoy these literary references as they stroll the gorgeous Monroeville streets, lined with Maples, Poplar, and Crabapple trees. While downtown, the Historic District along the main road certainly deserves a look for its ancient and beautiful architecture. Among these buildings, the Old Courthouse Museum stands out as an impressive structure. Restored to its 1930s appearance, the museum is the model for Harper Lee's imaginary courtroom settings in the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird." Although the film was not shot here, the set designer came to Monroeville to photograph, draw, and measure the courtroom before recreating it on a Hollywood stage.
Mentone stands atop Lookout Mountain and has no shortage of small-town charm or breathtaking autumn leaves. Mentone is one of the smallest towns in Alabama, with a population of only 300 or so. Its remote location means it is less well-known than other towns in the state, but it is certainly no less beautiful. The town boasts the highest vantage point of any city in the state and provides scenic views of the surrounding dense forests. Attractions revolve around outdoor activities, and visitors can enjoy snow or summer sports at the Cloudmont Ski and Golf Resort or Shady Grove Dude Ranch. Cottages or cabins in the woods are a great stopping point for anyone who decides to stay.
Alabama shows that beauty can be found around every corner in this state. Each of these small towns provides insight into the history of Alabama, beautiful views, and a respite from the big cities. No matter which of these towns you choose to explore, you will find heaps of Southern hospitality and charm. From the Tennessee Valley Art Center in Tuscumbia to the eerie caverns near Childersburg or the gorgeous Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Mountain Brook, these small villages hold something for everyone.