The Most Charming Small Towns in Alabama

Mentone, Alabama
Photo: Robbie Caponetto

The South is known for its impressively long list of charming small towns, and Sweet Home Alabama claims a fair number of them. Tucked along winding back roads and scenic country drives, Alabama's tiny towns are a road tripper's dream. With historic bed and breakfasts, gorgeous natural features, and loads of quirky character, there's something undeniably lovable about Alabama's small towns. Here are 15 of our favorites.

01 of 15


Opelika, AL
Photo: Courtesy Auburn-Opelika Tourism

Population: 30,589

Little sister to college town Auburn, Opelika is where locals and students go to reconnect with the area's small-town roots. Whether you hope to shop, sip, or find a bite to eat, Opelika's historic downtown has you covered. Stop into Studio 3:19 for women's clothing or 10,000 HZ for new and vintage records. For a pick-me-up, grab a cup of joe at Mama Mocha's Coffee or spot of tea at The Well teahouse. Restaurants abound, and if you're in search of a nightcap, try breweries Resting Pulse and Red Clay, or speakeasy bar Sneak & Dawdle. The friendly downtown is full of charm, from the railroad tracks that run through main street to the historic Lee County Courthouse which was built in 1896.

02 of 15

Bayou La Batre

Boats on the water in Bayou La Batre, Alabama
Getty Images / Buyenlarge

Population: 2,332

This tiny fishing village in Mobile County is best known for being the home of fictional character "Bubba" Blue in Forest Gump. As the Seafood Capital of Alabama, the best thing to do when visiting Bayou La Batre is embrace the bounty of the sea. Whether you choose to do so by indulging in a seafood boil at Cudjo Seafood or by reeling in your own fresh catch, this charming town is the perfect backdrop.

03 of 15


Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman
Getty Images / Tony Arruza

Population: 16,072

There are some absolute gems hiding away in this North Alabama community. Highlights include a melt-in-your-mouth glazed donut from 1939 family-owned Duchess Bakery and a stroll through Ave Maria Grotto, a four-acre park and garden with 125 miniature reproductions of the world's most famous religious structures. Don't leave without getting sufficiently lost in the dizzying array of one-of-a-kind antiques and architectural salvage finds at Southern Accents.

04 of 15


Fairhope, Alabama
Robbie Caponetto

Population: 22,035

Located on the eastern shoreline of Mobile Bay, Fairhope is as picturesque as they come. The Gulf Coast beauty is brimming with impressive flora, from live oaks draped in Spanish moss to bright, blooming bougainvillea bushes. Fairhope is also home to the legendary The Grand Hotel destination resort, featuring 550 acres of immaculately landscaped grounds, a world-class spa, giant pools, a private beach, and several top-notch dining options.

05 of 15

Fort Payne

Little River Canyon Nature Preserve Fall Color
John Dersham

Population: 14,063

Formerly known as Alabama's Sock Capital, Fort Payne was once home to around 100 sock mills employing 7,000 workers (or half the city's current population). Though homegrown organic sock company zkano is still located in Fort Payne today, much has changed since its days as a bustling industry town. Today, Fort Payne is a bit quieter, but every bit as beautiful. Its location in the foothill of the Appalachian Mountains means it's ideal for hiking and waterfall chasing at places like Little River Canyon National Preserve and DeSoto State Park.

06 of 15


Butler County Courthouse in Greenville, AL
Getty Images / Jeff Greenberg

Population: 7,478

If you've ever wondered why Alabama's state flower is the camellia, you can thank Greenville for that. The town, located in Alabama's Black Belt region, is often a stop for travelers on their way down I-65 toward the Gulf Coast. But with historic districts full of grand Victoria-era homes, a Robert Trent Jones golf course, and delicious downhome eats, it's more than worth a weekend stay.

07 of 15


Best Southern Travel Destinations: Lake Guntersville
Van Chaplin

Population: 8,531

Voted one of our South's Best Lake Towns in 2022, Guntersville is known for its signature brand of easy lake living and miles and miles of shoreline—almost 1,000 to be exact. At Lake Guntersville Bed & Breakfast, get your fill of Southern hospitality, plus a gourmet breakfast each morning, before heading out for a day on the water. Adventure enthusiasts should check out Lake Guntersville State Park, which offers 6,000 acres of natural woodlands, plus 36 miles of hiking and biking trails. Guntersville's walkable main street is ideal for antique lovers and boutique shoppers.

08 of 15

Magnolia Springs

Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast in Alabama
Alison Miksch

Population: 1,129

Seasoned Alabama beachgoers have probably driven through the tiny town of Magnolia Springs dozens of times on their way to the coast. But we think it's high time for a dedicated overnight stay. Book one of five cozy rooms at the historic Magnolia Springs Bed & Breakfast, and be sure to reserve a table at Jesse's. The restaurant shines for its expertly cooked steaks and Southern classics like shrimp and grits and fried catfish.

09 of 15


Mentone, Alabama
Robbie Caponetto

Population: 327

If it's gorgeous views you seek, look no further than Mentone. Nestled in the woodlands of Lookout Mountain, you won't find a more elevated location anywhere in the state. Between Cloudmont Ski and Golf Resort, the state's only ski resort, and the adjoining Shady Grove Dude Ranch, the tiny town has a surprising amount of tourist appeal. Make a point to stop into the eclectic Wildflower Café for a slice of the restaurant's legendary tomato pie. You won't be sorry.

10 of 15


The exterior of Stallworth home on Pineville Road in Monroeville, AL
Getty Images / Jeff Greenberg

Population: 5,812

See the place that inspired some of our country's most celebrated literary works. In the 1930s, Truman Capote and Harper Lee were childhood friends in Monroeville. In the 1960s, Lee earned a Pulitzer Prize for To Kill a Mockingbird and Capote's In Cold Blood was nominated for the same award. In Monroeville, you can become fully immersed in Lee's world by visiting the Old Courthouse Museum, which inspired the courtroom in the novel; seeing the To Kill a Mockingbird play; and visiting the famed author's burial site.

11 of 15

Muscle Shoals

Alabama, Florence, Muscle Shoals, Wilson Dam Reservation
Getty Images / John Coletti

Population: 14,379

You may think a town of fewer than 15,000 would be quiet, but the music reverberating from Muscle Shoals has been heard all over the world. In the 1960s, music industry legend Rick Hall opened FAME studios, where Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Cher, and the Rolling Stones would go on to record albums. Today, you can learn more about the town's incredible music history by visiting FAME, as well as Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in nearby Sheffield. After a day of exploring, take a load off at Rattlesnake Saloon, a one-of-a-kind watering hole and music venue located under natural overhanging rock structures.

12 of 15

Orange Beach

Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina (Orange Beach, AL)
Robbie Caponetto

Population: 6,130

Get a taste of the state's gorgeous white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters at this Alabama beach town. In 2020, more than 6 million people visited Alabama's Gulf Coast, which means Orange Beach can get a bit nutty during peak vacation months. But during magical offseason weekends, Orange Beach returns to its small-town sensibilities, and you can still enjoy a sandy strip of beach all to yourself.

13 of 15

Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores, AL
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism

Population: 12,550

Another of Alabama's beloved beach towns, Gulf Shores sparkles for its incredible biodiversity and the many ways it allows visitors to experience the glory of nature. At Gulf State Park, a 6,500-acre park with two miles of sandy beaches plus 28 miles of trails, you can traverse dunes, sand scrub habitats, fresh and salt marshes, maritime forests, coastal swales, and more. Options to camp, stay in a private cottage, or at the eco-friendly Lodge at Gulf State Park make it easy to plan a trip specficially suited to your preferences.

14 of 15

Dauphin Island

Dauphin Island Teal Beach House
Robbie Caponetto

Population: 1,610

One of five Mississippi-Alabama barrier islands, Dauphin Island is just 15 miles long from east to west and is less than a quarter-mile wide for most of its length. The charming coastal town is ideal for a secluded getaway where you can charter a private fishing trip, explore the water via paddleboard, or see one of Alabama's 420 bird species at the 137-acre Audubon Bird Sanctuary.

15 of 15


Southern Living Eufaula, Alabama
Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

Population: 11,878

This East Alabama town on the Alabama-Georgia border is home to the state's second largest historic district with more than 700 historic and architecturally significant structures. Visit in April to join the Annual Eufaula Pilgrimage, Alabama's oldest tour of historic homes that also includes tours of historic churches, outdoor art exhibits, tea gardens, and antique shows.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles