You’ve probably heard of Mobile, whose Spanish, French, and British influences make it resemble the architectural style of New Orleans or Savannah. But Alabama is full of charming towns, with Spanish moss-draped oak trees and locally owned boutiques. From the mountains in the north to the coastline to the south, explore the roads of the state to see these lovely places.
Dothan is the perfect stopover on the way to the coast, with an artsy reputation that earned it the name of “Mural City.” Admire the murals that honor the area’s history, including musicians like Ray Charles, the peanut industry, and the Tuskegee Airmen.
There’s even more art to discover at the Wiregrass Museum, which was founded in 1987 and boasts over 1,000 pieces in its collection. The George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum honors the contributions of the scientist. The town is also home to Folklore Brewing and Meadery.
Top Chef winner Kelsey Barnard Clark’s restaurant, KBC, is one of the best in town. Mural City Coffee is a local coffee roaster, serving coffee, tea, and pastries. Fire Stone Wood Fired Grill serves pizza, pasta, and salads.
Built around a hot mineral pool, the Dothan National Golf Club and Hotel opened the Robert Trent Jones golf course in 1968 and a renovated hotel in 2012. The Courtyard by Marriott Dothan is another option,
Gadsden is a town located near Neely Henry Lake, Noccalula Falls Park, the Coosa River, and a number of outdoor attractions. It’s the ideal hub for fishermen and hikers. James D. Martin Wildlife Park is better for soft adventure like birding.
If you’re not up for it, instead spend the day at the town’s museums, including the Gadsden Museum of Art, Etowah Heritage Museum, the Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts, and the Central Carver Legacy Museum. Visit the craft breweries like Back Forty.
Dine on the river at Top O the River, a family-run seafood restaurant on the river open since 1982. Pruett’s Bar-B-Q is across the street, another favorite serving ribs, barbecue, and catfish with traditional Southern sides.
Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Gadsden is a comfortable hotel with large rooms, daily breakfast, and an outdoor pool. The Coosa Cottage tiny home is another option. River Rocks Landing has campsites with river views, along with a boat launch, laundry facilities, and trails.
Magnolia Springs is like something out of a postcard, likely serving as inspiration for the town of Bluebell in the series Hart of Dixie. It’s here that the mail arrives daily by boat, something you won’t find anywhere else. See it for yourself or rent a kayak to navigate the waterways.
Dine at the town’s two restaurants, where you’re sure to find fresh, local seafood. Jesse’s Restaurant is the most popular for its steaks and oysters. Magnolia Bar and Grill serves bar food and cocktails. Additional options can be found in Foley like Lambert’s Cafe.
Stay in the heart of town at the Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast, a charming inn with cozy rooms and free WiFi. Area rentals include this quaint home split into two apartments. Hotel Magnolia in Foley is also nearby.
Monroeville is most well known for being the home of Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. The Monroe County Courthouse is now a famous landmark that inspired the events of her book and plays host to productions of the story. Pick up her books and many others at Ol’ Curiosities & Book Shoppe.
Hunters Run Bar & Grill, right on the town square, has burgers, shrimp and grits, and other favorites. Chow down on Alabama barbecue at Cherry Street Bar-B-Q, which has ribs, pulled pork, and chicken. Or indulge your sweet tooth at Cole’s Ice Cream and Coffee.
There’s nowhere better to stay than the appropriately named Mockingbird Inn & Suites, which has free breakfast, WiFi, and an outdoor pool. Monroeville also has vacation rentals like the Towne Square Lofts, above the downtown shops.
The towns of Muscle Shoals follow the Tennessee River through North Alabama, with ties to Native American history and American music, just off the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway. Tuscumbia is near the recording studios that legendary artists used, now open for tours. Visit them on the Muscle Shoals VIP Music Tours.
Rattlesnake Saloon is one of the most unique live music experiences, located in a cave. Spring Park is the town’s green space, with a manmade waterfall and children’s rides. Tour Ivy Green, the birthplace and home of Helen Keller with items from her life like the well featured in The Miracle Worker. The Tennessee Valley Museum of Art features the work of regional artists.
Dine at Claunch Cafe, a popular spot inside Spring Park known for its chicken salad. Sparky’s Drive Inn has classic American dishes like burgers and bologna sandwiches. Regional chain Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken has its famous fried chicken alongside Delta tamales and 40s of beer.
The Comfort Inn and Suites Tuscumbia/Muscle Shoals is near the highway and a short drive into downtown with free WiFi, daily breakfast, and an outdoor pool. The GunRunner Boutique Hotel in nearby Florence has rooms named for musicians and notable locals.
As seen in the most recent season of HGTV’s Home Town, Wetumpka is a charming town that sits along the Coosa River, 30 minutes from Montgomery. It was also the backdrop for the movie Big Fish, which used private homes and commercial buildings.
Despite the town’s small size, there are some great local shops on Company and Hill streets. Admire the artwork in local galleries and at the Dixie Art Colony. Learn about the history of the area at the Wetumpka Impact Crater marker, the Elmore County Historical Society and Museum, and the Elmore County Black History Museum.
The Coosa Cleaver offers pub fare, including burgers, flatbreads, and sandwiches. Hog Rock Bar-B-Que is a friendly restaurant with barbecue and Southern sides like black-eyed peas and macaroni and cheese. At the Copper House Deli, diners can enjoy hearty sandwiches and salads.
Hampton Inn Wetumpka has all of the amenities like free breakfast and parking. Camp Sherrye has RV and tent sites on the river. Wind Creek Wetumpka is the top-rated casino in the state with gaming, a spa, restaurants, and AAA Four-Diamond rooms.
Have you been to any of these Alabama towns?