Let’s head down south to the sunny shores of Alabama for a laid-back adventure full of hearty food, white sand beaches, and tiny-town charm. The best small towns in Alabama offer a fantastic escape from the popular historic sites of Birmingham and the crowded beaches of Gulf Shores. If you’re looking for a vacation with a few less “friends,” stay tuned. We’ve gathered 14 charming small towns in Alabama that will allow you to avoid the masses and still have an excellent adventure. Let’s roam!
Discovering Alabama With Let’s Roam
Want a fun and efficient way to explore small towns in Alabama? You’re in luck! We’ve created scavenger hunts, art walks, and bar crawls in more than 30 Alabama towns. Our hunts are a combination of trivia and friendly competition. As you figure out the clues, you’ll also be challenged to photo and video prompts. Compete against other teams from the city to top the overall leaderboard!
We also create custom hunts for special occasions! Celebrate your birthday, a corporate team-building event, a wild bachelorette bash, or a romantic anniversary with us. Our custom events allow you to work with your own event coordinator to design a hunt that is all about you!
Offerings From the Heart of Dixie
If you’re not familiar with the great state of Alabama, let’s chat for a second about its awesomeness. First of all, the Alabama Gulf Coast offers some of the best sandy beaches in the United States, with lower prices than nearby Florida beaches. The Appalachian Mountains also dip halfway through the state, providing excellent vacation spots filled with hiking, mountain biking, and river kayaking. Along with Atlanta, Georgia, Birmingham and Montgomery are two of the most important cities in the Civil Rights Movement, and there are a plethora of important sights to explore. Alabama is the home of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, and several interesting Native American historic sites. A road trip through Alabama is the perfect conglomeration of natural beauty, historic spots, and charming Southern vibes!
The Best Small Towns in Alabama
What constitutes a small town is always hard to decipher. It’s different for every state, depending on the overall population and the distribution of that population. For instance, a “small town” to a Californian will likely be a much larger place than what an Arkansan considers a small town. Alabama has a population hovering around five million permanent residents. Only ten percent of those residents live in the five largest cities, so the population of Alabama is fairly disseminated. The majority of its cities are home to 20,000-50,000 people. For the scope of this article, we’ll look at towns with a population of less than 12,000 residents. Population numbers for this article were taken from the 2023 estimates by World Population Review.
Mooresville is a small town anywhere in the world! With only 47 permanent residents, you wouldn’t expect there to be anything significant about this teeny community, but the entire village is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s home to the oldest operational Post Office in the state, preserved 19th-century historic homes, and a quaint tavern. Mooresville is the epitome of a small Southern town. In fact, it’s so perfect that Disney chose it for the location of their film Tom and Huck. General James A. Garfield once addressed his soldiers in the local church, and President Andrew Johnson once lived in little Mooresville.
Moorseville is the perfect location for road trippers. It lies along the Tennesse River, just across the bridge from Decatur, and is surrounded by the beautiful Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. It’s also just 20 minutes from Alabama’s largest city, Huntsville.
Once a watering hole and place of rest for wanderers, the historic Stagecoach Inn and Tavern offered two small sleeping spaces and a cheap meal. In true small-town fashion, it also served as the first Post Office. It served as both the official town hall and a small museum, and today, it has been fully restored.
Pop into 1818 Farms for organic goodies like lavender spray, goat milk bath bubbles, and their famous fresh flowers. Anglers can try their hand at catching some bass or catfish in the Tennessee River. Stop in Dogwood & Magnolia for an incredible orange roll, cinnamon roll, or homemade cookie. As you can see, this tiny town packs a big punch, and it makes a charming day trip from Huntsville.
Moorseville took our top spot on the list of “The Best Small Towns to Visit in Every State.” If you want to hang out this year in some of the coolest small towns in the country, check out this travel guide full of tiny treasures!
Located west along the interstate from Huntsville, little Tuscumbia is another town with a very fortunate location. It’s just minutes from a couple of great, North Alabama small cities that didn’t make our list solely because they are slightly too big for our parameters, Florence and Muscle Shoals.
Tuscumbia was founded in 1816 and was eventually named after a prominent Chickasaw Indian leader. The little town is famous as the birthplace of Helen Keller and (weirdly) the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
For a perfect day in Tuscumbia, visit Ivy Green, the childhood home of Helen Keller that now serves as a museum. Take a hike in Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve, and visit the quirky Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard. Take a tour of the historic Belle Mont Mansion. Then celebrate Alabama’s famous musicians, including Percy Sledge, Lionel Richie, Nat King Cole, Hank Williams, and Emmylou Harris. Have a picnic near the waterfall in Spring Park, and finish off the day with a stiff drink from Rattlesnake Saloon.
“Tuscumbia’s Tall Tale Treasure Hunt” will introduce you to all the best spots in the town on a trivia and challenge-filled adventure!
Just pretend you don’t see that extra 382 people. Eufaula is too good to not include. It’s located in the far east of the state on the Georgia line, along the shores of the Walter F. George Reservoir. That makes it a prime spot for anglers. In fact, the town wears the crown of “Bass Fishing Capital of the World.” The 40,000+ acre reservoir is also a playground for water sports lovers. Kayaking along the reservoir is a peaceful experience with jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery. Boat rentals are available from Lakepoint Resort State Park. Hikers will want to get their views in from the Yoholo Micco Trail and make the 30-minute drive to the Grand Canyon of Georgia, Providence Canyon State Park.
Nature lovers should hop on over to Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge! The gigantic wetlands park is home to more than 300 species of birds and 40 species of animals. History buffs will love a wander around the Seth Lore and Irwinton Historic District. The district has more than 600 historic homes. Fendall Hall is an 1856 Italianate beauty that now serves as a history museum and is available for tours Monday through Saturday. If you’re lucky enough to visit in April, you’ll be treated to the Eufaula Pilgrimage, a historic home tour that is one of the longest-running in the USA. The area is also ripe with fantastic shops to peruse.
Foodies, get your morning fuel at Blue Moon Coffee, load up on traditional Southern food at Barb’s Country Kitchen, or get your seafood fix at Joe’s Crab Pot.
Please forgive us for fudging on the arbitrary small-town population limits (that we set ourselves), but as can see Eufaula has something for everyone from anglers to foodies to outdoor adventurers, so we had to squeeze it in!
The absolute best way to experience Eufaula is with our app-guided scavenger hunt, “Eufaula’s Hidden Treasures Hunt!”
Mentone is truly tiny! Located at the peak of Lookout Mountain, it has the highest elevation of any town in the state. Its Appalachian Mountain location gives it no shortage of epic valley views and waterfall hikes. Mentone is an outdoor adventurer’s dream.
Take a hike out to DeSoto Falls. The 104-foot-tall falls tumble down into a glorious emerald pool. You can also rent cabins or camp sights in DeSoto State Park. If you’re visiting in winter, hit the slopes at Cloudmont Ski Resort.
Antique lovers and shoppers will adore Mentone, too. Check out the Log Cabin Craft Village for handmade items. Each shop is in a log cabin and finds include hand-carved cigar boxes, basketry, jewelry, and local pottery. The White Elephant Antiques Gallery is full to the brim with unique finds. The Hitching Post is the town’s general store from the 1800s and offers a nostalgic experience, as well
Foodies get your fill at the Wildflower Cafe, which is situated inside an 1887 home and features fresh flowers for sale and live jazz music. A unique experience in Mentone is attending two of its churches. The Sallie Howard Memorial Baptist Church has a fantastic traditional gospel choir, and the mountainside chapel of St. Joseph’s-on-the-Mountain features incredible stained-glass architecture.
Monroeville is famous for its ability to church out famous authors. It’s the home of Harper Lee (author of To Kill a Mockingbird) and Truman Capote (In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Bibliophiles have been flocking to “The Literary Capital of Alabama” ever since.
Start your visit at the County Courthouse and Heritage Museum. It’s been restored to its 1930s glory and gives a proper overall history of the area. It also operates six historic sites in the region and is a good place to get visiting information for those sites. You’ll also see exposés on both Capote and Lee. The courthouse is, as you’ve probably guessed, the one used in Lee’s famous novel.
Make sure to visit Rikard’s Mill Historical Park and the Capote Marker (where Truman Capote spent his childhood). Then grab a hearty meal at David’s Catfish House!
6. Orange Beach
Orange Beach is a Gulf of Mexico beach town that gets busy but offers a less crowded option than Gulf Shores. Orange Beach is located in Gulf State Park on the border with Florida, near the family-friendly Perdido Key. This area features golden sands, gentle waves, fancier highrises, quieter beaches, and a laid-back vibe. Orange Beach was developed later and has a more modern and updated feel than Gulf Shores.
Chill as it may be, you still have access to fun beach activities. You can take a dolphin cruise. Or boat, jet ski, or kayak out to Robinson and Bird Island, which are small sandbar islands famous for all kinds of fun shenanigans. Parasailing, deep-sea fishing, and wildlife tours are all easily available, and so are epic helicopter tours if you want to splurge a bit.
Sunset from The Wharf is breathtaking, and the views from Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina are outstanding. Fresh seafood is served at Big Fish Restaurant & Bar, or you can catch your own with the locals on the fishing pier. Orange Beach also features multiple family-friendly activities, like an escape room, Adventure Island Amusement Park, and a waterfront playground. With a mixture of fun activities and a quiet but luxe vibe, Orange Beach is the perfect spot to take your crew this summer!
7. Magnolia Springs
Located along the Magnolia River, which flows into nearby Mobile Bay, Magnolia Springs was founded on its turpentine distillation industry. Those distilleries were mostly destroyed in the Civil War, but many of the historic structures of Magnolia Springs still survive, including Moore’s Grocery and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which are both on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. The town itself is lovely, with large Magnolia trees lining the streets and numerous natural springs that give the town its name.
Magnolia Springs is located within just a few miles of Gulf State Park, so a beach trip is easily done. If you want a little beach time without the condo experience, Magnolia Springs and its charming bed and breakfast might be the perfect option for you. A popular adventure in the area is to take a hot air balloon ride with Taking Off Hot Air Balloon Co. Jesse’s Restaurant is a favorite local spot to grab a romantic meal in the garden.
While there’s not a huge array of activities in Magnolia Springs, it’s an ideal getaway for those looking for an escape. A weekend here feels like an escape into a simpler time in a beautiful location.
8. Bayou La Batre
Bayou La Batre is a famous little fishing village in the greater Mobile Metropolitan area. Founded by Joseph Bouzage, Bayou La Batre is the oldest community in Mobile County. As you wander the streets here, you might get that deja-vu feeling, as the harbor has been featured in major motion pictures like Pirates of the Caribbean and Forrest Gump.
Aside from nostalgia, Bayou La Batre is a must-visit for seafood junkies. It’s colloquially known as the “Seafood Capital of Alabama.” Take a food hopping tour visiting Catalina Bayou, eating the crab claws at Lighthouse Restaurant, and gorging at Bayou Seafood Company. Then, squash your sweet tooth at Sugar Rush.
Aside from eating excellent seafood and watching the fishing vessels bob in the harbor, there’s not much to do in Bayou La Batre, and that’s just the way we like it. However, you do have easy access to nearby attractions, including Bellingrath Gardens, Fort Morgan State Historic Site, the USS Alabama, Dauphin Island Marina, Indian Shell Mound Park, and Fort Gaines. Go out and explore in the day, and retreat to the Bayou for a sunset and dinner!
Guntersville was voted one of the South’s Best Lake Towns in 2022 by Southern Living. Visitors will enjoy almost 1,000 miles of shoreline and an easy-going lake town vibe. Guntersville is a Northern Alabama stopping point for bald eagles on their yearly migration, too. That alone draws hundreds of visitors to the town, but this little gem has plenty of exciting adventures to keep you busy when you aren’t bird-watching.
Bird watchers will want to head for Lake Guntersville State Park. In the months of January and February, there are usually special events in the park celebrating the arrival of the bald eagles. They focus on bird-viewing and education on eagle awareness. The park is large, at over 6,000 acres, and features an on-site lodge and dining options as well as more than 35 miles of hiking and biking paths.
The Guntersville Museum is housed inside a 1936 military armory, and it features an interesting collection of town history and regional Native American history. Explore the stunning landscape from an aerial view on the exhilarating zip line at Screaming Eagle Adventures. Enjoy an evening of entertainment with a show at The Whole Backstage Theatre. Get some swings in at Gunter’s Landing Golf Course. Enjoy the sparkling waters of Lake Guntersville, or book a cabin for camping near the lake. Visit the mysterious sculptures of Cathedral Caverns State Park in nearby Kennamer Cove, and end your day with a hearty meal from Old Town Stock House.
Fun fact: The town got its name from John Gunter, the grandson of famous actor and entertainer Will Rogers.
Marion is a historic military town in the Black Belt region of Alabama. Both military historians and birders will love Marion. The small town is also home to the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame.
With inductees like Rosa Parks, Hellen Keller, and Mother Angelica, the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame is a must-visit spot in Marion. It’s located in Bean Hall (a former Carnegie Library) on the Judson College Campus, which used to be The Judson Female Institute. Next, head to the Marion Military Institute and visit the Alabama Military Hall of Honor. Check out nearby Moore-Webb Holmes Plantation from 1819. The plantation is now a working 80-acre organic farm and is worth a tour. The 1910 Old Marion Depot has been fully restored and is now open for tours, as well.
Birders should make their way to Perry Lakes Park or Barton’s Beach Cahaba River Preserve. Both parks feature designated paths for optimum viewing. The sandbars of Barton Beach are also an important nesting ground for turtles, so every once in a while, take your eyes off the sky and look to your feet. Along the 400-meter walkway from Perry Lakes Park to Barton’s Beach gravel bar, you may also see busy beavers at work, large swamp snakes, and alligators. If you’re a wildlife lover, this little combination of parks is a quiet and underrated spot for viewing.
Don’t forget to check out our “Marion’s Marvelous Mystery Hunt!”
Only incorporated in 1980, the town of Valley on the Alabama-Georgia line was once a set of four different mill towns. The towns of Fairfax, Shawmut, Riverview, and Langdale were once thriving mill villages, but the area is now a national recreational trail. Along the Chattahoochee Valley Railroad Trail, you’ll explore abandoned relics, cute covered bridges, and a look into the past of village life in an old mill town. The trail can be done on foot or by bike, starting from Valley City Hall. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of cute cafes to rest your feet and get your coffee fix. You’ll pass the adorable Fairfax Train Depot and end your adventure at the Chattahoochee River.
Valley is located very close to Fort Tyler and the Georgia city of LaGrange, which has a lovely art museum, two historic mansions with gardens, and the Biblical History Center. The center displays archaeological artifacts from the ancient world and a thorough history of the bible. LaGrange also has a wonderful little waterpark if you have kiddos in tow.
Another beautiful small town in Alabama’s Black Belt Region, Greenville is known as “The Camellia City,” which is the Alabama state flower. For a small town, Greenville packs a big punch with Hollywood movies, WWII history, and famous golf courses.
Greenville has a renowned historic district with elegant Victorian-era homes. For an overview of the area, pop into the Butler County Historic Society. Golfers need to visit the gorgeous Robert Trent Jones golf course. Wander the town, and see if you can find any familiar scenes from Sweet Home Alabama. Many of the scenes from the movie were filmed here. In true small-town Southern fashion, August brings in the Watermelon Jubilee, and September brings the Butler County Fair. The month of March ushers in the Alabama Medieval Fantasy Festival. The festival features a jousting tournament, costumed actors, and a vast array of vendors. It’s a good time!
Fun Facts: Greenville was once called Buttsville—the residents thankfully changed the name to Greenville, honoring South Carolina, where many of the town’s residents had immigrated from. Greenville also was the catalyst for having the Alabama state flower changed from the goldenrod to the camellia. It was also home to a German prisoner camp during WWII.
Check out our “Camellia City Treasure Chase” for an organized and adventurous way to explore Greenville!
13. Dauphin Island
Dauphin Island has a tiny population, but it’s a popular summer vacation destination. The little island is one of the five Mississippi-Alabama barrier islands. It’s just 15 miles long and not even a quarter-mile wide. Surrounded by the warm blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, little Dauphin Island is a paradise for beach lovers.
Renting a bike is the best way to explore the island. Birders will want to spend a day in Audubon Bird Sanctuary looking for 420 bird species. Another point of interest, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Estuarium features hands-on exhibits detailing the four marine habitats on the island. Try booking a fishing charter from Dauphin Island Marina! There are several highly rated charter companies available. Visit the 1821 Fort Gaines, best known for the Battle of Mobile Bay in the American Civil War. Paddleboarding in the calm waters surrounding the barrier island is another popular water activity.
Dauphin Island boasts seven miles of sugar-white beaches, and by far the favorite thing to do is enjoy some fun and sun on the sand. You’ll find no highrise condos, just a collection of colorful beach-house accommodations with large terraces and idyllic views. However, history lovers will want to visit the Dauphin Island Indian Shell Mound Park, too. Just make sure you get back to the beach for the setting sun, as the sunsets on Dauphin Island are some of the best in the country!
14. Spanish Fort
Another cute small town with the perfect location, Spanish Fort is located directly between Pensacola, Florida, and Mobile, Alabama. Spanish Fort is located on Mobile Bay directly adjacent to the USS Alabama. It’s also surrounded by several other small towns that you could combine into a full week’s adventure, like Daphne, Loxley, and Fairhope.
Meaher State Park is a popular picnic and camping area with around 1,300 acres of serene wetland surroundings. Airboat tours of the wetlands are a popular pastime for locals and visitors. A tour of the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park is a must-visit site in the area! Like all great small towns in the South, you can spend a night mini-golfing, jumping at the trampoline park, or axe throwing. If you love a chill vacation of camping, epic sunsets over the wetlands, and seriously good seafood, Spanish Fort will be the perfect small town in Alabama for your next trip.
The Best Time to Visit Alabama
Alabama is beautiful year-round. However, it does get very hot and humid in the summer months. While the beach towns offer some relief from the heat, if you’re planning on visiting the interior, you might want to shy away from July and August. These are also the most crowded months, as tourists flock to the Gulf of Mexico.
Hurricane season is technically from June through November. However, the largest and most damaging storms usually happen from mid-August to mid-October. While Alabama doesn’t get nearly as many big hurricanes as its neighbor Florida, it might still be a good idea to check the forecast before planning your late summer trip.
For the perfect mix of warm weather, a minimal chance of storms, and fewer crowds, consider taking your Alabama vacation in late April or May. If you love to party, join the epic Mardi Gras celebrations in Alabama in February. Mobile has the oldest Mardi Gras celebration in the country, going strong since 1702.
Exploring Small-Town Alabama
These 14 small towns in Alabama are sure to check all your vacation boxes. With interesting historic districts, traditional architecture, stunning natural beauty, and thrilling outdoor adventures, there’s a little bit of something for everyone on this list! Whether you’re planning a romantic weekend getaway or a full week of fun and sun with the whole crew, these Alabama tiny towns are a treat! What are you waiting for? Go pack your bags. Alabama is calling!
For more epic adventures in the Heart of Dixie, check out our guide, “The Best Things to Do in Birmingham, Alabama.”
Home of the original Mardi Gras celebrations, Rosa Park’s epic stand, and the USS Alabama, Mobile is an action-packed destination. Here are our votes for “The Best Things to Do in Mobile, Alabama.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are both awesome, but Orange Beach offers a much quieter and more modern vibe. It isn’t quite as crowded yet, and it feels a bit more luxurious.
Alabama is a charming Southern state with gorgeous beaches, Civil War historic sites, and adorable small towns that make it the perfect vacation destination.