WorldAtlas—an educational geography website that’s been on the internet since 1996—just released a list of idyllic towns in Alabama titled 12 Small Towns In Alabama Were Ranked Among US Favorites. Read on to see which Alabama towns made the list + why we love them!
On the eastern shoreline of Mobile Bay lies Fairhope, an idyllic small town filled with delicious restaurants, attractive boutiques, historic sites and more.
“Sitting along the Mobile Bay, Fairhope exudes a blend of coastal elegance and artistic flair. Begin the day with a leisurely stroll along the Fairhope Pier, where panoramic bay views and serene sunsets create a picturesque backdrop, begging for photos to be taken! Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Eastern Shore Art Center’s exhibitions showcasing local talent. For a cultural learning experience, visit the Fairhope Museum of History, shedding light on the town’s intriguing past. Visitors’ taste buds are in for a treat at Panini Pete’s, renowned for its inventive gourmet sandwiches, or the Fairhope Brewing Company where tourists can enjoy craft beers and live music in a relaxed setting.”WorldAtlas
Learn more about things to do in Fairhope!
- 5 must-visit spots in Fairhope’s French Quarter
- 5 reasons to love downtown Fairhope (with pictures!)
- 7 exciting things to do in Fairhope for a romantic weekend getaway
Located along the Alabama/Georgia border is Eufaula, a small town with a rich history. The town sits on the banks of Lake Eufaula, a reservoir of the Chattahoochee River created by the Walter F. George Lock in Fort Gaines. Eufaula has been called the “Big Bass Capital of the World” for its quality fishing experience, the number of fishing-gear manufacturers in the town and for its participation in the Alabama Bass Trail Tournament Series.
“Eufaula invites travelers to step back in time and embrace its antebellum splendor. The opulence of the Shorter Mansion will leave all breathless, a true Classical Revival-style architectural gem. Nature lovers will relish the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge, where birdwatching and wildlife encounters are abundant, and explore Lake Eufaula, a haven for fishing and boating enthusiasts. The Eufaula Bass Trail and Fishing is a must, organizing fishing tournaments that visitors can participate in or just watch, before enjoying some of the best bass fishing in the region. Foodies that like to have a taste of local produce, stop by Lake Eufaula Farmers Market, offering fresh vegetables and homemade goods!”WorldAtlas
In addition to bass fishing, Eufaula is famous for its historic homes, such as the Shorter Mansion and Fendall Hall. That’s not all—Eufaula is also home to The Tree That Owns Itself, an oak tree that owns the land on which it stands. How neat is that?
Conveniently located near Huntsville, Decatur and the Tennessee border is Athens, a small town recently named one of Alabama’s safest cities. Home to the Alabama Veteran’s Museum, four historic districts with houses dating back to the early 1800s, events the Athens Saturday Market and more, Athens is an attractive day-trip destination!
“In Athens, history and community converge in a delightful blend. Get to know the town’s academic heritage at the Athens State University Founders Hall. Saturdays come alive at the Athens Saturday Market, where local produce, crafts, and live music create a vibrant atmosphere. The unique treasures and antiques at the Limestone Flea Market will keep visitors busy in the afternoon. Surely, visitors cannot miss out on the Piney Chapel American Church, the oldest standing church in Alabama, dating back to 1829. The outdoor lovers will not be disappointed as they can enjoy the serene Big Spring Memorial Park which features walking paths, a splash pad, as well as historic stops.”WorldAtlas
Roughly equidistant between Birmingham and Huntsville is Cullman, a small town with a variety of local shops, restaurants and more. The town is best known for the Ave Maria Grotto, a small park on the grounds of the St. Bernard Abbey containing 125 miniature reproductions of famous religious structures from around the world. Each replica was painstakingly handmade by Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of the Abbey who created the structures over the course of 50 years.
“Cullman’s charming streets are a testament to its rich German heritage. Most visitors heading to Cullman aim to see the Ave Maria Grotto, a charming collection of miniature sculptures depicting religious scenes. Some prefer to book a stay in time for the lively spirit of Oktoberfest, celebrating German culture with food, music, and camaraderie, and check out the Cullman County Museum for more on the local heritage of the town. As for nature escapes, the Clarkson Covered Bridge is a year-round favorite, a picturesque spot increasingly popular for photography. In addition to good views, Smith Lake Park offers a variety of activities such as camping, boating, fishing, and hiking.”WorldAtlas
Located in northwest Alabama, Florence is the largest of the “Quad Cities” (Florence, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia and Sheffield) nestled along the Tennessee River. Attractions include:
- The Rosenbaum House, the only house in Alabama designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
- Ivy Green, childhood home of Helen Keller.
- The annual W.C. Handy Music Festival and the W.C. Handy Museum, birthplace of the musician known as the “Father of the Blues.”
- Pope’s Tavern Museum, a historic inn & stagecoach stop dating back to the 1830s.
“A musical legacy like no other, Florence truly makes for a special getaway. The day can start at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, where you can take a guided tour of the legendary recording studio that hosts music icons. To learn about the life and legacy of the “Father of the Blues”, W.C. Handy Birthplace, Museum & Library has a rich collection of items and stories on display. The cultural experiences extend to Florence’s Ivy Green, American author Helen Keller’s birthplace, where Keller’s life is thoroughly explained and visitors can tour her childhood home. The evening is the ideal time to get on a boat or rent a kayak for a relaxing time at the Wilson Dam and Pickwick Lake.”WorldAtlas
Gadsden, the “City of Champions”, sits along the Coosa River and is a little over an hour’s drive from Birmingham. One of the city’s premier attractions is the beautiful Noccalula Falls, a 90-foot cascade of water along Black Creek. The falls and creek can be accessed via trails and a suspension bridge, and the Noccalula Falls Park & Campground gives visitors the chance to extend their stay in Gadsden’s scenic park.
“There is something for every member of the family in Gadsden. Starting with Noccalula Falls Park, this natural gem in the town includes a majestic waterfall, gorgeous trails, and a petting zoo. Children will have an unforgettable time at Imagination Place Children’s Museum, where kids engage in interactive exhibits and educational programs. Both the Gadsden Museum of Art and Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts organize plenty of art exhibitions, hands-on activities, and cultural events, as well as a diverse collection of artworks from local and regional artists. Take in the beauty of the town with a stroll along the Coosa River at Riverwalk Park, known for its remarkable views and luscious green spaces.”WorldAtlas
Neighboring the bustling college town of Auburn is Opelika, a small, quiet town with plenty to do. There’s always something to see or explore in Opelika, including shopping or eating in downtown and stretching your legs at one of the many must-visit parks in the Auburn-Opelika area!
“A treat to the mouth and the eyes, Opelika offers a holistic tasteful adventure. Experience the John Emerald Distilling Company’s immaculate craft spirits or dine at the charming Acre, offering farm-to-table cuisine and cocktails in an elegant setting. A hike, swim, or picnic at Chewacla State Park is worth the trip, a scenic park with a lake and mesmerizing waterfalls. You can even play a round of golf on the well-maintained course of Saugahatchee Country Club surrounded by stunning landscapes. For a glimpse of Opelika’s past, enjoy the history and cultural exhibits offered at the Museum of East Alabama.”WorldAtlas
Just 30 minutes south of Birmingham, Helena is a captivating small town chock-full of things to do and see. Downtown Helena gives you the opportunity to step back in time in the historic “Old Town Helena” and visit several charming restaurants, bars, breweries and boutiques. For nature enthusiast, the Cahaba River runs through the city, making it a popular site for kayakers, canoeists, swimmers and more.
“Helena is a destination brimming with fun activities. Discover outdoor wonders at Oak Mountain State Park, perfect for hiking and picnicking. Joe Tucker Park is equipped with family-friendly facilities with a playground and many possibilities to play sports. At the Pelham Civic Complex, especially in the rainy season, visitors can pick from ice skating, hockey, and various events hosted at this community complex. And when the sun is out, Buck Creek Park is the place to be, with its many walking trails, picnic areas, and a creek for wading. Finally, you cannot leave Helena without grabbing a delicious calzone from Eddie’s Calzones or picking among the gourmet sandwich and salad options at this popular eatery.”WorldAtlas
Midway between Montgomery and Dothan is the town of Troy, home to Alabama’s fourth-largest university. Although it is a college town, Troy has plenty to offer for non-students, including the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, the Johnson Center for the Arts and a multitude of fun shops and restaurants in the city’s downtown.
“Perhaps the most known landmark of Troy is its university. The beautiful campus has so much to offer, from cultural events to sports games. For instance, the university’s Johnson Center for the Arts hosts captivating exhibits. The region’s history is further displayed through the curated exhibits and historic buildings of the Pioneer Museum of Alabama. To fit in just like a local, pick up the comfort food of your choice from Sips on the Square and head to Bicentennial Park, to enjoy a delightful bite in Troy’s most sought-for green space, with plenty of walking paths and picnic areas in the serene outdoors. As for a seasonal favorite, it has to be the Troy Fest, an annual arts and crafts festival showcasing local artisans.”WorldAtlas
Less than an hour south of Troy is Enterprise, famous for its multiple statues commemorating the Boll Weevil. Why does the city honor the boll weevil—a pest that obliterated their cotton crops in the early 1900s—you may ask? The destruction of their cotton crops forced area farmers to diversify their fields by growing peanuts and other crops. In just a few short years, Enterprise was the country’s leading producer of peanuts, bringing more prosperity and success to the city than ever before—all thanks to the Boll Weevil!
“The town’s green roots are not a secret. Enterprise takes its agricultural history seriously and proudly highlights the town’s heritage in many centers, such as the Boll Weevil Monument, serving to honor agricultural resilience. The Pea River Historical Society & Museum showcases the local history through exhibits and artifacts. As for the Enterprise Farmers Market, it brings together a delicious and rich assortment of fresh local produce and handmade goods and crafts.”WorldAtlas
Northwest of Birmingham is the small town of Jasper, a quiet area of Alabama with a charming downtown. Fun fact: The struggling Jasper Mall was recently the subject of a popular 2020 documentary of the same name. You can watch the documentary (with ads) on YouTube for free.
“Jasper’s historical charm leaves you with good memories and a unique experience of the outdoors. In a peaceful lakeside setting, choose between fishing, boating, and picnicking at the beautiful Walker County Public Lake. Architecture and history enthusiasts will want to stop at the First United Methodist Church of Jasper to admire the architectural beauty of this historic church or discover Jasper’s history at the Bankhead House and Heritage Center. Among the most popular events in the town, the Foothills Festival brings together people from all over the state to attend this annual event featuring live music, arts and crafts, and family activities. For a meal that resembles the town’s spirit, head to Warehouse 319 to savor a meal picked from a large menu of local delicacies in a rustic-chic atmosphere.”WorldAtlas
Tuskegee is best known as the home to Tuskegee University, a historically black colleges and university (HBCU) that has produced a number of important African-American figures thanks to the early leadership of visionaries like Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. During World War Two, the Tuskegee Airmen—the first African-American pilots United States Armed Forces—trained at Tuskegee University (then the Tuskegee Institute) and went on to become one of the most distinguished combat groups of the war, despite facing discrimination from their own countrymen.
“Tuskegee can satisfy your curiosity if you are an enthusiast of knowledge-filled vacations. At Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, you can learn about the groundbreaking achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen and aviation pioneers. The legacy of Booker T. Washington and the Tuskegee Institute is highlighted at Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site. At the George Washington Carver Museum, you can stroll through exhibits honoring the life and work of American agricultural scientist George Washington Carver. Visit the Tuskegee University campus and learn about the university’s impact on education and civil rights. While the town has a lot to feed your mind, there’s something for your belly too. To try out an Italian-style meal like no other, make sure to schedule a lunch at Ma Fia’s Restaurant for Italian-inspired cuisine with a Southern twist in a charming setting.”WorldAtlas
Have you visited each of these small towns in Alabama? Which is your favorite? Tag us @thebamabuzz to let us know!