If you’re planning an Alabama holiday, you have plenty of options for where to stay, ranging from the Gulf Shores and the mountains to historic towns and charming country spots. Each area offers a different, memorable experience for your trip, all with the scenery, attractions, nightlife, or peace and quiet you desire.

    Whether you want to spend time outdoors, sightsee in town, tour local historic sites, or spend your time shopping, check out some of the must-visit small towns in Alabama.



    Visit a fun lakeside city

    • History
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Guntersville is a city in Marshall County that’s on the banks of the 69,000-acre Lake Guntersville. The town has numerous outdoor areas for recreation, such as Buck’s Pocket State Park, High Falls Park, and Lake Guntersville State Park, where you can hike, bike, and fish. You could visit the Guntersville Dam to fish as well, and catch a glimpse of local wildlife.

    You might also enjoy the Guntersville Museum, a free history museum in an old armoury where you can see exhibits on the area's past.



    Immerse yourself in the artist culture of the Gulf Coast town

    • Couples
    • Shoppers
    • Food
    • Adventure

    Located on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, Fairhope is a beautiful town on Mobile Bay with charming waterfront attractions. You can visit boutiques and art galleries for a unique shopping experience or pick up gifts and treasures in the area gift shops. The town also has an abundance of seafood restaurants, cafés, and bars in the Fairhope French Quarter.

    Another highlight is the Fairhope Municipal Pier, a walkable pier with beaches, fishing areas, shops, and gardens. The pier has a marina for watersport rentals and charter fishing trips.


    Muscle Shoals

    Enjoy the outdoors around this charming riverside town

    • History
    • Adventure

    Muscle Shoals is a fantastic town in Northwest Alabama on the Tennessee River. It’s home to many parklands and dam areas for hiking, nature trails, fishing, and biking. The Old Railway Bridge, a long bridge over the dam, is another great place for a walk.

    If you want to spend some time at the beach, McFarland Park has a beautiful beach and campground for outdoor fun. You can find some unique museums in the area, such as the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and the Belle Mont Mansion.


    Fort Payne

    Explore the past and scenic countryside around the fort

    • History
    • Adventure

    Fort Payne is known for its state parks, nature preserves, lakes, and museums. It’s popular for outdoor activities, thanks to an expansive network of mountain trails, cascading waterfalls, and vast nature preserves. The Little River Canyon Preserve, a top spot for outdoor fun, has a long mountain river and multiple waterfalls, so you can hike scenic trails, go swimming, or head to the summit to take spectacular landscape photos.

    Another fun place is the Alabama Fan Club and Museum, a museum dedicated to the country music band Alabama and its fan club, complete with albums, interviews, and music videos.



    Find history and stunning sights alike in this town

    • History

    If you want a lot of sightseeing and history, Monroeville is one of the best places to go in Alabama. The charming small town boasts many attractions, such as the Sri Venkateswara Temple, Carnegie of Homestead, and Rivers of Steel Heritage, a history museum with artwork and artefacts.

    You could also visit Braddock’s Battlefield History Centre museum to see old war documents and artefacts. To learn more about the town’s steel production, you could tour Rivers of Steel: Carrie Blast Furnaces and see original 1882 furnaces.


    photo by Wmr36104 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified



    Visit the iconic River City

    • Adventure

    Nicknamed the “River City,” Decatur is located in northern Alabama on the banks of Wheeler Lake. It has an array of attractions, such as s Point Mallard Park, a large park with activities like seasonal events, sports, and hot-air balloon rides.

    You could also spend time exploring the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge to travel on hiking trails and see wildlife. The refuge has a nature centre to learn more about the flora and fauna in the area. Another great place for learning about nature is the Cook Museum of Natural Science.



    Enjoy small-town charm in a big city

    • History

    Cullman is a city in between Birmingham and Huntsville. Despite being a bigger city, it has a small-town charm and atmosphere. You’ll find unique attractions in Cullman, such as the Clarkson Covered Bridge, the Ave Maria Grotto, and the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery.

    You might also like the Cullman Depot, an old pueblo-style stucco building with old railway artefacts on display. For dining, nightlife, and shopping, visit the Cullman Warehouse District.



    Embrace unending Southern charm in this Shoals town

    • History
    • Adventure

    The historic city of Florence is in the Shoals region and oozes Southern charm. You’ll find an array of outdoor activities, charming local museums, independent shops, and local breweries to explore. One of the highlights is the Birthplace of Helen Keller, the “Ivy Green” home on the Tennessee River. You can take a tour of Keller's homestead and see seasonal reenactments of The Miracle Worker play.

    You could also shop and sightsee in the Walnut Street Historic District, a district that dates back to the 1870s and boasts Victorian- and Georgian-style homes.



    Relax in this small mountain town with modest shops and horse farms

    • History
    • Adventure

    Located on the scenic Lookout Mountain, Mentone is a quaint town with cottages, cabins, restaurants, and an array of sightseeing opportunities. You can visit the Mentone Arts and Cultural Centre to experience local art and performances, or you could try one of the unique restaurants in the area for traditional Southern cuisine or gourmet food options.

    Another popular destination is the Shady Grove Dude Ranch, a ranch with horses for trail rides and outdoor adventures on horseback. The ranch provides horses for all experience levels, so it’s great for beginners.



    Explore local history in this fun city

    • History

    Marion is a fun city with a lot of unique things to see and do. You’ll find virtually endless historic attractions, such as the Marion Female Seminary, the Chapel and Lovelace Hall at Marion Military Institute, the Henry House, and the President’s House at the Marion Military Institute.

    Marion has a number of historic districts as well, where you can see historic homes, churches, and other public buildings surrounded by shops and restaurants for a fun day out. Kenworthy Hall is another National Historic Landmark that’s a must-see on your trip.


    photo by Rammerjammer (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Start planning your trip

    Why book with Hotels.com?

    Keep exploring

    Travel alert

    COVID-19 alert: Travel requirements are changing rapidly, including need for pre-travel COVID-19 testing and quarantine on arrival.

    Check restrictions for your trip.
    Back to top