Bluebell, Alabama, captured many hearts in the television comedy-drama Hart of Dixie. The fictional town was located only 5 miles away from the real-life town Fairhope, which some say was the inspiration for Bluebell. However, most of the show was filmed in L.A. So, where can you find some of that Bluebell charm in the American South?
The American South is full of charming towns like Bluebell, Alabama. Examples include:
- Bath, North Carolina
- Beaufort, South Carolina
- Dahlonega, Georgia
- Fairhope, Alabama
- Floyd, Virginia
- Middleburg, Virginia
- Natchitoches, Louisiana
- Senoia, Georgia
- Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Southern hospitality, old historic buildings, and picturesque leafy trees are some folks’ idea of heaven. Bluebell, Alabama, captured just that, and it makes sense that people want to visit such a town or call it home. Thus, we’ve put together a list of 21 towns with quaint elegance and grace.
21 Charming Towns Similar To Bluebell, Alabama
Culture and style are not limited to big cities such as New Orleans and Savannah. The American South has plenty of hidden treasures that range from that Bluebell flavor to make you feel like you’re on the set of Gone With The Wind.
1. Bardstown, Kentucky
Bardstown, Kentucky, has around 13,000 residents and has been called one of the most beautiful small towns in the United States. The town is also known as the Bourbon Capital of the World. Those who appreciate the drink will be delighted to go on the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail that includes 18 distilleries.
One of the area’s most well-known historical landmarks is My Old Kentucky Home. The 200-year-old mansion is now used as a museum. The property also hosts various events, can be rented for weddings and has areas for camping and golf.
Other historical attractions not to miss include The Civil War Museum & The Women’s Museum of the Civil War, Kentucky Railway Museum, and the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History.
The greater area is lovely to explore for hikes, biking, or horseback riding (Kentucky knows horses). You can also visit the Abbey of Gethsemani. They welcome the public to celebrate Mass with them. The abbey also has a gift shop that sells various goods made by Trappist Monks around the world, including cheese, fudge, and fruit cake.
2. Bath, North Carolina
Bath, North Carolina, has less than 300 residents. Established in 1705, it is proud of being the first official town in the state. It is also the former home of Blackbeard, the infamous pirate. Thus, there are walking tours in this cute little town that will take you through its history of being North Carolina’s first working port and how it came to harbor pirates. There are also many historical homes and sites to explore.
3. Beaufort, South Carolina
Beaufort, South Carolina, is a town of around 13,500 people and sits on Port Royal Island. It’s known for its antebellum architecture, old live oaks, and seaside air. The island and those surrounding it are also home to the loggerhead turtles and many species of sea and shorebirds.
Hunting Island State Park is South Carolina’s most famous park and contains a hundred sites for campers. In addition to his beaches and lighthouse, there are marshes and maritime forests to explore. There are also areas perfect for fishing and having a picnic.
The area has museums and art galleries to enjoy. History buffs will particularly appreciate the John Mark Verdier House and the Beaufort History Museum. Popular cultural events include A Taste of Beaufort, the Beaufort Water Festival, and the Beaufort International Film Festival.
4. Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Blowing Rock, North Carolina, is a charming town of around 1,100 people on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. Regardless of the season, there is always an outdoor adventure awaiting, be it skiing or taking part in a zip-line tour. It is also home to the Tweetsie Railroad, with a running steam locomotive.
Blowing Rock is also a pet-friendly destination. They love dogs and have a list of shops, lodgings, and attractions where you can take your four-pawed best friend. It’s an area to relax, go fishing, take a hike, or explore their shops.
5. Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, known as the Crawfish Capital of the World, is home to around 8,000 folks. The area is said to be where crawfish etouffee was invented. Thus, people around here know how to eat. Each year they celebrate their culinary fame with the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, also known for its fantastic live music.
But you don’t have to wait for the festival to enjoy live music and good food. Saturday brunch is a big deal in Breaux Bridge, with live acts and dancing. Buck & Johnny’s is a popular go-to for Italian meets Cajun dishes and music. Cafe Sydnie Mae serves excellent meals. Also, check out Tante Marie for even more good food and live music.
But make sure you’re hungry because there is more to try. Locals will tell you that Poche’s Market and Restaurant is a must-visit. Herbert’s Boudin & Cracklins are another don’t miss feast. Nor is being in a hurry an excuse not to eat well, as Creole Lunch Box will fix you right up with a meal to go.
6. Dahlonega, Georgia
Dahlonega, Georgia, is a small gem tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The area took off in the United States’ first big Gold Rush. Now the town of nearly 7,000 people is known for its award-winning wines, attractive architecture, golf, and its famous Six Gap bicycling events.
Dahlonega is brimming with history and has plenty of museums to explore. There are also opportunities to try your hand at panning for gold. The surrounding area has many waterfalls to visit and admire. With all the trails and waterways, there is plenty of opportunities for hiking, boating, horseback riding, and, of course, bicycling.
7. Fairhope, Alabama
Fairhope, Alabama, is home to over 21,000 residents. A relaxing walk through the town’s oak-lined streets takes you past gorgeous homes and sweeping views of the Gulf Coast. The town center is charming, with boutiques, cafes, art galleries, and wonderful restaurants. It even has a town square…on a pier.
The town is easy to explore. Fairhope is bike-friendly, with plenty of trails along their coastline and through the town. If you didn’t pack a bike, there are places that rent them. If you are booked at The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, then you can obtain bicycles, paddleboards, hydro bikes, and kayaks through them.
8. Fernandina Beach, Florida
Fernandina Beach, Florida, is home to over 12,000 residents and is the northernmost community on the state’s Atlantic coast. The town sits on Amelia Island, with St. Mary’s River running past. The town has done an exemplary job preserving its historic downtown and is part of the National Main Street Program.
Fernandina has a complicated history, claimed by eight different flags after colonists began pushing the Timucua Indians off their land. Visitors can learn more by visiting the Amelia Island Museum of History and the Fernandina Beach Maritime Museum. In addition, the eclectic roots of the area are celebrated every year with the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival.
The town has numerous parks with beach access, sports amenities, and neighborhood parks. There is also Fort Clinch State Park which blends history with nature. Egans Creek Greenway is another good spot for enjoying quiet walks amongst the wildlife.
When your exploring has made you hungry, there is plenty to choose from. Cafe Karibo is a local favorite. Ciao Italian Eatery is another excellent choice. Or, if you are looking for a friendly vibe with live music, check out Green Turtle Tavern.
9. Florence, Alabama
Florence, Alabama, is a college town with over 40,000 people. The place has more than a few claims to fame. For example, music fans know the town as the birthplace of W.C. Handy, The Father of the Blue. It is also the location of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rosenbaum House. So yes, indeed, Florence has culture and style.
Florence is one of four communities that are known as the Shoals. The area got its name thanks to the mussels that used to collect in the shallow banks of the Tennessee River. These days the area is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with 397 possible species to spot along the North Alabama Birding Trail.
Florence knows how to feed you and has plenty to drink. Turbo Coffee is a cafe and coffee roaster. For those that want a different kick, there is Singin’ River Brewing Co to check out. When you start feeling hungry, make sure to pop over to Odetta and The Shoals Shack.
10. Floyd, Virginia
Floyd, Virginia, is a tiny mountain town of fewer than 1000 folks. The area is known for its celebration of music, the arts, and the great outdoors. They have many teaching farms, eco-communities, and art studios in the area. Each Saturday, they also have a Farmers’ Market from May until the end of November.
Each summer, the area puts on the Floyd Artisan Trail that celebrates local arts and farm products in the area. They also host the Floydfest, a 5-day musical and art celebration. They also have classical music on offer, thanks to the Blue Ridge Music Festival.
Floyd is perfectly positioned for hiking and mountain biking. In fact, they are the host of the Tour de Floyd, an annual cycling event. The area is also perfect for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, or even tubing. They have shuttles and rentals available for those that need them, too. Or visit one of their relaxing farms, such as the Spikenard Honeybee sanctuary.
11. Highlands, North Carolina
Highlands, North Carolina, is a romantic and cozy town of around 1,200 people. It is a relaxing mountain town in the southern Appalachians. It is surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. In autumn, the leaves on the trees put on a gorgeous and colorful show for all to enjoy.
Surrounded by so much natural splendor, it is an outdoor paradise. There are many hiking and mountain biking trails to explore, including visiting the Schoolhouse Falls. Parts of the area are also excellent for horseback riding. For the real adventurous, there are also zip-lining tours and whitewater rafting.
12. Landrum, South Carolina
Landrum, South Carolina, is a walkable town with around 2,600 people. Set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is a stunning place to relax and take in the scenery. They even have covered bridges to admire. Landrum is popular for horse riding and does have foxhunt. Hikers and mountain bikers, however, will enjoy exploring The Palmetto Trail.
The town itself is a pleasure. There are antique shops, galleries, Amish furniture, a farmers’ market. Also, check out their cafes and restaurants, such as Mocha’s Mug and Harvest House. Lastly, be sure to enjoy the live music on the stunning terrace of The Red Horse Inn.
13. Madison, Georgia
Madison, Georgia, is home to around 4,000 folks. It looks like it was built to be the Gone with the Wind set. This is due to General Sherman not burning the town down as he did to so many. The reasons he didn’t are still of folklore debate. Nonetheless, the town is beautiful and full of charm.
The locals have put together a walking tour for visitors. It is easy to do, as Madison is a pedestrian-friendly place. Or, if you prefer to bicycle, as many locals do, bike rental options are for those who don’t have their own. After all, this is a place to relax, take things slow, and enjoy it all at your leisure.
14. Maysville, Kentucky
Maysville, Kentucky, home to around 9,000 folks, is a storybook of brick architecture with the Ohio River framing one side. One of their jewels is the 1889 Washington Opera House, host of the Maysville Players. A second gem is their Russel Theatre, originally built in the 1920s. Then there are all the historic churches with their towering steeples.
Kentucky is bourbon country, which the local museum celebrates with exhibits detailing the history of the drink and its impact on the area over the years. Once you’ve done that, you can take a trip to the real deal by visiting The Old Pogue Distillery.
There are several things to do and see just outside Maysville, too. Just a few miles outside of town is Kentucky’s oldest covered bridge, operating since 1835. If you enjoy hiking, there is the Cummins Nature Preserve to explore. Another excellent outdoor option is Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park for various activities, including boating and camping.
15. Middleburg, Virginia
Middleburg, Virginia’s motto is, “Life is better with horses.” This charming historic town is home to around 500 people. It is a picturesque community, making the town a popular place to be married. The historic district hosts many boutiques, art galleries, and shops. Yes, there are stores catering to horse lovers, too.
Thankfully, you don’t have to love hay to find a good meal for people. Goodstone Inn & Restaurant excels at the fine dining and has a delicious tasting menu. Hunter’s Head Tavern serves organic beef and sustainable fish. Fields of Athenry and their Side Saddle Bistro pride themselves in bringing customers free-range meat with no hormones, steroids, or preservatives.
16. Natchitoches, Louisiana
Natchitoches, Louisiana, is the oldest non-Native American settlement in the state. Home to around 18,000 people, it was originally established by the French. It is said that this community is where New Orleans got the idea to use wrought iron in the French Quarter. Thus, it’s safe to say that Natchitoches is full of history, Southern charm, and style.
Movie buffs might enjoy taking a film tour and seeing where scenes of Steel Magnolias and other movies were set. Other unique tours include the American Cemetery Tour, Historic District Walking Tour, and a plantation tour.
Natchitoches also knows how to put on an excellent event. Their Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival attracts people from all over. Other popular events include The Natchitoches Jazz/R&B Festival, Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival, Wings Over Natchitoches Air Show, and the Natchitoches Classic Car Show.
17. Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Ocean Springs, Mississippi, is a town of around 18,000 people and is hailed as the City of Discovery. The town’s streets are lined with old live oaks, and they have beaches and views of Biloxi Bay. Thus, it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the salty air.
Ocean Springs loves art and their artists. Popular places and events to enjoy are the Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival, the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Shearwater Pottery, and the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center of Arts & Education.
Ocean Springs also enjoys craft brews and excellent food. So when you are feeling thirsty, be sure to check out Fort Bayou Brewing Company, Craft Advisory Brewing, and Hops and Growlers. Some of them serve a fine meal, too.
Other good eats include Pleasant’s BBQ, a town fixture operating since 1982. Aunt Jenny’s Catfish Restaurant not only knows how to put on a fine Southern meal but has an excellent view, too. Mosaic Tapas Restaurant is perfect for inventive and unique delights.
18. Oxford, Mississippi
Oxford, Mississippi, is host to the University of Mississippi and around 27,000 folks. However, bookworms know of the area because William Faulkner penned great works here, such as As I Lay Dying. His home Rowan Oaks is now available to be viewed by the public. Each year the university also puts on a Faulkner & Yoknaptawpha Conference.
The town is a big supporter of arts and culture. There are numerous galleries to visit, and the performing arts can be enjoyed at the Ford Center and The Powerhouse, managed by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. The town also hosts the Double Decker Arts Festival and the weekly Thacker Mountain Radio Hour that features live music and author readings.
Oxford also appreciates the outdoors. There are a couple of nearby campgrounds and areas to fish. The town and the surrounding area also have bike routes and trails. In addition, there are many parks with places to walk, picnic, play, and relax. But for those that enjoy swinging a club, there is The Ole Miss Golf Course to enjoy.
19. Senoia, Georgia
Senoia, Georgia, is an attractive town of around 4,000 folks and only 35 minutes away from Atlanta. Fans of The Walking Dead will already recognize the town’s architecture. But you don’t have to love zombies to enjoy the place. The historical downtown is fun to explore. Get a blast from yesteryear by checking out The Buggy Shop Museum.
Those who love speed will be drawn to the Senoia Raceway, home to the Peach State Classic. On a quirkier note, Turin, a community in the Senoia catchment area, is home to the Barbie Beach of Turin. We promise a visit will be a unique experience.
20. Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia, is home to around 1,600 folks. It is a historic town looking over the Potomac River with abundant character. The town is full of music and dance at a plethora of venues, including taverns, concert halls, restaurants, community groups, and shows put on by the local university.
Shepherdstown art community is a treasure. They have many galleries, studios, and art councils. Many of which take part in the Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival. The town also hosts the Contemporary American Theater Festival and the American Conservation Film Festival.
Other delights in the town include the Four Seasons Books, which offers a fantastic and eclectic range of new and used reads. If you enjoy your coffee or tea with a whole lot of quirk and intrigue, do pop into Lost Dog Coffee. Then head on over to O’Hurley’s General Store for fabulous locally made heritage goods such as rocking chairs and bird cages.
21. Thomasville, Georgia
Thomasville, Georgia, has around 18,500 residents and is known as the “City of Roses.” The gorgeous blooms are celebrated at the Thomasville Rose Show and Festival each year. Another local tradition is having photos taken at the Big Oak. The acorn was planted around 1685 and is now a living legend.
Thomasville has events throughout the year. For example, there is FLAUNT, a 6-week public art installation, and the Thomasville Antiques Show in spring. There is a Juneteenth Celebration in summer and the 4th of July festivities. There is the Covey Film Festival, the Thomasville Fly-in, and the Wildlife Arts Festival in autumn. Plus, so much more.