Often likened to the fictional town of Mayberry from “The Andy Griffith Show,” Magnolia Springs offers a real-life depiction of simple, sleepy living in a modern age. The charming town was developed in the early 1800s from a Spanish land grant and sits directly between the beaches along Alabama’s finest beaches and the eastern shores of Mobile Bay.
“Magnolia Springs offers Southern charm perfect for rest and relaxation, located just minutes from the beach,” said Beth Gendler, vice president of sales for the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, who makes it a point to retreat to Magnolia Springs every so often for a break from her bigger-city lifestyle. “I have to admit, after a week of work or travel, I need my beach time on the weekends. I want to hear the surf, enjoy watching visitors enjoy our area, and soak up the sun.”
The riverfront town operates on a different stride than the rest of the world and is home to the only river route mail-delivery system in the United States. Aside from hanging out near the water all day, groups can slip into the slower pace of the town by strolling along the narrow oak-lined streets or sauntering down to one of the town’s quaint restaurants, the Cold Hole or Jesse’s Restaurant, for some steak or seafood.
Although Madison is petite compared to its Morgan County neighbors, the picturesque village is noted for having one of the largest historic districts in Georgia. Named after President James Madison, the town was incorporated in 1809 and settled by American Revolution veterans who were being compensated with land grants in the area.
The history of the town has been honored through the years, and the generations who have called Madison home over the centuries have worked to preserve the heritage and small-town charm of the remarkable place, even after the devastating fire that raged through the downtown area April 9, 1869. Nowadays, groups often spend a day or a weekend exploring the shops, restaurants, historic architecture, art museums, and other attractions that have become core to the town’s culture. Madison is home to the second-largest state park in Georgia, and guided tours can be arranged for groups that want to dig into the town’s celebrated backstory.
“We have such a vibrant downtown, beautiful architecture and scenic farmland,” said Ellen Ianelli, director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau for the Madison-Morgan Chamber of Commerce. “We have restaurants that have outside patios that allow you to sit back, relax and just watch the town go by. It’s just one of those towns that make you reach for your camera the second you drive in.”