Where was Sweet Home Alabama filmed?
Crawfordville, Georgia; New York, NY
Americana/Anywhere America, Cabin, Pick Up
About Sweet Home Alabama
The 2002 classic film, Sweet Home Alabama, has a special spot in a lot of people’s hearts. It’s super quotable, loveable, and is responsible for shooting a young Reese Witherspoon to fame. We will forever be grateful.
The film follows a young, up and coming fashion designer called Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon). She seems to have it all – rave reviews from fashion week, the bachelor of the season as her new fiance, Andrew (Patrick Dempsey), the New York elite gathering around her – but there’s a hitch.
Once her fiance proposes, Melanie has to go home to Greenville, Alabama, to straighten some things out. Crucially, to get a divorce from her high school sweetheart, Jake (Josh Lucas). Chaos and nostalgia ensue.
With multiple characters from Melanies’s past coming out of the woodwork, the time pressure of having to finalize the divorce before Andrew and the rest of New York finds out, and the sexual tension with Jake that you can cut with a knife, this is no walk in the park for our main character.
Add in the lies that she’s told about her past to her New York friends, including the press and Andrew’s mother (Candice Bergen), who just happens to be the Mayor of New York, and definitely not a Melanie fan, and you know that you’re in for a fun time watching all of this madness unfold.
Sweet Home Alabama Locations
Now, with a title like Sweet Home Alabama, you be forgiven for thinking that the shooting locations were in a pretty obvious state. However, the majority of the Sweet Home Alabama filming locations are actually in neighboring Georgia.
As with a lot of shows and films including the Marvel franchise, Stranger Things, and Baby Driver, Georgia’s tax breaks for the film industry mean that it’s become the go-to place for shooting in the US.
By and large, most of the locations are within one small town called Crawfordville This was done to give continuity and make it really feel like all the individual locations within Greenville were one holistic place.
So, if you want to visit Sweet Home Alabama locations, book yourself a trip to Crawfordville and take a walk in the footsteps of your favorite characters!
There are a couple of spots in the film that aren’t in Georgia, including the iconic opening beach scene, as well as the scenes that are clearly New York landmarks, like the Lincoln Center.
Obviously, the statute of limitations for spoilers has well and truly passed for a film that was released in 2002, but when you keep on reading, you’re going to get hit with some pretty major spoilers. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
The opening lightning strike scenes in Sweet Home Alabama
Captiva Island, Florida
The first scene of this film is one of the cutest and most beautiful scenes of any earlier 2000s rom-com. It features the two younger versions of Melanie and Jake, played by Dakota Fanning and Thomas Curtis.
They’re running around a beach during a thunderstorm, shouting and playing around. During this scene they’re discussing marriage, saying:
Young Jake: “Why’d you wanna marry me for anyhow?”
Young Melanie: “So I can kiss you anytime I want.”
And right there comes the first kiss of the film. It’s pretty short lived as they’re zapped apart by a lightning bolt, but there it is.
As it turns out, Melanie is remembering the moment in a dream, crashed out while prepping for fashion week, surrounded by her staff and models. It sets the tone for the entire movie and is a great entrance to the characters.
The beach where this scene took place is actually one of the few scenes that weren’t shot in Georgia. It was filmed in Captiva Island, Florida, near Fort Myers. It’s a super popular holiday spot on the Gulf of Mexico – less so in thunderstorms but it’s beautiful nonetheless!
As it’s pretty far down the coast and is only linked to the mainland by an extensive bridge, there isn’t any public transport to Captiva Island. Also, this beach is by a nature reserve, so to be as eco-friendly as possible, consider carpooling to get there.
The Civil War reenactment scene in Sweet Home Alabama
Georgia International Horse Park (Bald Rock Meadows)
Towards the end of the film, everything in Melanie’s life is coming to a head. She’s unsure what to do about Jake, but she knows that she needs to get out of Alabama and back to New York before anything else goes wrong.
Unbeknownst to Melanie, her fiance Andrew has actually flown down to surprise her and meet her parents, whose house and upbringing she’s previously lied about. Before Melanie leaves Greenville, her mom (Mary Kay Place) tells her to visit her dad (Fred Ward) on the battlefield.
It’s previously stated that Earl Smooter loves a civil war reenactment and makes an effort to participate and visit whenever he can.
Melanie looks around the fallen bodies calling her father’s name before another supposedly dead soldier (Jody Thompson) shouts, “He’s about to surrender.”
This scene required a lot of space and a prominent hill for Earl to surrender on. The Sweet Home Alabama production team settled on Georgia International Horse Park (Bald Rock Meadows), and the hundreds of extras really brought this scene to life.
There are dozens of trails to explore at Bald Rock Meadows and it’s just a 30 minute drive from central Atlanta. As it’s outside of the city, there isn’t any public transport, so you’re best off loading up the car and hitting the road.
Stella’s bar scene in Sweet Home Alabama
Our Melanie always has to cause trouble, doesn’t she? Her past comes back to haunt her and she burns some bridges in a serious way when she gets hammered, crashes Jake’s date and plays pool with some of the guys from the town.
She gets really judgemental about everyone’s “small town life” and starts lashing out at everyone, including one of her closest and sweetest friends, Bobby Ray (Ethan Embry). In response, he says,
Bobby Ray: “What'd I ever do to you?”
Melanie Carmichael: “Oh, you didn't do anything to me, darlin'... or any other girl in town!”
Later in the scene, Melanie accidentally outs Bobby Ray in front of all his friends before being kicked out by Jake’s mom, Stella (Jean Smart) who owns the bar. After that, she throws up in Jake’s truck. Not a good night at all.
If you’re hungry in Crawfordville and looking to check out the location of Stella’s Bar, you need to head to Heavy’s Barbecue. It’s off Highway 20 and down a small road, so you’re going to have to drive to get there, but the food will definitely be worth it if you want to visit this Sweet Home Alabama location.
The Carmichael Plantation scene in Sweet Home Alabama
Oak Hill and Martha Berry Museum
One of the main lies that Melanie tells about herself is her upbringing. She’s told everyone in New York, including the press, that her last name is Carmichael and that she grew up in the lavish Carmichael Plantation, rather than the modest Smooter household.
This grand house features in many scenes throughout the film, but following the disastrous bar scene the night before, Melanie tries to find Bobby Ray to apologize. He’s at the Carmichael Plantation helping the slightly crazy and elderly Colonel Murphy (Ted Manson) blow up anvils. Yep, you read that right.
The sound of an anvil crashing through the wooden pavilion in the back garden startles Melanie, to which Bobby Ray replies, “We weren't aimin' for ya, but I doubt I woulda gone to your funeral.”
It seems like Melanie has a whole lot of making up to do!
This grand plantation home isn’t actually a house at all, in fact, it’s Oak Hill and Martha Berry Museum in Rome, Georgia. Once a historic residence, it’s now a museum that’s open to the public. Martha Berry founded the local Berry College so there’s a lot of memorabilia and artifacts from back in the day as well as formal gardens to enjoy.
Despite being located near Berry College in Rome, Georgia, there is no public transport around the entire town. The car is king in Georgia! Rent one when you arrive or make a road trip out of your visit!
Welcome to Greenville scene in Sweet Home Alabama
Crawfordville in Taliaferro County
When Melanie first arrives back in Greenville, it’s safe to say that she’s not exactly thrilled to be there. She’s walking through the main drag of the town on the phone to her friend explaining the hoops that she’s going to have to jump through.
Mid-call, she receives a heckle from across the street and replies without looking up to see who’s calling her, resulting in a funny scene in Sweet Home Alabama.
Bobby Ray: “Woo-oo. You look like sex on a stick in that Frederick Montana getup.”
Melanie: “Listen, why don’t you just kiss my a––…”
When Melanie sees that it’s her good friend Bobby Ray who she hasn’t seen in years, she changes her tune completely and we see that she does have some good memories back in Alabama.
Whenever we see a shot of Greenville’s main drag like in this scene, it’s actually in the town of Crawfordville in Taliaferro County. Many of the locations for Sweet Home Alabama are shot here, so when you visit, it’s like you’re transported to the town itself! Perfect for any Sweet Home Alabama superfan!
You can find Crawfordville in between Atlanta and Augusta and the only way to get there and get around the town is by car. Once there, the town seems pretty walkable, so bring that main character energy and explore.
Jake’s glassblowing shop scene in Sweet Home Alabama
Starr’s Mill in Fayette County
In one of the final pivotal scenes of the film, we see Melanie’s New York friends Tabitha (Rhona Mitra) and Frederick (Nathan Lee Graham) fly in for the wedding. At the airport, they see an advert for Deep South Glass – beautiful glassware that Melanie was looking at earlier in the film.
When the group arrives at the shop, they see a plane with Mo’s written on it. We know from earlier in the film that this is Jake’s plane. Melanie realized that this is his business that he’s built from the ground up so he can become someone who’s worthy of her.
In response to her shock, Frederick asks, “Do we know…Mo?”
When Jake sees them in the shop he’s polite but doesn’t offer any explanation, leaving Melanie unsure about her decision to marry Andrew. Jake is her first love and he’s changed since they split up. Where does our heroine go from here?
The location for Deep South Glass is at Starr’s Mill in Fayette County, Georgia. The site has beautiful waterfalls, lakes and spots for a picture-perfect picnic. You can also fish in the adjacent Starrs Millpond which is where the plane was parked in the movie.
You do have to drive to reach Starr’s Mill, so bring a group of you and enjoy the beautiful Georgia scenery unfolding before your very eyes!
There’s a reason that Sweet Home Alabama has stood the test of time and is a film that’s beloved by many. The romance, the one-liners, the will-they-won’t-they, and the fashion that might have you squirming about what you used to think was cool!
Although Alabama is in the title, this film shows off the small town, rural beauty of plenty of spots across Georgia, so if you’re looking to get away from it all, these filming locations might just make the perfect escape.
Who knew back then that Reese Witherspoon would become a household name? She’s come a long way from the soaked through bride shouting on the beach in a lightning storm!