It’s dusk on Friday. As the sun slips away and you call it a day, you pour yourself a glass of wine and mosey along a wide brick sidewalk to join your friends for a neighborhood get-together, saying friendly “hellos” to people on porches as you pass by. You arrive at the laid-back soirée under twinkling lights strung between gorgeous trees. Kids run around while some gather to watch a movie projected onto a large sheet-turned-movie screen, and others chatter alongside the patio grill, which smokes with tantalizing aromas of the night’s feast.

Bike lanes and sidewalks line every roadway in the gorgeous wooded Town of Mt Laurel.

Bike lanes and sidewalks line every roadway in the gorgeous wooded Town of Mt Laurel, a Southern LivingInspired Community.”

Mt Laurel's town planners and originators of the New Urbanism movement, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, also planned the now famous Seaside community along 30A.

Mt Laurel‘s town planners and originators of the New Urbanism movement, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, also planned the now-famous Seaside community along 30A.

"There are people in the neighborhood that don’t do any shopping elsewhere," says Town Architect Michael O'Kelley of the Mt Laurel Grocery & Deli. "For general needs, you really don’t have to leave the neighborhood if you don't want to."

“There are people in the neighborhood that don’t do any shopping elsewhere,” says town architect Michael O’Kelley of the Mt Laurel Grocery & Deli. “For general needs, you really don’t have to leave the neighborhood if you don’t want to.”

Michael O'Kelley takes early morning mountain-bike rides to the top of Double Oak Mountain, directly above Mt Laurel, where he enjoys this stunning view.

Michael O’Kelley takes early morning mountain-bike rides to the top of Double Oak Mountain, directly above Mt Laurel, where he enjoys this stunning view. Image: Michael O’Kelley

When not biking or walking through town, families can often be seen taking a cruise in golf carts.

When not biking or walking through town, families can often be seen taking a cruise in golf carts.

This is the charming town of Mt Laurel, a community built in concert with nature. A place where you can park the car and walk to the town center’s shops and restaurants, the community’s two schools, civic buildings, the private 11-acre Spoonwood mountain lake for swimming and fishing, community pool, dog park, hiking trails, tennis and basketball courts and plentiful parks and green spaces.

“In building Mt Laurel, we drew inspiration from European villages,” says town architect and Mt Laurel resident Michael O’Kelley, who walks his three daughters to school everyday. “The planners that planned Mt Laurel are new urbanist developers and leaned on their planning acumen to provide something with big sidewalks and front porches, so that people could be together. They planned for parking in the alleyways, for instance, and trail systems to preserve that feeling of community.”

“When you’re in Mt Laurel, you feel like you’re on vacation, as if you’re not in Birmingham but a mountainside resort town,” says Julianna Vance, community relations manager for the Town of Mt Laurel. “Nestled behind Double Oak Mountain, Mt Laurel was planned by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, the originators of the New Urbanism movement, and has been crafted to preserve the beautiful landscape of the area with our tree-lined streets, numerous green spaces, and hiking trails. The town was designed to foster community, by making the sidewalks wide enough for people to walk side-by-side, and by emphasizing front porches on our homes. It’s a fantastic community to live and work.”

The library is built to resemble a house. In that way, it fits in with the aesthetics of Mt. Laurel but it also allows everyone who uses the library to feel at home and to imagine that it's their own personal space. "I love getting to know entire families, from the dogs waiting outside to the patrons who come in asking about the latest best seller or to talk about anything that comes to mind," says Chrissie Humphrey, assistant branch manager of Mt Laurel Library.

The library is built to resemble a house. In that way, it fits in with the aesthetics of Mt Laurel, but it also allows everyone who uses the library to feel at home and to imagine that it’s their own personal space. “I love getting to know entire families, from the dogs waiting outside to the patrons who come in asking about the latest bestseller or to talk about anything that comes to mind,” says Chrissie Humphrey, assistant branch manager of Mt Laurel Library.

Mt Laurel Library hosts many events, including book club, Toddler Tales and Story Time for kids, Crafty Saturday, Lego Club and Picture Book Club.

Mt Laurel Library hosts many events and clubs, including book club, Toddler Tales and Story Time for kids, Crafty Saturday, Lego Club and Picture Book Club.

Kayakers enjoy Spoonwood Lake.

Kayakers enjoy Spoonwood Lake.

A family walks to school in the Town of Mt Laurel.

A family walks to school in Mt Laurel.

A yogi strikes a pose by Spoonwood Lake.

A yogi strikes a pose by Spoonwood Lake.

Mt Laurel also boasts fabulous local events, such as its weekly farmers’ market and annual spring festival and fall festival, as well as an upcoming Wine and Cheese Sunset Hike benefitting the Coosa Riverkeeper organization and Southern Living‘s Idea House. Let’s explore the boutiques, shops and eateries of this quaint mountainside village!

SHOPS

Favorite Laundry

This adorable children’s clothing shop and adjacent upscale consignment store is a favorite of local moms and kids. The colorful shop is a great spot to grab a child’s gift or stock up on affordable threads for the kiddos. “Our personalized tees are super-soft and always a huge hit,” says shop owner Kim Anderson. “We love being able to offer quick turnaround for busy moms.” The consignment leg of the shop grew from one rack to almost 1,300 square feet of the best pre-loved items around town!

"I love being able to offer personalized items and helping our customers create their perfect outfits," says Favorite Laundry owner Kim Anderson.

“I love being able to offer personalized items and helping our customers create their perfect outfits,” says Favorite Laundry owner Kim Anderson.

We spotted an adorable yellow dress in the Favorite Laundry consignment shop!

We spotted an adorable yellow dress in the Favorite Laundry consignment shop!

Don't let your little lady go tromping through the woods in any regular old boots!

Don’t let your little lady go tromping through the woods in any regular old boots!

Local moms love the personalized Pima tees that Favorite Laundry offers on a super-quick turnaround, perfect for a thoughtful gift-on-the-go!

Local moms love the personalized Pima tees that Favorite Laundry offers on a super-quick turnaround, perfect for a thoughtful gift-on-the-go!

Simply Infused

Simply Infused Olive Oils & Balsamic Vinegars is a tasting room experience with specialty extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world. “It’s like a candy store for adults,” says owner Cheryl Harper. “Just try to take a tasting cup from an adult who has just tasted a 12-year-aged dark chocolate or espresso balsamic!” Simply Infused offers cooking classes each week at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Chef Jon develops recipes and menus to complement special pairings, new products, customer requests and seasonal favorites. The shop also hosts artists’ receptions and art exhibits in the loft area above the tasting room. “I am passionate about getting people to slow down and enjoy friends, food and flavor,” says Cheryl. “Our fast-paced lives are missing opportunities each day to create an epicurean experience, a good conversation, a lasting memory. These opportunities should be ‘Simply Infused’ in everyday life.”

The entrance of Simply Infused has an European look and feel that invites you to savor the moment — and the oils!

The entrance of Simply Infused has an European look and feel that invites you to savor the moment — and the oils!

The small olive oils are perfect for taste-testing the various infused flavors.

The small olive oils are perfect for taste-testing the various infused flavors.

Simply Infused has tons of flavors of infused oils and balsamics, all available to taste in the store.

Simply Infused has tons of flavors of infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars, all available to taste in the store.

"Tuscan Herb is our most popular extra virgin olive oil and we pair that with our 18-year-aged traditional balsamic from Modena, Italy," says owner Cheryl Harper. "This pairing is our most popular and most versatile and can be used for bread-dipping,vinaigrette, marinade or to drizzle over vegetables."

“Tuscan Herb is our most popular extra virgin olive oil, and we pair that with our 18-year-aged traditional balsamic from Modena, Italy,” says owner Cheryl Harper. “This pairing is our most popular and most versatile and can be used for bread-dipping, vinaigrette, marinade or to drizzle over vegetables.”

Bella Couture

Colleen Hopwood was an area sales manager for a division of Saks, Inc., who went bridal gown shopping with friends and was underwhelmed by the experience. “I remember thinking, ‘I think I could do it better.’ The seeds were planted then, and seven years later, God brought it about,” says Colleen. “I wanted to create a warm and relaxing environment that everyone would feel welcome in.” The bridal boutique offers couture and designer wedding gowns and accessories by labels such as Lazaro, Atelier Pronovias, Alyne by Rita Vinieris and Alvina Valenta. “I am honored to be a small part of such an important day in a young woman’s life,” says Colleen. “It is so much fun to see a bride find her dream gown and to hear a parent say that they appreciate what we did for their daughter.”

A gorgeous layered, lace wedding gown from Bella Couture

A gorgeous layered, lace wedding gown from Bella Couture

Racks of beautiful gowns in varying shades of white adorn the inviting space.

Racks of beautiful gowns in varying shades of white adorn the inviting space.

RELATED: A Beautiful, Southern Midsummer Night’s Dream Wedding

"Mt Laurel is a great community," says Bella Couture owner Colleen Hopwood. "The people in the community support the businesses, and it is such a friendly and picturesque place to live, work and shop."

“Mt Laurel is a great community,” says Bella Couture owner Colleen Hopwood. “The people in the community support the businesses, and it is such a friendly and picturesque place to live, work and shop.”

Main Street Florist

This locally owned florist sells fresh flowers and specializes in floral design for weddings and events, but they also offer everyday arrangements, as well as orchids, plants and gourmet baskets. Main Street Florist opened its doors in Columbiana, Alabama, in 1997 and pinpointed Mt Laurel as the best place to grow the family business. “My family was one of the first families to move to Mt Laurel in 2001, and we thought it would be the perfect location to expand our business,” says Kelly Burley, president of Main Street Florist. “We love being a part of this wonderful family-oriented neighborhood.”

Main Street Florist created this gorgeous floral wreath. Image: Main Street Florist

Main Street Florist created this gorgeous floral wreath. Image: Main Street Florist

A closer look at the beautiful blossoms | Image: Main Street Florist

A closer look at the beautiful blossoms | Image: Main Street Florist

Some lucky little flower girl got to wear this crown of florals! Image: Main Street Florist

Some lucky little flower girl got to wear this crown of florals! Image: Main Street Florist

Blissful Boutique

No small town is complete without a boutique to meet a woman’s everyday clothing needs, and this charming little spot delivers. With shoes, jewelry, bags, clothes and gifts that will delight your friends, Blissful Boutique is terrific spot to freshen up your look. The vibe is laid-back and the staff is friendly, making for an easy and fun shopping experience!

Blissful Boutique has got your game day needs covered.

Blissful Boutique has got your game day needs covered.

RELATED: Auburn vs. Alabama: Your Ultimate College Town Visitor’s Guide

From laid-back classic to fun and funky, Blissful Boutique has a look to match your personal style.

From laid-back classic to fun and funky, Blissful Boutique has a look to match your personal style.

We love these chunky heels!

We love these chunky heels!

EATERIES

Area 41 Pizza Company

This corner pizza shop greets you at the entryway to the Town of Mt Laurel, and with families, couples, football fans and groups of friends always gathering here, you know that it offers delicious, crowd-pleasing fare. The pizzas, sandwiches, salads, local brews and delicious wine offerings make this spot a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Dine al fresco with friends or belly up to the bar for some quality football-watching at this fabulous local eatery!

Diners enjoy an al fresco meat at Area 41 Pizza Company.

Diners enjoy an al fresco meal at Area 41 Pizza Company.

This pizzeria proudly supports local breweries!

This pizzeria proudly supports local breweries!

The Blonde Ambition with chicken is a white pizza that includes roasted garlic, herbed ricotta, mozzarella and fresh basil.

The Blonde Ambition with chicken is a white pizza that includes roasted garlic, herbed ricotta, mozzarella and fresh basil.

This delicious salad includes blue cheese, spiced walnuts and fresh strawberries.

This delicious salad includes blue cheese, spiced walnuts and fresh strawberries.

Jimbo’s Soda Fountain

Step into Jimbo’s Soda Fountain and take a trip back to your childhood, when the main event of the day was grabbing a grilled cheese and a milkshake at the local diner. This old-time eatery has major charm and personality with its vintage art and decor, easygoing atmosphere and family-friendly menu. This soda fountain will delight kids of all ages!

Jimbo's Soda Fountain takes you back in time.

Jimbo’s Soda Fountain takes you back in time.

Check out the massive, homemade cinnamon rolls, made fresh at Jimbo's Soda Fountain!

Check out the massive, homemade cinnamon rolls, made fresh at Jimbo’s Soda Fountain.

Shiki Sakura

Owned by a hard-working couple of New York natives who deliver the best in customer service, this eatery offers a mouthwatering menu of Chinese and Japanese cuisine. It’s a small but super-friendly joint that makes you want to come back for more, and you can because the are open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. And if you stop by Mt Laurel during lunchtime, try their fabulous lunch special, any one of 12 dishes with soup and an egg roll for $6.95.

Prepare for a satisfying meal upon entering Shiki Sakura!

Prepare for a satisfying meal upon entering Shiki Sakura.

Sit at the counter for a front row seat to the action in the kitchen.

Sit at the counter for a front row seat to the action in the kitchen.

The sushi at Shiki Sakura is top-notch.

The sushi at Shiki Sakura is top-notch.

The Red Shamrock

For those looking for a cold brew and a side of sports-broadcasting-TVs or live music, visit the Red Shamrock, Mt Laurel’s neighborhood watering hole. “I love the bar cause it reminds me of ‘Cheers’ on TV,” says owner Kay Dailey. “Everybody knows you, and we are like a family there.” Besides the beer, the bar’s most popular menu item is the Philly cheesesteak sandwich. “But everything is so good,” says Kay. “We have a great chef!” And If you’re a music lover and a fan of St. Paddy’s Day, mark your calendar for the Red Shamrock’s annual Shamfest event!

The Red Shamrock boasts seven TV screens, so every sports fan can get their fix!

The Red Shamrock boasts seven TV screens, so every sports fan can get their fix!

“I love the bar cause it reminds me of Cheers on TV,” says owner Kay Dailey of Mt Laurel's neighborhood bar.

“I love the bar cause it reminds me of ‘Cheers’ on TV,” says owner Kay Dailey of Mt Laurel’s neighborhood bar.

So, take a day to escape the bustling boomtown of Birmingham and enjoy the slow-pace of the charming, walkable Town of Mt Laurel!

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