‘Sweet Magnolias’: Is Serenity a Real Place?

If you’re a Sweet Magnolias fan, chances are you’ve fallen in love with Serenity, the picture-perfect Southern town where the Netflix show takes place. It’s the kind of place many people would like to live – or at least visit for a while. So, is Serenity a real place

Serenity only exists in the world of ‘Sweet Magnolias’ 

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Unfortunately, for fans who are already planning a vacation to Serenity, there’s some bad news. The town isn’t a real place. Serenity is an invention of author Sherryl Woods, who wrote the books on which Sweet Magnolias is based. 

Serenity is fictional. But it still has “a special meeting” for Woods, she wrote in the introduction to her book Stealing Home. She explained that whenever she drove from her home in Florida to her family’s summer cottage in Virginia, she’d make a stop in Sumter, South Carolina, to visit one of her old friends, Dottie.

Dottie “shared her newly adopted community of Sumter and her own extended family with me,” Woods wrote. She went on to thank Dottie and her friends for giving her “the inspiration for this new community.” 

‘Sweet Magnolias’ is filmed in Covington, Georgia

Helen and Dana Sue standing on the porch of the Corner Spa in Serenity, and Maddie standing on the front walk with back to camera, in 'Sweet Magnolias'
Heather Headley as Helen Decatur, JoAnna Garcia Swisher as Maddie Townsend, and Brooke Elliott as Dana Sue Sullivan ‘Sweet Magnolias’ Season 1 | ELIZA MORSE/NETFLIX © 2020

Serenity was inspired by Sumter, South Carolina. However, filming for the show actually takes place in Covington, Georgia, a town about 35 miles outside of Atlanta in Newton County. 

An article from the Newton Chamber of Commerce highlights several of the show’s filming locations. They include the Mystic Grill, aka Dana Sue’s restaurant Sullivan’s in Sweet Magnolias. A local law office doubles as The Corner Spa, the business Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott), Maddie (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), and Helen (Heather Headley) open in season 1. The town’s distinctive clock tower also makes an appearance in the show’s opening credits. 

Several other shows and movies have filmed in Covington 

Sweet Magnolias isn’t the only time Covington has appeared on screen. The town is a popular filming location. More than 125 films and TV shows have been made there, according to the Newton Chamber of Commerce

Vampire Diaries fans may recognize Covington as Mystic Falls, Virginia. Legacies, a Vampire Diaries spinoff, also films in the town (via The Covington News). It has also appeared in the TV shows The Dukes of Hazzard and In the Heat of the Night. It was also a filming location for movies such as The Cannonball Run, Friday the 13th Part VI, My Cousin Vinny, Selma, Sweet Home Alabama, Doctor Sleep, and Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, according to the city’s website

Covington is even home to a movie museum. It displays items related to The Vampire Diaries and other movies and shows filmed in the area.

Sweet Magnolias Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix. 

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