Dion Johnstone as Erik Whitley, Heather Headley as Helen Decatur

The Real Sweet Magnolias Filming Location Is Far From Serenity

That's only partly because Serenity doesn't exist.

by Ani Bundel

The three leads of Sweet Magnolias are JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Brooke Elliott, Heather Headley, who play BFFs Maddie, Dana Sue, and Helen, the “Sweet Magnolias” of the title. But there’s a fourth character just as important as the three women, and that’s the town of Serenity, where the story takes place. This little Southern town in South Carolina is the glue that holds these women, their families, and their community together. So, where is Sweet Magnolias filmed, and can you visit? It turns out, the series is indeed filmed in the South, but it’s not South Carolina.

It’s rare for a series to be filmed where it is set, especially in this day and age. For example, Hawkins, Indiana, in Stranger Things is actually just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, as are most of the time-hopping locations in Loki. Similarly, Serenity, South Carolina, is also played by a small town in Georgia: Covington, about 170 miles and one state over from where it claims to be.

The series isn’t filmed in Serenity because the South Carolina town from author Sherryl Woods’ novels is fully made up, so the show couldn’t film there even if it wanted to. But neighboring Georgia has long been a major production center for television, so it made sense for the show to film there.


Atlanta is the southeast hub of streaming productions, from Netflix shows to Disney+ to HBO Max. It’s also where a lot of major blockbuster movies film as well. And since it’s less than 200 miles off course from where the show is supposed to happen, it looks close enough to pass.

This isn’t the first time the small town of Covington has been the backdrop for TV series and movies. Fans of The Vampire Diaries should look closely, because this is where that series was also set. It’s also stood in for other small Southern towns like The Dukes of Hazzard’s Hazzard County and Remember the Titans’ Alexandria, Virginia. The town’s tourist guide website can take fans to the locations of multiple shows and films, including Sweet Magnolias; Serenity.

Sweet Magnolias Seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on Netflix.