Exploring Mystic Falls Beyond the Screen
By Isabella West, Arts Editor
In the quaint town of Covington, Georgia, where Southern charm emanates from its historic buildings and the local landmarks transport you into a mystical world, visitors can not deny its allure. However, Covington isn’t just a picturesque Southern gem, it’s also the real-life Mystic Falls, the fictional town in The Vampire Diaries.
As you stroll the town square, where vampires, werewolves, and witches had their limelight, you can’t help but appreciate the architecture, the warmth, and most of all, the small-town charm that is severely lacking in Atlanta, just 40 minutes away.
Covington’s mystique extends beyond the on-screen drama. The town is a character of its own with its rich history as the “Hollywood of the South,” which many local store owners were quite proud to announce.
In fact, this little town even has its own version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame featuring stars like Ian Somerhalder, Patrick Swayze, and Reese Witherspoon.
Another Vampire Diaries classic that can be seen in the real-life town is the Mystic Grill, where characters from the show gathered both on and off-screen. All throughout the restaurant, there is memorabilia and signed menus that have welcomed stars from every genre.
Right around the corner from the Mystic Grill is the infamous alley that claimed many lives in the show. In the alley, there is a gift shop that has all of the Vampire Diaries merchandise you could think of and even clothes that the stars wore in the show.
However, this business is not the only one in Covington that embraces The Vampire Diaries enchantment. Wildart LLC is in the heart of the Square and holds true to the name of Southern Charm. Judy Hernandez owns a pop-up booth within the store featuring her own brand Bitten The Label.
Hernandez has lived in Covington for seven out of the eight seasons of the show. She recalled Ian Somerhalder, who plays Damon Salvatore, living just 10 minutes out of the town all throughout filming and would see him all of the time. However, Hernandez said that she had never seen a fanbase so passionate about the show until very recently.
“Nobody ever thought about him like this,” said Hernandez. “This many people never came here and the people that did, were much older than the young girls that are coming now.”
Because of the uproar of the fandom, her connection to the show and its actors, and her placement in the town, Hernandez decided to create her own clothing brand, Bitten The Label. With a Vampire Diaries convention on the way, Hernandez knew it was the perfect time to launch her clothing line.
At first, it was just for fun but has since received so much love in just a year, that she is now opening another store in December as her brand grows.
Hernandez had previously owned her own clothing boutique in the Square called Shelvie Jean, which unfortunately was destroyed in a fire in August of 2023.
Despite losing all of her merchandise, Hernandez said that customers and locals supported her both before and after the fire.
“I had such a big response. I had over 300 orders in two weeks and no clothes,” said Hernandez.
Now, Hernandez is looking forward to seeing how her brand grows each day. She said that she is constantly meeting new people from all over the world who have come to Covington for the Vampire Diaries experience and who have also seen her brand on social media. She said that when guests come in, she invites them to try her clothes on, take pictures, and to share the photos with her if they would like to.
“I just think that the involvement with my brand and with the customers has been remarkable and I think that that in itself has got me where I am.” said Hernandez. “I involve myself and I involve other people that love it.”
As the sun sets in Covington, casting an amber glow over the town square, the atmosphere takes on an enchanting quality. You can almost imagine the characters of Mystic Falls taking the same steps you are. For those who immerse themselves in the magic of Covington, the experience not only brings a deeper connection to the show but also to the residents of the town if you take the time to get to know them.
The sense of community here is evident as locals welcome visitors with a warmth that makes the trip entirely worth it.
Whether you’re a die-hard Vampire Diaries fan seeking to relive your favourite moments or just a traveler who happened to stop by, Covington offers a unique blend of reality, fantasy, and that good old Southern hospitality. As you leave this charming town, you carry with you not only the memories of Mystic Falls but also the connections you made with the community members along the way, at least I know I did.