Fast-talking New Yorker and brand new doctor Zoe Hart has it all figured out—after graduating top of her class from medical school, she'll follow in her father's footsteps and become a cardio-thoracic surgeon. But when her dreams fall apart, Zoe decides to accept an offer from a stranger, Dr. Harley Wilkes, to work with him at his small practice in Bluebell, Alabama. Zoe arrives in this small Gulf Coast town only to find that Harley has passed away and left his half of the medical practice to her in his will.
Fast-talking New Yorker Zoe Hart has her life all figured out until she is turned down for a prestigious fellowship she had been certain she would get. Desperate, she decides to finally accept the offer of a kindly stranger, Dr. Harley Wilkes, whom she met at her medical school graduation, and who had proposed she join his small medical practice in Bluebell, Alabama.
Zoe tries to win over residents of Bluebell by participating in the Founder's Day parade, but an unfortunate incident only makes matters worse.
Zoe enters a gumbo contest in yet another attempt to prove she can fit in as a Bluebell resident; Lavon has a crush on Zoe and Brick's new receptionist, and the news sours Lemon; and Zoe and Brick must look past their differences to save someone's life.
When a heat wave rolls through Bluebell, Zoe realizes that the hot weather is affecting everyone's behavior and lowering their inhibitions. In fact, Zoe struggles to fight her heat-induced attraction to Wade until she finally gives in. Meanwhile, Lemon is determined to win over George's parents when they come to town for a visit, but she is caught off guard when Lavon shows up to the same restaurant with his date, Didi.
Zoe discovers something shocking about the local minister and his wife, causing quite a stir among the residents of Bluebell. Lemon is determined to find the funds to renovate the town’s historic bridge that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, but first she is put in the extremely awkward position of having to convince Lavon to choose her proposal over so many other worthwhile submissions.
Driving home late one night from a house call, Zoe accidentally hits a man but can't find any signs of him when she gets out of her car. Later, she sees the man's photo hanging in the Rammer Jammer, and George has to break the news to her that the man in the picture died over a year ago. Meanwhile, Lemon and George are ready to buy their dream home until Lavon steps in and refuses to authorize the purchase because it is one of Bluebell's historic properties. Zoe's mom shows up in Bluebell hoping to reconcile with her daughter after keeping the identity of Zoe's real father a secret Zoe's entire life.
When Nascar’s Brian Vickers has to drop out of hosting Bluebell Junior League’s annual turtle race, Lemon is reluctantly convinced that the mayor is the perfect replacement as her co-host. Zoe is asked out on a date by a handsome local veterinarian, Dr. Judson Lyons. Wade has an unexpected visitor who stirs up all kinds of trouble for him.
Noticing that Zoe is feeling homesick, Lavon suggests that she host his annual pre-game homecoming party to help her feel more connected to Bluebell. Zoe jumps at the opportunity and decides to enlist the help of her friend Gigi from New York, but as it turns out New York and Bluebell have very different ideas of what makes a good party. Meanwhile, George and Wade hatch a plan to get even with their high school nemesis, Jimmy, but when Lemon catches wind of their scheme she wants in on the action, too.
While the residents of Bluebell prepare for their annual Planksgiving celebration, Zoe anxiously counts the days until her return home to New York for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, getting out of town may be a bit trickier than Zoe anticipated due to the fact that she has to meet her thirty percent quota of patients by midnight or lose her share of the practice to Brick. Meanwhile, Lavon encourages Wade to be honest about his feelings for Zoe, and George's father offers him an opportunity to join his law firm in Montgomery, which isn't exactly music to Lemon's ears.
Zoe encourages Rose to enter the annual Miss Cinnamon Cider Pageant even though Lemon’s younger sister, Magnolia Breeland, is a shoo-in to win. Of course, with Zoe coaching Rose and Lemon coaching Magnolia, rivalry takes on a whole new meaning. Meanwhile, George and Wade go on a road trip to pick up a Christmas tree for Bluebell’s town square. Also, in flashbacks, we learn some of the history of Lemon’s relationship with her mother, as well as the details of when Lemon and Lavon first realized they had a connection.
When Zoe goes in search of some family history in Bluebell, she discovers that she is a legacy to the Bluebell Belles. Of course, once Lemon catches wind of the news, she makes it her sole mission in life to make sure Zoe doesn’t become an official Belle and puts her through a humiliating initiation. With the help of Wade, Lavon attempts to jump back into the dating scene, but he finds it difficult because Didi is telling everyone that he’s in love with her. Meanwhile, George devises a plan to stop a huge chainstore from building near Bluebell and as a result driving business away from the town.
Zoe is so uncharacteristically happy as of late that it causes her friends to speculate as to the possible reason behind her new attitude. Turns out that Zoe is hiding her new friendship with AnnaBeth, who doesn't want Lemon to find out since Zoe is Lemon's sworn enemy. Lemon campaigns to become the Belles' new Memory Matron, but she has to overcome a few obstacles to secure the honored position.
Zoe decides that it’s too soon in her relationship with Judson to go to the annual Sweetie Pie Dance so instead she makes plans to have a sleepover with Rose, whose parents are going out of town. George misplaces the save the dates for his upcoming wedding which causes major trouble in Lemon paradise. Lemon wants her father to finally move on from her mother leaving him, so she secretly gets him a date for the dance.
Wade somehow convinces Lemon to dress up as Joelle as part of a scheme to convince Joelle’s ex-boyfriend that he didn’t actually see Wade and Joelle together. Lavon asks Zoe to help him figure out why Didi has been avoiding him, but once Zoe uncovers the shocking reason she isn’t quite sure what to do with the information. George comes to Zoe for advice in determining whether there is a medical explanation for the behavior of one of his clients.
Zoe Hart is thrilled to see snow in Bluebell, but the rest of the town is superstitious that it will bring bad luck. When Lavon’s parents make a visit to Bluebell, Lavon thinks it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce them to Didi, but the introduction doesn’t exactly go according to plan. Lemon and George make a big decision about their future.
Much to Brick’s disappointment, George is named Bluebell’s Man of the Year. As the town’s mayor, Lavon is expected to host a cocktail party in George’s honor, but for obvious reasons this is a difficult situation for Lavon given his history with Lemon. Fortunately for Lavon, Zoe agrees to step in and help him with the party, but things take a turn for the disastrous when Zoe has to improvise a speech at the gathering. Meanwhile, Magnolia begs Wade to write a song and perform it with her at the party.
Zoe has conflicted feelings about seeing her estranged father, world-renowned surgeon Ethan Hart, who has agreed to travel to Bluebell to perform surgery on George’s father as a favor to Zoe. Fearful of losing George, Lemon decides she must befriend Zoe in order to prevent her from telling George about Lemon’s affair with Lavon. Meanwhile, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Rammer Jammer, the owner hosts a signature cocktail contest between Wade and Shelley.
Zoe makes a romantic connection with one of her patients, Jesse, and accepts his invitation to lunch. Lemon agrees to let Magnolia plan her bachelorette party as long as she follows Lemon’s strict instructions, but Magnolia has some more “interesting” plans in store for her big sister. Wade plans a hunting trip for George’s bachelor party.
After a wild night of partying, Wade wakes up with a massive hangover, an uninvited houseguest and no memory of what happened the night before. Meanwhile, George takes an unplanned roadtrip to New Orleans, and Lemon finally confesses her troubles to her father, Brick.
Wade signs up for the Bluebell Battle in hopes of winning the five thousand dollar prize, but when he strikes out finding someone to be his race partner, he must swallow his pride and ask Zoe. Meanwhile, Rose is jumping for joy when Frederick Dean finally asks her out on a date, and George and Lemon meet with Reverend Mayfair to discuss their relationship issues.
Zoe blames herself when one of her friends faces a health crisis and she didn’t notice the symptoms. With much encouragement from Lavon, Wade explores the idea of opening his own bar in Bluebell. Meanwhile, Lemon plans a romantic night for George, hoping to get their relationship back on track. Gary Cole returns as Zoe’s father, Ethan Hart.