Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

20 Cheap Weekend Getaways in the South

If you’re looking to squeeze a long weekend into a tight budget, the South offers a diverse array of charming destinations where you can experience old-fashioned Southern hospitality at its finest. Fun for the family and perfect for a couples getaway, these cities offer laid-back vibes, easy access to cultural attractions, and scenic landscapes like leafy parks and picturesque beaches. While bigger cities like New Orleans and Charleston typically get all the (much-deserved) love, there are more budget-friendly alternatives. Instead, try exploring one of these cheap weekend getaways in the South.

Jacksonville, Florida Jacksonville Beach
Credit: Jacksonville Beach by © Felix Mizioznikov | Dreamstime.com

Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville is a budget-friendly destination with stunning beaches and family-friendly attractions. Enjoy outdoor adventures like beachcombing, hiking and fishing, then catch a show at the iconic Florida Theatre, browse the treasure-filled Riverside Arts Market, and interact with animals at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Head to Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens to admire blooming flowers, see fossils at MOSH! The Museum of Science and History or visit Little Talbot Island State Park to marvel at its washed-up trees. Calm waters at Jacksonville Beach are also great for little ones or those who want to try surfing.

Columbia, South Carolina Columbia, South Carolina
Credit: Columbia, South Carolina by Sean Pavone via Shutterstock.com

Columbia, South Carolina

You’ll be lured in by the artsy vibes of Columbia, South Carolina, while its collection of bakeries, boutique shops, restaurants, and coffee shops are a delight for all types of visitors. Offering an ambiance that is far from the stressors of city life, you can still find plenty of attractions. Travel across the river to browse antiques and vintage pieces at the Old Mill Antique Mall, take the family to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden or EdVenture Children’s Museum, then hit the trails or hop in a canoe at Congaree National Park. Finally, unwind with coffee at the cozy Cafe Strudel or sip English-style ales at Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Alehouse.

Helen, Georgia Helen architecture inspired by the Bavarian Alps
Credit: Helen architecture inspired by the Bavarian Alps by bigstock.com

Helen, Georgia

A charming mountain town in the north of Georgia, Helen is a re-creation of a Bavarian Alpine Village with colorfully painted wooden houses and cobblestone alleys. While the biggest attraction to Helen is its postcard-worthy architecture, visitors who come here are in close proximity to some of the state’s most appealing natural attractions that are light on the wallet. Tube down the river or explore scenic trails dotted around the city, then hike to Anna Ruby Falls. For a unique souvenir, browse for handmade crafts at the area’s captivating specialty shops.

Asheville, North Carolina Asheville, North Carolina
Credit: Asheville, North Carolina by © Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina boasts eclectic shops, cultural museums, and historical attractions that appeal to visitors of all ages, while its sheer abundance of outdoor activities and beer breweries are just the icing on top of the cake. Take a wander around the downtown area to appreciate the beautiful Art Deco buildings, visit the Biltmore Estate to see a stunning castle, and if you’re up for a drive, soak in the mountain scenery along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

St. Simons Island, Georgia St Simons Island, Georgia
Credit: St Simons Island, Georgia by © Glenn Nagel | Dreamstime.com

St. Simons Island, Georgia

One of the largest barrier islands in Georgia, St. Simons Island lures visitors in with its fascinating history and natural attractions. Massingale Park Beach and Neptune Beach are some of the area’s top attractions, particularly for families, while the historic St. Simons Island Lighthouse is worth a visit. Unspoiled scenery is abundant, and kite surfing and fishing off the pier are popular activities. Stroll through the area’s array of eclectic shops or play a round of golf, as this charming area offers plenty of budget-friendly treasures at every corner.

Norfolk, Virginia Norfolk,Virginia
Credit: Norfolk,Virginia by © James Kirkikis | Dreamstime.com

Norfolk, Virginia

You’ll find a buzzing atmosphere around the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia, where you can help hoist the sails on a schooner or catch a paddle wheeler to a baseball game. This waterfront city is home to Nauticus, a maritime museum that features the World War II Battleship Wisconsin, while the Chrysler Museum of Art showcases glass art, paintings, and sculptures. If you’re traveling with the kids, don’t miss seeing the bears, lions, and farm animals at the riverside Virginia Zoo.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
 Myrtle Beach, South Caroliina
Credit: Myrtle Beach, South Caroliina by © Meunierd | Dreamstime.com

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


Myrtle Beach is a hotspot for family-friendly fun, where you’ll find more than 60 miles of pristine coastline and an extensive array of kid-approved accommodations that suit a range of budgets. Soak in the sunshine, build a sand castle, or indulge in the area’s fun-filled watersports on offer. After a day at the beach, walk along the lively boardwalk and promenade to soak up the carnival-like atmosphere. Live entertainment, amusement parks, mini-golf, and other family-friendly attractions are abundant here, such as the Broadway Grand Prix and Ripley’s Aquarium.

Blowing Rock, North Carolina Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Credit: Blowing Rock, North Carolina by Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

One of the most beautiful mountain towns in North Carolina, Blowing Rock is only a 15-minute drive from Boone. Named after The Blowing Rock, an enormous cliff high above the Johns River Gorge, visitors will find plenty of wallet-friendly outdoor adventures and family entertainment. Go fishing or hiking at Moses Cone Memorial Park, go to the family theme park Tweetsie Railroad or explore the gravitational phenomenon at Mystery Hill. Main Street is lined with shops, galleries, and restaurants, while nearby attractions include Grandfather Mountain, Linville Caverns, and Linville Falls.

Gulf Shores, Alabama Gulf Shores, Alabama
Credit: Gulf Shores, Alabama by © Wirestock | Dreamstime.com

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Nestled on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, Gulf Shores is the perfect place for a fun and relaxing getaway. Enjoy its beautiful beaches, trails, and pier, then get active on its golf courses and zip line adventures that soar over the dunes. For lively action, stop for an adult beverage at the Flora-Bama beach bar that straddles the Florida-Alabama line nearby. Visit Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge to see sea turtles and migratory birds, then learn about the area’s history at Fort Morgan, perched over Mobile Bay. Kids will love interacting with lemurs, kangaroos, and sloths at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.

Fort Walton Beach, Florida Fort Walton Beach
Credit: Fort Walton Beach by Kristi Blokhin/shutterstock.com

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

One of the best beach destinations in the Florida Panhandle, Fort Walton Beach on Florida’s Emerald Coast is famous for its 24 miles of fuss-free shoreline, where you’ll find plenty of budget-friendly fun. Browse interactive exhibits at the historic Air Force Armament Museum, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, and Emerald Coast Science Center, then admire colorful cottages and Hemingway-style wooden homes in nearby Grayton Beach, go fishing on Okaloosa Island Pier, or look at fascinating artifacts at the Indian Temple Mound Museum.

Jekyll Island, Georgia Jekyll Island
Credit: Jekyll Island by bigstock.com

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island offers a variety of cheap activities to fill a vacation itinerary. With 10 miles of sun-drenched beaches, the area is also home to Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where you can watch veterinarians with injured sea turtles, and the 4-H Tidelands Nature Center, known for its kayaking tours, nature walks, and hands-on programs. To see some of the area’s most stunning scenery, walk along Boneyard Beach or rent a bicycle and explore the flat terrain, but don’t miss the Jekyll Island Museum with its fascinating exhibits on the area’s history.

Bentonville, Arkansas Bentonville, Arkansas
Credit: Bentonville, Arkansas by © Peter Stawicki | Dreamstime.com

Bentonville, Arkansas

The town of Bentonville, Arkansas is best known for being the home of Walmart, but there is more to do here than just shop for deals. There’s a great art museum called the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art that always offers free general admission. Then, of course, there’s the Walmart Museum, which is undergoing renovations but set to reopen in the spring of 2024 and is also free to visit. Bentonville has a walkable town square area with unique restaurants and coffee shops. On your cheap weekend getaway here, you can head to the Coler Mountain Bike Preserve to ride the trails and get in a great workout. There’s also Osage Park, with wetland boardwalks, a dog park, and a food truck park to check out.

Panama City Beach, Florida Panama City Beach Florida
Credit: Panama City Beach Florida by © Terry Kelly | Dreamstime.com

Panama City Beach, Florida

If you visit Panama City Beach, Florida during the off-season, you can enjoy a budget-friendly trip that’s lots of fun. It is generally more affordable than many other Florida beach destinations, and you can keep costs low if you simply spend your days relaxing in the sand and water. There are nearly 100 beach access points in the area, so you can often find a secluded stretch of sand for a little peace and quiet. There are numerous tours, museums, and experiences that you can pay for in PCB, but you can also spend time walking the trails at Conservation Park, watching dolphins along Russell-Fields Pier, and checking out a festival or event at Pier Park.

Blue Ridge, Georgia Blue Ridge Scenic Railway - Blue Ridge, Georgia
Credit: Blue Ridge Scenic Railway - Blue Ridge, Georgia by Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Blue Ridge, Georgia

If you’re looking to plan a weekend getaway from Atlanta, Blue Ridge is a highly recommended and budget-friendly destination. You can plan a romantic couple’s trip or family vacation in Blue Ridge by renting an affordable cabin and spending time out in nature. There are lots of hiking trails in the area to check out, as well as waterfalls, a swinging bridge, and a fish hatchery. DIY driving tours are popular in this area, especially during the fall foliage season, and are a great way to make stops along the way that don’t cost a thing.

Mobile, Alabama String lights hung over Dauphin Street, and buildings in downtown Mobile, Alabama
Credit: String lights hung over Dauphin Street, and buildings in downtown Mobile, Alabama by © Jon Bilous | Dreamstime.com

Mobile, Alabama

Mobile is a port city on the Alabama coast that is filled with history and scenic views. There are art galleries here that you can check out to experience the city’s thriving art scene. Take walks along Dauphin Street and through Cooper Riverside Park to admire the river. There are also historic churches and cemeteries in town, regularly scheduled art walks in the downtown area, and a farmers’ market at Cathedral Square. Other budget-friendly ideas include biking along the Eastern Shore Trail, having a picnic at Medal of Honor Park, and window-shopping at the Shoppes of Bel Air.

Biloxi, Mississippi Gulf coast beach in Biloxi, Mississippi
Credit: Gulf coast beach in Biloxi, Mississippi by © Fotoluminate | Dreamstime.com

Biloxi, Mississippi

Located along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the city of Biloxi can provide a cheap weekend getaway when you want to switch up your usual weekend routine. You can find affordable vacation rental homes and hotels here and spend lots of time soaking up the sand at the beach. Visit the famous lighthouse in town and take a tour to learn more about it. Another idea is to visit the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum. For free, you can walk or ride your bike across the Biloxi Bay Bridge to cross over to Ocean Springs and get lovely views of the coast.

Greenville, South Carolina Greenville, South Carolina
Credit: Greenville, South Carolina by © Carol R Montoya | Dreamstime.com

Greenville, South Carolina

If you live in or are traveling in the south, you might also consider Greenville, South Carolina for a cheap weekend getaway. The city has a walkable Main Street and features a 32-acre park right downtown called Falls Park on the Reedy. There are other public spaces worth visiting in the area, including the Swamp Rabbit Trail, Conestee Nature Preserve, and Paris Mountain State Park. There’s a free self-guided tour of art in public places that you can check out, free city events on Main Street at NOMA Square, and free admission at the Greenville County Museum of Art.

Destin, Florida Destin, Florida
Credit: Destin, Florida by © Ruth Peterkin | Dreamstime.com

Destin, Florida

Destin, Florida is another coastal destination that can be quite affordable if you plan your trip right. To save money on accommodations and other costs, plan to visit Destin between November and February. You can watch the sunrises and sunsets from the local beaches, experience the lively scene at HarborWalk Village, and go fishing at Norriego Point. You can also go for a bike ride along Highway 98 for scenic views, explore the city’s antique shops, and stop by Destin’s art galleries without spending a dime.

Galveston, Texas Galveston Island, Texas
Credit: Galveston Island, Texas by © Mark Cunningham | Dreamstime.com

Galveston, Texas

In Galveston, there are free, self-guided tours that you can do to learn about art and history. There’s a downtown art walk that is free to attend, and the Galveston/Bolivar Ferry that transports cyclists, cars, and pedestrians is free and offers opportunities to see dolphins. This 30-minute ride takes you from Galveston Island to the Bolivar Peninsula. Saengerfest Park and Galveston’s Historic Strand Seaport Area are also free to visit. The museums are affordable here too, with many offering admission under $10 per person.

Charlotte, North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina
Credit: Charlotte, North Carolina by © Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com

Charlotte, North Carolina

The North Carolina city of Charlotte is a fun and affordable place to visit in the South. You can spend your days here visiting farmers’ markets, viewing public art, and exploring the nearby farms and orchards. Several museums in town offer free admission days to keep your trip costs down. Other budget-friendly things to do in Charlotte include hiking or biking around the U.S. National Whitewater Center, doing a free walking tour of the Charlotte Liberty Walk, and buying affordable tickets to a Charlotte Knights baseball game.

Travel Deals

Up to 15% Off Alaska Cruise Adventures - Book by 2/29

$3750+

MADE Hotel New York | Save Up To 15%

$225+

Mexico | Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta All-Inclusive Resort

$296+ pp/pn

Mexico | Hyatt Ziva Cancun All-Inclusive Resort

$454+ pp/pn

The Garden City Hotel, NY w/ Breakfast Buffet

$250+

Riu Palace Aquarelle All-Inclusive Resort | Jamaica

$139+

Air & 8-Day Iceland Fully-Guided Tour w/ 4 Activities

$1499+

BOGO | Air & 8-Day Rome, Florence & Venice by Rail

$1350+

Carillon Miami Wellness Resort | 4th Night Free

$275+

New Jamaica Resort Opens 5/4 | Riu Palace Aquarelle

$139+ pp/pn

Dominican Republic | Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana All-Incl. Resort

$444+ pp/pn

Hotel Greystone Miami Beach | Up To 25% Off

$150+

Med Cruises | $25 Deposit., Up to 40% Off + Upgrade

$1199+

Up to $250 Off | Air & 8-Day Peru Small Group Tour

$1999+

Last-Minute Savings | 6-Day Hawaii Cruise on Norwegian

$1049+