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An area full of history and charm, the South is dotted with beautiful towns worthy of exploration. These small Southern towns are known for their warm and friendly locals, enticing regional cuisine and historic streets that lead to scenic, uncrowded landscapes. For your next vacation, consider traveling below the Mason-Dixon Line to one of these charming small towns in the South.
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One of the oldest towns in South Carolina, Beaufort was voted the “Small Town We Love” by Southern Living Magazine. It’s easy to see why with its inland rivers that meet the sea, the Spanish Moss Trail and historic downtown with waterfront restaurants. Get to know the area on a walking tour or hop on the water and enjoy a dolphin-watching cruise, then fuel up with sea-to-table cuisine or take a quiet stroll along the streets lined with live-oak trees and antebellum-style mansions.
Amelia Island is a charming area perfect for traveling families looking for a laid-back vacation with an Old Florida ambiance. You won’t find high-rise buildings or big-chain hotels, just miles of picturesque shoreline and mom and pop shops. Explore the area on two wheels, hop on the Amelia Island Trolley for a tour of the town or head out for a sunset sail along the waterfront. Walk along the brick streets of nearby Fernandina Beach or go beachcombing for seashell treasures.
Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is a heavily German-influenced town. Full of beauty and charm, this city has a rich history and has long attracted visitors who are lured in by its vibrant attractions, wildflower farm and peach-picking opportunities when in season. Meander down the historic downtown strip, indulge in wine tastings or appreciate artifacts at the National Museum of the Pacific War. You can also explore Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, where a short hike leads to rewarding views from a pink granite dome.
Tucked away in the mountains, Blowing Rock is a beautiful area to explore. It’s named after The Blowing Rock landmark, which is an enormous cliff high above the Johns River Gorge. From fishing and hiking at Moses Cone Memorial Park to rides along the Tweetsie Railroad, you’ll find plenty of family-friendly entertainment. The heart of the village lies Main Street, a pedestrian-friendly area lined with shops, galleries, and restaurants, while Grandfather Mountain, Linville Caverns and Linville Falls are ideal for outdoor adventures.
Sitting at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Dahlonega is a charming city with access to wine farms and vineyards, while outdoor enthusiasts will delight at the array of waterfalls and rugged mountains at their fingertips. Take a scenic drive on the Lumpkin-Union Loop or hike in Cane Creek Falls, then visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site to see artifacts from the gold rush of 1836.
Marble Falls sits near five picturesque lakes and some of the best wineries in Texas. In addition to being a perfect base for exploring the area, the city also offers excellent sightseeing opportunities. Cool off in the water park at Lake LBJ Marina, or soak in the beautiful outdoors with a day of swimming and fishing at Lake Marble Falls. You can go swimming in the clear waters at Krause Springs, or head to Pace Bend Park for a day of hiking, biking and camping.
The oldest settlement on the Mississippi River, Natchez is said to have more antebellum houses than any other town in the United States. It’s perched high on a bluff over the river and offers a slow-paced ambiance where you can enjoy the simple things in life. Visit St. Mary’s Basilica constructed in the 1800s or tour Longwood, an unfinished manor that was left incomplete due to the Civil War. For a memorable experience, take a scenic trip down the river in a steamboat.
Fairhope is known as Alabama’s City of Flowers, but its also a great place to go for shopping, Lined with over 100 shops and galleries, you can browse through antique shops or pick up clothing and accessories, while specialty shops offer anything from fly fishing gear to fine cigars. Sitting on bluffs that overlook Mobile Bay, its streets are dotted with live oaks and antebellum homes and families will enjoy an afternoon of bike riding and dining in its quaint cafes.
Hot Springs offers a relaxed vacation where you can be immersed in nature. Named for its natural hot spring waters that have made this picturesque area an alluring destination, the springs were first discovered by Native Americans and was said to have healing powers. This laid-back town offers plenty of natural beauty, where you can go hiking on part of the Appalachian Trail or spend a day tubing, swimming and kayaking in Spring Creek, then shop for local artisan crafts or pack a picnic and climb Max Patch, the 5,000-foot bald mountain with panoramic views.
You’ll find loads of charm in this northwestern Arkansas town, as its one of the most alluring spots in the Southern Mountains. Stroll the Historic District in the city center to discover preserved Victorian buildings and historic hotels. If you’re interested in architecture, visit the captivating Thorncrown Chapel in the nearby hills made of wood and glass, while those looking for an outdoor adventure can explore Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.
Dubbed the crawfish capital of the world, Breaux Bridge is in the heart of Cajun country and lures visitors in with its annual Crawfish Festival. However, you can visit throughout the year and dig into its Cajun and Creole cuisine, which includes some of the world’s best crawfish. Located just an hour outside of Baton Rouge, you can shop for antiques at the Lagniappe Antiques Market or go bird watching at nearby Lake Martin, a gorgeous wildlife-filled preserve. At night, visit Pont Breaux’s for legendary Cajun food and live traditional Cajun music.