Our research is editorially independent but we
may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
An area full of history and charm, the South is dotted with beautiful towns worthy of exploration. These small towns in the U.S. 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.
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 town in Florida 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. One of the most beautiful mountain towns in Georiga, you’ll find a long list of things to do. You can 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 to see some of the most picturesque landscapes in Texas. 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. A popular weekend getaway from New Orleans, 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 it’s 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 relaxing 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 were 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 it’s 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 this top Louisiana town 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.
A beautiful small town in Florida with only around 14,000 residents, Mount Dora is one of Florida’s most beloved small-town treasures. Lined with 19th-century clapboard houses surrounded by a towering canopy of leafy trees, travelers often come to this laid-back town to explore its quaint antique shops and get a classic glimpse of Old Florida. Walk along the historic downtown district and you’ll discover an artsy valley community where outdoor cafes, galleries, gourmet restaurants, and wineries are brimming with activity. Playing host to a variety of nationally known annual festivals, Mount Dora’s biggest claim to fame is its annual Mount Dora Art Festival held in February each year.
Beloved for its charming Bavarian-style downtown and easy access to the scenic beauty of the North Georgia mountains, Helen is easily one of the most charming towns in the South. You can marvel at the brightly colored wooden houses as you stroll along its cobbled alleyways, then visit top attractions in Georgia such as Anna Ruby Falls or sign up for tubing, zip-lining, or hiking adventures. Those who are looking for something more low-key can sip on wine at Habersham Winery, one of Georgia’s oldest wineries, or cool off at the pool, slides, lazy river, and tubing trips down the Chattahoochee River at Helen Waterpark.
If you’re looking for true Southern charm, head to Natchitoches, Louisiana. This small university town spans a 33-block area and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. Wander the streets to see a kaleidoscope of historic buildings, including Queen Anne, Spanish Revival, Art Deco, Federal, Victorian, and French Creole architectural styles. It feels as if you’re stepping back in time as you stroll down the cobblestoned Federal Street, while an exploration of the nearby Cane River offers a glimpse of the city’s grand mansions and elegant townhomes.
Paducah is a picturesque river town located where the Tennessee and Ohio rivers meet. It’s known as being a hub for creative types, named a UNESCO Creative City in honor of its history and industry of craft and folk art. Browse its unique attractions, which include the National Quilt Museum, then wander the 20 downtown blocks filled with 19th-century architecture that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can pop into galleries, art centers, and museums, then catch a theater show or live music event at night.