Best Places to Visit in the South

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The southern region of the United States is a treasure trove of diverse and captivating vacation destinations. From the charming cobblestone streets of Charleston to the vibrant music scene of Nashville, there is something for everyone in the American South. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a journey through the best places to visit in the South, showcasing the rich cultural heritage, stunning natural landscapes, and iconic landmarks that make this region so special.

Charleston, South Carolina: Where History Meets Charm

Located on the Atlantic coast, Charleston, South Carolina, exudes a unique blend of history, culture, and Southern charm. The city’s Historic District is a must-visit, with its well-preserved architecture, oak-lined cobblestone streets, and beautiful gardens. Explore iconic landmarks such as The Battery, Fort Sumter, and Charleston City Market. Immerse yourself in the city’s rich history by taking a guided tour or visiting the historic plantations and gardens surrounding Charleston.

Experience the vibrant culinary scene by indulging in Lowcountry cuisine, known for its fresh seafood and unique flavors. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Waterfront Park, taking in the picturesque views of the harbor. Charleston is also home to some of the best beautiful beaches in the deep South, where you can relax and soak up the sun. Don’t forget to visit nearby barrier islands like Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms for a peaceful retreat.

New Orleans, Louisiana: The Soulful City

New Orleans, Louisiana

No visit to the South would be complete without a trip to New Orleans. Known for its rich cultural heritage, lively music scene, and delicious cuisine, the great city offers a truly unique experience. Explore the historic French Quarter, where vibrant architecture, street performers, and iconic landmarks like St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square await. Indulge in the city’s famous Creole and Cajun cuisine, from beignets at Café du Monde to gumbo and jambalaya at local eateries.

Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Bourbon Street, where the party never stops. For a more intimate musical experience, visit Preservation Hall, a historic jazz venue where you can enjoy live performances by talented local musicians. Discover the city’s haunted history by taking a ghost tour or explore the Garden District with its stunning mansions and oak-lined streets. A visit to New Orleans is a feast for the senses and an unforgettable experience.

Asheville, North Carolina: Nature’s Playground

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and art lovers alike. The city offers a vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries, studios, and craft breweries to explore. Visit the iconic Biltmore Estate, a magnificent mansion and gardens built by the Vanderbilt family, and take a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway for breathtaking views of the mountains.

For nature lovers, Asheville is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Embark on scenic hikes, witness cascading waterfalls, and marvel at the diverse wildlife that calls this park home. Explore the Appalachian Trail or take a leisurely stroll through the River Arts District, where you can admire local artists’ works. Asheville’s natural beauty and cultural offerings make it a must-visit destination in the South.

Savannah, Georgia: A Southern Delight

Savannah, Georgia, is a city that exudes Southern charm and hospitality. Its well-preserved historic district, with its cobblestone streets and antebellum architecture, offers a glimpse into the city’s rich history. Stroll through the picturesque Forsyth Park, visit the Bonaventure Cemetery, and explore the charming River Street lined with shops, restaurants, and art galleries.

For a taste of Savannah’s spooky side, take a ghost tour and hear haunting tales of the city’s past. Enjoy a leisurely river cruise along the Savannah River, where you can admire the city skyline and learn about its maritime heritage. With its vibrant arts scene, delicious Southern cuisine, and warm hospitality, Savannah is a destination that will capture your heart.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Sun, Sand, and Fun

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

If you’re looking for a classic beach vacation, look no further than Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Known for its wide sandy beaches and family-friendly attractions, Myrtle Beach offers something for everyone. Spend your days lounging on the beach, indulging in water sports, or exploring the vibrant boardwalk lined with shops, restaurants, and amusement parks.

For a break from the sun, visit one of Myrtle Beach’s many attractions, such as Ripley’s Aquarium or the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel. Golf enthusiasts will appreciate the numerous championship golf courses in the area, while nature lovers can explore the nearby Huntington Beach State Park, home to a diverse range of wildlife and beautiful salt marshes.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina: Coastal Paradise

Hilton Head Island, located off the coast of South Carolina, is a barrier island known for its pristine beaches, world-class golf courses, and natural beauty. The island offers a tranquil setting for relaxation and outdoor activities. Spend your days biking along the island’s extensive network of trails, kayaking through the salt marshes, or teeing off at one of the championship golf courses.

Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the abundance of wildlife on Hilton Head Island, including dolphins, sea turtles, and a variety of bird species. Explore the island’s nature centers and discover the unique ecosystems that thrive here. Indulge in fresh seafood at one of the island’s many waterfront restaurants or take a leisurely stroll along the miles of sandy beaches. Hilton Head Island is the perfect destination for a beach getaway.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee: Nature’s Wonderland

Spanning the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a natural wonderland that should not be missed. As the most visited national park in the United States, it offers stunning mountain landscapes, cascading waterfalls, and diverse wildlife.

Embark on scenic hikes, such as the iconic Appalachian Trail or the Alum Cave Trail leading to the breathtaking Chimney Tops. Explore historic sites, including preserved log cabins and grist mills that offer a glimpse into the region’s past. Experience the beauty of the park during the fall, when the foliage transforms into vibrant shades of red, orange, and gold.

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia: Stepping Back in Time

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the colonial era at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. This living history museum brings to life the 18th-century capital of Virginia, complete with costumed interpreters, historic buildings, and interactive exhibits. Take a guided tour or explore at your own pace as you learn about the lives of the colonists and their role in shaping American history.

Visit the Governor’s Palace, the Capitol Building, and the historic taverns that dot the streets. Experience the sights and sounds of the era through demonstrations, reenactments, and traditional craftsmanship. Colonial Williamsburg is a great place where history comes alive, offering a unique glimpse into America’s colonial past.

Hot Springs, Arkansas: A Healing Retreat

Nestled in the Ouachita Mountains, Hot Springs, Arkansas, is known for its natural hot springs and therapeutic waters. Visit Hot Springs National Park, where you can take a relaxing bath in one of the historic bathhouses or hike the scenic trails that wind through the park. Explore the charming downtown area, filled with art galleries, shops, and restaurants.

For a unique experience, take a scenic drive along the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area. Discover the city’s rich history at the Gangster Museum of America or take a boat tour of Lake Hamilton. Hot Springs offers a rejuvenating retreat in the heart of the South. Arkansas’ hot springs are one of the south’s most unique places.

South Padre Island, Texas: Beach Bliss

Located on the southern tip of Texas, South Padre Island is a barrier island known for its pristine beaches and vibrant marine life. Spend your days lounging on the soft sand, swimming in the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, or enjoying water sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and jet skiing.

Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the island’s diverse ecosystem, home to sea turtles, dolphins, and a variety of bird species. Visit the Sea Turtle, Inc. rescue center to learn about conservation efforts and witness a sea turtle release. Explore the Laguna Madre Nature Trail and discover the island’s unique flora and fauna. South Padre Island is the perfect destination for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Nashville, Tennessee: Music City

Nashville, Tennessee

Known as the “Music City,” Nashville, Tennessee, is a vibrant destination for music lovers. Immerse yourself in the rich musical heritage by visiting iconic venues such as the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Explore the lively Broadway, lined with honky-tonks and live music venues, where you can enjoy performances by talented local musicians.

Nashville offers more than just music. Visit the historic Belle Meade Plantation, take a stroll through Centennial Park and see the replica of the Parthenon, or explore the vibrant neighborhoods like East Nashville and The Gulch. Indulge in Southern cuisine at one of the city’s many acclaimed restaurants and experience the warm hospitality that Nashville is known for. The music city is one of Tennessee’s main attractions.

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia: Scenic Drive

Embark on a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a winding road that stretches through the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. This iconic highway offers breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, vibrant fall foliage, and abundant wildlife.

Take your time exploring the numerous overlooks, hiking trails, and historic sites along the parkway. Visit the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park and explore the beautifully preserved estate and crafts center. Enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, and horseback riding in the surrounding national parks and forests. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a journey of natural beauty and tranquility.

Conclusion: Discover the Southern Gems

The South of the United States is a region filled with captivating destinations, each offering its own unique charm and attractions. From the historic streets of Charleston to the vibrant music scene of Nashville, from the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains to the coastal paradise of Hilton Head Island, the South has something for everyone.

Whether you’re seeking rich cultural heritage, outdoor adventures, delicious cuisine, or simply a relaxing beach getaway, the best places to visit in the South will exceed your expectations. Plan your trip and immerse yourself in the warm hospitality, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture that make the South a truly unforgettable destination.

So pack your bags, hit the road, and embark on an adventure through the Southern gems. The best of the South is waiting to be discovered. The best time to visit the south would be either March-May or September-November.

Read this for more on American destinations: Guide to Road Tripping Across the United States