Downtown Historic Staunton, Virginia. Image credit MargJohnsonVA via

11 of the Most Quaint Small Towns in the Southern United States

From the pottery capital to an all-American city and "the town that fooled the British" in the War of 1812, St. Michaels, the American South, is brimming with quaintness. Each characterful town evokes a sense of individual quaint charm, from deeply rich history in St. Augustine to thriving art and culture in Staunton and natural scenes like the Virginia Creeper Trail in Damascus.

The South takes you with its quaint hand and a gentle beating heart through time and countries. From Fredericksburg, full of German heritage, to St. Augustine, replete with European sights dating back to the 1500s, there are also the gingerbread Victorians, Federal, and Gothic cottages in Smithfield, the "Ham Town" in Virginia.

Damascus, Virginia

Hiker rests outside Damascus, Virginia.
Hiker rests outside Damascus, Virginia.

Home to some of the friendliest people you will ever meet, this graceful little town with quaint shops and delicious restaurants offers a perfect weekend getaway escape. The mega-popular Damascus Town Park at the heart, with a scenic bridge, is just a hop to the must-visit Damascus Diner to power up. Whether looking to relax or stay active, the appealing town offers a stunning, picturesque setting as well as welcoming hospitality and plentiful bike rentals around. The town, tucked into the mountains at the crossroads of three states—Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina—boasts the Virginia Creeper Trail through its heart, where local hospitality prevails!

You can enjoy scenic views of the Appalachian Mountains and fun cycling experiences along the right-of-way rail line from the 1880s industrialization of the United States. With its pleasant southern weather and deep historical significance, Damascus is a popular destination for all-level outdoor lovers to take a stretch of the well-traveled route. The internationally praised trail is a beautiful place to bike along the significant landscape where the railroad would creep along the terrain. You can unwind at the top-rated Damascus Brewery and wind down at the reliable Damascus Old Mill Inn!

Fredericksburg, Texas

The Main Street in Fredericksburg, Texas.
The Main Street in Fredericksburg, Texas. Image credit ShengYing Lin via

Fredericksburg, the "New World" for the German settlers in 1846, celebrates its European roots with a spritz of Texan flavor and a dash of ol' southern charm. Deep in Texas wine country, with north of 100 wineries in or around town, you can amble around on a quaint-spirited getaway. Among a number of go-to big-name hotels, check out the reliable Quality Inn Fredericksburg for less than half the price!

Tucked within the Texas Hill Country, the adorable small town with a rule against chain stores is resplendent to browse for gifts or enjoy window shopping. With a whopping 150 boutiques down the main roadway, it is a real eye candy on a stroll for your soul, with breweries to warm up, or grab a mulled wine on a stroll down the festive main street. Sprouting fully-stocked biergartens in the warmer months, Oktoberfest revs up the whole craft brew scene every year. The state-of-the-art National Museum of the Pacific War is always "in season," while the surrounding Lyndon B. Johnson State and National Historical Parks call for hikes in the pleasant southern weather!

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Busy street in summertime with tourists and cars.
Busy street in summertime with tourists and cars. Image credit Miro Vrlik Photography via

This sleepy southern town in the sea of narrow spruce trees in the foothills offers its own blend of unique southern charm against the most stunning natural backdrop. There's no better time to visit than now to enjoy skiing at Ober Mountain Adventure Park down Mt. Harrison! A classic rural mountain town to its core, you can enjoy a quaint getaway anytime in the heart of the Smoky Mountain range, with stately buildings, a claim to the Appalachian Trail, and seasonal celebrations. Home to just over 4,000, Gatlinburg invites for its legendary shindig, the annual Winterfest, and local chili cook-offs through communities!

The eastern Tennessee town is a real quaint Appalachian haven through every season, like in the budding spring season under the wildflower slopes of Mt. LeConte in all its mountain flora glory. Attracting nature enthusiasts and hiking lovers with great weather, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited in the nation, boasts over 150 official hiking trails! You can stay at the popular Appy Lodge with pool slides or at the really cool Zoder's Inn & Suites, overlooking a tumbling roaring fork from its red iron wrought iron balconies!

Georgetown, South Carolina

The Belltower and historic waterfront stores, Georgetown, South Carolina.
The Belltower and historic waterfront stores, Georgetown, South Carolina.

Between Charleston and Myrtle Beach, this historic waterfront town is made for delicious seafood lovers and local shopping enthusiasts to indulge in a quaint getaway in the southeastern United States! There are plenty of ways to dive into Georgetown's fascinating history as the third-oldest town in Palmetto State. From a sightseeing boat ride with historic homes along the coast to the impressive plantations throughout the scenic landscape, its establishment dates back to 1729. With highlights like the annual plantation and townhouse tour, Baxter's Brewhouse Inn and 620 Prince offer comfortable stays with a unique personality!

The South Carolina Lowcountry town with a cute downtown has a more cozy vibe than the more famous neighboring coastal cities. Its Pee Dee River waterfront is strewn with heritage sights, beautiful old homes, and southern charm prevailing through local nooks that will steal your heart! There's the tropically-inspired Eve's Caribbean Soul Food for a totally unique and cozy holiday dinner, just a hop from the must-visit Kaminski House Museum. The mega-popular River Room Restaurant overlooks the historic district on one side, with the South Carolina Maritime Museum and Rice Museum just a stone's throw away and Goat Island with Lafayette Park across the waters!

Marble Falls, Texas

Old cabin near Marble Falls Texas painterly processed
Old cabin near Marble Falls, Texas.

This unique waterfront town offers fine weather, wines, and sights on the banks of Lake Marble Falls, with its shelf of limestone running diagonally across the river. Hard and cherry, much like marble, the upper layer of limestone appears brownish, but with a deep blue inside, it dispels the falls, once in three distinct formations. Today, you can marvel at the 50-foot drop straight through the limestone strata at the head of a 1.25-mile-long canyon. Add to that five picturesque lakes nearby and some of the best wineries in the state, and you've got some enviable nature for a quaint escape!

Marble Falls is the perfect base for exploring some of the state's most sought-after landscapes, like the nearby Pace Bend Park for hiking and biking to the town's own Lakeside Park. You can make a day out of swimming and fishing in Lake Marble Falls, with Lake Lyndon B. Johnson to the north and Lake Travis to the south, while Krause Springs's own waters are crystal clear for swimming. From Blue Bonnet Cafe in the morning, you can unwind at Fiesta Winery Marble Falls, with a scenic fountain, and end it at the Real New Orleans Style Restaurant—some of the state's iconic hotspots! WorldMark is a mega-popular resort-style stay with views and family attractions like a water park.

Ponchatoula, Louisiana

Downtown street in Ponchatoula, Louisiana
Downtown street in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Image credit Polka Dots and Pastries, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This antiquated Louisiana town has triple the southern charm, with a name meaning “hair to hang” from the Choctaw Peoples, who actually lived in Mississippi and Alabama! Referring to the Spanish Moss festooning the blackjack and southern red oaks, Pontaloucha is spoiled in nature and lit with antique stores through historical brick buildings aligning the quaint downtown. Warmly welcoming visitors from all over, Ponchatoula, "America’s Antique City," is a destination for vintage finds, sightseeing strolls, and, most famously, Louisiana strawberries!

Boasting many strawberry-growing farms in the fertile area, the slow-paced town comes alive during the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival in the spring, when you can taste the best of it through the strawberry harvest! Friendly locals host the Ponchatoula Country Market in the historic train depot with crafts and rare items from the best of the best businesses in the area right here, while Kliebert & Sons Alligator Farm, unlike any other, offers unique animal interactions for a fun family day activity!

Seagrove, North Carolina

Downtown Seagrove, North Carolina Pottery building
Downtown Seagrove, North Carolina.

This tiny town in the countryside of North Carolina is so quiet that it is more recognizable by the Potters Highway, just a hand's reach away. Appearing on your GPS as I-74 (State Highway 75), Seagrove is the perfect pitstop for pottery lovers, with shopping and artisans' work just off the scenic byway. Rooting back to the 18th century, this rural section of the state boasts the nation's largest concentration of working potters in the United States! The captivating town, proudly referred to as the Pottery Capital of the USA, with its two-century-old, rich history, boasts modern-day family attractions.

With over 100 local potters and shops for one-of-a-kind shopping, the Seagrove Pottery Festival is an event you can't miss. Offering unique creations by the finest ceramic artists in the area, you can view, browse, and buy works to update or decorate your home and stock up on holiday gifts or souvenirs for others. During your stay, The Seagrove Stoneware Inn welcomes you under the exclusive helm of potters, while the nearby cool day trips include the NC Zoo in Asheboro, just 13 miles away, or 40 miles to Greensboro down the road!

Smithfield, Virginia

St Lukes Church and Cemetery in Smithfield Virginia
St Lukes Church and Cemetery in Smithfield, Virginia.

With a name made from ham and a heart of gold, Smithfield offers a trip back in time to colonial and Victorian times in rural Virginia. The picturesque Main Street is replete with shops and impressive architectural styles, including the gingerbread Victorianas, Federal, and Gothic cottages.

The locals take great pride in preserving traditions and the natural bounty along the Pagan River that provides fertile soils. The famous ham, a showcase of its culinary heritage, attracts visitors to Smithfield, while the picturesque landscape beckons with outdoor opportunities to enjoy all this scenic beauty. You can experience the best of it over a weekend when you stay waterfront at Smithfield Station and have dinner at The Cockeyed Rooster Cafe, while a Sunday morning stroll through Windsor Castle Park will lead you to the Farmer's Service Company, just north, to stock up!

St. Augustine, Florida

Castillo de San Marcos in St Augustine, Florida
Castillo de San Marcos in St Augustine, Florida.

Blending maritime sights and colonial styles in a small-town feel, St. Augustine shines in the Sunshine State as the nation's oldest city! With a name after the patron saint of brewers, printers, and theologians, it is not without a magnificent coastline either. The splendid natural beauty of the waterfront and a stroll down Augustine’s antiquated brick-lined streets are all it takes to fall in love with distinct Mediterranean roots. Dating back to 1565 colonization by the Spanish, St. Augustine is as quaint as it gets, full of the most interesting and valuable historical sites, carefully weaving in modern-day charm and vibrant culture into one authentic seaside village.

From the battlegrounds of Castillo de San Marcos to the white sands of Ponte Vedra Beach with cerulean waves, the quaintness overwhelms all your senses! You can pop into various establishments overlooking the ocean here in The South’s Best Food Town, according to Southern Living Magazine! From its palm-lined avenues and squares with flowers and fountains, you can take a sail out with St. Augustine Sailing and return for a fantastic meal at sunset. Harry's Seafood, Bar & Grille is incredibly popular with its verdant, vast, and cozy outdoor setting under the year-round pleasant weather!

St. Michaels, Maryland

St Michaels, Maryland, along the town's main street.
St Michaels, Maryland, along the town's main street. Image credit George Sheldon via

The beating heart of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, this town, quintessentially tucked along the Chesapeake Bay waterfront, is steeped in maritime history and nature. With its own picturesque waterfront, you can amble between many attractive boutiques and architecture in a once-languid small town, now with an evoking sense of individual spirit you won't be remiss in getting acquainted with. About an hour and a half from Washington, St. Michaels shines year-round with positivity and small-town charm, bustling during the summertime for every taste of a vacation.

With roots dating back to 1677, you can explore the meaning behind its proud moniker of "the town that fooled the British" in the War of 1812 and gorge on seafood during the Maryland crab season from April through November. St. Michaels, a quintessential part of Eastern Shore getaway history, festoons your eyes with nautical views from the past and out-of-this-world sunsets! The Victorian downtown is charming on a stroll with historical buildings, local shops, and outfitters—the perfect spot for a girls’ weekend to shop, dine, and relax. You can take the popular sunset cruise to see the magical town and stunning scenery behind you while sipping cocktails on a romantic escape or even a guy-friend getaway!

Staunton, Virginia

Buildings along Beverley St in Downtown Historic Staunton Virginia
Buildings along Beverley St in Downtown Historic Staunton, Virginia. Image credit Kyle J Little via

Steeped in history and rich in architectural diversity, Staunton offers diverse districts to explore and delicious restaurants to feed your soul, like the iconic Kathy's. You can discover its fascinating past on a tour of the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library, or take a simple stroll along the red brick sidewalks to admire the stunning architecture! World-class music festivals are as integral to Staunton as are the intimate theater performances along the architecturally styled streets with an array of unique shops, boutiques, and other locally owned downtown businesses.

Big on southern charm, this classic "small town USA" with a vibrant cultural scene greets you with no agenda of your own and plunges you deep into the culture at the American Shakespeare Center with staged plays in a replica of the Globe Theatre! You can dive into nature at the nearby Shenandoah National Park and find trendy breweries to unwind at or delicious restaurants to dig into fresh culinary creations. There is also the mega-popular Gypsy Hill Park with its Dog Park, while the charming boutique Blackburn Inn offers beautiful rooms to relax in with traditionally excellent hospitality.

With many coastal towns in the Southern United States, you can enjoy the best marine views along the Chesapeake Bay in St. Michael's or St. Augustine. The unique cultural experience pulls you in with a sense of wonder and belonging, while the gracious charm and Southern hospitality will only guide you along sightseeing and adventures.

Each town has its own distinct story to tell, like Marble Falls, a unique waterfront town with fine weather, wines, and sights like its 50-foot waterfall on the banks of Lake Marble Falls and its shelf of limestone across the river. Replete with accommodations for all styles, you can have a real quaint vacation or a getaway respite for some express warm-weather R&R.

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