Skyline of Boone, North Carolina.

13 Most Charming Southern Small Towns

The south portion of the United States is widely known for its unique culture, vineyards, and rugged mountains juxtaposed by the serene, sun-adorned lowlands. Complete with the Cajun experience, these charming towns of the South all have rich history and mystery that will take one into a whole other realm. 

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
Autumn view of Broyhill Park and Mayview Lake in downtown Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

Perhaps most of the charm of this town comes from its prominent landmark; the enormous cliff set high above the coast of the Johns River Gorge. The town comes with plenty of other outdoor adventures, including the Grandfather Mountain, the Linville Caverns, the Linville Falls, and fishing and hiking at the Moses Cone Memorial Park. Families with kids would adore riding the train along the Tweetsie Railroad, while the Main Street, running through the heart of the town, is closed to traffic for the optimal shopping, dining, and exploring experiences of one of its many stores, shops, galleries, and restaurants. 

Boerne, Texas

cows near boerne
Texas long-horn cows near Boerne, Texas.

The town of Boerne, Texas, has many nostalgic joys, including sipping on a root beer float at an old-school sweet shop or diving into a cold river on a hot summer's day that will take one right back into childhood. Sitting in the tranquility of the Texas Hill Country, the region's natural beauty is undeniable, highlighted in the surrounding rugged limestone countryside. Easy water access also feeds the pockets of live oaks, and bald cypress sprinkled throughout the town and vicinity. The lively center known by the state's locals as the Hill Country Mile is a favorite among tourists and oozes with many antiques and specialty stores. 

Boone, North Carolina 

Boone, North Carolina
Skyline of Boone.

This town has plenty of charm to offer its visitors, starting from being picturesquely set in the state's Blue Ridge Mountains to its renowned Hickory Living History Museum that offers a back-in-time travel experience to the 1700s home-life and everything in between. The town is famed as a favorite within the community of historians for another big reason, with its name coming from a world-known explorer, Daniel Boone. The hidden location in a pocket of the Appalachians provides for a comfortable climate that never goes above 76 degrees. It is a perfect getaway year-round with plenty of adventures, such as wintry sports and explorations of the Grandfather Mountain.

Charlottesville, Virginia 

Charlottesville, Virginia
View of Charlottesville from the top of a building.

Featuring Thomas Jefferson-owned Monticello, a mountain-top plantation, and being home to the University of Virginia, it is no wonder that tourists flee to this charming town to explore all the great things that Charlottesville has to offer. Other historical landmarks include Jefferson's mansion and James Monroe's home. The Shemamdoah National Park, encompassing part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and orchards, is close to the buzzing downtown square. The Miche Tavern that uses only 18th-century recipes and is modeled after a 1784 eatery is also a must-stop. 

Covington, Louisiana

Ghost Bike Memorial in Covington.

Covington is the prime spot to visit for the authentic Cajun experience of the Northshore community lifestyle. Founded in in 1813, today, the streets of this old and humble town are lined with some of the most charming tree-shaded cottages of the state, calling to wonder at during the explorative walk of the town. Set between the Bogue Falaya and the Tchefuncte Rivers and across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, there is plenty of water fun to engage in during the summer months and as ice-skating in wintertime. The top spots include the Abita Brewing Company and the Café Du Monde for some night and day pastime opportunities. The latter offers some of the most amazing beignets in the region.

Dahlonega, Georgia

Displays of haybales with pumpkins and potted mums add seasonal color to the public square in front of the Dahlonega Gold Museum, in the Old Lumpkin Courthouse. Editorial credit: Jen Wolf /

Voted by many as the most charming town of the south, Dahlonega's prosperity began with the gold rush of 1828, when it became a booming center of activity just about overnight. Even its poetically mysterious name comes from the Cherokee word for yellow or gold. Today, one can go panning for gold at the Crisson Gold Mine, or visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum. Thriving on winemaking there are a number of wineries and vineyards in the vicinity, while its foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains location offers charming townscape inclusive with an array of waterfalls and rugged mountains vistas. A scenic drive along the Lumpkin-Union Loop and a Cane Creek Falls hike would complete an atmospheric outing. 

Guthrie, Oklahoma

Sunny view of the Honor Park in old town of Guthrie
Sunny view of the Honor Park in old town of Guthrie. Editorial credit: Kit Leong /

This Sooner State town offers some of the best shopping and dining experiences in its historic Victorian-era downtown known as the largest contiguous Historic Preservation District of the United States. The town was also the first unofficial territorial capital upon getting settled by caravans back into a heyday of American history. The neighboring Oklahoma City got the claim as the state's capital in 1910.

Helen, Georgia 

Helen, Georgia
Helen, Georgia. Editorial credit: Sean Pavone /

This mountain town is modeled after a Bavarian-style village, whose buildings look like they come straight from the center-west of the historic continent, inclusive of a yearly Oktoberfest and the authentically-styled Wendy's. The vineyards are reminiscent of the Italian countryside. The lake and the nearby Chattahoochee National Forest are perfect for hiking enthusiasts and explorers to stumble upon the Anna Ruby and Raven Cliff waterfalls. Just in the town's vicinity, there are also the Smithgall Woods State Park with thousands of acres of hiking trails and a river for fishing and the Dukes Creek.

Ponchatoula, Louisiana

The town of Ponchatoula is known and loved by many, especially for its strawberry-yielding properties, where people revolve their lives around this delectable red fruit. A famous Strawberry Festival commences in the spring, while the market takes place every day. The town is also known for its unhurried pace, warm-hearted locals, the vintage goods, including handmade crafts and rare items found at the Ponchatoula Country Market, and the historically marvelous streets.

Manteo, North Carolina

View of the town of Manteo's waterfront marina at daybreak in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
View of the town of Manteo's waterfront marina at daybreak in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

The community of Manteo in North Carolina knows that they have it all, presenting everything in the most charming way possible, from a manicured coastal location to a pristine historic square, to the postcard-perfect lighthouse. Being the birthplace of English colonization, Manteo is also the best place to learn about the nation's history. Furthermore, it hosts Roanoke Island, a hidden gem of a landmark loved by many for its mystic legends. Other hotspots include the Elizabethan Gardens and the Kill Devil Hills Rum distillery that offers guided tours.

Rugby, Texas

Rugby is a unique place of the South that was founded by an English writer Thomas Hughes, as an experimental utopian community in 1880. The town features well-preserved Victorian architecture that oozes with the idealism idea back in the day, more precisely known as the Christian socialist ideals upon which Rugby was founded. Today, what was meant to be an experimental utopian colony is one of the most atmospheric places to visit in the whole of the United States, just for the experience of reminiscing along its streets, lined with some of the original homes, as well as a gothic church and library.

Marietta, Georgia 

Aerial View of the Atlanta Suburb of Marietta, Georgia
Aerial View of the Atlanta Suburb of Marietta, Georgia.

As a quaint southern town, Marietta has a lot going for it, including its rich history, with a cotton warehouse back in 1845, which is now the Marietta Museum of History. Another popular museum, especially loved by the literature fans, is the Gone with the Wind Museum, exuding some of the most southern charms and taking one to the olden days of running through the grass fields. Along with the many hiking trails, the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts to explore and history fanatics to indulge. The Marietta Square is filled with local boutiques and cafes, with a nearby water park, while the autumn season rewards this town more than any other in the whole state with the fall foliage colors.

New Bern, North Carolina

Aerial view of New Bern, North Carolina.

This town was made legendary recently, upon enduring and thriving through two hurricanes, with Hurricane Florence hitting New Bern in 2018 and Hurricane Dorian the following year. Set where the Neuse and Trent Rivers converge, New Bern is respected greatly for many other reasons. It is one of the best summertime getaways and home to the legendary Tryon Palace and gardens, which is North Carolina's first permanent capital. The town is also the setting to the Bradham's Drug Store, known as the birthplace of the giant brand of Pepsi-Cola soda. 

Exploring the South's scenic beauty, replete with common mountain vistas and waterfronts, all in the vicinity of the atmospheric hearts of these towns, make for an unforgettable getaway into this corner of the nation.

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