The charming town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Editorial credit: Miro Vrlik Photography /

2024's 7 Most Adorable Small Towns In The Southern United States

The Southern United States is known for its warm hospitality, rich history, and natural beauty. The region’s small towns offer a unique glimpse into the country’s past, including the Civil War history in Beaufort, South Carolina, and the rich Indigenous heritage in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. From strolling along cobblestone streets in Natchitoches, Louisiana, to enjoying the beaches in St. Augustine, Florida, the Southern United States is also home to picturesque small towns worth visiting in 2024. Whether exploring the French Quarter in Fairhope, Alabama, or enjoying the Natchez Food & Wine Festival in Natchez, Mississippi, there are several adorable small towns in the Southern United States.

Fairhope, Alabama

Aerial view of Fairhope, Alabama.
Aerial view of Fairhope, Alabama.

Nestled on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay in Alabama, Fairhope is one of the best southern towns to visit in 2024 due to its scenic beauty and vibrant arts community. The seaside town has an adorable downtown with local shops, delicious eateries, and the Fairhope Museum of History, where visitors can learn more about the town’s past. The downtown area also comes to life in Fairhope’s French Quarter, showcasing the town’s French heritage with live jazz music and a cobblestone courtyard. For cinephiles, the area boasts the annual Fairhope Film Festival, showcasing movies and shorts at several local businesses in the historic downtown.

Along with its charming downtown, Fairhope offers several outdoor adventures. Anglers can cast their line anytime into Mobile Bay along Fairhope Municipal Pier, while nature lovers enjoy the breathtaking views at sunset. Fairhope’s shoreline is also home to North Beach Park and South Beach Park, where visitors can soak up the sun in the summer or walk along picturesque trails any time of the year.

St. Augustine, Florida

Aerial view of St. Augustine, Florida.
Aerial view of St. Augustine, Florida.

The oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the continental United States, founded in 1565, St. Augustine, Florida, is one of the most adorable southern towns that blends history and charm. Visitors can stroll along cobblestone streets or take a horse-drawn carriage ride to view historic Spanish colonial architecture downtown, including the opulent Lightner Museum, a Spanish Renaissance Revival style building from 1888. The museum showcases several art exhibits throughout the year, as well as a unique look at the town’s architecture and history. After visiting the museum and strolling the brick-lined streets, enjoy a bite to eat at the Floridian, known for its Southern comfort food with a contemporary twist.

A trip to St. Augustine must include a visit to the historic Castillo de San Marcos. The 17th-century fortress stands proudly by the waterfront, offering panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and a glimpse into the past as the oldest masonry fort in the country. More history can be discovered at the Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. In 2024, the park will showcase reenactments of the Spaniards arriving on the shores of the Nombre de Dios during Founder’s Day on September 7, 2024.

Natchez, Mississippi

View of the historic Main Street in Natchez, Mississippi
View of the historic Main Street in Natchez, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Nina Alizada /

Perched on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, Natchez, Mississippi, is a great town to visit for those who enjoy exploring southern history and culture. From July 26-27, 2024, visitors can enjoy one of the most anticipated culinary festivals in the state, the Natchez Food & Wine Festival. The event occurs in the historic downtown, in several restored pre-Civil War antebellum homes. Throughout the year, history buffs can tour these mansions. Longwood, the nation's largest octagonal antebellum home, and the Rosalie Mansion, a stunning example of Early Classical Revival architecture, are just a few of the mansions worth viewing. History is also on display at the Natchez National Historical Park, where sites from the 1700s to the 1900s stand along the Mississippi River, offering a window into the region's rich heritage.

Beyond its southern culture, Natchez offers incredible natural beauty and outdoor activities. Take a scenic drive along the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile route stretching from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. This breathtaking parkway boasts stunning landscapes and offers opportunities for hiking and biking amidst the region's beauty. Outdoor enthusiasts can also kayak or canoe in the Mississippi River or enjoy boating, hiking, and camping in Natchez Trace State Park.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Aerial view of Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Aerial view of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, the small town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is a picturesque mountain town that offers a gateway to adventure in 2024. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the US. Hike through ancient forests, discover cascading waterfalls, and learn about the area's rich Cherokee heritage nearby at the Museum of the Cherokee Indians. More outdoor activities await at Anakeesta, a mountaintop adventure park with thrilling zip lines, a scenic Treetop Skywalk, and a heart-pounding mountain coaster. For those looking for a more relaxing nature view, take in panoramic vistas from the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park or the Gatlinburg Space Needle.

Beyond the great outdoors, Gatlinburg offers a variety of family-friendly indoor activities. Explore the underwater world at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies or visit the Hollywood Star Car Museum, showcasing iconic vehicles from Hollywood films and TV shows. For art lovers, visit the adorable town of Gatlinburg, stop by the Peddler Steakhouse, which has been serving mouthwatering steaks since 1976.

Natchitoches, Louisiana

A beautiful park in Natchitoches, Louisiana
A beautiful park in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

As Louisiana’s oldest town, Natchitoches is celebrating its 310th anniversary in 2024, making it one of the best southern towns to visit. History buffs can travel back in time to Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site, a replica 1716 fort showcasing French-Canadian heritage that offers tours, programs, and reenactments. For a modern twist on history, visit the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, which will induct the legendary New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees into the 2024 class.

Although Natchitoches provides a great look into the past, the town is also known for its incredible natural scenery. Kayak or paddle in the scenic Cane River along the town's riverfront, or step deeper into nature's beauty at the Kisatchie National Forest with pine forests, scenic byways, and bayous. For a unique experience, explore the Natchitoches Film Trail, which showcases 17 locations where the movie Steel Magnolias was filmed in town. Visitors can also stroll along the picturesque historic downtown, lined with French Creole-style buildings. The area is also home to the oldest business in town, the Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile, founded in 1863.

Beaufort, South Carolina

Scenic view of Woods Memorial Bridge in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Scenic view of Woods Memorial Bridge in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Steeped in Southern charm and coastal beauty, Beaufort, South Carolina, is a must-visit destination in the South in 2024. Visit the southern town’s streets lined with ancient live oaks draped in Spanish moss while exploring antebellum architecture. Step back in time and learn about the area’s history at the Beaufort History Museum, located inside the 18th-century Beaufort Arsenal. History buffs can learn how Beaufort played a pivotal role in the Civil War, with Union troops using grand mansions as hospitals. More history is on display at the 18th-century Thomas Hepworth House, Beaufort's oldest residence.

With its seaside location, the charming town of Beaufort is also known for its coastal heritage and delicious seafood. On October 4 and 5, 2024, enjoy the town’s 30th annual Beaufort Shrimp Festival, featuring low-country style shrimp, live music, and local artwork. The coastal town also offers exciting dolphin-watching tours and breathtaking sunset cruises. Outdoor enthusiasts can also soak in the beauty of the surrounding waterways by kayaking or paddle boarding in the calm waters that border the Atlantic Ocean.

Black Mountain, North Carolina

summer day in the small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina
A summer day in the small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina. Editorial credit: Derek Olson Photography /

Located within the majestic Black Mountains, a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, is the town of Black Mountain, North Carolina, a charming escape in 2024. The town is just a 25-minute drive from Asheville, blending history, nature, and a vibrant arts scene. Black Mountain offers a glimpse into the past at the Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center. Housed in the historic 1921 Fire House, the museum showcases local exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of the region. Nearby, history buffs and art enthusiasts alike can explore the town's art community at the Old Depot Arts and Crafts Gallery, housed in the town's own historic depot from 1909. On October 26, 2024, the gallery will host the annual Black Mountain Old Depot Art by the Tracks, featuring more than 50 regional artists and musicians.

The adorable town of Black Mountain is also a paradise for nature lovers. Nature enthusiasts can explore the town's River Loop Trail along the Swannanoa River, which leads directly to the downtown area. Another tranquil spot to hike is along the scenic Lake Tomahawk loop, with breathtaking views of the Seven Sisters mountain range.

Southern Towns To Visit In 2024

These seven adorable towns in the South are the best places to explore the region’s history, natural beauty, and welcoming communities. For those wanting to explore the great outdoors in Black Mountain, North Carolina, or the coastal town of St. Augustine, Florida, these southern towns are worth visiting. Whether strolling along historic streets in Natchitoches, Louisiana, enjoying stunning landscapes in Beaufort, South Carolina, or participating in local festivals, such as the annual Fairhope Film Festival, these towns provide the perfect getaway in 2024.

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