Aerial view of the Fairhope, Alabama.

7 Breathtaking Towns To Visit In The Southern United States

"The South" is a fairly broad title for the far southeastern region of the United States, including states like Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, parts of Florida, and more. Hot, humid weather, delicious cuisines like BBQ and Soul food, and perhaps darker images, like the rebellious Confederacy, may come to mind. Small towns full of charm might also remind you of the South, given that it is less populated and has a smaller economy than its northeastern counterpart.

However, what should definitely be known about this region is the sheer amount of breathtaking sights that can be found here. Whether natural, historical, or cultural, there is something here for everyone, exemplified in these seven towns.

Beaufort, South Carolina

Aerial view of Beaufort, South Carolina
Aerial view of Beaufort, South Carolina.

Beaufort is a true southern splendor located on scenic Port Royal Island (part of the "Sea Islands") on the south Atlantic coast. Its long history dates back to its founding in 1711 and is known for its antebellum architecture on full display. The town's historic downtown district has been carefully preserved, allowing you to walk around and take pictures of the many grand homes with classic Southern details like large porches and lush gardens.

Beaufort's downtown also has several sights to see besides the old buildings. The Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park provides views of the Beaufort River and opportunities to have an afternoon picnic by the water. Kayaking and boat tours are popular activities here, with rentals and boat purchases available at nearby outfitter Higher Ground. Be sure to also venture to nearby Hunting Island State Park for a quiet walk on the beach and perhaps a picture of the lighthouse at sunset.

Beaufort also has strong cultural ties, hosting events like the Beaufort Water Festival and the Shrimp Festival, with its local traditions and cuisine on full display.

Fairhope, Alabama

Aerial view of Fairhope, Alabama.

Fairhope sits on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay and is known for being a smaller alternative to visiting the much larger city of Mobile nearby. Things to do in Fairhope include visiting the local bluffs that offer amazing views of the bay and the Fairhope Municipal Pier, a popular spot for fishing or a simple walk along its extensive paths.

The downtown area is lively, with various shops, restaurants, and galleries like the Stained Glass Gallery and the Eastern Shore Arts Center. In fact, Fairhope has a reputation for its commitment to the arts, with events like the annual Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival drawing visitors from across the region.

Parks and public spaces here are well-maintained, adding to its reputation as a place to enjoy the beautiful southern weather. The nearby Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve provides opportunities for nature exploration, with trails and boardwalks through coastal wetlands. Fairhope's blend of artistic expression, waterfront beauty, and community spirit makes it a delightful place for a mix of activities and scenic views.

Natchez, Mississippi

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

Natchez is a town perfect for any enthusiast of Southern history. It is known for its antebellum homes and other historical landmarks. It is situated on the Mississippi River and offers sweeping river views for nature enthusiasts alike.

Over a dozen historic homes in Natchez are open for tours, allowing visitors to step back in time and learn about life in the 19th century and beyond. Much of the downtown area has been recently revitalized, with a mix of commercial spaces now occupying many old buildings, breathing new life into them. Natchez's connection to the mighty Mississippi River is evident in its many riverfront parks and walking trails. Notably, the Natchez National Historical Park, which encompasses the town's core, offers tours and plaques signifying historic landmarks.

Events like the Natchez Spring Pilgrimage, where expert local guides showcase historic homes, must be seen by anyone interested in the history of this place. The Great Mississippi River Balloon Race, which adds a colorful spectacle to the autumn sky when it is held, is also worth bringing the kids to experience.

Fredericksburg, Texas

The Main Street in Frederiksburg, Texas
The Main Street in Fredericksburg, Texas. Editorial credit: ShengYing Lin /

Fredericksburg combines German-American heritage with the robust culture of Texas in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. Founded by German immigrants in 1846, this town still maintains its strong German roots. This feature can be seen in events like Oktoberfest and some of the town's German-style buildings. It is also highly recommended to see the National Museum of the Pacific War, which chronicles the Pacific Theater during World War II, adding a unique historical aspect to your visit.

Restaurants serving both traditional German fare and Texas barbecue can be found here at places like the Rathskeller Bistro, and grab some delicious locally brewed German-style beer at Aldorf Biergarten. Fredericksburg is also known for its thriving wine industry, with numerous wineries and vineyards in the surrounding area. Down East Main Street, you can sample local wines from the likes of Becker Vineyards, Perspective Cellars, and others at their respective tasting rooms.

For something to do outside, drive to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, where rock climbing is available to the top of the massive granite dome, along with several hiking trails and picnic areas.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Historic downtown of Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Historic downtown of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Editorial credit: Rachael Martin /

Eureka Springs, seated in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, is known for both its Victorian-era architecture and proximity to top-notch (and under-visited) natural areas. The town also has a distinctive character, with its unique windy roads and abundance of pedestrian staircases throughout. When you see how hilly the land Eureka Spirns sits on is, this exciting layout will make a lot of sense; just be sure to bring comfortable shoes!

Eureka Springs is home to many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, like the majestic Crescent Hotel (which is open for patrons) and the Thorncrown Chapel. You can book a ride on the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway, a train journey that can give you a broad tour of the town. Want to catch a show? The Great Passion Play, an outdoor theatrical production, is another popular attraction that draws visitors from afar.

Eureka Springs is surrounded by the forested hills of the Ozarks, with the nearby Ozark National Forest offering trails for hiking and biking. Additionally, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary for big cats and other exotic animals, is a short drive away.

Dahlonega, Georgia

Aerial view of the Dahlonega Gold Museum in Dahlonega, Georgia.
Aerial view of the Dahlonega Gold Museum in Dahlonega, Georgia. Editorial credit: Kyle J Little /

Dahlonega is famous for being the site of the first major U.S. gold rush in 1828. This legacy is celebrated at the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site, where you can learn about this mining history in further detail. Tours can be taken in a real gold mine just across town at the Consolidated Gold Mine.

The downtown square is the heart of Dahlonega, which contains many great local shops, eateries, and tasting rooms for the wines grown in this ideal wine-growing region in Georgia. Try out the tasting room at Naturally Georgia. Dahlonega's location in the North Georgia mountains also makes it a gateway to numerous parks and wildlands, with the Appalachian Trail, most notably, starting close by.

There are a few fun festivals throughout the year in Dahlonega, including Bear on the Square, which celebrates bluegrass music along with other facets of southern culture, and Gold Rush Days, a nod to this town's historic roots in mining.

Blue Ridge, Georgia

Downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia.
Downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia. Image credit: Harrison Keely via Wikimedia Commons.

Blue Ridge is a small town that serves many as a launching to the Blue Ridge Mountains, a breathtaking east-coast mountain range. To get a better view of these mountains without having to hike them yourself, The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is a popular attraction that provides all with train rides along the Toccoa River through the lush North Georgia landscape. For something more active, you can easily access and explore the surrounding Chattahoochee National Forest and Chattahoochee River, which has hiking and biking trails and many great spots to fish and kayak. The nearby Blue Ridge Lake is also perfect for boating and swimming during the summer months.

Blue Ridge is also popular for its robust artistic community, which is evident in events like the annual Arts in the Park festival, which attracts artists from all across the region.

See The Beauty of the South

The American South is truly a place that must be seen and believed. Whether it is hiking, a culinary adventure, or a simple stroll through historic neighborhoods, these towns within this storied region have something for everyone. From the antebellum architecture of Beaufort to the German heritage of Fredericksburg and the mountain landscapes of Blue Ridge, you can't go wrong in choosing this region for an extended road trip. Explore them today and see what other gems you can uncover on your journey.

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