The United States is commonly broken into regions comprising nearby states that share common geography, culture, and even similar economies, which makes for easy adjustment when traveling across borders. Thinking in regional terms is like digging deeper for new insights and ways to experience parts of the US. The "Mid-South" contains sections of the northern part of the South and the southern part of the Midwest, where Nashville is considered the capital of this unofficial region.
Visit the Mid-South, with southern influences that are distinct from the Deep South, while the mountains, wine country, and Appalachian Trail offer romance and adventures. Choose from one of these towns to chill out with a distinct regional vibe and a different personality from one to the next. From coastal beaches to mountainous enclaves, you will find rich Mid-South history, various cultures, and diverse landscapes.
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
This quaint seaside town on the Mississippi coast is among the top places to live and a must-visit when in the state. Bay St. Louis is a real oasis with refreshing nature that continuously inspires all kinds of creative minds. Find your own way to chill on a getaway with local and historic attractions like quirky shopping and art galleries downtown, antiquing, and those white-sanded, pet-friendly beaches with low crowds even during the season. There is ample leisure to indulge guilt-free in delicious dining options like seafood with a southern flair.
Enjoy scenic strolls, golfing, or charter fishing, followed by a lobster roll from Thorny Oyster and chill times at Daiquiri Shak, which serves over a dozen different hoppy flavors. Hustle and bustle are not part of the town's vocabulary, but splendid nature is, in fact, all around this slice of Mississippi Sound, an embayment of the Gulf of Mexico. Just 51 miles away from New Orleans, Bay St. Louis is your ticket to a chill getaway or a full-blown vacation that will leave lasting impressions.
Dahlonega, nestled in the heart of the state's wine country in the mountains of North Georgia, will chill anyone out. Enjoy this authentic mountain getaway just an hour north of Atlanta, with its rich history as the first major Gold Rush town in the US. The postcard town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is surrounded by bubbling streams and wineries to waste away the days and return to the entertainment abounding in the evening. Chase some of the over 120 waterfalls in the region or head to the closest for a refreshing picnic by the roaring cascade. The beautiful downtown, on the Historic Register, teems with vintage sights from Native American, Gold Rush, and Civil War history.
Dahlonega's every sight and experience really is "Pure Pold," with attractions like live music, theater, and other fine arts performances. Peruse galleries and shop your heart out at one-of-a-kind boutiques for unique home items and souvenirs, including a bottle of Georgia wine to share upon return. Enjoy hiking trails and world-class cycling paths and visit Mother Nature at the Chattahoochee National Forest. Drive the scenic Appalachian Trail, but don't leave without picking your own fruit at nearby orchards, and come back for the most cheerful holiday time during the famous Christmas markets.
The small town of Easton, along Maryland’s, you guessed it, eastern shore, is a lovely coastal enclave with historic sights, performing arts, and a culinary scene like no other around. Just 90 minutes from Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Easton bursts with old architectural marvels and hosts many popular events and festivals, like the renowned Chesapeake Film Festival and Waterfowl Festival. Join the locals at First Friday Gallery Walks and take an art stroll with attractions like the Academy Art Museum, Avalon Theatre, and Third Haven Meeting House.
The newest park along the Tuckahoe River offers nature on the doorstep as a summertime destination for locals. Enjoy waterside recreation, strolls, and picnics in nature, and learn about how the park is dedicated to Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist born in Easton just over two centuries ago. Enjoy family time in July while seeing vintage agricultural and industrial machinery, tractor pulls, and other down-to-earth events, and choose the waterfront Robert Morris Inn just a few miles away for an atmospheric stay.
The little town, with a claim to fame for its very giving spirit during the apple picking season, is also not too shabby in the outdoors department, at the bounds of the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and Springer Mountain. Ellijay is a cool place for a year-round chill with a wonderful downtown area with delights for everyone, including quaint shops and restaurants.
Enjoy hikes for all levels and thrilling AT ventures through the wooded foothills, and return to chill in a cozy pub or bar in the evening. Reserve a shopping day at Mountain Treasures for adorable clothing and at Ellijay Winery with a sample selection of wines from Cartecay Vineyards. Spend a day waterside by the serene Carter’s Lake with pontoon boat rides and a marina, as well as a 62-mile natural shoreline, a joy on a stroll.
Chill in a classic country mountain small town setting in Gatlinburg, right in the heart of the Smoky Mountain range in eastern Tennessee. Gaitlinsburg also reserves a spot along the famed Appalachian Trail for joyous ventures of every level and longevity, while the town eagerly awaits your return. There is a reason why this charming mountain town, the "gateway to the Smoky Mountains" in Sevier County, attracts some 12 million visitors each year.
With just over 4,000 residents, you can immerse yourself in a chill getaway with a choice of pursuits in a serene environment with your favorite people. There is something for everyone, from great shopping, museums, and a massive aquarium to the gorgeous outdoors with plenty of adventurous activities through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, like chasing waterfalls and mountain coasters. Find regular events and seasonal celebrations like chili cook-offs and the legendary Winterfest.
Chill in a European Alpine village in your own backyard when you visit the small town of Helen, in north Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Complete with cobblestone streets, Bavarian architecture, and authentic attractions with cuisine, you can spend days in endless wanderings around colorful buildings with gingerbread trim. Visit in the fall for the grand Oktoberfest, when Americana style and European vibe unite in a cultural dance. The nearby Unicoi State Park features a thrilling zip line, while the Chattahoochee calls for tubing adventures.
There is also the Water Park and the Georgia Mountain Coaster, a must-experience flight over alpine scenery. Helen hosts plentiful German-inspired diners and cultural shopping at many boutiques, local shops, and the quintessential Christkindlmarkt during the holidays. Choose a B&B or a hotel like Valhalla Resort Hotel, a few minutes from Helen, with breathtaking mountain views. Have some ice cream at Hofer’s Bakery and Café and pick up a lovely treat for your friends back home before jumping on the road.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Head to Hilton Head Island, the best island destination in the Mid-South and "one of" in the whole nation, to catch your chill vibes with open sea views. This small town boasts beautiful beaches, world-class golf, and exceptional cuisine to chill affordably and in style. Enjoy easy access of just 45 minutes from Savannah and Beaufort and chill out from the fresh-faced sunrise to the spectacular sunset, cherishing every moment in between on this magical island. The boot-shaped sea island is a favorite among water sports enthusiasts, with fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking, jet skiing, and cruises into the deep blue replete with wildlife.
Enjoy the remote island feel complete with a Disney Vacation Club Resort, nature trails through the heartland, and a stunning array of marine life like dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles, and manatees. Visit the interesting Coastal Discovery Museum on regional biodiversity and venture to the refreshing Coligny Beach Park for strolls, waterside recreation, and lounging under the sun in soft sand. Spot the scenic Harbour Town Lighthouse and climb its levels with a theme from South Carolina’s vibrant heritage before hitting the historic downtown with sights, top restaurants, wineries, and breweries.
New Bern, North Carolina
Since its founding in 1710, New Bern has had a vibrant history as the state's second-oldest town. Named after Bern in Switzerland, the home of its first settlers, you can still feel the Swiss and German influence in the air and through the sights. Bern is the old Germanic word for "bear," which was the first animal they saw and is now the symbol of both cities. Tour the First State Capital of North Carolina, the Tryon Palace, and its gardens, where George Washington once danced. Check out the beautiful Christ Episcopal Church inside and out and the state's first printing press on the corner of Broad Street and Middle Street from 1749. Its resident groundbreaking female photographer, Bayard Wootten, designed the first Pepsi-Cola logo, while Elvis performed here in the 1950s.
There are over 150 sites included in the National Register of Historic Places in this town along the Neuse River, the longest river in North Carolina at 248 miles and the widest river in America at its mouth at 6 miles across. Today, the fun little town is great to explore on a chill getaway from the city. Enjoy riverside strolls, recreation, and summertime water pursuits, or take a hike in the Croatan National Forest. The waterfront destination is the setting for 1996's The Notebook, by resident Nicholas Sparks, the US' first paperback and hardcover bestseller novel for over a year. The walkable downtown, with sights like the very rare four-faced turn-of-the-century Baxter clock on Pollock Street, is lined by shaded homes, centuries-old churches, and cozy places like the Hanna House Bed & Breakfast.
Oxford, the small college town in northern Mississippi just an hour outside of Memphis, bursts at the seams with creativity and cool places to chill. It is home to many musicians, artists, and writers inspired by its rich history, natural beauty, and small-town charm, which in turn makes it the attractive "Cultural Mecca of the South." There is something for everyone to enjoy amid the easy-going atmosphere on a relaxing getaway. Experience unique culture along the lively streets full of art and take a stroll around the University of Mississippi, home to the Ole Miss Rebels.
Oxford is a dream destination to chill for literary fans, with sights such as William Faulkner's estate or the Rowan Oak. Visit the university's museum and seek nature at the town's many great parks, like the wonderful Avent Park or Lamar Park, with a lovely pond for waterside recreation. Enjoy great cuisine at countless local restaurants, like Graduate Oxford restaurants for Southern classics, and shop your heart out at hotspots like the Square Books store.
Travel back in time through historical sights and experience diverse cultures along the cobblestoned streets. Southern Illinois and Indiana, in the mid-South, have more similarities with this region than with the stereotypes of their respective states. This spread offers easy access from your city to chill out in the reinvigorating nature year-round and a southern-inflected culture that will make you feel right at home yet far removed from your daily life.