Street view of the Main Strip in Key West, Florida. Image credit EB Adventure Photography via Shutterstock

The Best Small Towns in the Southern United States for a Weekend Retreat

If you are looking for a sign to escape your daily routine and venture on a path unknown, then let this be it. Jumpstart your plans for a weekend retreat and map out must-see destinations in the Southern United States. So, pack up some sunscreen, swim attire, and maybe even your hiking boots because there is no shortage of exciting attractions in these small towns across the Southern United States.

Ennis, Texas

Bluebonnet Trail Barn Near Ennis, Texas
Bluebonnet Trail Barn Near Ennis, Texas.

Situated just outside the ever-growing city of Dallas, lies a small Texas town that embodies what people often envision when thinking of the Lonestar state. It’s home to some amazing history, southern charm, and friendly locals who enjoy striking up a conversation.

March through the historic downtown district known for its magnificent flowerbeds that showcase the state's flowers in full bloom. Check local calendars, as the downtown district also hosts special events such as the Bluebonnet Trails Festival and the National Polka Festival.

If the Texas heat proves too much, head to Lake Bardwell to cool off at one of the prominent swimming locations within the reservoir. Afterward, relax and enjoy air conditioning while lounging in your room at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Ennis, which is a popular stay for visitors.

Lockhart, Texas

Lockhart Courthouse from an aerial perspective.
Overlooking the Lockhart Courthouse, in Lockhart, Texas. Image credit Jo Hunter via Shutterstock

You are going to want to bring two main things on your trip to Lockhart, the first one is your appetite and the second is extra napkins. Lockhart is known as "The Barbecue Capital of Texas" and features delicious restaurants such as Terry Black’s Barbeque, attracting food connoisseurs from across the globe. After a delicious feast, take a siesta in the comfort of your room at the unique B&B named "The Last House on Church Street."

Burn off that barbeque by hiking the trails at Lockhart State Park. The park has much more offerings than scenic hiking trails, the park also features its very own golf course and swimming hole and is the perfect place to spend a day outdoors. After, see the view from behind bars at the former county jail, which now houses the Caldwell County Museum and showcases the region's heritage.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Image credit shuttersv via

Hiding in the scenic beauty of the Ozark Mountain range, Eureka Springs has managed to preserve some of the most impressive Victorian architecture in America. Stay at the historic Grand Central Hotel, which is situated in the downtown district. The hotel resembles something straight out of a Western film with its rustic charm.

Named after the popular hot springs that lay throughout the town, visitors must venture into Grotto Spring Cave to witness the crystal blue water of the natural wonder. After, visit one of the grandest small-town art studios in the region. The Statton Gallery is known for having creative exhibits that change seasonally and showcase the talent of the local artists. If this isn’t enough art for you, then head on a journey down the Arkansas Art Trail, which begins in Eureka Springs and takes several days to explore as you travel throughout the state.

Be sure to save time for adventure, to witness the raw power of nature, and hike up to the Sweden Creek Falls, which features a scenic waterfall at the end.

Broken Bow, Oklahoma

Camping site in Broken Bow Lake near the town of Broken Brow, Oklahoma.
Camping site in Broken Bow Lake near the town of Broken Brow, Oklahoma.

Located in the heart of the vast expanse of the Great Plains, Broken Bow is filled with outdoor adventures, and wild west histories and influenced by rich Native American cultures who were the original settlers of this harsh environment.

As the sun shines on this Oklahoma town, the best place to be is relaxing on the shores of Broken Bow Lake. The lake is an ideal spot to escape civilization and relax in the pristine nature surrounding the town. Fortunately, there are also cabins available on the lake, so be sure to reserve one with Sundown Cabin Co. before visiting, as they are highly sought after.

Explore the history of the town’s Native American culture with a visit to the Gardner Mansion & Museum, which is now housed in the house of the former Chief of the Choctaw tribe. If you want to see the unique relationship between art and history, then a visit to the Beaver's Bend State Park Forest Heritage Center is a must, as it is home to some spectacular wood carvings that will leave you in awe.

Tupelo, Mississippi

Tupelo, Mississippi: Elvis Presley Statue with City Hall in the background.
Tupelo, Mississippi: Elvis Presley Statue with City Hall in the background. Image credit Chad Robertson Media via Shutterstock

You are going to want to bring your dancing shoes as this town is commonly known as the “Birthplace of Rock & Roll." Tupelo is the birthplace of one of America’s most influential music artists, Elvis Presley. Musical fanatics have been flocking to the Mississippi town to visit popular attractions like the Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum.

But, musical history is not all the town has going for it, there is a fascinating history that extends far beyond the king such as the Tupelo National Battlefield which was once the setting of a gruesome battle during the Civil War. The Oren Dunn City Museum offers an immersive perspective when examining the town’s history.

For family fun, head over to the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo and watch the majestic creatures roam about. There are plenty of places for a good night's rest in town as well, Hotel Tupelo is the perfect location as it is central to the downtown core.

Key West, Florida

Key West famous Duval street view, south Florida Keys, United states of America
Duval Street in Key West, Florida.

If you are searching for somewhere to spend a weekend in the sun, Key West should sit atop your list. Situated at the tip of the Florida peninsula, the town is the southernmost settlement in the United States.

Key West is known for its world-class beaches, so put your toes in the sand as you secure a prime location at Simonton Street Beach. After soaking up some vitamin D, reward yourself with a town delicacy, and have a slice of Key Lime Pie from the renowned Key Lime Pie Bakery. You can even explore maritime history, stroll through galleries, and exhibits at the Shipwreck Treasures of the Keys museum, or see the ocean’s most majestical creatures at the Key West Aquarium.

Although lodging tends to be a little pricier, staying in Key West is well worth the extra dollars. So choose from delightful stays such as the Ocean Key Resort and Spa and wake up to beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico.

Williamsburg, Virginia

An actor playing Benedict Arnold, with crowd in attendance, at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.
An actor playing Benedict Arnold, with crowd in attendance, at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Image credit Michael Gordon via Shutterstock

This historic Virginia town is the perfect place for those who want to explore what life was like during the early years of America. The town has even earned the unofficial nickname as the largest living museum in America. Book a room in the historic Williamsburg Lodge to enjoy the colonial ambiance that this antique hotel offers.

Start your visit by experiencing the designated historic tour walk down the Duke of Gloucester Street, and learn about the importance of certain buildings and the historical figures who once lived there. You can even visit one of the first settlements in America. Head over to the former English colony of Jamestown, and tour through various artifacts and a reconstructed layout of what the fort would have looked like for America’s earliest settlers.

For visitors seeking to explore the outdoors in the Chesapeake Bay region. The town is located beside Waller Mill Park which provides an opportunity for visitors to hike scenic trails or even rent a kayak to breeze through the calm waters of the lake.

Beaufort, South Carolina

Beautiful antebellum house in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Beautiful antebellum house in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Situated among the shattered landmass of the South Carolina coastline, Beaufort offers the unique opportunity for Atlantic Ocean access while not being situated directly on the shoreline. This allows for calm bays that are ideal for aquatic activities.

The town is host to plenty of exciting festivals that are known for attracting plenty of visitors. Check local calendars before visiting because you do not want to miss exciting events such as the annual Beaufort Waterfest. Fill your itinerary with exciting attractions throughout the town, from historical landmarks such as the Beaufort National Cemetery to experiences like the Beaufort History Museum.

Before enjoying a well-deserved night's rest at the historic Rhett House Inn, hit the town and try the freshest seafood along the East Coast. Reserve a table at the Old Bull Tavern to enjoy a delicious meal in the downtown core of Beaufort.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Harbor Town, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Harbor Town, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Located just across the Port Royal Sound Bay is America’s favorite island. Hilton Head Island features the perfect mix of history, outdoor adventure, and opportunities for relaxation.

If your objective for your vacation is to sit back, listen to the waves of the ocean, and soak up the sun, then the island has you covered. Visitors can choose from a long list of beaches, such as Burkes Beach, Islanders Beach, and Folly Field Beach. If the beach isn’t your forte, walk along the boardwalk at Coligny Beach Park and enjoy the same beautiful views without dumping the sand from your pockets.

The coastal waters around the island are abundant with marine life. Schedule a sunset Dolphin cruise for the opportunity to witness soaring dolphins as the sun begins to set on the beautiful landscape. When the sun goes down, reserve a table at the Old Oyster Factory to dine on delicious seafood delicacies before heading to your cozy room at the Carolina Club resort located just a short walk away.

Toccoa, Georgia

The spectacular Toccoa Falls, Georgia.
The spectacular Toccoa Falls, Georgia.

Sitting at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies an interesting town waiting to charm you with its southern hospitality and natural beauty. Toccoa is named after the Cherokee word for "beautiful" and a visit will have you understanding why.

Start your visit outside, and hike to the towering free-falling waterfall known as Toccoa Falls. Hike along the wooded trails until you emerge, standing beneath the looming 186-foot-tall waterfall that has been a staple image of the town since its establishment.

Explore America’s Military might at the Currahee Military Museum, where you can learn about the town's significant role in World War II as the home of the famous Band of Brothers at Camp Toccoa. There is no better way to end a day in Toccoa than relaxing in luxury, so check in to the Simmons-Bond Inn Bed & Breakfast with historic elegance and modern amenities.

Whether exploring America’s earliest tales in Williamsburg, or relaxing along the shoreline in Key West, these small southern towns are sure to fill up your weekend retreat itinerary. So, forego the long lines of tourists at popular vacation destinations and gain a whole new sense of exploration by planning a visit to these exciting southern towns.

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