The Southern United States has long drawn visitors from the north as a means of escape from frigid winter temperatures. Many retired people, affectionately known as “Snow-Birds”, split the year up between their northern and southern homes for a year-round dose of warmer temperatures.
While Florida remains the southern state of choice because if its guaranteed blazing temperatures, there are quaint and peaceful towns scattered all over the south where the heat and humidity are not quite as severe. Many of these towns get passed by in favor of seagulls and pelicans, but if getting sunburned on a beach towel is not someone’s idea of a great time, here are some smaller popular southern towns away from the madding crowds where the people are warm and inviting and there are plenty of things to keep visitors as busy, or as idle, as they desire.
Located in the Texas hill country between Austin and San Antonio, Fredericksburg boasts one of the best natural wildflower displays in the country, a sight which lures in visitors from far and wide. If the wildflowers aren’t what draws someone there, the areas 30 vineyards do. Wine tasting at all of them could easily take a week to accomplish.
In addition, Fredericksburg is a cultural hub for artists of all types and there are no shortages of galleries up and down the town’s rustic main street. Despite its German roots, for foodies, the town has attracted a myriad of professional chef’s specializing in a variety of cuisine, though German food still ranks high on the cities list of favorites. Sidewalk cafes are common and many meals can be enjoyed while being serenaded by Texas troubadours. There are over 80 restaurants from which to choose.
Biking, camping, bird and butterfly watching, an active nightlife, state parks, and an endless array of community activities make Fredericksburg a must visit destination.
The setting for the Award-winning film Steel Magnolias, Natchitoches is the oldest town in Louisiana, founded in 1714 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. This historic city is noted for its many annual events which celebrate its Native American and Creole cultures in the form of food, dance, music, and performances. Busloads of visitors show up for many of the events and a great time is had by all in attendance.
Natchitoches is known as the B&B capital of Louisiana and they offer a true taste of southern hospitality at its finest. The quaint downtown area is where nightly live music can be found. Jazz and Zydeco are among the most popular forms but other styles can be easily located.
Visit Magnolia Plantation where Spanish moss gently sways in the breeze and you might think you’ve stepped onto the set of Louisiana’s version of Gone with the Wind.
Before the Western U.S. saw its rush of gold miners, Dahlonega was where prospectors hacked away in search of the valuable mineral. Once they loaded up their wagons for California, the mountainous woodsy terrain of Dahlonega began attracting visitors in search of an ideal getaway spot. Located only one hour north of Atlanta, the town’s proximity made it an easy destination to get to.
Today, wildlife hikes with jaw-dropping waterfalls, a heaping handful of wineries, shopping, dining, festivals, and a truly relaxing ambiance are what draws thousands of annual visitors to this former mining town.
Live music, theatrical events, art galleries, quaint cafes with gourmet food, shopping, sightseeing. and a general sense of calm awaits those fortunate enough to slap an “I’ve Been to Dahlonega” bumper sticker on their vehicle.
Beaufort, South Carolina
Beaufort has maintained its early southern history in a 304-acre National Landmark District. Stately architecture set between Live Oaks and Magnolias depicts the once aristocratic nature of this city, once a hub for traders, commerce, and wealthy plantation owners.
Coastal Beaufort is home to seaside attractions, golf courses, B&B’s, art galleries, cafes, and restaurants, all set on a smaller scale than some of the South’s major beach towns such as Hilton Head. Penn Center is the first school opened for freed slaves and African-American history is abundant in the area.
Fishing, crabbing, shopping, dining, galleries, historical tours, kayaking, paddleboarding, bicycling, and hiking are but a few of the activities enjoyed by Beaufort’s visitors.
Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Floyd is a popular stop-off destination for travelers. Especially on Friday nights, the town square comes alive with guitars, fiddles, banjos, and dulcimers filling the air with the traditional sounds of bluegrass and mountain music at the weekly open jam.
The Mabry Hill area features a working whiskey distillery, a blacksmith shop, a grist mill and a wheelwright. These are all interactive and guests can try their hand at the way things used to be done prior to modernization.
Art galleries and studios abound and they are quite frequently gathered together in one location so shoppers and browsers can view everything at once. Local fresh food is served in many farm-to-table type restaurants and local activities are always going on somewhere.
A 200-acre outdoor entertainment area called Chantilly Farms is where the towns annual Bluegrass and BBQ festival is held, and Apple Ridge Farm is where zip-lining, high ropes, camping, and other outdoor activities will keep visitors more than entertained.
There are more than enough wineries to keep connoisseurs happy, one that even distills hard cider, and a couple of micro-breweries for beer lovers.
Visitors have choices in places to stay whether it be a swanky hotel, a B&B, a cabin or cottage, an RV site, or a place to pitch a tent. A couple of days spent in Floyd will keep you wondering why you never visited the town sooner.
The Southern United States is full of small quaint towns where visitors are always welcomed with a smile and gracious hospitality in storybook settings. These historical towns are not only at the heart of American history, they’ll provide a wonderful and worthwhile vacation for anyone looking for an atmosphere of charm, coupled with the warmth of the people who call them home.