10 Underrated Getaways In The South, USA

Horse Carriage tour in old Charleston, South Carolina
Horse Carriage tour in old Charleston, South Carolina | © dbimages / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Jaimie Mauvais
9 February 2017

The American South is known for its history, charm, and delectable cuisine and provides a perfect hub for anyone with wanderlust. These travel destinations will impress even the most insatiable traveler.

Natchez, Mississippi

This charming Southern city that resides on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River seems to be frozen in time. Relished as a city that evokes a bygone era, this timeless spot makes for a perfect weekend getaway. The culture, food, and architecture are reflective of the various nations that settled the land in 1716, including Native American, African American, and French. Celebrating its tricentennial this year, the town will inundate its visitors with festivals, various cuisines, and spectacular views. Plus, Natchez is known as the bed and breakfast capital of the South and has been deemed one of the friendliest cities in the U.S. So really, it’s a win-win.

Isle of Capri Casino Hotel riverboat, Lower Natchez city | © Dimitry Bobroff / Alamy Stock Photo

Hillsborough, North Carolina

Hillsborough housed plenty of Revolutionary War soldiers and Indian tribes during the 1700s. However, the town is best known for their Christmas spirit, when local shops and homes light up for the holidays. Their annual tree lighting ceremony, held at the Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce, celebrates local commerce and showcases a festive holiday parade. Check out their beloved book store, Purple Crow Books, or take a stroll through the Hillsborough Riverwalk on a crisp winter day to enjoy the Eno River scenery. For the outdoorsy types, hike along the NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail-which spans 1150 miles- North Carolina’s longest trail, ranging from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. Don’t miss out on taking a guided tour through the Ayr Mount Historic Site, a beautifully preserved Federalist house that lines the Eno River. Take the mile-long “poet’s walk” along the river for added ambiance.

Antique blacksmith shop in Hillsborough | © Jason Pulley / Alamy Stock Photo

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

For the adventure lover, Mammoth Caves National Park outside of Louisville is a perfect fit. Travelers can explore more than 400 miles of underground caves via professional tour guides who provide both geological and historical insights about their surroundings. The dark depths of these caverns can even be enjoyed by parties of one and are family-friendly to boot, with tours ranging in price depending on the length. Since the caves stay at a constant temperature year-round, be sure to take advantage of the off-season winter months — tickets sell out quickly during the spring and summer. Vacationers can shack up at the cozy Mammoth Cave Hotel located nearby, or can make the hour-and-a-half trek from Louisville and Nashville.

Drapery Room Mammoth Cave | © Marc Muench / Alamy Stock Photo

Jekyll Island, Georgia

This oasis truly represents a getaway in the lap of luxury. Once owned by the wealthiest international families, Jekyll Island is now more prominently known for its spans of white sand beaches, quaint neighborhoods, and millionaire’s mansions. For those who crave a more deluxe retreat, visit the Beachview Club Hotel for waterfront dining and entertainment, beachside camping or golfing at the Jekyll Island Golf Club. While these activities may appeal to the finer things in life, the island is focused on preserving its island ecosystem – only 35 percent of the land is developed. If you’ve got kids in tow, check out the Georgie Sea Turtle Center. It researches and educates the public on turtles and even serves as the state’s first turtle rehabilitation center.

Main beach on the east coast, Jekyll Island | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo

Charleston, South Carolina

This Southern town is the perfect getaway spot. Its rich history, Spanish-themed architecture, and charming brick walkways make it perfect place for exploration and relaxation. The Charleston City Market offers a historical southern backdrop to the everyday needed conveniences. Toys, clothing, and souvenirs can be purchased here in one of the many stalls that line the market. If you’re in the mood for something more low-key, soak up the sun on one the Charleston’s famous beaches, including Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, and plenty of others along the white sanded coastline. The beaches are only a day’s trip away from the center of town. Vacationers can enjoy swimming, surfing, sailing and more. If you want to dip into the history, locals recommend The Nathaniel Russell House Museum, most famous for its beautiful spiral staircase and lush gardens. Enjoy shopping and dining in Downtown, or visit the homes featured in The Notebook.

Battery Charleston, South Carolina | © Richard Ellis / Alamy Stock Photo

Savannah, Georgia

Live oak trees, Spanish moss, and vast marshlands punctuate this Southern gem — Savannah has an array of attractions to offer just about anyone. What better way to get familiar with a city than eating your way through it? The Savannah Foodie Tour offers visitors insight into the culture and history of the city via a guided tour filled with delectable dishes. The Olde Pink House, the only 18th-century Georgian mansion in Savannah, is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner and night on the town. Feeling adventurous? Savannah offers a variety of ghost tours, too. As it is named “American’s most haunted city,” the attractions surely won’t disappoint thrill-seekers. The Bonaventure Cemetery and the Mercer House are the most notable of the ghosts tours — these haunted destinations provide all the spooky insight and experience you could want. Be sure to check out the Historic District, dine at City Market, and view the historic ’22 squares’. It is preserved by nature and provides some greenery amid the city’s development.

Old Town Trolley Tours trolley on Bull Street, Savannah, Georgia | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo

Nashville, Tennessee

Commonly known as the ‘Music City’, Nashville is known for its diverse music scene. Honky Tonk Highway is famous for its year-round musical calendar. Live music shows are performed regularly. Nashville is also a sport-lover’s paradise, with the NHL Predators and NFL Titans in town. The food scene is also taking off, so visitors can get their fix of everything from fine dining to traditional, delicious barbecue. This eclectic city offers everything any bachelor party, girls’ weekend, or family getaway could want.

Country Music bars on Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee | © Mira / Alamy Stock Photo

New Orleans, Louisiana

Nightlife, live music, and delectable seafood are the foundations of this famously eclectic city. From the tourist hot spot Bourbon Street to local’s favorite hangouts on Frenchmen Street, there is no shortage of entertainment in New Orleans. Pubs, wineries, live music venues, and restaurants line the busy streets. If nightlife isn’t your scene, check out the Frenchmen Art Walk, guided swamp tours, opt for a carriage ride, or even take a steamboat excursion on the Mississippi River. With its French architecture and cultural influences, many museums and historical landmarks are also available to visit, including the magnificent Cabildo. The rich history, attractions, and vibrant nightlife of this beautiful city are sure to please even the pickiest of travelers.

French Quarter area of New Orleans, Louisiana | © Inge Johnsson / Alamy Stock Photo

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio offers a friendly and diverse spot to vacation. The well-known river walk is particularly beautiful, especially during the holidays. The Tower of the Americas offers a 750-foot panoramic view of the city, including a revolving restaurant and bar so you can enjoy the view, drink in hand. Plus, foodies can rejoice, as many chefs prefer to use locally sourced ingredients, putting San Antonio’s food scene on the culinary map. There are plenty of downtown spots to stay in that combine classic Southern hospitality and luxury, such as Hotel Contessa and JW Marriott’s Hill Country resort.

San Antonio River Walk, San Antonio, Texas | © Kumar Sriskandan / Alamy Stock Photo

Coastal Road Trip, Georgia

This two-day trip is ideal for a quick weekend excursion. U.S. Highway 17 will take you down the Georgia coast, giving you the chance to stop in at unforgettable cities along the way, from Savannah to St. Simons. Start out in Savannah and take in the rich history, then spend a full day in Darien and check out the incredible buildings that use a construction technique that blends oyster shells and concrete together. Stroll the coastal streets, and dine on fresh-caught seafood at Waterfront Wine and Gourmet Shop. Finally, round out the trip in St. Simons at a chic Village Inn & Pub with a warm bowl of their famous Brunswick stew.

Smallest church in America on the Georgia Coast | © RM Floral / Alamy Stock Photo

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