15 Best Weekend Getaways in the South

Embark on a journey through the South’s most enchanting destinations.

From the historic charm of Savannah, Georgia, to the breathtaking landscapes of Asheville, North Carolina, each location promises a unique blend of culture, heritage, and natural beauty.

With diverse culinary scenes, rich history, and thrilling outdoor adventures, these 15 weekend getaways offer not just an escape, but a voyage through the distinct facets of American culture and geography.

Key Takeaways

  • The South offers a wide range of weekend getaway options, from charming small towns like Savannah, Georgia and Bowling Green, Kentucky to vibrant cities like Chattanooga, Tennessee and New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • These destinations offer a mix of natural beauty and cultural attractions, with opportunities for outdoor activities, exploring historic sites, enjoying local cuisine, and experiencing lively music scenes.
  • Many of the recommended locations are known for their unique architectural styles, such as the Spanish moss-draped oaks in Savannah, the blend of French, Spanish, and Caribbean influences in New Orleans, and the picturesque homes and lush gardens in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Each destination has its own distinct atmosphere and charm, whether it’s the romantic small town ambiance of Savannah, the booming downtown and scenic mountain views of Chattanooga, or the lively and pleasure-seeking spirit of New Orleans.

Savannah, Georgia: A Southern Gem

Nestled amidst well-preserved architecture and Spanish moss-draped oaks, Savannah, Georgia, offers a charming small-town atmosphere rich in Georgia-grown ingredients, making it an ideal destination for a romantic weekend getaway.

This Southern gem is known for its thriving dining scene, where restaurants like The Grey and Common Thread serve dishes that highlight the bounty of the Peach State.

Visitors can meander through the city’s historic district, where cobblestone streets, antebellum homes, and iconic public squares paint a picture of a bygone era.

The city’s enchanting riverfront and picturesque parks, adorned with Spanish moss-draped oaks, provide a tranquil retreat.

With its captivating charm, Savannah serves not only as a gateway to Georgia’s past, but also a testament to its flourishing present.

Bowling Green, Kentucky: For Car Enthusiasts

Shifting gears from the charming landscapes of Savannah, Georgia, we steer towards Bowling Green, Kentucky, a must-visit destination for car enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Home to the National Corvette Museum, the city is a tribute to America’s sports car with exhibits that chronicle the Corvette’s history and influence.

But Bowling Green’s appeal extends beyond its automotive lure. It offers an exciting underground boat tour at Lost River Cave, a unique experience blending adventure and natural beauty.

Furthermore, its proximity to Mammoth Cave National Park, the world’s longest known cave system, elevates Bowling Green on the travel map. With a harmonious blend of man-made marvels and natural wonders, Bowling Green ensures a memorable getaway for all.

Chattanooga, Tennessee: Scenic Riverside City

Continuing our journey southward, we find ourselves in the scenic riverside city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, a destination hailed for its stunning mountain scenery and vibrant downtown area. This city offers an array of activities for all kinds of travelers.

Outdoor Enthusiasts:
Chattanooga boasts a range of activities from scenic river cruises along the Tennessee River to hiking up the famous Lookout Mountain.

Culture and Arts Lovers:
Downtown Chattanooga is known for its thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and live music venues.

Whether you’re into outdoor adventures or prefer cultural exploration, Chattanooga offers a unique mix of Southern charm and modern amenities. Its picturesque riverside setting, complemented by the stunning backdrop of mountains, makes it an ideal weekend getaway in the South.

Wilmington, North Carolina: Lively Riverfront City

Heading further south, we arrive in Wilmington, North Carolina, a lively riverfront city enriched with a blend of rich history and modern charm.

The city boasts a remarkable shopping scene with the Old Wilmington City Market and Cotton Exchange offering a plethora of shopping options, from unique local crafts to high-end fashion.

Wilmington’s dining scene is equally impressive, with an array of culinary delights that cater to all taste buds, from fresh seafood eateries to gourmet restaurants.

A walk along the scenic Riverwalk provides breathtaking views of the Cape Fear River.

A short drive away lies Wrightsville Beach, perfect for a day of sun-soaked relaxation.

Wilmington truly embodies a blend of southern hospitality and urban sophistication, making it an ideal weekend getaway.

New Orleans, Louisiana: Birthplace of Jazz

Venturing into the vibrant heart of the South, we find ourselves in New Orleans, Louisiana, a city renowned for its cultural diversity, unique architecture, and status as the birthplace of jazz. This bustling city pulsates with a vibrant live music scene that fills every corner, from the historic French Quarter to the lively streets of Treme.

  • Music and Culture
  • Birthplace of jazz, New Orleans is a city where music is at the heart of its culture.
  • From impromptu street performances to nightly shows in legendary clubs, the vibrant live music scene is integral to the city’s identity.
  • Food and Architecture
  • The city also boasts a rich culinary scene and unique architecture, reflecting its multi-cultural heritage.

Visitors to New Orleans can expect an immersive experience, filled with soulful music, tantalizing cuisine, and fascinating history.

Natchez, Mississippi: Cultural and Historical Significance

Steeped in cultural richness and historical significance, Natchez, Mississippi, presents a compelling blend of Southern charm and past-era grandeur. Exploring Natchez’s historic landmarks, such as the grand antebellum mansions, offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s storied past.

Natchez Museum of African American History and CultureChronicles the African American experience in the American SouthHistorical
Grand Village of the Natchez IndiansPreserved archaeological site with prehistoric moundsCultural
Riverboat GamblingOffers a unique, exciting entertainment optionRetro Charm
Annual FestivalsCelebrate literature, film, and music of the regionCultural
Natchez Trace ParkwayScenic drive with numerous historic sitesHistorical

Natchez’s cultural and historical significance, coupled with modern attractions like riverboat gambling and annual festivals, makes it an intriguing weekend getaway in the South.

Asheville, North Carolina: Bohemian Mountain Getaway

In contrast to Natchez’s historical charm, Asheville, North Carolina’s appeal lies in its bohemian vibe set amidst the stunning backdrop of the North Carolina mountains. Known for its vibrant Bohemian art scene, Asheville is a haven for artists and art-lovers alike, with numerous galleries and studios showcasing local and international talent.

The city thrives on its rich cultural heritage and a bustling music scene.

Outdoor adventures are limitless, with the Blue Ridge Mountains offering hiking, biking, and breathtaking views. Popular outdoor activities include exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway and experiencing the beauty of the French Broad River.

This unique blend of culture and nature makes Asheville a perfect weekend getaway for those seeking a mix of artistic vibrancy and outdoor exhilaration.

Hot Springs, Arkansas: Relaxation Destination

Hot Springs, Arkansas is a tranquil retreat known for its eponymous national park offering thermal waters and scenic hiking trails. The city promises a unique blend of relaxation and outdoor activities. Visitors can unwind in the historic bathhouses, or get their adrenaline pumping on the extensive network of trails.

Destination HighlightsDescription
Hot Springs National ParkHome to rejuvenating thermal waters and numerous hiking trails.
Garvan Woodland GardensA botanical garden offering walking paths and stunning landscapes.
Downtown Hot SpringsFeatures a collection of bathhouses and boutiques for shopping.
Magic Springs Theme ParkOffers thrilling rides and concerts during summer.
Oaklawn Racing Casino ResortA place for horse racing and casino games.

This destination is a perfect blend of natural beauty and engaging activities, making it an ideal weekend getaway.

Charleston, South Carolina: Southern Hospitality

Charleston’s allure extends beyond its picturesque homes and lush gardens, making it another delightful southern destination for a weekend getaway. Charleston, South Carolina portrays southern hospitality in its purest form, with its charming streets, historical landmarks, and unique culinary experiences.

  • Historical Significance and Cultural Landmarks:
  • The Battery: a landmark defensive seawall and promenade, providing panoramic views of the Charleston harbor.
  • Magnolia Plantation and Gardens: One of the oldest plantations in the South, offering a glimpse into the region’s history.
  • Unique Culinary Experiences:
  • Husk: Renowned for its farm-to-table approach, showcasing the best of Southern cuisine.
  • Charleston Farmers Market: An ideal spot for foodies, offering everything from fresh produce to local delicacies.

These elements, coupled with the city’s warm hospitality, make Charleston a must-visit destination.

Louisville, Kentucky: Culture and Natural Beauty

Branching out from the charm of Charleston, we turn our attention to Louisville, Kentucky, a city teeming with cultural attractions and natural beauty.

Known for its intertwining of culture and horse racing, Louisville is home to the iconic Churchill Downs, where the thrill of the Kentucky Derby captivates visitors annually.

The city’s natural beauty is showcased in the diverse landscapes of Waterfront Park, inviting outdoor activities along the Ohio River. The Louisville Loop further enriches the outdoor experience, offering over 100 miles of trails weaving through parks and neighborhoods.

Cultural experiences are plentiful with visits to the Muhammad Ali Center or Frazier History Museum.

Louisville encapsulates a unique blend of Southern culture, equestrian tradition, and natural beauty, making it a must-see in your Southern travels.

Bryson City, North Carolina: Gateway to the Smokies

Often overlooked, Bryson City, North Carolina, serves as an enchanting gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offering an abundance of outdoor activities and scenic beauty. This charming small town atmosphere is the perfect backdrop for those seeking a peaceful retreat.

Bryson City is known for:

  • A plethora of hiking trails that wind through the Smoky Mountains, providing breathtaking views and close encounters with nature.
  • The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, where you can enjoy a scenic journey on a vintage steam train.

This city truly encapsulates the essence of a southern weekend getaway with its:

  • Locally-owned shops and restaurants that add to the town’s charm.
  • Various festivals and events throughout the year, keeping the culture vibrant and the community tight-knit.

Nashville, Tennessee: The Music City

In the heart of Tennessee lies the vibrant city of Nashville, renowned for its rich musical history and a dynamic live music scene that attracts countless visitors each year.

Known as ‘The Music City’, Nashville is home to the iconic Grand Ole Opry and neon-lit honky-tonks where aspiring musicians and established stars alike serenade audiences. The city’s musical landmarks, including the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Johnny Cash Museum, chronicle its profound impact on the world of music.

Yet, Nashville isn’t just about music. Its burgeoning food scene offers a delightful mix of southern cuisine, from hot chicken and barbecue to craft beers.

Whether you’re a music aficionado or a foodie, Nashville, Tennessee provides an unforgettable weekend getaway in the South.

Saint Simons Island, Georgia: Nature’s Beauty

One would be hard-pressed to find a more naturally stunning Southern destination than Saint Simons Island, Georgia. The landscape is dominated by serene salt marshes, tranquil rivers, and majestic live oak trees. These breathtaking natural environments provide a backdrop for a variety of engaging outdoor activities and remarkable wildlife encounters.

Outdoor Activities:

  • Venture through the maritime forests on biking or hiking trails
  • Kayak along the island’s peaceful waterways, appreciating the island’s nature’s beauty from a new perspective

Wildlife Encounters:

  • Discover a myriad of bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatchers
  • Encounter playful dolphins on a boat tour, a signature Saint Simons Island experience

Amelia Island, Florida: Florida’s Quieter Side

Shifting focus from Georgia’s natural beauty, we find another tranquil retreat in Amelia Island, Florida, a gem that offers a more serene and quiet side of the Sunshine State. This destination is one of Florida’s hidden gems, boasting a laid-back vibe amidst breathtaking natural beauty.

Exploring nature on Amelia Island is a must for any visitor. The island provides a stunning backdrop of shimmering quartz beaches, towering sand dunes, and lush maritime forests. The tranquil bike paths and kayak-ready waterways offer ample opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Beach RelaxationQuartz beaches with stunning viewsDon’t forget sunscreen!
Exploring NatureBike paths, waterways, forestsBring along a camera
Historic DowntownCharming streets, shops, and diningCheck out local events

Roanoke, Virginia: Star City Charm

Nestled in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke, affectionately known as Star City, brims with small-town charm and breathtaking natural scenery. The city is rich with cultural heritage, reflected in its numerous museums and art galleries.

Roanoke offers a plethora of outdoor activities that make it a captivating weekend getaway:

  • Mill Mountain Park: Home to the famous Roanoke Star, it also offers hiking trails and a zoo.
  • Roanoke Star: An iconic symbol of the city’s cultural heritage.
  • Zoo: Houses a variety of animal species, providing an exciting excursion.
  • Blue Ridge Parkway: Known for its scenic drives and outdoor activities.
  • Hiking: Numerous trails offer adventure and stunning views.
  • Biking: The parkway provides a challenging cycling route.

Experience Star City’s cultural heritage and explore the abundant outdoor activities in Roanoke for an unforgettable getaway.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some of the Most Affordable Travel Options to These Southern Cities?

For affordable travel to southern cities, consider budget airlines, off-peak travel times, and shared accommodations.

Exploring local markets and food trucks can offer a taste of Southern cuisine without breaking the bank.

Also, many cities offer free or low-cost attractions, such as Savannah’s historic squares or Asheville’s scenic trails.

Planning ahead and utilizing local resources can help maximize your travel experience while remaining budget-friendly.

Can You Recommend Any Family-Friendly Activities in These Southern Destinations?

Embarking on a Southern Cuisine Exploration is akin to a culinary treasure hunt, unraveling the rich flavors of the region.

For a dash of history, a Historical Landmarks Tour provides an enriching journey through time.

Family-friendly activities include exploring the Spanish moss-draped oaks in Savannah and the underground boat tour in Bowling Green.

Indulge in jazz in New Orleans, marvel at the architecture in Charleston, or hike the trails in Asheville, ensuring a memorable southern getaway.

What Is the Best Time of Year to Visit These Southern Cities for Optimal Weather and Fewer Crowds?

For optimal weather and fewer crowds, spring and fall are ideal times to visit Southern cities. These periods offer mild temperatures for exploring historical landmarks and outdoor attractions.

Additionally, visiting during these seasons allows travelers to participate in Southern cuisine exploration, with various food festivals typically happening in the spring and fall.

However, specific best times may vary depending on the city’s local climate and event calendar.

Are There Any Travel Packages That Include Multiple Southern Cities in One Trip?

Ever wondered about embarking on a grand tour of the South? Travel packages such as ‘Culinary Explorations in Southern Cities’ and ‘Historic Landmarks Tour’ offer just that.

These curated trips include multiple cities, allowing you to experience the rich history, vibrant culture, and delectable cuisine of the South.

From the jazz-filled streets of New Orleans to the historic charm of Charleston, these packages offer a unique way to explore and appreciate the diverse heritage of Southern cities.

What Are Some Potential Risks or Safety Considerations When Traveling to These Southern Cities?

When traveling to southern cities, it’s crucial to consider safety risks and emergency preparedness.

Potential risks may include climate-related events like hurricanes or heatwaves, so monitor weather forecasts.

Understand local customs to avoid unintended offenses; this is particularly relevant in areas with distinct cultures.

Keep emergency contact numbers handy and familiarize yourself with the nearest medical facilities.

Always respect local laws and norms, ensuring a safe and enjoyable travel experience.


In conclusion, the southern United States serves as a vibrant canvas, painted with a blend of diverse cultures, rich histories, and stunning natural beauty.

Each city, like a distinct stroke of an artist’s brush, contributes to the grand masterpiece that is the South.

From the lively rhythms of Nashville to the tranquil landscapes of Saint Simons Island, these weekend getaways provide a unique exploration into the heart and soul of America, demonstrating that the South is not just a place, but an enriching experience.

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