The American South has an undeniable spirit. From the hearty food to good old Southern hospitality, it’s easy to find something to love.
Sold on the South, but not sure where to visit first? To make your trip planning just a little easier, we’ve mapped out five distinctly charming cities that you can’t afford to miss.
1. Nashville, Tennessee
You don’t have to be a country music fan to have a good time in Nashville — but it certainly helps. Must-see cultural sites include the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Johnny Cash Museum. For those who would rather explore the great outdoors or the region’s history, Nashville is home to Stones River National Battlefield Park, Fort Negley, and the Adventure Science Center. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, don’t miss out on Nashville’s signature hot chicken and barbecue. In recent years, several craft breweries have cropped up nearby, so you’ll have no shortage of ice cold beverage options with which to wash down your meal.
2. New Orleans, Louisiana
A hotspot for cultural connoisseurs and party animals alike, New Orleans offers no shortage of sights to see and things to do. Of course, if you visit in March, Mardi Gras celebrations will be in full swing; but no matter what time of year you visit, New Orleans offers a bevy of vibrant nightlife, music, and delicious cuisine. The city is well-known for its jazz scene, which can be experienced in local clubs or at the annual Jazz & Heritage Festival. New Orleans is also renowned for its Cajun and Creole culture and food — we recommend the jambalaya!
3. Mooresville, Alabama
This little town is definitely memorable. When we say little, we’re not kidding: at last count, only 53 people call Mooresville home. That doesn’t mean it’s worth skipping, however — this secluded village enjoys a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, and for good reason. Many locals have lived here for generations, including the mayor, and almost everything in the town harks back to the 19th century (including the oldest operational post office in the state).
The quaintness of Mooresville means you’ll find some seriously unique social opportunities. For instance, one resident hosts a recurring margarita night on her front porch, and residents regularly lead guided tours. Or, visit Lyla’s Little House, where you’ll find homemade dipped ice cream, cheese straws (a Southern staple), and charming decor and accessories.
4. Abingdon, Virginia
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In the quaint city of Abingdon, you’ll find a lush selection of natural experiences as well as top-notch theatrical productions. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the region boasts impressive trails like the nearby Appalachian and Virginia Creeper. It’s also home to the famous Barter Theater, which has hosted plays since the 1930s. If you’re looking for a unique souvenir, take something home from the Holston Mountain Artisans. They also offer classes like quilting and basket weaving, taught by a roster of local creators.
5. Durham, North Carolina
Durham is primarily known for Duke University, but it’s also home to many impressive food and beer offerings, not to mention a spread of historic sites and museums. Durham was even named “The South’s Tastiest Town” by Southern Living, so plan to arrive hungry! For more opportunities to explore, the neighboring cities of Raleigh and Chapel Hill are just a short drive away.
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