Best Southern Towns for a Long Weekend Getaway
If you live in the South, then you know you don’t have to go far for a weekend getaway. Each state has something unique to offer in the way of attractions, lodging, restaurants and natural beauty. So, consider driving a state or two over and finding a whole new world. Or, if you’re from another part of the country, come down and discover why so many people move to the South after just trip planning for a long weekend here.
Pigeon Forge & the Great Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most widely visited in the country. Natural beauty abounds here and includes not only the mountains themselves but fresh streams, wildlife, hiking and more.
Surrounding the Great Smoky Mountains are other places to visit, like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. If you’re looking for fun and entertainment, then these cities are good options. For example, Pigeon Forge shows feature comedy and dinner, theaters, shopping, arcades and more, not to mention Dollywood.
What’s great about Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains is the fact that these areas offer something for everyone, including all types of interests and all age groups.
Tarpon Springs is a charming waterfront town in Florida. Twenty miles north of Clearwater, Tarpon Springs has one of the highest concentrations of Greek residents of anywhere in the country.
Tarpon Springs is also known historically as the hub of the sponge industry, which is why you’ll find Sponge Docks located along the Anclote River. The area boasts authentic Greek eateries, shopping and the Tarpon Springs Historic District. The Tarpon Springs Aquarium and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral are worth a look as well.
Blowing Rock is a North Carolina mountain town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can drive and stop at different scenic viewpoints along the Blue Ridge Parkway, or visit one of the many restaurants in the area’s charming downtown. There are attractions like The Blowing Rock itself, as well as Tweetsie Railroad.
Main Street is the center of Blowing Rock, where you can find beautiful inns like the historic Green Park Inn as well as the Meadowbrook Inn and the Chetola Resort at Blowing Rock nearby.
Columbia, South Carolina, might not be the first place you would think of when you think Southern getaway, but there are a lot of reasons this city is considered a treasure. The Inn at USC, reopening this month as Graduate Columbia, has stunning Gamecock-inspired decor, and there are breweries and restaurants all around town.
Also notable is the Old Mill Antique Mall, which is a historic building with more than 75 dealers.
One of the most well-known places to stay in Point Clear, Alabama, is the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa. This spa and resort is set on 550 coastline acres with a 36-hole golf course. It’s also one of the Historic Hotels of America, having been founded in 1847.
The Grand Hotel has both indoor and outdoor pools, and tea and cookie service are offered daily in the lobby. If you stay in Point Clear, you can also go to Fairhope, an equally charming nearby town.
Gulf Shores is another Alabama gem. This coastal community is located between Foley and Orange Beach, spanning 27,000 acres. Gulf Shores is a strip of island on the Gulf known for charter fishing, fresh seafood and white sand beaches.
The sand in Gulf Shores is so white and powdery because it originates from tiny pieces of quartz that washed down from the Appalachian Mountains.
If you love animals and nature, Gulf Shores may be the place for you. The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail features six loops that take you by birding sites in wetlands, dunes and the woods.
It would be tough to list the best Southern towns for a weekend getaway without including Music City.
Located in central Tennessee, Nashville is the true home of the country music industry. You’ll see that as you’re walking down Broadway, where live music pours out from all of the honky-tonks, many of which are marked with neon signs.
Along with music, Nashville is a wonderful place for Southern food. You can go with the classics from the area like hot chicken, or try one of the many restaurants being opened by chefs from around the country.
If you’re a shopper, hit the outlets of Opry Mills or go to one of the smaller or up-and-coming neighborhoods for funky and unique finds.
Photo credits, from top: Tarpon Springs by Art from Flickr Creative Commons; Blowing Rock by Todd Bush Photography, www.bushphoto.com; pimento cheeseburger by Forrest Clonts; inside the Grand Hotel from Historic Hotels of America; Gulf Shores beach courtesy of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism; and Nashville skyline courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation.