25+ Best Weekend Getaways in the South

Looking for the best weekend getaways in the south?

From beach escapes to city breaks, and from hiking trails to adorable small towns, there is an enormous number of incredible and varied places to visit in the south.

And, with the help of a couple of dozen other travel bloggers, we’ve attempted to round up the best of them with this guide to the best southern weekend getaways in America.

The southeast USA is one of our personal favorite regions to explore on the planet, and we never run out of new-to-us beautiful places to enjoy (or, frankly, run out of new plates piled high with delicious southern cooking to devour).

Whether you’re looking for a laid-back romantic getaway for two, your next quick family vacation, a fast-paced trip with friends, or even a fun solo escape, one of these incredible weekend trips in the south is bound to be right for you.

close up shot of wrought iron balconies in the french quater of New Orleans--you'll see plenty of beautiful corners like this throughout your 3 days in New Orleans itinerary!
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Cool City Weekend Trips in the South

Savannah, Georgia

From Us!

We will never stop singing the praises of Savannah: not only is it one of the best weekend getaways in the south, but it’s also one of our favorite cities in the USA!

Featuring absolutely stunning architecture, 22 of its original 24 town squares, endless oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, and some of the best food in the country, spending a few days in Savannah is bound to be a delight.

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While you’re there, be sure to check out Forsyth Park, hear some of the city’s most enduring legends on a ghost tour, enjoy views from River Street, and take in some of Savannah’s complex history at its various house museums and houses of worship.

You also can’t miss the chance to meander down beautiful Jones Street, often recognized as one of the most beautiful streets in America and one of the most charming photo spots in Savannah.

Kate Storm in a black dress in front of a brick home on Jones Street during a long weekend in Savannah GA

And, while making your way through the best attractions in Savannah, don’t forget to set aside plenty of time to eat!

While there are dozens of incredible restaurants in Savannah, favorites include The Olde Pink House and The Grey for special occasions, The Collins Quarter for their legendary lavender mocha latte, and Leopold’s Ice Cream for a scoop of their famous Tutti Frutti ice cream.

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If you can pull yourself away from central Savannah long enough, you may also want to add a day trip to your itinerary.

Nearby destinations like Tybee Island (also known as “Savannah’s Beach”) and Fort Pulaski National Monument are well worth visiting!

City square in Savannah GA with a statue in the center--these city squares should be considered when choosing Savannah or Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina

From Theresa of Fueled By Wanderlust

For a charming and stylish southern weekend getaway, look no further than Charleston, South Carolina.

Charleston offers a rich colonial history, beautiful scenery, and a top-notch food scene, making it the perfect place to unwind for a weekend. 

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Upon arrival into Charleston, allow yourself to be transported to another era.

This city dates back to the 1600s and has many old buildings that have survived centuries of havoc, including wars, earthquakes, and hurricanes.

The Old Exchange, Fort Sumter, and the Aiken-Rhett house are just a few examples of places to visit to learn about Charleston’s eventful past.

Pineapple Fountain, as seen during a long weekend in Charleston South Carolina

Beyond its history, Charleston’s stunning scenery will make you feel like you’ve truly escaped for the weekend.

The Historic District has lane after lane of pastel-colored colonial homes and palmetto trees, with the most famous stretch being the Rainbow Row.

Charleston’s Waterfront Park is also worth a visit for views of the Cooper River and a photo in front of the Pineapple Fountain.

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Finally, one cannot make a visit to Charleston without partaking in its incredible food scene.

For the most unforgettable experience, reserve a table at Husk or Fig, which are widely considered to be two of Charleston’s best restaurants.

If the beauty doesn’t sell you on ranking Charleston among the best cities in the south, the food alone could drive you back to Charleston over and over again.

Rainbow Row in as seen during 3 days in Charleston SC

Miami, Florida

From Noel of Travel Photo Discovery

If you’re thinking about a fun weekend getaway in the southeast corridor, exciting Miami will definitely keep you busy.

The warm, tropical, and eclectic city is lively and filled with some really fun neighborhoods to explore all around the city for singles, friends or even family getaways.

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You can have fun in the sun in the colorful South Beach area with its lively Art Deco vibes, fun beach areas, and the hip scene on Ocean Boulevard.

If you’re looking for artsy and fun, then head out to the vibrant Wynwood district with its cool street art, trendy cafes, coffee shops, galleries, and uber-hip restaurants.

South Pointe Pier in Miami Beach, with view of downtown on the far left and South Beach on the right--definitely visit during your 3 days in Miami!

For those looking for more local vibes, check out the historic Little Havana or even the Little Haiti districts of the city for fantastic Latin flare, food, and fun.

The Brickell and downtown district are business-focused, but there are also cool shopping areas, rooftop restaurants, and hang-out spots.

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For fashionable fun, check out the latest trends in the Design District of Coral Gables area of the city.

There are lots of things to do and see to keep you busy for the weekend in Miami, check out the top things to do in Miami for more inspiration and images, and start planning a fun weekend in the south.

Kate in a pink dress next to a blue Vespa on Ocean Avenue.

Birmingham, Alabama

From Stephanie of History Fangirl

Historic Birmingham is a perfect weekend trip in the south for anyone looking to dig deeper into American history.

Alabama’s biggest city played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights movement, and its historic sites are enshrined in the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

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This national monument, created by President Obama during the final days of his administration, encompasses the 16th Street Baptist Church, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park, the Gaston Motel, and the immediate vicinity.

The Birmingham Civil Rights movement was one of the most important cities in the US for the fight for desegregation, and many of the most important events in the city happened or were planned in these few city blocks.

birmingham alabama cityscape on a sunny day

You can visit the church and park for free, but I highly recommend visiting the museum at the BCRI first so you understand the full context of what’s you’re seeing.

Beyond the city’s important historic sites, you can enjoy the great mix of classic Southern food and a burgeoning international food scene.

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Check out Pizitz Food Hall for everything from tacos to Nepalese food.

For an upscale dining experience, head to the James Beard-award winning Highlands Bar and Grill.

A few other can’t-miss sites while you’re here include Sloss Furnace, Railroad Park, and the Negro Southern League Museum.

Historic Birmingham Alabama, one of the best weekend trips in the south
Photo provided by Stephanie of History Fangirl. Reused with permission.

Chattanooga, Tennessee

From Sharon of Dive Into Philippines

If you are looking for a weekend escape in the US South, Chattanooga is the perfect place to head!

Not only does it have a fun name, but it is also a fun destination with many different things to do here.

This small southern city is located in Tennessee, next to the Tennessee-Georgia border.

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It’s a great mix of a charming downtown and riverfront area with outdoor adventure.

Whether your perfect weekend away in the south involves getting outdoor with nature or enjoying good museums and restaurants, Chattanooga delivers.

While in Chattanooga, you can take a city or rive tour, visit the Tennessee Aquarium, the largest freshwater aquarium in the world or visit the Hunter Museum of American Art.

View of Chattanooga Tennesse from above with winding river in the foreground

Outdoor enthusiasts will want to head straight to Rock City.

Consisting of a self-guided walking trail, you get to explore caves, caverns, and tight crevices. There are great views and lookout points including views of seven states.

There are also bird shows and other chances to learn more about these creatures. They are also many other mountains and caves you can visit.

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In between sightseeing, Chattanooga is known for its great food and whiskey.

You won’t want to miss a visit to the Jack Daniels distillery and make sure you have a burger at Urban Stack.

A weekend in Chattanooga is perfect for everyone.

stone showing you can see seven states from viewpoint in chattanooga, one of the best places in the south to visit

New Orleans, Louisiana

From Megan of Bobo & Chichi

New Orleans is easily one of the best Southern USA weekend trips because of its unique culture that you can’t find anywhere else. 

With influences from Spanish, French, West African, Caribbean, Native American, and Southern cultures you can find one of the most unique personalities a destination has to offer through its architecture, culinary, and music scene.

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From strolling the beautiful streets through the historic French Quarter to admiring the incredible mansions and giant weeping willow trees in the Garden District to eating your way through the Creole cuisine and food scene to satisfying your sweet tooth with beignets, New Orleans is a destination that constantly reminds you of just how unique it is.

Street in NOLA French Quarter at night with neon lights from the bars lighting it up--don't miss a chance to experience the legendary New Orleans nightlife during your 3 days in NOLA itinerary!

And, just in case you forget, listening to live music on Frenchmen Street in the city that’s the birthplace of jazz music will serve as yet another reminder.

New Orleans also has unique cemeteries that are worth visiting or trying a historic tour through, incredible museums, and amazing day trips just outside of the city like a Louisiana bayou and swamp tour to enjoy.

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While the city has been made famous and is most well known for the parties on Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras celebrations, there’s so much more to NOLA.

New Orleans offers such a variety of cultural, culinary, and historical experiences that you can really build a completely unique experience or weekend trip with depending on your preferences.

Blonde woman in a straw hat looking at a beautiful brick building in NOLA Garden District, one of the best weekend getaways in the south
Photo provided by Megan of Bobo and Chichi. Reused with permission.

St. Petersburg, Florida

From Pauline of Beeloved City

If you are looking for a weekend destination in the sunshine state, St Petersburg will be ideal! 

Located a mere 30 minutes away from Tampa, St Petersburg is mainly known for its beaches and relaxed vibe. 

There are many things to do in St Pete

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If you head downtown, you will find many bars and restaurants on central avenue. It’s also a great place for shoppers especially if you like small independent shops.

St Pete is also home to one of the best museums in the USA, the Dali Museum, as well as a memorable and moving Holocaust Museum.

Finally, if you wish to see a concert in a very cool venue, Jannus Live is for you! This open-air venue is very unique. 

aerial view of st pete florida, one of the best weekend getaways south

If you want to go to the beach (and so you should! After all, we are in Florida), head to St Pete Beach or Treasure Island.

If you are driving, you can also go to Clearwater Beach (often ranked as the #1 Beach in the USA) or Honeymoon Island if you want something more natural.

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You will also find a few walks on Honeymoon and Caladesi Island, perfect if you want to see ospreys and American eagles!

St. Pete is the perfect destination for a relaxing and sunny weekend, and absolutely one of the best places to visit in the south.

You will never get bored there!

White fenced path leading to beach in St Petersburg Florida, one of the best weekend getaways southern usa

Atlanta, Georgia

From Francesca of Homeroom Travel

Officially established in 1847, Atlanta, Georgia is the capital of the state and a charming city to visit.

Throughout its history, it has been a center for the Civil Rights Movement and played a large role in the Civil War.

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Present-day, some of the film industry has migrated to Atlanta from California.

Many popular movies such as The Hunger Games series and Avengers Endgame were filmed in Atlanta.

With so many fun and unique things to do, Atlanta is a perfect destination for a weekend trip in the southern United States

capitol building of georgia in atlanta, one of the best places to visit in georgia

One of the top attractions in the Atlanta area is the World of Coca-Cola. This is a museum dedicated to the history of Coca-Cola, and it’s one of the best day trips from Atlanta.

Visitors can even try over 100 different flavors of Coke products from around the world!

Another popular stop is the Georgia Aquarium which is home to hundreds of species.

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People who are into history will enjoy visiting the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, as well as Martin Luther King National Historic Park. 

Atlanta offers a ton of amazing food places, especially barbecue and unique bars.

Make sure not to miss Trader Vic’s, which is home of the original Mai Thai.

Atlanta may be sprawling, but it is an endlessly fun city with tons of awesome attractions and neighborhoods to explore.

Atlanta Georgia skyline--Atlanta is one of the best weekend getaways in the south

Mobile, Alabama

From Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan

Mobile, Alabama oozes southern hospitality and charm, and it also has a fascinating history, great local restaurants, and some lively festivals.

It often gets overlooked in favor of nearby New Orleans, but for couples and families, it may actually be a better option, providing many of the same attractions without the wild and raucous party atmosphere that can plague Bourbon Street in NOLA.

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Though it’s now part of Alabama, Mobile was the original capital of the French Louisiana Territory, and you will see plenty of French influence like wrought-iron balconies in the architecture of the downtown buildings.

Mardi Gras is also a big deal here, and Mobilians will proudly let you know that their city is home to the oldest Mardi Gras celebrations in the United States!

Parades last for about two weeks and feature people in colorful costumes throwing moon pies and beaded necklaces to the excited crowd.

It’s a pretty family-friendly affair, though, and a highlight of the year for kids and adults alike.

Victorian architecture in Mobile Alabama, a great southern weekend trip in the USA
Photo provided by Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan. Reused with permission.

St. Augustine, Florida

From Megan of Red Around the World

St. Augustine, Florida is the perfect weekend getaway in the southern USA.  Whether you like history (it is the oldest city in the US, after all), shopping, or the outdoors, it’s perfect and there is plenty to do.  

There are plenty of activities in St. Augustine to keep you busy for a southern weekend trip.  

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If you like cities and being in the hustle and bustle of it all, some of the best things to do in St. Augustine include visiting the San Sebastian Winery, walking around the Old Town and visiting the shops, and doing a ghost tour one night. 

 If you’re a bit of a history buff, make sure to visit Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine Lighthouse, and Fort Matanzas. 

 If you like the outdoors, visit Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine Beach, and go Geocaching.  

Of course, the best thing is to do all of those or a combination of all of them.  

ornate building with a fountain in front of it in st augustine florida southeast getaway for couples

It would be very easy to do everything in one weekend since St. Augustine is a small city and a lot of it is all very close together. 

 There are hotels downtown, but if you’re on more of a budget, you’ll probably want to stay a little further from the Old Town area.

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There are also tons of cute Airbnbs in the city if you want a more local experience.  

The Floridian is one of the best places to eat and Crucial Coffee is a must-see.  It’s a coffee shop across from Castillo de San Marcos in a building from the 1800s.

St. Augustine is the perfect hip but historic, cool, and unique city for a long weekend for so many reasons, and even if you’re not interested in the historic aspect that much, it’s still one of the best places to visit in the south.

View of palm trees and ocean water over the stone wall of St Augustine Florida's 17th century fort. St Augustine is one of the best weekend trips in the south

Raleigh, North Carolina

From Brianna of The Casual Travelist

Raleigh has long been known as a college town but a long tradition of southern hospitality coupled with a new creative spirit has made Raleigh a great place to visit.

Raleigh is home to world-class museums and a handful of makers with an eye toward quality and craft.

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The North Carolina Art Museum has over a dozen galleries featuring everything from Greek Classical to Contemporary African as well as a 164-acre outdoor sculpture park.

If your artistic tastes are more modern CAM Raleigh features the works of local and international contemporary artists.

A well-made pair of jeans is a work of art and the folks at Raleigh Denim Workshop handcraft denim that are made to look good and be lived in.

Statue of George Washington overlooking the city of Raleigh NC at sunset

Raleigh’s creative spirit also extends to its culinary community and with multiple James Beard Award nominations people are taking notice.

Start your day with a fried green tomato benedict and cardamom rose latte at A Place at the Table, a pay what you can cafe that aims to provide healthy, delicious food and a sense of community for everyone regardless of means.

The south is known for fried chicken and in Raleigh, you can’t do much better than Beasley’s Chicken and Honey.

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Take a fluffy biscuit, top it with crispy fried chicken a pickled green tomato, and a spicy-sweet honey dijon and you’ve got just one reason chef Ashley Christensen won a James Beard award for Best New Chef in the Southeast.

Don’t sleep on Raleigh’s craft beer scene either. Named as one of the prettiest breweries in the United States Brewery Bhavana pours a delicious variety of Belgian inspired beers that pair perfectly with their creative take on Laotian cuisine.

historic yates gristmill in raleigh north carolina

Huntsville, Alabama

From Vicky of Buddy the Traveling Monkey

One of the best southern USA weekend trips you can take is to Huntsville, Alabama.

Known as the Rocket City, it is home to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

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However, you don’t have to be a space nerd to enjoy this southern city.

History buffs will enjoy world-class museums as well as historic homes that you can tour for free in April or October during their guided architecture walking tours.

View of Huntsville Alabama from across the lake with fish in the foreground
Photo provided by Vicky of Buddy the Traveling Monkey. Reused with permission.

There’s a great food scene in Huntsville too. A popular place to eat and get drinks is Campus 805.

Once a school, the space has not been repurposed and includes multiple restaurants, breweries, entertainment venues, and even a speakeasy!

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And once you’ve satisfied your food cravings, you can take advantage of Huntsville’s green spaces to walk off the calories.

Head over to Huntsville’s Botanical Garden or take a stroll around Big Spring International Park, which includes a small waterfall!

Whatever you’re into, you’ll be sure to have a wonderful weekend in Huntsville, Alabama.

long exposure of a small waterfall seen on a hiking trail near huntsville alabama

Lafayette, Louisiana

From Tom of Travel Past 50

Put the usual New Orleans itinerary on its head.

Instead of focusing on the party that will barely take you out of the French Quarter, consider starting up the road in Lafayette, Louisiana, which offers all the food and music you want, with a close-up view of local history and Creole and Cajun culture.

Lafayette’s famous for its food and its music, and those commodities are abundant all year round.

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What might surprise visitors is the town’s historic and cultural attractions.

Start by acquiring some knowledge of the Acadian (or Cajun, as the name has evolved,) people.

Among the must-sees are the Jean Lafitte National Monument,  and the Alexandre Mouton House (also known as the Lafayette Museum.) The Acadiana Center for the Arts is both an art gallery and a concert music venue.

Downtown Lafayette is the center for food and entertainment.

historic buildings in downtown lafayette louisiana

It’s likely you’ll find yourself chatting with locals, visitors passing through, and vendors willing to share their favorite food, music, or shopping recommendations.

Go for broke first thing in the morning, and start with a heaping boudin omelet at Dwyer’s Cafe downtown.

Johnson’s Boucaniere is the place to go for a well-cured meaty lunch.

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A surprise find for supper is the Spanish restaurant Pamplona. A friendly vibe, a nice wine list, and some wonderful tasty treats like bacon-wrapped dates, garlic shrimp, calamari, mushrooms, and Asturian Fabada.

For local music, try the Blue Moon Saloon and guest house and the Wurst Biergarten, which is famous for its musical variety.

Swamp near Lafayette Louisana with trees reflecting in the water

Greenville, South Carolina

From Natalie of Tourist 2 Local

Once an afterthought, Greenville, SC is now one of the top places to visit in the south. 

Visitors are drawn to its charming downtown, up-and-coming foodie scene, and what seems to be an endless amount of nature to explore.  

Main Street is the highlight. It’s where the locals love to be, and where tourists will find plenty to discover. 

For starters, head to Greenville’s iconic Liberty Bridge where you can enjoy a beautiful view of Falls Park while munching on tasty ice cream from Spill the Beans. 

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If you are looking to be entertained, the warmer months offer easygoing concerts, a lively Saturday morning market, movies in the park, and some fun festivals.  

When it comes to food, Greenville will not disappoint.  There’s an abundance of good restaurants with all sorts of specialties:  Southern food, Mediterranean, Persian, Italian, Afghani, and lots more!

As far as places to eat, you can’t go wrong with any of the Table 301 restaurants.  The Anchorage, Smoke on the Water, and Pomegranate on Main are popular, among many others!

Downtown Greenville South Carolina, an up and coming southern weekend getaway, with the river in the foreground of the photo

After enjoying Greenville’s beautiful downtown, it’s time to get out of the city.

Biking the Swamp Rabbit Trail is a local favorite. Rent a bike from the SRT Bike shop and bike to the quaint town of Travelers Rest.

Once there, bikers can refuel on crepes, southern BBQ, pizza, and local beer. 

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If you are into water activities, Lake Jocassee is a gorgeous lake at the foot of the mountains where tourists can kayak, stand up paddle, and even rent a boat to discover the lake’s secret waterfalls.  

Hiking is also a favorite among adventure goers and trails at Caesars Head and Table Rock are some of the most popular. 

mountainous view from table rock greenville south carolina

Durham, North Carolina

From Christina of NC Tripping

Durham, North Carolina was once a booming tobacco town.

With the train still running down the center of the city and magnificent brick warehouses that have been repurposed into businesses, office spaces, and apartments, it’s not hard to fall in love with Durham.

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Also called the “Bull City”, Durham is home to technology innovation, James Beard level cuisine, and a hip vibe that is unique to this part of North Carolina.

If you are looking for weekend things to do in Durham, then your bucket list will be longer than hours in the days!

downtown park with a round fountain in durham north carolina southern city

Hike the trails along the Eno River, stare in awe at Duke University’s Chapel, or take in the sunset over the city at the rooftop bar at The Durham Hotel.

The former tobacco warehouse district known as American Tobacco Campus is now home to corporations like Burt’s Bees and local restaurants, but it is a beautiful area to stroll and enjoy where history and innovation come together.

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Bring the family and explore the 84 acres of the Museum of Life and Science or spark your inner creativity at the music-themed play space Notasium.

There is something for everyone for a weekend trip down south in Durham, North Carolina. 

Tree lined streets in Durham NC on Duke University campus
Photo provided by Christina of NC Tripping. Reused with permission.

Little Rock, Arkansas

From Lori of Southerner Says

There are at least three things that make Little Rock, Arkansas the perfect southern weekend getaway.

First, it’s easy to get to from most parts of the country. Less travel time means more time to enjoy the city!

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Second, it’s budget-friendly, even for a family, since the city offers many free or low-cost activities.

Third, there is plenty to do for any style of travel! 

For couples looking for a romantic weekend trip in the south, stay downtown Little Rock at the romantic Capital Hotel. Restaurants, bars, and its own front porch mean plenty of alone time.

aerial view of arkansas capitol in little rock at sunset

Stroll along the Arkansas River and enjoy one of the walking bridges or browse the sculptures in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden.

For families, there’s the Little Rock Zoo and the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum where guests can tour a real nuclear submarine.

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At Heifer Village, visitors will see first hand how they are making a difference in feeding the world and everyone, kids and adults, will love playing with the animals on the farm.

For a girls getaway, choose the trendy SoMa, or South Main neighborhood.

Cute shops, tasty restaurants, a distillery tour, and the Esse Purse Museum, are just a few of the fun activities to fill your southern weekend getaway.

view of forest and river from pinnacle mountain in little rock ar, one of the best places to visit in southeast usa

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Covington, Georgia

Picturesque and charming, the small town of Covington is such a beautiful place to visit in the south that it is most famous for being a filming location!

Movies and TV shows from “The Dukes of Hazzard” to “Sweet Magnolias” have been filmed in Covington, GA.

Perhaps most notably in the last decade, the long-running show “The Vampire Diaries” shot heavily in Covington, where the town itself played Mystic Falls, Virginia.

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Popular set locations such as the exterior of the Gilbert House and the Lockwood Mansion can be found in Covington!

Beyond filming locations, you can find plenty more things to do in Covington such as touring historic homes, enjoying the shops and restaurants in the charming town center, and even taking a ghost tour at night.

If you’re looking for a picturesque, small town weekend trip in the south–perhaps even for a couples’ romantic retreat–you can’t beat Covington!

This delightful town may be located just outside of Atlanta, but it feels worlds apart.

historic white home with people walking in front of it in covington ga

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

From Michelle of That Texas Couple

A getaway to Eureka Springs, Arkansas is one of the best southern USA weekend trips that you can take. 

Located high up in the hills of the Ozark Mountains, this charming Victorian-style town is big on history and hospitality. 

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Visitors to Eureka Springs quickly discover that the winding streets are host to cute boutique shops, wonderful historic hotels, and great southern restaurants. 

For years people flocked to Eureka Springs to experience the “healing powers” of the natural hot springs that flow throughout this area.  While visitors still enjoy the hot springs today, there is so much more to Eureka Springs. 

Surrounded by rivers and lakes, Eureka Springs is an outdoor lover’s paradise. 

st elizabeths church stone building eureka springs arkansas, one of the best hidden gems in the us

Explore the beautiful mountainous terrain on the many hike/bike trails, or try your hand at fishing in one of the local lakes. 

For those of you that prefer indoor activities, Eureka Springs has you covered as well. 

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There are numerous boutique shops and galleries throughout town to enjoy on your laid-back southern vacation. 

If you are into the paranormal, be sure, and take a ghost tour while visiting. 

The Crescent Hotel, which is located in Eureka Springs is said to be one of the most haunted hotels in America! 

The small-town charm along with numerous activities makes Eureka Springs a great weekend trip! 

View of overlook near Eureka Springs Arkansas with Crescent Hotel visible in the distance, one of the best weekend getaways in the south usa
Photo provided by Michelle of That Texas Couple. Reused with permission.

Helen, Georgia

From Shannon of Adventuring With Shannon

Looking for one of the most unique weekend getaways in the south? Look no further than Helen, Georgia.

This fairy-tale, Bavarian-style town is like something out of a dream and is the perfect location for a weekend trip in the south.

Visiting Helen truly feels like you have gotten away from it all and walked into a magical little town in the middle of the forest.

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Located a little over an hour outside of Atlanta, this quaint town looks nothing like its giant neighbor.

Helen is a Bavarian-style town in the middle of the woods that boasts amazing food, European culture, and quiet woods.

Many who visit choose to spend the day looking around the glass shops and eating at the German restaurants.

Some even try the homemade candy at the candy shop! 

bavarian architecture in helen, one of the cutest small towns in georgia usa to visit

If you are the outdoorsy type, Helen is located near the head of the Appalachian Trail.

This means that there are hundreds of hiking options including short trails, long trails, waterfall trails, mountain hikes, and more!

One of these amazing hikes is called the “Blood Mountain” hike. Even though it has a daunting name, the hike is one of the most beautiful hikes in Georgia.

It is part of the Appalachian Trail and is about a 4.5-mile hike round trip. The peak overlooks the mountains and the forest and it is a perfect day hike to take from Helen.

Helen, Georgia is a magical, quaint, outdoorsy, and fun cultural experience.

All of these things make it one of the best weekend trips in the south.

Bavarian-style rooftops in Helen Georgia, one of the best weekend getaways in the south

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Panama City Beach, Florida

From Ed & Jennifer Coleman of Coleman Concierge

Panama City Beach is a classic southern weekend getaway.

A tank of gas will transport you to a land of warm blue water and snow-white sand.

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PCB is located in the middle of the Florida panhandle, about halfway between Tallahassee and Pensacola, which makes it less than a day’s drive for most southern folks.

Roadtrippers will often stay at beachfront condos or St Andrews State Park, the busiest state park in Florida.

St Andrews Bay has the world’s largest population of bottlenose dolphins and quite a few dolphin cruises, many of which stop at beautiful Shell Island for a walk through the dunes.

two dolphins jumping out of the water in panama city beach florida

There’s also surprisingly good diving in PCB if you’re feeling adventurous, as well as kayak tours, jet skiing, parasailing, jet boats, airboats, and countless other ways to get out on the water.

On land, there are delicious restaurants for every taste.

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Favorites include Firefly, home to the best she-crab soup in Florida, and oceanfront dining at Captain Morgan’s.

Visitors can even book a beachfront picnic complete with catered food, hammocks, and a firepit.

Adventurous eaters will have to try the Southern Poutine at Thomas Donut and Snack Shop. It’s french fries loaded with pimento cheese and sausage gravy that epitomizes Floribama. 

Panama City Beach in Florida as seen from above with beach chairs laid out. PCB is a classic weekend trip in the south

Outer Banks, North Carolina

From Anjali of Travel Melodies

The Outer Banks, an archipelago of islands off the coast of North Carolina is sure to touch a chord in the hearts of all.

The Outer Banks–also known as OBX–makes for a great southern weekend destination at any time of the year.

OBX not only has mesmerizing beaches, but there are also a plethora of other activities to enjoy.

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It is the place where the Wright brothers (Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright) created history by successfully building and flying an aircraft. Visit the Wright Brothers Memorial and get inspired to chase your dreams.

The Jockey Ridge State Park has the largest natural dunes on the East Coast. Flying a kite seems like a ritual here.

Also, don’t miss the magical sunset at the state park.

view of black and white cape hatteras lighthouse north carolina

Adventure seekers are in for a treat with ample things to do in the Outer Banks.

Choose from water sports like parasailing, kayaking, or take a safari to chase the Wild horses. It has one of the best beaches to drive on.

The thrill to ride the AWD vehicle on the beach is unmatched!

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Corolla and Cape Hatteras allow driving, but one needs a permit to drive at Cape Hatteras Beach.

Driving the 138-mile long Outer Banks Scenic Byway is the best way to immerse in the gorgeous views of the ocean.

You can even ride the ferry to visit beautiful Ocracoke Island.

sunrise over outer banks beach. hatteras is one of the most beautiful small towns in america

Destin, Florida

From Disha of Disha Discovers

There are so many incredible weekend getaways in the south in the States and Destin, Florida is a charming place to visit for a weekend trip.

Even just a few days here give you enough time to soak in all of the beauty that the Emerald Coast has to offer!

Destin is just an all-around perfect southern beach town.

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The accommodation options are endless and cater to everyone’s preferences. Many people stay in condos situated on the beach to experience the cozy beach vibes.

The beaches in Destin are pristine with gorgeous blue water and soft sand.

Also, Destin is budget-friendly and offers experiences that cater to any budget. Plus, there are so many fun things to do here.

Visitors can participate in watersports such as jet skiing and wave running.

Couple sitting on the beach under a yellow umbrella in Destin Florida, one of the best places to visit in the south

Aside from that, there are plenty of dolphin watching tours and private sailing experiences. The dolphin-watching tour is even more special at sunset.

Destin is also bustling with delicious restaurants and the seafood is amazing.

Some of the best restaurants are on the Destin Harbor Boardwalk.

In addition, the Harbor Boardwalk has tons of entertainment and activities.

Crab Island is another popular place in Destin. Essentially, it’s a sandbar that sits underwater and can only be visited via boat.

Destin is one of the best beach weekend getaways in the south that will leave any visitor feeling relaxed and wanting to come back again.

group of boats parked at crab island destin florida

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

From Melissa of Navigation Junkie

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway.

Myrtle Beach is the perfect combination of beach life, nightlife, entertainment options, and great food.

Spending a weekend in Myrtle Beach will give you plenty of time to experience the best that this destination has to offer. 

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A few hours spent sunbathing, sandcastle building, and wave jumping is a must when visiting Myrtle Beach.

There are plenty of great beach options, including Surfside Beach and Myrtle Beach State Park.

Throughout the summer months, you can find live entertainment on many beaches throughout the area in the evening, such as live music and fireworks displays.

lit up ferris wheel spinning near the beach at night myrtle beach, one of the best weekend getaways south coast

Aside from the beach, Myrtle Beach is home to many great entertainment options.

Visit Broadway at the Beach for an array of attractions, including 100 unique shops, over 20 restaurants, Wonderworks, Ripley’s Aquarium, mini amusement park rides, mini-golf, and theaters. 

Head to the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk for more shopping and entertainment.

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Catch a ride on the Myrtle Beach Skywheel for stunning views of the ocean and city.

If you are a nature lover, escape for a few hours to Brookgreen Gardens, where you can explore a variety of different plant species, sculptures, and a zoo.

Whether you are traveling solo, as a couple, or as a family, Myrtle Beach is the perfect weekend getaway destination in the south.

Myrtle Beach South Carolina as seen from above at sunset, with colorful umbrellas lining the beach

Jekyll Island, Georgia

From Brianne of A Traveling Life

5,500-acre Jekyll Island is the smallest of Georgia’s barrier islands, but it packs in a lot of natural beauty as well as opportunities for fun and relaxation.

It’s also easy to access–it’s only a 90-minute drive from either Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida, and connected to the mainland by a bridge.

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Once on the island, you can enjoy 10 miles of pristine beaches, as well as four golf courses, 20 miles of bike paths, some of the best bird watching in the U.S., and water sports like boating, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.

Family-friendly activities include the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, the state’s only sea turtle education and rehabilitation facility, and the Summer Waves Water Park.

front facade of moss cottage, green with yellow trim, on jekyll island georgia

The island also has a fascinating history–it served as a private winter getaway for some of the nation’s richest families from 1888 to 1942.

Today, you can tour the 250-acre historic district, which features 33 preserved buildings that date back to the 19th and early 20th centuries.

While there are a few hundred year-round residents who live on Jekyll Island, most of the land is preserved, so there hasn’t been much new construction since the 1960s.

There are, however, 10 hotels plus a campground, about two dozen restaurants and plenty of shops.

Driftwood tree on Jekyll Island Georgia at sunset, one of the best weekend trips in the south usa

Key West, Florida

From Rhonda of Travel Yes Please

You can’t get more southern in the USA than a weekend getaway to Key West!

Key West is the southernmost city in the Florida Keys, a string of islands off the tip of mainland Florida.

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The small city has an inviting tropical vibe with a warm climate, palm trees, colorful conch-style architecture, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy watersports.

A weekend trip to Key West can be active and adventurous, slow-paced and relaxing, or a combination of both.

Adventurous types can spend their days out on the water going diving, snorkeling, fishing, parasailing, and kayaking.

Palm-tree lined path leading to Caribbean Sea beach in Key West Florida, one of the best southern weekend getaways

For a more relaxing getaway, spend some time sunning on the beach, strolling through the historic district, visiting museums and galleries, and enjoying a sunset sailboat cruise.

For an interesting excursion from Key West, do a day trip by ferry or seaplane to Dry Tortugas National Park.

Here you can take a tour of the historic Fort Jefferson, learning all about how it was used during the civil war.

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The turquoise water surrounding the island is also a great place to go snorkeling.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to Key West without trying a piece of the region’s famous key lime pie.

Indulging in this delicious dessert is the perfect way to end a fun-filled weekend in the Florida Keys!

aerial view of dry tortugas national park with boats parked in the water around the island

Hiking + Nature Focused Weekend Getaways in the South

Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

From Sydney of A World in Reach

If you’re looking for some of the best fun-filled weekend getaways in the south, look no further than the Great Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee.

This area is made up of three towns: Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville, all located near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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The best place to stay in the Great Smoky Mountains is hands-down one of the many log cabins in the area. You can find cabins in all three towns, but the best cabins are located closest to Gatlinburg.

These cabins have beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains and are located right in the middle of the two towns, which is a perfect location for visiting all of the attractions, including waterfall hikes like Rainbow Falls.

The Great Smoky Mountains are full of fun things to do–there’s a reason that the Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited of all of the national parks in the USA!

View of the Great Smoky Mountains during fall foliage season in the southern USA

To get in touch with nature, take a hike on one of the trails in the national park or go on a drive to Cades Cove. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see black bears!

Gatlinburg is known for its strip full of mini-golf courses, moonshine distilleries, and other fun attractions like the Ripley’s Aquarium and the Gatlinburg SkyLift.

Pigeon Forge is full of unique museums (Alcatraz East is one of the best), dinner shows, and more fun activities like go-kart tracks and mini-golf. Sevierville is home to more museums, activities, and a Tanger Outlets shopping mall.

Spending a weekend in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge also gives you the perfect opportunity to sample southern cuisine.

Make sure to stop by The Old Mill Restaurant for a delicious, homestyle meal!

historic gristmill in pigeon forge tennessee at night, one of the best places to stay down south

Asheville, North Carolina

From Stephanie of Explore More, Clean Less

Asheville, North Carolina is a popular destination for mountains with a side of quirky, artsy charm!

It retains its small-town feel, tucked amidst lush greenery and segmented by winding roads.

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Everyone should check out the Biltmore Estate to explore the expansive mansion, beautiful gardens, and unique shopping center.

The River Arts District is brimming with street art and dozens of small artist studios where you can watch them work and shop for handmade art to take home as souvenirs.

kate storm in a blue dress in front of the biltmore house asheville north carolina

Downtown Asheville is a great place to wander, with active street musicians, little boutiques, tasty dessert shops, and nationally renowned farm-to-table restaurants.

The museum scene is up and coming, with the Asheville Museum of Science, Asheville Art Museum, and Center for Craft.

Lastly, you shouldn’t visit Asheville without taking in one of their many beautiful hikes.

Whether you’re seeking a stunning waterfall or breathtaking long-range views, there is a trail for every experience level and even some amazing North Carolina waterfalls that you can enjoy without leaving your car.

Pick out a favorite from this list of easy hikes near Asheville NC and hit the trails!

If the weather is hot, tag on a tubing tour and explore their waterways as well.

Skyline of Asheville NC at sunset with Blue Ridge Mountains in the background, one of the best weekend trips in the south

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

From Zach & Julie of Ruhls of the Road

The Great Smoky Mountains make for an epic weekend getaway into the wilderness, complete with stunning mountaintop views, wildlife, and a sky absolutely full of stars.

Plan a trip here and get ready for the experience of a lifetime!

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The number one thing to do in the Smoky Mountains is enjoying the wilderness.

Hiking to Abram Falls, Cascade Falls, and Mount Cammerer are all wonderful experiences with beautiful views.

Kate Storm hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the best east coast USA road trip routes.

On top of that, the Cades Cove drive is an absolute must-see 11-mile loop through one of the best sections of the park.

Here you’ll have the chance to see wildlife, mountain views, and a few rustic cabins with immense historical value.

The Great Smoky Mountains are a great stargazing site as well.

In the middle of the park, if you get the chance to camp for the night, spend some time out underneath the stars. It will be time well spent.

rainbow falls smoky mountains, surrounded by green foliage

Other Fun Southern Weekend Getaways

Disney World, Florida

From Victoria of Disney Trippers

Disney World is easily one of the best southern USA weekend trips!

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First, everyone knows that Disney can be expensive and it is hard to afford a long trip. Enter the weekend Disney trip!

There is so much to see and do at Disney World for the weekend, it is the perfect snack-size amount of time to enjoy your favorite parks!

First, you are going to need a place to stay!

Magic Kingdom Castle in Florida with a crowd in front of it--Disney World is absolutely one of the top weekend getaways in the south

If you didn’t already know, you can rent Disney Vacation Club Points which allows you to stay at Deluxe Resorts [usually $700/night] for a fraction of the cost [$250/night!].

There are also a variety of budget-friendly options both on and off Disney property. You can even Airbnb-it!

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Next, you will choose if you want to visit any special events such as a Halloween or Christmas party.

There are lots of things you can do at Disney outside of the parks, so you can only pay for 2 park days, and spend the third day visiting Disney Springs and relaxing at your hotel pool!

Either way, you can’t go wrong when spending the weekend at Disney!

colorful fireworks show in the southeast united states

Universal Orlando, Florida

Famously home to Harry Potter World and some of the best roller coasters in the USA, Universal Orlando makes for a memorable few days of exploring.

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If you’re looking for one of the best theme-park getaways in the south and want to head to Orlando, but aren’t a Disney person, consider making your way to Universal as part of your Orlando itinerary instead!

Whether you’re visiting Orlando with kids or are simply a kid at heart, Universal Orlando makes for an unforgettable southern weekend getaway.

shot of islands of adventure universal at night from across the water, one of the best places to visit in the south east usa

Made up of three separate parks (Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and the newest addition, the waterpark of Volcano Bay), Universal Orlando is the go-to theme park destination in the area for thrill rides, and–most popularly these days–Harry Potter fans.

Harry Potter World is perhaps the biggest draw to the park, and certainly one of the most unique places to visit in the south (and if you’re wondering if a Harry Potter-themed outfit is a great idea for what to wear in Universal, the answer is definitely yes)!

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The themed area of the park includes several rides, as well as immersive recreations of Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley (shops included in both–this is the perfect chance to sip butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks or pick up your wand at Ollivander’s!).

You can also ride the Hogwarts Express, which you can ride between the two parks of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

4 photos: key west beach, great smoky mountains, nola building, jekyll islands sunset. black and yellow text reads "25 best southern weekend getaways"

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About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

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