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25 Best Weekend Getaways in the South

From charming small towns to national parks, these are the best weekend getaways in the South.

Anne Olivia Bauso is a travel writer and hotel expert based in New York City. She has written hundreds of hotel reviews, from 5-star Ritz-Carlton properties to treehouse eco-resorts in the jungle.

best southern weekend trips

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Mark your map, pack your seersucker, and practice your “hey, y’alls.” It’s time to explore the South — a place where live oaks meet Atlantic-washed shores, where extraordinary caverns lie below the surface, where blues and jazz clubs blare music 'til late, and where a glass of bourbon is never too far off. We’re here with 25 potential additions to your travel wish list — southern edition — from limelight-loving cities to under-the-radar small towns . Here are 25 of the best weekend getaways in the South.

Related: The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023

1. Savannah, Georgia

With well-preserved architecture and oaks dripping with Spanish moss, Savannah is easy to fall in love with. A spotlight has been thrown on the city’s dining scene in recent years; splashy new openings like The Grey and Common Thread have impressed diners with their Southern hospitality and memorable takes on Georgia-grown ingredients.

2. Bowling Green, Kentucky

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For some people, Bowling Green’s appeal can be summed up in two words: cars and caves. At the National Corvette Museum, even non-auto geeks might drool at the mint-condition models and prototypes of America’s most famous car. (Schedule an assembly plant tour if you want to see these babies in production.) Then go from man-made beauty to natural: Take the underground boat tour of the Lost River Cave, which has been a Native American hunting ground, Jesse James' hideaway, and, of all things, a 1930s nightclub throughout its history. Mammoth Cave National Park isn’t too far from here if you’re interested in shimmying down into the longest-known cave in the world.

3. Chattanooga, Tennessee

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Chattanooga is having a moment. The scenic riverside city leaves a mark on visitors with its mountain scenery and booming downtown filled with hotels, barbecue joints, and hot spots like Easy Bistro & Bar, a French restaurant and raw bar that makes full use of Southern ingredients (regulars love the charcuterie board). At Lookout Mountain, you can behold an underground waterfall and test your nerves on one of the world’s steepest passenger railroads.

4. Wilmington, North Carolina

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Dawson’s Creek and other TV and film productions may have put Wilmington on the map, but there’s so much more to this lively riverfront city than Hollywood ties. Stroll the Riverwalk to the skylit Old Wilmington City Market and the rambling Cotton Exchange, a shopping and dining complex spread over several historic buildings. Get Airlie Gardens tickets in advance to see 100,000 azalea trees and a live oak dating back to the 1500s. Wrightsville Beach is 10 minutes away by car, and many other powdery island options are just a bit further. We recommend staying at Dreamers Welcome , a darling design-forward boutique hotel and vacation home.

5. New Orleans, Louisiana

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The city that gave birth to jazz, Sazeracs, poker, and po’boys, New Orleans has never lost its groove. NOLA’s staying power can be attributed to its unique architecture (a mix of French, Spanish, and Caribbean influences), pleasure-seeking spirit, and live music scene; between Tipitina’s, Preservation Hall, Chickie Wah Wah, and countless other jazz bars, you can jam to live sets pretty much every night of the year. This is one of the world’s bonafide must-visit food capitals — soak up your Hurricanes with Creole gumbo, oysters Rockefeller, muffulettas, and red beans and rice.

6. Natchez, Mississippi

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Natchez, Mississippi is packed with history. Spend time at the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture and the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, a museum park with prehistoric Native American mounds. Riverboat gambling and annual festivals celebrating literature, film, and music are also big draws. The Natchez Trace — one of the most beautiful places in the country — kicks off here for its 444-mile journey to Nashville.

7. Asheville, North Carolina

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This bohemian small city in the North Carolina mountains has been a favorite getaway for over a century. The best Asheville itinerary? Eat, hike, eat again, shop indie, drink a microbrew, repeat. Seasonal and sustainable fare is front and center on local menus, with faves like Rhubarb, Sovereign Remedies, and Cucina 24 making the most of the Appalachian bounty. To work off a meal (and build your appetite back up for the next), try Craggy Pinnacle, a hike popular for the amazing views from its summit, especially when the mountains are ablaze with turning leaves in fall. 

8. Hot Springs, Arkansas

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You might think everything you need to know about Hot Springs is right there in the name. Yes, you’re probably here to “take the waters” in Hot Springs National Park . Yet there are also plenty of non-aquatic activities like hiking (including the 26 miles of trails throughout the national park), exploring the lovely Garvan Woodland Gardens, going on a self-guided downtown Art Deco tour, and more.

9. Charleston, South Carolina

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If Southern hospitality had an absolute epicenter, it’d be Charleston, South Carolina . The city is the real deal in one walkable package, known for candy-colored homes fronted by palmettos and lush gardens shaded by oaks. Yet the city isn’t exactly frozen in time; Charleston’s culinary and shopping scenes are very much of the here and now, and there's always a new hotel to check out.

10. Louisville, Kentucky

If you like baseball, bourbon, bluegrass, and yes, horses, Louisville is for you. Hop on the bourbon trail at Stitzel-Weller Distillery, a historic distillery now offering tastings, mixology classes, and more. Then trade the malty aroma of local distilleries for the fresh greenery of Central Park or the cool air of Louisville Mega Caverns, where you can go on an underground zip line 100 feet above the canyon floor. Bed down at museum hotel 21c or the Grady Hotel, a swanky new boutique hotel in an 1883 building whose former tenants included the original designer for Kentucky Derby hats.

11. Bryson City, North Carolina

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The town of Bryson City, North Carolina may be small (population: 1,500), but it's big on outdoor fun. Sitting just south of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Bryson City is a charming little mountain hub for hiking (the national park’s Deep Creek Trail is a favorite), horseback riding, zip lining, brewery-going, and scenic-steam-train-riding. A required stop is The Bistro at the Everett Hotel , right on the town’s main square; the local trout cakes and meatloaf make a welcome meal after a big day in the great outdoors.

12. Nashville, Tennessee

The Nashville renaissance shows no sign of slowing down. Neon-lit honky-tonks partying 'til the wee hours, country superstars taking the Grand Ole Opry stage, a booming food landscape encompassing everything from closely guarded hot-chicken recipes and venerable shrines to Southern cooking to James Beard Award-winning kitchens — Nashville’s star just keeps getting brighter. Drop your bags at the newly revitalized Hermitage Hotel and get on the dance floor.

13. Saint Simons Island, Georgia

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Drive an hour and a half south of Savannah and you find yourself on Saint Simons Island, part of Georgia’s Golden Isles chain. Mother nature runs the show here, and it’s not always easy to tell where the land ends and the water begins. Expect rivers and creeks surrounded by salt marsh, live oak trees draped with moss (best seen at Avenue of the Oaks), and knockout beaches sweeping along the Atlantic. All that nature time can be peppered with (extremely scenic) golfing, biking, fishing, and visiting an impressive slew of historic sites.

14. Amelia Island, Florida

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Welcome to the quieter side of Florida. This sweet barrier island promises shimmering quartz beaches, towering sand dunes, peaceful bike paths, kayak-ready waterways, and a darling historic downtown area. Low-key and laid-back are a lifestyle here, though things pick up considerably during the annual car show (March), shrimp festival (April-May), and pétanque championship (November).

15. Roanoke, Virginia

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Tucked into Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke, also known as “Star City,” is well-known in the area for its small-town charm, Appalachian heritage, and gorgeous mountain views. Mill Mountain Park is home to a zoo, wildflower garden, and hiking trails, and it's topped with a 100-foot steel-and-concrete mountaintop star, illuminated and visible for miles. From there, it’s just three miles to the antique cars and trains at the Virginia Museum of Transportation and the Rockwells and Sargents at the (free!) Taubman Museum of Art.

16. Ocracoke, North Carolina

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Getting to Ocracoke requires a bit of work. An island in North Carolina’s remote Outer Banks , Ocracoke is only accessible by boat or ferry, but those who make the journey are rewarded with sugar-white sands and a bustling coastal village. This is a true escape as nearly all of the island is protected by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

17. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

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Hikers, drivers, birders, backpackers, anglers, equestrians, astronomy lovers — there’s something for everyone at Shenandoah National Park. Part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the park features famous Skyline Drive, a white-knuckle mountaintop ribbon of asphalt; wooded hollows; hundreds of miles of hiking and horse-riding trails; and nearly 100 mountain fishing streams. For epic stargazing, camp or stay at the lodges near Big Meadows.

18. Macon, Georgia

The birthplace of Otis Redding and Little Richard, the adopted home of the Allman Brothers, and the hometown of country star Jason Aldean, Macon is a small town that’s made a big dent in history — musical and otherwise. It’s home to prehistoric Indigenous sites, thousands of National Register-listed buildings, and the Tubman Museum honoring African American art and culture. It’s not called the “Festival Capital of Georgia” for nothing: Events celebrating music, film, Indigenous culture, sports, and more dominate the Macon calendar.

19. Oxford, Mississippi

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Oxford is most famous for being the home of William Faulkner. For decades, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner based his life at Rowan Oak, an 1840s Greek Revival mansion. On a self-guided tour, you can wander around the home at your leisure, seeing his typewriter and the plot outline for “A Fable” scribbled on the wall of his study. From the house, take the forested Bailey’s Woods trail to the University of Mississippi Art Museum to see works by Georgia O’Keefe and Man Ray.

20. Orange Beach, Alabama

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As far as Gulf beach vacations go, Florida gets all the love, but check out this oft-overlooked neighboring town just over the state line. Laid-back Orange Beach offers the same unbeatable sugar-soft shoreline, plus family-friendly amusement and water parks, dolphin cruises, nature trails, championship golf, fishing excursions, and free concerts.

21. Memphis, Tennessee

In Memphis, the door is always open for barbecue lovers and music fans. The city’s Beale Street is a rowdy neon stream of flashing lights, club-hopping pedestrians (this is the one place in the state you can walk around with your drink), and the yowls of electric guitars pouring out of blues joints. Two essential Memphis stops are Sun Records, the studio where Elvis and Johnny Cash recorded, and Graceland, Elvis’ private mansion and frozen-in-time stronghold of midcentury kitsch.

22. Key West, Florida

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Brimming with “Floribbean” flavor, Key West in the Florida Keys is so special, it almost doesn’t feel real. This coral island 100 miles from the mainland is a sun-soaked playground of tiki drinks, bike rides, Cuban sandwiches, key lime pies, and quirky Bahamian-inspired cottages. It’s where Tennessee Williams said he worked best, where Ernest Hemingway came from Paris to “dry out his bones” (and then remained for nearly a decade), and from where the first international passenger flight was made when Pan American Airways jetted seven riders to Havana in 1928. Today, the airline’s former headquarters is the sort of easy-breezy restaurant and bar where you could while away an afternoon with fish tacos and a key lime margarita.

23. Washington, D.C.

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Monuments and museums (and for a few fleeting weeks in spring, cherry blossoms) may be what get you there, but once you see how rich D.C.’s cultural offerings are, you might just want to extend your stay. Walker-friendly neighborhoods like Georgetown and Dupont Circle, hiking and picnicking at Rock Creek Park, and a surprisingly hip nightlife and food scene are just some of the surprises the town has up its sleeve.

24. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

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From Gatlinburg’s distilleries and amusement parks to Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s waterfalls and wildlife, this neck of the woods is a destination with no equal. It makes an excellent family getaway, packed with kid-friendly trails, park activities, and attractions ranging from the Ripley’s aquarium to the Mountain Farm Museum across the border in North Carolina that gives a glimpse into what mountain life was like a century ago. 

25. Charleston, West Virginia

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The spirit of the Appalachian Mountains is strong in Charleston. This former frontier town and state capital has more travelers discovering its mountain charms. See what’s fresh at the Capitol Market and fill your bags with wine, cheese, and honey; chase all kinds of outdoor pursuits in Kanawha State Forest; and hit U.S. Route 60 for a corkscrew drive through jaw-dropping scenery.

30 Best Weekend Getaways in the South

Charleston and Nashville are fun, but it's time to head somewhere new.

Best Weekend Getaways in the South

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Pick any town below the Mason-Dixon line, and you're destined to find old-fashioned Southern hospitality and charm—not to mention tons of delicious comfort food and stunning architectural eye candy. But here's the thing: You've already done the whole Nashville thing, you've seen Charleston more times than you can count, and you've eaten your weight in beignets down in New Orleans too. Where else can you find loads of culture, entertainment, shopping, and opportunities for relaxation in the South?

While bigger cities usually get all the love (and listen, you don't have to tell us twice why they're awesome!), we think it's high time to look beyond the usual suspects and escape to quirkier gems. Looking for something outdoorsy and artsy with a killer small town main street ? Knoxville, Tennessee, or laid-back Lexington, Kentucky, might be your spots. Interested in a kid-friendly trip? Head to Lake Murray, South Carolina! Here, find our favorite surprising southern destinations to book for a memorable trip with your best sidekicks.

Danville, Kentucky

Danville, Kentucky Best Weekend Getaways in the South

Looking for the ultimate small town main street? You'll find it in Danville, along with all the shops, restaurants, and galleries you could ask for. Pro tip: Sync your trip dates up with the Kentucky State BBQ Festival.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Best Weekend Getaways in the South Hot Springs, Arkansas

You'll want to check out the springs for which this peaceful town is named, of course, but that's not where the relaxing vibes end. Hot Springs also offers multiple wellness clubs, spas, and saunas. Perfect for a weekend trip!

PLAN YOUR TRIP

Flat Rock, North Carolina

Flat Rock North Carolina Best Weekend Getaways in the South

You won't have to wonder why Flat Rock was added to the National Register of Historic Places back in 2015. This friendly town is only 30 miles away from Asheville, and it's a wonderful place to see fall foliage.

Bardstown, Kentucky

Bardstown Best Weekend Getaways in the South

Bardstown isn't just the "Bourbon Capital of the World"—though that'd be reason enough to pay this quaint locale a visit. It's also the second-oldest city in Kentucky. Take a trip to the Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam distilleries, or just check out the main square.

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Best Weekend Getaways in the South Baysville

Seaside allure gets muddled with artistic soul in this groovy southern town that you'd probably just drive right past on your way to New Orleans if you weren't in the know (most aren't). While in town, you can relax with your posse during a restorative class at Treehouse Yoga, which offers just as much whimsical and free-flowing fun as its name might hint at.

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Bridge, Transport, Road, Overpass, Highway, Concrete bridge, Freeway, Mountain pass, Viaduct, Infrastructure,

This is the North Carolina that small town mountain fantasies are made of. You could easily spend all day in a rocking chair, soaking up views of the lush wilderness, but we suggest hitting the road to check out the breathtaking vistas on the Blue Ridge Parkway aka "America's favorite drive." Make a pitstop at renowned Moses H. Cone Memorial Park , for a quick but memorable visit to the craft center, before heading onto Canyons for some tasty grub and unreal mountain views. Rest your weary feet at Chetola Resort —where your gang might have a hard time prying themselves away from the sauna—or at the elegantly restored Green Park Inn . (Fun fact: Margaret Mitchell spent time penning Gone With the Wind there!)

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Liqueur, Drink, Distilled beverage, Alcohol, Blond, Bar, Pub, Beer, Brown hair,

Groups looking for off-the-beaten path thrills will be more than satisfied with a weekend in this Bluegrass State prize of a town. You can finally use the word "spelunk" in everyday conversation as you tour the world's longest cave at Mammoth Cave National Park (you'd never guess you're just an hour north of Nashville!). Then, you can make the kiddos back at home jealous when you and the ladies take some classic cars for a spin at the National Corvette Museum . Finally, enjoy a fun night out at the 1869 Boyce General Store , where you can take a canning or baking class, or simply enjoy some live music at its "Pickin' on the Patio" event every other weekend in the summer. Slip into bed at the funky-yet-elegantly outfitted Kentucky Grand Hotel , which offers a cool Prohibition-era vibe .

Charlottesville, Virginia

Property, Swimming pool, Building, Estate, House, Home, Sky, Real estate, Resort, Mansion,

Nestled in central Virginia's wine country, there's a million reasons you won't want to say goodbye to the Keswick Hall & Golf Club (wine definitely being one of them, thanks to the resort's vineyard). Perhaps start your day with the 3 Bs—birdwatching, bocce ball, and badminton—and end your night in the energy-infused streets of downtown Charlottesville. Since there's likely still one or two Dave Matthews Band Crash -era devotees in your throng, raise a pint at Miller's (ask for the DMB brew), where Dave himself tended bar when the band's biggest shows were at UVA frat houses and the 900-person Trax nightclub . (And you thought you were cool because you caught them on your local amphitheater's lawn back in '97...)

Islamorada, Florida

Tree, Vacation, Sea, Tourism, Sky, Water, Beach, Ocean, Travel, Pier,

Call the luxurious and rejuvenating Cheeca Lodge Resort & Spa , located on the islands of Islamorada in the Florida Keys , home base for your next girls' getaway. (Islamorada means "purple islands," a name that will click upon arrival). There, you and the gaggle can indulge in the true joy that is the adults-only pool, book a treatment (or two) at the spa, and eat way too many sushi rolls at the resort's lauded Nikai Sushi Bar. Should you choose to take your retreat off-property, try backcountry skiffing with Bud N'Mary's for some of the best sport fishing the country has to offer.

Columbia, South Carolina

Photography, Shopkeeper, Street, City, Tourism,

Pulsing with a vibrant, artsy energy, downtown Columbia is sprinkled with enough bakeries, boutiques, restaurants, and coffee shops to set the backdrop for RGMs (Really Good Memories). Remember The Andy Griffith Show ? This Palmetto State treasure emits a "Mayberry-esque" quality, despite its fast growth in recent years. Nest up at the Inn at USC where you can spend hours relaxing on the wide wrap-around porch and feeling far removed from the hustle of city life, even though you're only a few blocks from plenty of dining options and attractions, like the industrial Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Alehouse . While in town, assemble the gals for an afternoon trip to West Columbia (it's a quick 10-minute jaunt across the river) where you'll find the Old Mill Antique Mall , a two-level historic building that houses over 75 dealers with some of the coolest antiques, furniture, and vintage finds around. After, congregate at Cafe Strudel , a zany pour-your-own coffee bar, to dish about your vintage bounty.

Fort Myers, Florida

Property, House, Coast, Sea, Shore, Coastal and oceanic landforms, Vacation, Water, Bay, Real estate,

Abandon any preconceived notions you may have about what spring break in Florida is like, and get ready to unwind on the picturesque beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel Island. Fans of the culinary arts will be excited to sink their teeth into the incredible Peruvian-Argentinian-Italian fusion at El Gaucho Inca or conquer the daunting yet delicious portions at Farmers Market Restaurant , which specializes in homey, southern cooking. Then burn off all that grub by exploring Sanibel and Captiva Islands, which offer some of the world's best shelling (and have no buildings higher than a palm tree).

Point Clear, Alabama

Property, House, Building, Home, Botany, Architecture, Estate, Garden, Tree, Real estate,

Worthy as a destination in itself, the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear is a gorgeous resort and spa tucked away on 550 sprawling acres along the Alabama coastline. Studded by 36 holes on its esteemed golf course and a member of the Historic Hotels of America , the hotel was founded in 1847. It now offers outdoor and indoor swimming pools, an art gallery, and daily tea-and-cookie service in the lobby. Relax at the spa before heading to the daily historic cannon- firing ceremony (seriously!). As you stroll around the nearby town of Fairhope, you'll wonder why you didn't take an extra vacation day. Oh well, Sunday Jazz Brunch awaits...

Greenville, South Carolina

Nature, Natural landscape, Water, Tree, Reflection, River, Bridge, Daytime, Waterway, Leaf,

Ah, where to start? Food seems like a good place to kick things off in this epicurean haven, anointed one of the New York Times ' top places to go in 2017 . First, there are the oldies like Grill Marks (order a boozy milkshake) and Sidewall Pizza . Then, there are the newbies, like Biscuit Head (get a Bloody Mary on the side to wash 'em down) and The Anchorage , with a focus on seasonal, local ingredients. Ward off a food coma by heading over to M.Judson Booksellers and Storytellers for a reading, or to pick up some titles for an impromptu book club with your gals. Falls Park , with its cascading waterfalls and scene-stealing gardens, seems like a good spot for the literary discussion, as do the grounds of the rustic Hotel Domestique , where you'll want to hit the hay early so you can squeeze in a group yoga class in the morning.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Reflection, Water, Lighting, Night, Sky, Home, Tree, Evening, Harbor, Architecture,

You know a day that starts with yoga on the beach and ends with harborside drinks with your besties before catching an outdoor Miranda Lambert concert is a good one. Here's how to make that fantasy itinerary a reality in this underrated beach town: First, book a session at Glow Yoga , then reserve an outdoor table at Driftwood Bar and Grille , and finally, look up the concert schedule at The Wharf (or, time your trip for the ever-popular Hangout Music Fest ). Of course, you'll probably need a place to stay, so score rooms at Turquoise Place , which has a lazy river and a bar with some of the best Bushwackers in town. Oh, and all roads should lead to the legendary Flora-Bama at the end of the night, a beachside mega-dive with live music straddling the Florida-Alabama line in the happiest of boozy limbos.

Hendersonville, North Carolina

Yellow, Snapshot, Youth, Community, Crowd, Event, Room, Photography, Recreation, Plant,

Step aside, Asheville. This neighboring town, tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is worthy of bucket list goals, too. Satiate your hankering for a dose of the outdoors by hiking the nearby trails, or take a stroll downtown on the extra-wide sidewalks punctuated by benches, flowers and outdoor cafes. Book a few nights at the Mélange Inn and Gardens , which serves as a convenient launching pad for adventures to countryside wineries, Sierra Nevada's massive East Coast brewery, and the famed Flat Rock Playhouse , which regularly hosts Broadway shows. Another fun fact to share with your friends: The recent remake of Dirty Dancing was filmed in Hendersonville!

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Nature, Sky, Landmark, City, Town, Human settlement, Architecture, Building, Tree, Urban area,

Whisk the group away to the pristine shores of beautiful Jekyll Island, a gorgeous state park that's protected from extensive development. At the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, book a package (there's a yoga retreat; murder mystery weekends; and whiskey, wine, and wildlife adventures ... just to name a few) or build your own itinerary. Whatever you choose to do, make sure Victorian tea, a day trip to the Okefenokee Swamp Park , and a guided water tour with Turtle Tides are all on your list. The property's regional southern Georgia cuisine is so good, you should expect to go on a grits kick for weeks when you return home.

Knoxville, Tennessee

Building, Landmark, City, Town, Architecture, Human settlement, Mixed-use, Downtown, Neighbourhood, Metropolitan area,

Nashville may the first place travelers think to go when visiting the Volunteer State, but Knoxville makes for a spectacular getaway if outdoor activities are your group's thing. Start at the Adventure Center which offers moonlit paddles, disc golf, and mountain biking (among many, many more options). After working up a sweat, the city's downtown district has oodles of mouthwatering dining options, but we're partial to the idea of a welcome night feast at Knox Mason , where everyone will beg the chef for the pimento cheese recipe. After dinner, enjoy a nightcap at sophisticated speakeasy Peter Kern Library , which moonlights as a coffeehouse by day. Next, you can retreat to your chambers at The Oliver Hotel , or find music and fun in Market Square . Just don't overdo it if the plan is to wake up early for rock climbing at Big South Fork the next day...

Lake Murray, South Carolina

Water transportation, Boat, Sail, Sailing, Vehicle, Water, Sailboat, Sky, Watercraft, Sailing,

Many people don't know there's 500 miles of undisturbed shoreline less than a half-hour drive outside of downtown Columbia. Many people are missing out. At this idyllic getaway, you'll find pristine views, hidden coves, and a glassy, peaceful lake that may just be the state's best-kept secret. Visit River Runner to rent a boat or kayak, and make a day out of lazing on the water, or pitch a tent at Brickhouse Campground for a backcountry experience that offers ample opportunity to tackle trails via foot or mountain bike. Hungry? Waterfront restaurant The Rusty Anchor provides solid grub. End your days at the old-school Newberry Manor where you can peacefully count sheep before drifting off.

Lewisburg, West Virginia

Yellow, Flower, Town, Property, Neighbourhood, Spring, Residential area, Plant, Architecture, Urban area,

Picture your dream antiques-themed Pinterest board. Now picture it coming to life in the form of a small-town Appalachian town. Welcome to Lewisburg. Wander through its antique stores and galleries, like the Harmony Ridge Gallery and Robert's Antiques and Wine Shop (which houses over 600 labels of vino) before refueling on java at community gathering place, The Wild Bean . Or, spend your bonding-time staying put in one place: The Greenbrier , a sprawling historic resort which opened in 1778. If you're looking to stay closer to town, you'll be hard-pressed to find better lodging than the Historic General Lewis Inn , which offers up authentic, nostalgia-stirring southern cooking that you won't forget anytime soon.

Mobile, Alabama

House, Building, Property, Home, Mansion, Estate, Architecture, Residential area, Real estate, Tree,

If you want to laissez le bon temps rouler New Orleans-style without having to deal with crazy crowds and steep prices, consider Mobile, the birthplace of Mardi Gras in America. Spend some time moseying around the waterfront's galleries and boutiques, under a charming canopy of oak trees, before taking a quick drive to famed Bellingrath Gardens and Home . Then, ditch sea level for dinner at Dauphin's , perched high over the bay—34 stories up in the Trustmark Building, specifically—where you'll want to save plenty of room for a plate of the local Gulf shrimp. Make your home away from home The Battle House Hotel , that is steeped in Dixieland elegance.

Headshot of Perri O. Blumberg

Perri is a New York City-born and -based writer; she holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Columbia University and is also a culinary school graduate of the plant-based Natural Gourmet Institute, which is now the Natural Gourmet Center at the Institute of Culinary Education. Her work has appeared in the New York Post, Men's Journal, Rolling Stone, Oprah Daily, Insider.com, Architectural Digest, Southern Living, and more. She's probably seen Dave Matthews Band in your hometown, and she'll never turn down a bloody mary. Learn more at VeganWhenSober.com .

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  • 5 Athens, GA
  • 6 Charlottesville, VA
  • 7 Chattanooga, TN

The Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Southern Getaways

From Charleston to Savannah, New Orleans to Nashville, the South’s most atmospheric cities draw tourists in droves. But look deeper and you’ll find that the region’s second cities offer just as much history and sense of place as their more famous siblings—plus they’re often less crowded, allowing you to experience their leisurely charms as the locals do. We’ve rounded up seven off-the-beaten-path Southern getaways that are ripe for discovering. But hurry: They won’t stay under-the-radar for long.

Jen has been a staff editor at Architectural Digest, Travel + Leisure, and Martha Stewart Weddings, and her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Afar, and Elle Decor. When she's not snowmobiling in the French Alps or tasting scotch straight from the barrel in Scotland, she's at home in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

See recent posts by Jennifer Fernandez

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Greenville, SC

There’s much ado about Charleston’s resurgent food scene, but another South Carolina town is poised to give the city a run for its money. In Greenville, restaurants like the second outpost of Sean Brock’s game-changing Crescent City staple Husk are upping the ante with seasonal farm-to-table menus. Don’t miss the braised beef shortrib or bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin at Soby's , a cool spot built inside an 1800s former cotton exchange that retains its original brickwork and wooden beams. Stay at the Hotel Domestique, in nearby Traveler’s Rest, where beginner and expert cyclers alike can explore the winding trails of the Blue Ridge Mountains in style.

Explore More: See hotel details | See all Travelers Rest, SC hotels

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Boca Grande, FL

Off Florida’s Gulf Coast, the tiny barrier island of Gasparilla is an idyllic escape free of traffic lights and other modern annoyances (bikes and golf-carts are the main mode of transport). What it does have are long, sandy beaches, sea-glass waves, and a restored 1890 lighthouse on shores known for shelling and tarpon fishing. The sunny guest rooms at the 1913 grand dame Gasparilla Inn , which has hosted the likes of John Singer Sargent, Henry DuPont, and the Bush clan, ensure a restful stay. Come sunset, venture into downtown Boca Grande to sip rumrunners on the harbor-front patio at Miller’s Dockside , then reserve a table at Temptation , a funky restaurant where the grouper comes from right off the boat.

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New Orleans may get all the glory, but this 1702 gulf town is the real birthplace of Mardi Gras, a fact gleaned over an afternoon spent at the Mobile Carnival Museum . NoLa resembles its predecessor in other ways, too (see the Queen Anne buildings and cast iron balconies on Dauphin Street). If architecture is your fancy, head to Oakleigh, Bragg Mitchell Mansion, and other historic house museums for a glimpse into antebellum life. Gracious Fort Conde Inn is itself a restored 1836 home—the second oldest in town—complete with original artwork and era-appropriate antiques. Drop your bags, then sample modern takes on the celebrated Southern-Creole cuisine this place is known for, from deviled eggs to fried oysters, at The Noble South .

RELATED :  The 8 Most Underrated Cities in America

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Natchez, MS

To experience the romantic ideal of the Old South, look no further than one of the oldest settlements on the Mississippi River, where the trees drip with Spanish moss and the mint juleps are flowing. Hike the Natchez Trace to see the woodland trade routes that once connected Nashville to this colonial cotton capital on your way to Monmouth Historic Inn , a 19th-century mansion framed by sprawling gardens of magnolia trees and azalea bushes. A day spent exploring the historic house museum feels like a step back in time (tour guides at Rosalie wear traditional hoop skirts), as does a stroll through the atmospheric Natchez cemetery, with its live oaks overlooking the river.

Explore More: See hotel details | See all Natchez, MS hotels

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The funky college town that produced bands like R.E.M. and the B-52s has a personality all its own, which is evident in the quirky shops and restaurants of its Victorian downtown streets. The racks at Dynamite Clothing are a vintage lover’s dream, while midcentury furniture enthusiasts might prefer the digs at Starlite Showroom . If shopping isn’t your thing, grab a peanut butter, banana, and bacon doughnut at Ike & Jane Café , bring your drinks into a movie at independent movie house Ciné , then grab dinner at The National , acclaimed chef Hugh Acheson’s Southern-Mediterranean hybrid. But music is the real draw here. Catch a live act at Georgia Theater , an Athens institution, then end your evening with the locals at Normal Bar .

RELATED : America's Coolest Southern Towns

Explore More: See hotel details | See all Athens, GA hotels

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Charlottesville, VA

Oenophiles and historians will find plenty to love in C-ville, as the locals lovingly call it. The revolutionary vines of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello have given way to more than thirty regional wineries where terraced hills of grapes resemble a miniature Napa Valley. Raise a glass of petit verdot at King Family Vineyards ; the renowned Octagon blend is the order of the day at Barboursville Vineyards . Once you’ve exhausted your palate for reds, sample French small plates and let the bartender pick your poison at craft-cocktail den The Alley Light. But save room for dinner: C&O Restaurant serves farm-fresh French comfort food in a historic dining room overlooking its namesake rail lines. In the morning, fortify yourself with the Texas-style breakfast tacos at Brazos , then ride along the winding roads of Skyline Drive to see Shenandoah National Park in all its splendor.

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Chattanooga, TN

At first glance, Chattanooga doesn’t appear to be Tennessee’s most vibrant cultural capital (Nashville is just two hours north), but the low-key art scene is quickly making the scenic city a must-visit. Sculptures encourage interaction at Main Terrain Art Park , and public art is also displayed in unexpected pockets throughout town. You can glimpse works by the likes of Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol at the Hunter Museum of American Art , on a hilltop overlooking the Tennessee River. For a glimpse of under-the-radar local artists, opt for Southside’s Gallery 1401 . The vivid midcentury-style Dwell Hotel makes an ideal base for discovering the offerings of the newly renovated Chattanooga Choo Choo rail station. At Stir , a designated ice chef hand-cuts cubes for seasonal craft cocktails that complement the New American cuisine. Across the street, the Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery is a cozy micro distillery and drinking den accented with old barrel staves.

What to Pack on Your Trip

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17 Spectacular Southern USA Road Trip Itinerary Ideas

From the peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains to the sandy beaches of the Lowcountry, and from the music of Nashville to the food scene of New Orleans, there is no shortage of wonderful options when looking for the best southern USA road trip itineraries.

I’ve been taking road trips in the south for my entire life, crisscrossing across the southeast USA visiting cities, towns, national parks, beaches, marshes, and beyond.

And yet, even after all that time, there are still plenty of southern road trip routes on my wish list.

In order to give perspectives beyond my own, I asked several other travel bloggers to share their favorite road trips in the south, and the result is a road trip bucket list that would take even the most dedicated road-tripper years to complete!

From weeks-long deep south road trip itineraries to quick weekend getaways, these southeast US road trip ideas cover an enormous variety of landscapes and interests.

No matter what kind of adventure you’re looking for, we have a southern USA road trip itinerary here for you!

Table of Contents

Quick Tips for Your Southeast USA Road Trip

Deep south usa road trip itinerary ideas, other multi-state southern usa road trip routes, more single-state southeast road trip itineraries.

Jones Street in Savannh GA with a green house in the left foreground and an oak tree on the right. Jones Street is one of the best Savannah photo spots

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Ideally, take your southern road trip in the spring or fall.

While you can technically take all of these southern USA road trips year-round, the south’s notoriously brutal summer means that it’s best to avoid the months of June, July, and August if you can (unless you plan to spend most of your time on the beach, of course).

Winter, depending on the location, can be gray and rainy, but can also be a joyous time to visit cities, towns, and mountains that see far less tourism in the winter (but don’t underestimate the possibility of snow in the mountains, either: it may be the south, but the Smokies still get snow!).

kate storm jeremy storm and ranger storm at craggy pinnacle on blue ridge parkway during 3 days in asheville nc

If you’re renting a car, shop around.

The best company to rent a car from for your US south road trip will likely vary dramatically depending on where and when you’re traveling.

Sometimes large international carriers offer the best prices, sometimes local outfits. Sometimes one company has an excellent base price, but terrible rental requirements.

The best way to find your rental car is to search through  Discover Cars , which will sift through dozens of companies to find the best combination of low prices and reasonable rental terms for your USA road trip.

Browse rental cars  for your southern USA road trip today!

We have offered suggestions for the best hotels in each place but if you are doing this as a true road trip it is really cool to do it in an RV. You can rent incredible RVs and camper vans from Outdoorsy, book here for your next road trip!

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

Read the rental requirements carefully.

Especially make sure you know how many miles you’ve been allotted (or ideally, if they’re unlimited), if you need to return the car empty or full of fuel, what to do if the car breaks down, and what damages you’re liable for in the event of an accident.

two lane road shaded by spanish moss on jekyll island georgia

Don’t underestimate the south’s national parks!

The wide-open spaces and epic landscapes of the American West are often the typical images conjured up when imagining the USA’s national parks–but the south has plenty to offer, as well!

In fact, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee is the most-visited national park in the country, and its gorgeous vistas and jaw-dropping waterfalls are well worth exploring.

Other southern national parks to consider adding to your road trip through the south include Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Everglades National Park in South Florida, and Congaree National Park in South Carolina–just to name a few!

rainbow falls smoky mountains, surrounded by green foliage

Make sure you pack the right gear.

From safety gear to snacks, a deep south road trip requires bringing the right tools along, whether you’re taking a short vacation, trying out van life, or something in between.

We recommend taking a look at the suggestions on  our road trip packing list  before you go!

Don’t overextend yourself.

Exploring every nook and cranny of the US south is a project for a lifetime, not one trip!

As tempting as it is to add on additional driving to stop at just one more beach or small town, make sure that you leave enough time to thoroughly explore each destination rather than spending the entirety of your road trip driving from one spot to the next.

Kate Storm in a purple dress standing at the top of Cape Lookout lighthouse with the barrier island visible behind her

Mississippi Gulf Coast Scenic Byway

From Charles of US Gulf Coast Travel

One of the best scenic coastal drives in the United States is the Gulf Coast Scenic Byway (US Highway 90 / Beach Boulevard) in  Coastal Mississippi , where for 11 glorious miles there is nothing between you and the soft sugar sand and Gulf of Mexico water.

The most awe-inspiring section of the Gulf Coast Scenic Byway is from Henderson Point Beach to the Port of Gulfport Mississippi.

Drive this portion, or this entire road trip, in either direction, but we suggest west to east because you are closer to the water.

Start this road trip after an overnight in Bay St Louis or New Orleans (55 miles away).

In Bay St Louis, fuel up at Mockingbird Cafe (try their pulled pork and grits) or Serious Bakery (superb chicken salad).

Drive across the iconic St. Louis Bay Bridge and your senses will activate and heighten with your first Gulf and sand view.

Stop as often as you want because parking is free!

The coastal drive continues through Gulfport and into Biloxi.

road lined with trees in mississippi on a deep south road trip itinerary

Visit the new Mississippi Aquarium, stroll the Biloxi Beach Boardwalk, and eat at White Pillars or The Blind Tiger.

After crossing the Biloxi Bay Bridge, make time to explore the wonderful small town of Ocean Springs.

Stroll the gorgeous oak-lined Washington Avenue, stop at Walter Anderson Museum of Art, and eat at Vestige.

Highway 90 continues through Pascagoula (Jimmy Buffett’s birthplace) and into Mobile, Alabama, where you can turn around and complete this classic deep south road trip again.

Driving Distance

Bay St Louis to Pascagoula is 50 miles. New Orleans to Pascagoula is 107 miles and it is another 35 miles to Mobile, Alabama.

Recommended Road Trip Length

You can drive this coastal scenic drive in a couple of hours but we suggest allowing three or more days to fully experience the spectacular sugar sand, seafood, sunsets, and small beach towns of Coastal Mississippi.

beach at sunset in mississippi as seen on southeast usa road trip route

Alabama Black Belt Road Trip

From Lori of Southerner Says

A road trip through the Black Belt region of Alabama is one of the best southern USA road trips around.

Named for the dark fertile soil of the region, the Alabama Black Belt is made up of twenty-three states across central and south Alabama.

This part of Alabama is the place where significant law-changing history was made, where literary giants were born, and is home to some of the best food that can be found in the United States.

For first-time visitors or someone flying in, there’s no better way to start an Alabama southern road trip than by including the capital –  Montgomery.

Plan on visiting important civil rights sites and the renowned Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

Next, drive west approximately fifty miles to Selma, Alabama on Highway 80.

This route is the same route as the important Selma to Montgomery march for voters’ rights that took place in 1965.

See the places that put this small town on the map and made it crucial in the civil rights movement.

Walk the Edmund Pettus Bridge, eat locally caught catfish, and sleep in a hotel that was built in 1837 . 

edmund pettus bridge in selma alabama, important civil rights destination

After saying a farewell to Selma, drive county backroads approximately seventy miles to the literary capital of the south.

As unbelievable as it may seem, Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird and Truman Capote – Breakfast at Tiffany’s were childhood friends in the south.

They both grew up in Monroeville, Alabama – the next stop on this southern road trip. Take a walk around the charming downtown square to spot murals that pay tribute to these well-known books and authors.

From Monroeville, it’s easy to hop on Interstate-65 north to return to Montgomery or take the scenic route for a few more towns and sites on your southern road trip.

Driving Distance 

Recommended road trip length  .

This itinerary would be good for a weekend or long weekend.

Since the Alabama Black Belt is a rather large region there is an abundance of small towns and sites that can be added to a southern road trip.

Visitors could easily spend a week or two in the area.

historic route street signs in montgomery alabama on deep south road trip itinerary

Mississippi’s Highway 61 (Blues Trail)

From Hannah of HH Lifestyle Travel

A road trip from Memphis to New Orleans down Mississippi’s Highway 61 is rich in music history; and the inevitable river lore that pervades a road trip running parallel to the Mighty Mississippi.

In true road trip style, the road itself is part of the fun of the journey.  

Highway 61 is long and flat and often sits higher than the fields and levees below it.  It is punctuated by quaint southern churches, glimpses of the Mississippi River, and cities rich in blues history. 

Enjoy visiting one of the legendary ‘juke joints’ in  Clarksdale, Mississippi .  

If there is one stop on the road trip to learn about the history of blues music in the area, it’s Clarksdale.  

Visit the Devil’s Crossroads, the Delta Blues Museum, and many more Blues Trail plaques.

Your next stop is Vicksburg.  Brimming with Civil War history, Vicksburg mixes reverence with rejuvenation.  

Pay your respects to meaningful Civil War history, but then enjoy a day spa and quality craft brewpub experience.

bridges crossing the mississippi river at vicksburg, an interesting stop on a deep south road trip itineraries

Natchez sits on an important bluff on a bend in the Mississippi River with a long history.  

The historic district of Natchez Under-the-Hill has a prime position along the river and was once famous for gambling and river pirates.  

Nowadays it’s a cute place to see the Mighty Mississippi and have lunch in one of the historic buildings.

End your road trip in the vibrant and magnetic city of New Orleans .

Driving Distance  

It takes around 9 hours of non-stop driving time from Memphis to New Orleans, but with time spent in the stops above it would suit a 5–7-day road trip.  

Plan a bit longer if you want to spend time in both Memphis and New Orleans before and after this deep south road trip experience.

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!

Coastal Georgia and South Carolina Road Trip

From Noel of Travel Photo Discovery

One of the fabulous road trips in the southeastern USA travels along the historic coastal corridors of Georgia to South Carolina, finishing in Charleston.

From the Georgia border to Florida, the major artery is Hwy 95, you’ll pass through so many historic and recreational sites along the way to make this a few days or even a longer visit depending on how many places you want to see and experience.

Some of the cool and historic places to visit in Georgia include St. Marys and Cumberland Island, Brunswich and St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island , Tybee Island , and Savannah .

Places to explore around South Carolina’s southern coastline from Savannah include Hilton Head, Beaufort, Edisto Island, and Charleston.

Each of these areas caters to historic sites or recreation getaways that are fun to explore when you have more time to visit each area on this road trip.

woman riding a bike through a path lined with spanish moss on jekyll island, one of the best day trips from savannah georgia

Even though you can go directly on Hwy 95 from the Georgia border all the way to South Carolina, it’s the small detour expressways and backcountry roads that will give you a better insight into visiting some of these gems in the region.  

If you only have a few days or longer then the major cities of Savannah and Charleston are memorable cities to prioritize to experience the local lifestyles foods that you’ll enjoy on this southern road trip experience.

Savannah, with its historic squares, fabulous architecture, and historic district that remains intact includes so much to see, do and experience around the historic center of the city.

Charleston on the other hand is more compact and walkable with a tighter historic district to enjoy and explore on your own or with some tour operator sharing the main attractions to see in town.

It’s 107 miles to drive straight from Savannah to Charleston.

If you’re focusing on Savannah and Charleston, 5 days is a comfortable length for this USA southern road trip itinerary.

Add additional days for each city, small town, or island that you’d like to visit.

kate storm in a floral dress at rainbow row in charleston sc

The Classic Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip Route

From Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide

The Blue Ridge Parkway, which stretches 469 miles from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, is such an unimaginably epic USA road trip, that veterans almost envy people who are experiencing it for the first time.

There are a lot of reasons it’s the #1 most visited unit in the US National Park system (with more than 15 million annual visitors), including 200 jaw-dropping BRP overlooks that offer stunning Blue Ridge Mountain vistas and provide access to the region’s most incredible hiking trails, landmarks, mountain towns, and waterfalls.

Designed as part of FDR’s New Deal to protect American wilderness and provide jobs in the wake of the Great Depression, construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway began back in 1935.

Most of the scenic route was completed by 1966, but the popular 8-mile stretch around the iconic Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina (including the engineering marvel known as the Linn Cove Viaduct) wasn’t finished until 1987.

The BRP is the longest linear park in the country, taking travelers through the Jefferson, George Washington, Nantahala, and Pisgah National Forests.

best southern weekend trips

So naturally, there are a lot of exciting things to do along the way. 

At 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River, with lots of challenging hiking trails and a relatively easy paved path to the observation platform at the summit.

Grandfather Mountain State Park is also home to epic hiking trails (including several with ladders to climb massive boulders), and the neighboring Grandfather Mountain attraction is home to the Mile-High Swinging Bridge, a small zoo featuring native North Carolina animals, and myriad picnic areas. 

Virginia’s Mabry Mill is the most photographed spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and one of the region’s many historical attractions.

mabry mill on blue ridge parkway, one of the top us south road trip itinerary ideas

There’s very little commercial development along the Parkway, with only a few hotels and resorts (including the historic Switzerland Inn in  Little Switzerland NC ,  and the Peaks of Otter Lodge in Bedford VA).

But part of the fun is exploring some of the charming little mountain towns along the way, including Cherokee, Blowing Rock, and Boone in NC, and Bedford, Lexington, and Waynesboro in VA.

You could drive the entire Blue Ridge Parkway in as little as 15-16 hours if you wanted, but that would totally defeat the purpose.

Some people like to break it up into weekend getaways, basing themselves in a local town.

But you could also spend a week or two driving the entire route, spending nights in lots of little towns along the way.

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Chattanooga, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina

From Kim of Traveling Swansons

A Chattanooga, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina southeast road trip takes you on a tour of some of the most breathtaking scenery in the region.

Chattanooga is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and located along the Tennessee River.

There are many fun things to do here including the Tennessee Aquarium, Lookout Mountain, Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the Incline Railway.

After leaving Chattanooga, your next stop will be Knoxville, Tennessee.

Check out the Sunsphere Tower, which was built for the 1982 World’s Fair.  Walk around Market Square and grab a bite to eat and shop.

After leaving Knoxville, your next stop will be Pigeon Forge. 

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

Here you find no shortage of attractions including the popular Dollywood. 

Right next to Pigeon Forge, you’ll find the town of Gatlinburg. 

In Gatlinburg, you will also find plenty of attractions including Anakeesta and the Gatlinburg Skybridge. 

Gatlinburg is one of the busiest and most popular gateway towns to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park  has many amazing hiking trails, waterfalls, and views. 

Drive the breathtaking scenic Newfound Gap Road to Cherokee, North Carolina. Jump out along the many turnouts along the way and enjoy the scenery. 

Once you reach Cherokee, explore the Oconaluftee Indian Village and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.  Shop for some authentic Cherokee arts and crafts.

The drive from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina is 191 miles and takes 3 hrs 51 minutes if driving straight through. 

Since there is so much to do on this southern USA road trip, you will want to spend at least 5 days here in order to take in as much as you can along the way.

view of great smoky mountains sunset from newfound gap road trip south usa

NOLA to Nashville Southern Road Trip Itinerary

From Agnes of The Van Escape

The southern USA road trip from New Orleans to Nashville is extraordinary.

Why? Nashville and New Orleans are music cities.

New Orleans – the world capital of jazz and Nashville – the capital of American country music – anyone who likes live concerts will appreciate this combination.

And indeed, in both cities, you can listen to music at every turn!

Concerts, music events, live music in almost every restaurant, bar, and even on the streets – Nashville and New Orleans are alive with sounds.

Moreover, there are many great  things to do in Nashville and in New Orleans.

In Nashville visit Jonny Cash Museum, Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, Grand Ole Opry, reproduction of the Parthenon, and Downtown with famous Broadway Street.

Skyline of Nashville Tennessee at sunset overlooking the river, one of the most romantic getaways in the United States

In New Orleans, visit the French Quarter, the Jazz Museum, the Woodoo Museum, the National WWII Museum, explore one of the famous cemeteries, sign up for a swamp tour. Enjoy the best cocktails at the famous Bourbon Street.

Both cities are also known for their excellent cuisine. In New Orleans, you’ll melt at the tastes and smells of Louisiana Creole cuisine, and in Nashville, you’ll delight at the famous juicy BBQ ribs and more.

That’s not all. Both cities are famous for the finest spirits.

New Orleans offers great alcoholic cocktails and in Nashville, you can try classic Tennessee Jack Daniels whiskey , whose distillery is nearby.

The driving time from NOLA to Nashville is about 8 hours, and 4-5 days is perfect for this road trip.

You can cover the distance in one day or split it into two days and spend one night in Birmingham, the largest city in Alabama.

To feel the atmosphere of each city and immerse yourself in its music world, we recommend two nights in New Orleans and two in Nashville.

3 Days in New Orleans Itinerary: St Louis Cathedral

Virginia Beach, Virginia to Hilton Head, South Carolina

From Alex of Wander With Alex

If you’re planning a road trip from Virginia Beach, VA to Hilton Head, SC, and need a few stops along the way, we’ve got you covered!

While Virginia Beach and Hilton Head are both popular southern beach towns, the experience is very different!

They are both, however, family-friendly vacation destinations with lots of unique things to do and see.

While in Virginia Beach, VA you’ll want to check out the main beach at the Oceanfront.

fishing pier in virginia beach va at sunrise

There are 35 miles of beachfront, an amusement park on Atlantic Ave, and tons of souvenir shops for you to choose from.

If you’re looking for something free to do, check out the Creative ViBE District for murals, sidewalk art, and other creative artwork!

Now that’ll you’ve explored Virginia Beach, it’s time to hit the road!

After being on the road for seven and a half hours, you’ll be nearing Savannah, GA! If you’ve never been to Savannah, consider staying overnight.

You can take a riverboat dinner cruise on the Savannah River or enjoy a low country dinner at one of the best restaurants in Savannah .

Kate Storm and Ranger Storm on Jones Street, one of the best places to take pictures in savannah ga

And since Hilton Head is only 45-minutes from Savannah, you can stick around for a few hours in the morning and to Tybee Island before heading over to Hilton Head!

Hilton Head Island in South Carolina is a laid-back resort town offering beautiful beaches and tons of golf courses.

Additionally, Hilton Head is incredibly bike-friendly.

Head over to Hilton Head Outfitters, rent bicycles for the whole family, and go exploring!

And if you are a seafood lover, you’ll have tons of waterfront restaurant options!

A road trip from Virginia Beach, VA to  Hilton Head, SC  via Interstate-95 is approximately 589 miles.

If you do not want to stay overnight in Savannah, you can make the trip in seven and a half hours.

However, if you prefer slow travel and wish to explore Savannah, you should consider making this a two-day drive.

red and white lighthouse and small harbor in hilton head sc, one of the best stops on a deep south usa road trip route

Gulf Coast Beach Road Trip from Alabama to Florida

From Ashlee of The Happiness Function

One of the best-kept secrets in the South are the sugar-white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico from Alabama to the Florida panhandle.

If you have never heard of Dauphin Island, Alabama, it is a must-visit southern destination.

Take the ultimate beach road trip from Dauphin Island, Alabama, to Pensacola, Florida!

Dauphin Island, Alabama, is a beautiful place to visit. The island is home to many different wildlife species, including sea turtles, and the scenery is simply stunning.

If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy nature, Dauphin Island is the perfect spot. Plan to stay at least two days.

beach at dauphin island alabama southern beach road trip

From Dauphin Island, take the ferry across Mobile Bay to Fort Morgan, where visitors can continue the road trip to Gulf Shores.

Be sure to visit Gulf State Park and enjoy the incredible beaches from Gulf Shores to Orange Beach! Plan at least two days in Gulf Shores.

Gulf Islands National Seashore in Fort Pickens is a popular tourist destination offering a variety of activities such as catching some sun on beaches, kayaking, fishing, hiking, and exploring the historic fort.

Camp at the  Fort Pickens Campground  for a few days to enjoy all the island offers.

From Gulf Shores, continue east into the Florida panhandle towards Pensacola.

A road trip along the southern coast of Alabama into the Florida panhandle makes for an incredible beach road trip any time of year.

We recommend taking about a week to enjoy this road trip in the US south.

This way, road trippers can enjoy each destination for two days.

pensacola beach water tower with beach visible in the background

Savannah, Georgia to Clearwater, Florida Road Trip

From Terri of FemaleSoloTrek.com

If you’re looking for beautiful beaches and fun in the sun, plan a short southern road trip route from Savannah to Clearwater.

Plan to start at dawn from Savannah on a Saturday so you can arrive by noon in  Clearwater, Florida .

Google Maps or Waze will offer you the choice of traveling down I-95 toward Orlando and then across to Tampa/St. Pete outposts.

Alternatively, you can drive through Jacksonville and then cut across the state via US-301 S and I-75 S.

The estimated time is 6 hours if you don’t hit bad traffic on I-95.

aerial view of clearwater beach florida, a fun stop on a usa south road trips

You will also have time to eat fried grouper at Clearwater Beach for lunch, then hit the Clearwater Aquarium for an afternoon adventure.

Dedicate the evening to drinking margaritas and watching the sunset.

You might want to watch the sunset (while sipping a cocktail) at Pier 60 on Saturday night or delay until Sunday because you will be exhausted from your early morning drive.

Clearwater is also a great place to settle while you plan day trips to Tampa, St. Pete, and Sarasota.

While you can easily make the drive in a day, it’s best to set aside a week for this US south road trip as you will lose two days to travel.

Florida’s Gulf Coast deserves a minimum five-day stay so you can experience different beaches.

promenade along the sand in clearwater beach florida

Southeast USA Road Trip from Washington DC to Florida

From Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids

One of the best road trips in the southeast US is from Washington, DC to  Anna Maria Island, Florida . 

If you want to break it up with overnights and stops, I recommend going from Washington DC to Raleigh, NC on Day 1.  On Day 2, drive from Raleigh, NC to Savannah, GA.  Then on Day 3, drive from Savannah, GA to Anna Maria Island, FL.

Starting in Washington, DC, where there is much to see from the Capitol to the Washington Monument to the Smithsonian Museums, you can begin heading on the road toward Virginia and the Carolinas. 

In Virginia, the historic college town of Williamsburg is well worth a visit. 

In addition to being a beautiful town, home to William and Mary College, it is also where you can step back in time at Colonial Williamsburg and learn a bit about American history. 

Horse and carriage in colonial Williamsburg that is moving away from the camera on a paved road

From here, head into North Carolina and stop in Raleigh if you plan to spend the night.

Then head into South Carolina, where a drive-through or stop in Charleston is a great thing to do. 

The historic and lavish architecture is well worth a look, and the southern hospitality and walk on the waterfront are worth it even just for a short visit. 

From here, continue into Georgia, where a stop in Savannah is a must. 

If you have a bit of time to spend in this southern city, the hop on hop off trolley, walking tours, and a 90-minute riverboat sightseeing cruise would be worth doing. 

This beautiful and historic city really is a gem on this road trip, so be sure to build in a bit of time, and even book a bed and breakfast for the night.  

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

Continue on from Georgia into northern Florida, where if you can stop in Jacksonville for a visit to the University of Florida or in St. Augustine for lunch or a walking tour of this beautiful and historic city. 

There is an old town part of St. Augustine well worth visiting, and depending on the time of day, is a great stop for a lunch. Continue on from St. Augustine to Anna Maria Island, Florida.

You may pass through Orlando and Tampa, which if you have time, may want to stop in one of these cities. 

While Orlando is home to many theme parks and activities, you won’t have time on this drive to do many of those unless you build in another day or two to your drive.

Instead, I suggest stopping in Tampa, where you will get to view this fantastic seaside city, where you can enjoy a cruise, walk around Ybor City, or grab a meal at the famous (and delicious) Columbia Restaurant. 

view of downtown tampa fl looking up with skyscrapers and palm trees

While you are also right at Clearwater Beach, you may want to save that beach visit for Anna Maria Island, just about an hours drive from Tampa, on the Gulf Coast, and renowned for its teal Caribbean-like water, white soft sand, quieter beaches, and home rentals perfect for a beach getaway. 

It’s the perfect destination to such a cultural and historic road trip, and one of the best road trips in the south USA.

Approximately 945 miles (about 14 hours total) one way.

Approximately 945 miles (about 14 hours total) one way, this road trip is at least a two to three-day drive, depending on how much you would like to stop along the way. 

aerial view of anna maria island, one of the best unknown vacation spots in us hidden gems

The Outer Banks of North Carolina Road Trip

From Candice of CS Ginger

One of the best Southern USA road trips is driving through the Outer Banks. There are so many fun things to do in the Outer Banks  and its sweeping coastal scenery is gorgeous.

The Outer Banks is a chain of barrier islands off the North Carolina coast filled with beautiful beaches, lighthouses, and fun beach towns.

A great historic stop in the Outer Banks is at the Wright Brothers National Memorial.

This is where the Wright brothers completed the first controlled flight in December of 1903.

There are a fun visitor’s center, some historical markers, and a replica of the first plane.

The Outer Banks is also home to the tallest brick lighthouse in the world. You can climb to the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. There are 257 steps to the top.

The lighthouse and Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a great place to spend the afternoon. The beaches are beautiful and not crowded.

view of black and white cape hatteras lighthouse north carolina

After spending time at Cape Hatteras, you can take the ferry over to Ocracoke Island.

There is another lighthouse on this smaller island, but it is not open to visitors.

There are, however, beautiful beaches making this island a fun spot to explore.

The distance from the northern town of Corolla through Hatteras, the southern point, is about 95 miles.

If you continue to the ferry to Ocracoke, the mileage is longer.

You can easily fill 4-5 days with fun activities during your Outer Banks road trip, and spend even more time in the area if you want to relax on the beach.

couple walking along the beach at sunset in the outer banks, one of the most romantic getaways in north carolina for couples

Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park

From Anna of Stuck On The Go

One of the best road trips in the southern US winds through Shenandoah National Park offering stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

If you drive Skyline Drive straight through it only takes a little under 3 hours but there are so many hikes, overlooks, and small towns to stop and explore. This is the perfect road trip for outdoorsy people.

You can start at the Front Royal Entrance Station and on your first day hike to Compton Peak where you’ll find a gorgeous view as well as unique geological formations that resemble the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland .

In the afternoon, head out to the town of Luray where you can shop in the boutiques along Main Street and visit the famous Luray Caverns.

If you like to camp then stay the night in Mathews Arm Campground, otherwise rent a room at the Skyland Resort inside the park.

For day two you can fit in two hikes – Stony Man and Hawksbill – which both offer stunning mountain views and are 2 of the best hikes in Shenandoah .

stony man cliffs in shenandoah national park virginia

Have lunch at Big Meadows and make sure you get the blackberry ice cream pie for dessert!

In the afternoon you can hike Dark Hollow Falls or just head into Elkton or Sperryville.

Visit Sperryville for wineries and Elkton for breweries. Tonight stay at the Lewis Mountain Cabins & Campground.

On the last day of the road trip, hike Doyles River Falls and Blackrock Summit.

Stop for lunch at Blue Mountain Brewery and check out some of the other Waynesboro breweries. Main Street in Waynesboro is also very quaint.

For many people, 3 days is enough to spend in Shenandoah National Park.

However, if you are very outdoorsy and love to hike and explore small towns then you can spend a week in the Shenandoah Valley.

road through shenandoah national park from above in early fall, one of the best road trips in south usa

Northwest Arkansas Road Trip Loop

From Lydia of Lost With Lydia

Arkansas is an underrated state with a lot to offer for outdoor adventurers!

The state has beautiful state parks, incredible mountain biking trails, a uniquely historic national park, and much more.

The northwest portion of Arkansas is where you’ll find the most beautiful natural areas along with some fantastic cities. 

This road trip begins in Bentonville, a city known for mountain biking, modern art, and as the Walmart headquarters.

There are miles of mountain biking trails in parks around the city and trails range from beginner to advanced. 

Continue on from Bentonville to Buffalo National River, a beautiful river with epic canyon walls towering above it.

After the National River, enjoy hiking in the Ozark National Forest (the most famous hike is Whitaker Point) and take in the views at Mount Magazine and Mount Nebo. Mount Magazine is the highest point in the state. 

Be sure to not miss the most iconic state park in Arkansas: Petit Jean. This state park is a favorite of many and is home to a 95-foot waterfall, caves, and several unique rock formations. 

Spend some time in Little Rock for great food and interesting history. 

hiker standing on hawksbill crag in northwest arkansas ozark mountains

Things to do in Little Rock include visiting the Little Rock Central High School Museum, exploring the vibrant SOMA neighborhood, and hiking at Pinnacle Mountain. 

Finally, end your road trip with a visit to Arkansas’ only national park: Hot Springs.

Hot Springs National Park was a resort destination in the early 1900s and there are a couple of bathhouses still in operation today.

In addition to the spas, you can visit a brewery inside of a bathhouse and enjoy the views from the observation tower. 

A week is the minimum amount of time you’ll want to fully explore the cities and hiking destinations along the way.

Ideally, take 10 days or more to take your time and enjoy this underrated southern USA road trip itinerary.

small waterfall in hot springs national park arkansas

Florida’s Southwest Gulf Coast Road Trip

From Lori of Travlinmad

If you’re looking for an ideal year-round  road trip destination, Florida’s Gulf Coast  offers dreamy beaches, fantastic food, and some of America’s most (in)famous history!

Begin your road trip in Tampa, where you can spend 2 days exploring the city’s Cuban history in Ybor City and enjoy the amazing cuisine before heading south to Sarasota and Siesta Key.

Spend the next day in Sarasota admiring the mid-century architecture and visiting the Ringling Museum.

Shoppers will no doubt stay longer on St. Armand’s Circle, then head to Siesta Key later in the day to take in the new age vibes of the nightly drumming circle on the beach at sunset.

The next day, drive south to Casperson Beach in Venice and rent a “Florida snow shovel” for a few dollars to dig in the sand for prehistoric megalodon shark teeth.

Millions of them wash ashore every day and you just might find a big one to treasure!

Spend the night at Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island, one of Southwest Florida’s most historic towns before heading out the next morning for Fort Myers.

port boca grande lighthouse in florida at sunset, a fun stop on a usa south road trip

Situated where the Caloosahatchee River meets the Gulf of Mexico, the city of Fort Myers is worth a few days to explore the history and the beautiful beaches on Sanibel and Captiva.

Visit the summer homes of neighbors Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, whose mansions are popular tourist attractions today.

The last stop on your road trip is Naples and Marco Island on the southwestern coast. This stunning region is known as the Paradise Coast and it’s easy to see why.

Spend your days on the soft white sand beaches, shopping at the luxury stores and dining downtown, or get out into the Everglades for some adventure.

It is 180 miles from Tampa to Marco Island.

Plan on 7-10 days for this southern road trip route.

There is plenty to see in the major cities of Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers, Naples, and Marco Island, but you’ll find the real gems in between!

dome houses on marco island florida

Virginia’s Eastern Shore Drive: Chincoteague to Cape Charles

Recommended by Erin Gifford of Go Hike Virginia

There’s so much to love about  Virginia’s Eastern Shore .

Roll down the windows and breathe in the salt-infused air as you make the 70-mile drive north to south from Chincoteague to Cape Charles.

Get ready to make stops for sandy beaches, ice cream shops, and verdant wetlands just right for a scenic paddle.

Start at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to miles of stroller-friendly hiking and biking trails.

The Chincoteague Lighthouse Trail is a must-visit to ogle the red-and-white striped Assateague Lighthouse.

Take a guided kayak tour or nature cruise across pristine coastal waterways with Assateague Explorer.

Keep your eyes open for wild ponies, as well as native wildlife, like sandhill cranes and eastern mud turtles, that call the wildlife refuge home.

wild horses on the beach of Chincoteague virginia, one of the best usa small towns to visit

Order up a scoop of Mint Chip or Pony Tracks at Island Creamery.

Spend the night at the Refuge Inn, a mainstay in Chincoteague since 1973. Chincoteague is also home to several camping resorts, including KOA and Jellystone Park.

Continue on to Onancock, a historic waterfront town.

Start your day with a delicious breakfast sandwich at Janet’s Café before strolling the hamlet’s tree-lined streets that wow with Victorian-style homes.

Take a tour of Ker Place, a historic Federal-style home.

On the south end of Virginia’s Eastern Shore is Cape Charles, which is home to gentle beaches and vibrantly-colored sunsets.

sunrise in the harbor with boats in virginia

Spend the day on the beach at Kiptopeke State Park, then order hush puppies at The Shanty.

Cap off the day with a scoop at Brown Dog Ice Cream and settle in at the Sunset Beach Hotel on the Chesapeake Bay.

70  miles.

This trip is best enjoyed over at least 3 days, including one day in Chincoteague, one day in Onancock, and one day in Cape Charles.

2 photos of southern road trips, charleston and anna maria island. black and red text reads "17 epic road trips in the south"

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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12 Essential Experiences for a Southern Family Vacation

There's no easing into summer in the South . By the time the final school bell rings, it's already blazing hot outside and the kids are itching for adventure. Don't let the opportunity for togetherness slip away: Pack up your crew, and make some memories with a trip to one of the many family-friendly spots across the South. Although the beach is the obvious hot-weather destination (and we have one of those on this list!), there are plenty of other places that will spark your kiddos' imaginations, whether they want to learn, relax, or explore—or all three.

To compile this list of quintessential Southern experiences, we surveyed our staff's travel experts; drove from Texas to Florida to Maryland; and gleaned tips from teens, moms, and dads. You'll enjoy taking your little music lovers to Memphis and New Orleans or seeing your budding history buffs hit their stride in Williamsburg, Virginia , or Montgomery, Alabama. Or even tackling Disney World. Wherever you land for your family vacation, we guarantee the time together—yes, even the long car ride—will be worth the planning.

Do Disney the Right Way

Orlando, Florida

Even if you're not inclined toward crowds, don't dismiss Walt Disney World Resort outright. With four parks to explore, there's no shortage of options for family fun, which, of course, can be both wonderful and overwhelming. Some tips to make the most of your trip: First, wait until your children are at least six years old to visit, and before you go, use the Disney Genie (part of the My Disney Adventure app) to plan your attack on the parks. Make sure to book character meals in advance; you can do so up to two months before your first day.

1375 E. Buena Vista Drive, Orlando, FL 32830, disneyworld.disney.go.com

Soak in Sun Studio

Memphis, Tennessee

Sidle up to the microphone where U2's Bono recorded vocals on Rattle and Hum . At least that's how you sell Sun Studio to your kids. The truth? You're aching to introduce them to the roots of Southern music. C'mon, this is where the King got his start! While in town, swing by Graceland and check out Elvis and Priscilla's over-the-top wardrobes. Less than a mile away from Sun Studio is the legendary Peabody Hotel , where you can enjoy a historic stay and watch the resident ducks waddle through the lobby twice a day.

706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103, sunstudio.com

Visit an Authentic Crab Shack

Annapolis, Maryland

Fresh blue crabs are an iconic Southern food, right up there with barbecue and sweet tea. For the freshest, head to Maryland. We like Cantler's Riverside Inn in Annapolis, which has been around for more than 40 years and offers fresh catch all year. If you don't mind a two-hour diversion, make your way to Crisfield, Maryland, where you can race crabs during the National Hard Crab Derby over Labor Day weekend.

458 Forest Beach Road, Annapolis, MD 21409, cantlers.com

Ride an Old-Timey Streetcar

New Orleans, Louisiana

If a minivan is your normal mode of transportation, the New Orleans streetcar will leave your little ones enthralled. (Stops are scattered throughout downtown.) Take one of the old-fashioned cars to the zoo and aquarium, or just hitch a ride to enjoy the views from one of the four routes (including a trip through the French Quarter). You'll love the chance to see the historic homes, and your kids will love the Komodo dragons at the zoo and the white alligator at the aquarium. Fun fact: These cars are the inspiration behind A Streetcar Named Desire.

Take a Colorful River Cruise

San Antonio, Texas

Sure, you know about the River Walk in San Antonio. But walking isn't necessarily the best way to appreciate the city. Take in the Spanish-inspired architecture by water with a boat tour. Your kids will thrill at the brightly colored boats (which look straight out of Encanto); you'll enjoy one of the 35-minute narrated tours, led by a San Antonio local.

Ticket booths: 706, 731, or 809 River Walk, San Antonio, TX 78205, goriocruises.com

Ride a Horse on the Beach

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Kids love horses. They also love the beach. So why not combine both? On a trip to Georgia's Jekyll Island, arrange a horseback outing with Golden Isles Carriage and Trails at Three Oaks Farm. When the Spanish moss-draped forests open up to reveal the beach and the vast Atlantic blue against the horizon, you'll hear only one word from your kid: "Wow!" Only in the South can you ride horses on a pristine beach that's been home to English settlers, French landowners, and turn-of-the-century American elite.

2 Clam Creek Road, Jekyll Island, GA 31527, threeoaksfarm.org

See Rock City

Lookout Mountain, Georgia

If you've been anywhere in the Southeast, you've seen the words painted on barns and birdhouses: See Rock City. Heed the advice. This kitschy attraction atop Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee , exemplifies our region's quirky sense of humor. (Where else would anybody think to name a narrow cave Fat Man's Squeeze and charge admission?) But it also showcases its breathtaking beauty. Your kids can see seven states, stand under a waterfall, and take a walk through a cavern full of glowing gnome statues. There's nothing high-def or virtual reality about it. Rock City is just pure, simple fun.

1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750, seerockcity.com

Watch the Blue Angels Soar

Pensacola, Florida

The U.S. Navy's flight demonstration squadron, better known as the Blue Angels, performs unforgettable practice air shows in Pensacola on most Tuesdays and Wednesdays from June through November. Seeing these jets twist, turn, and roll with the synchronicity of a dance troupe is mind-boggling at any age. Following the Wednesday practices, request pilots' autographs at the National Naval Aviation Museum , which shares a home with the Angels. To attend the 55-minute practices, someone in your party must have a Department of Defense I.D. card.

1750 Radford Boulevard, Pensacola, FL 32508, blueangels.navy.mil

Conduct a Museum Scavenger Hunt

Washington, D.C.

Our nation's capital also happens to be a cultural mecca. Turn sightseeing into a scavenger hunt with three prime stops: First, head to Washington National Cathedral , and instruct your kids to find the carved Darth Vader grotesque, added in the 1980s. (Hint: It's in the building's northwest corner.) Then tell them to touch a piece of the moon at the National Air and Space Museum . The last item: the Ruby Slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz , now at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History . The first one to find all three wins a souvenir from mom and dad from our favorite kids' museum in the city: the International Spy Museum .

Cathedral starting point: 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20016

Travel to the Colonial Era

Williamsburg, Virginia

At Colonial Williamsburg, your kids can see every key player in 18th-century Southern society, and they can get in on the act, too. Here, educational experiences are masked as interactive entertainment as your kiddos try their hand at historic trades, from bookbinding and bricklaying to carpentry and engraving. Conclude your visit with a carriage ride through the historic downtown.

101 Visitor Center Drive, Williamsburg, VA 23185, colonialwilliamsburg.org

Learn About Civil Rights

Montgomery, Alabama

As the seat of the Civil Rights movement, Montgomery will always be remembered for the work of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. Pass that history onto the next generation with a visit to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Civil Rights Memorial, designed by Maya Lin. Inside the museum, take a journey through the Civil Rights Movement and show your kids what it took to bring about lasting change in our country.

400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104, splcenter.org

Take to Space

Huntsville, Alabama

Let your kids' imaginations run wild at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville (which we have named the South's best museum ). They can explore the outer bounds of the universe via interactive exhibits that put them in the shoes of astronauts. And they'll love the rush of simulators like the Multi-Axis Trainer, which mimics the feeling of swirling through space, as well as the G-Force Accelerator and Moon Shoot, which recreate the feeling of a rocket launch. Don't forget to introduce them to freeze-dried ice cream.

One Tranquility Base, Huntsville, AL 35805, rocketcenter.com

The Age-Appropriate Travel Guide

At what age should you take your kids to New Orleans? Or Disney World? Here are our recommendations.

Ages 3-5: New Orleans streetcar, Blue Angels, River Walk Ages 6-8: Walt Disney World Resort, Rock City, Colonial Williamsburg Ages 9-12: Horseback riding, Sun Studio, D.C.'s museums, U.S. Space & Rocket Center Ages 13-15: Blue crabs, Civil Rights Memorial Center

Best Southern Road Trips in the U.S.

By CNT Editors

Best Southern Road Trips in the U.S.

New Orleans to Houston

When most people talk about making the drive from New Orleans to Houston, they do so begrudgingly—that needs to change. You can make this trip year-round, and see everything from antique bookstores to distilleries to contemporary art. Or do it for the food alone (we won’t judge).

Where to stop: Don’t miss the Texas Travel Information Center in Orange, right over the border. There’s a great photo op here with a giant lone star sculpture.

Where to eat: Order half a dozen buttermilk drops to go from the decade-old Buttermilk Drop Bakery in New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood. They will change your life—or at least how you think about doughnuts.

Where to stay: Check into the two-year-old Watermark Baton Rouge, a 144-room hotel housed in the former headquarters of the Louisiana Trust & Savings Bank. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi, the hotel is a three-minute walk to Louisiana's Old State Capitol, famed for its Gothic architecture and jaw-dropping stained glass rotunda.

We planned your five-day road trip through French Louisiana.

Chateau Elan Georgia

Atlanta to Jekyll Island

Hollywood has officially descended upon Georgia—making it the third-busiest filmmaking location behind Los Angeles and New York City. You probably knew you could eat fried green tomatoes like Jessica Tandy did in Juliette, Georgia, but what about tracing the zombie trail in the town from The Walking Dead ? Here, how to take a road-trip through your favorite scenes.

Where to stop: Stop about an hour southeast of Atlanta in Jackson, or as you may know it, Hawkins, Indiana. You’ll recognize the main square from various scenes in Stranger Things —the general store where Joyce Byers works, the alleyway where Jonathan fights Steve, and the public library where Dustin studies up on demogorgons.

Where to eat: Zesto Drive-In was featured on Atlanta for a reason: spring for the famous double-pattied Fat Boy burger with a giant Pibb-infused ice cream float.

Where to stay: Chateau Elan in Braselton is a must for Ozark fans—you’ll recognize it from episode eight, when Jason Bateman and Laura Linney go to visit their drug lord. But if that doesn’t entice you, the four golf courses, grand, newly-renovated wine-tasting room, and spa should do the trick.

We planned your three-day tour of Georgia's best filming locations.

Image may contain Building Architecture Bridge Arched Arch and Arch Bridge

Civil Rights Trail: Tennessee, Alabama, and Louisiana

There’s nothing like running a late-summer thunderstorm on a two-lane highway in the American South, roof pummeled by hail the size of golf balls, to test your nerves behind the wheel. But it’s only one small part of a put-me-in-my-place drive everyone should do, following a stretch of the Civil Rights Trail from Memphis to New Orleans by way of Alabama, where some of the country’s best social-justice museums confront the past head on—prompting those who pass through to look at the present in the same way.

Where to stop: After a visit to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, pass through Montgomery, where the brand-new National Memorial to Peace and Justice has been making headlines as the country’s first memorial to lynching victims, before parking for a weekend in New Orleans. A different kind of education happens here, where local artists like muralist Brandan Odums feed a national conversation on race and class.

Where to eat: Stop in Birmingham to decompress at the James Beard-winning Highlands Bar and Grille .

Where to stay: Once you get to your final destination in NOLA, there are plenty of hotel options, but we'd pick the Henry Howard Hotel or the Pontchartrain Hotel , both just far enough removed from the craziness of the French Quarter.

Big Bend National Park Texas

Houston to El Paso

What we’re going to tell you is not surprising: Texas is a big state. By the time you drive from east to west, you could have passed through five European countries. But as diverse as France is from the Czech Republic, South Texas is from West Texas. You may not be able to hit up the whole state in one road trip—unless you have a month to spare—but our 1,022-mile itinerary from Houston to El Paso, with an optional stop in New Mexico, will cover all of the highlights.

Where to stop: Marfa has become a bucket list trip for anyone who's tapped into culture. Here, there are 16 galleries, one for every 124 residents of this isolated town, in addition to the Chinati Foundation, which holds hundreds of works by Dan Flavin, John Chamberlain, Donald Judd, and more. The key to tackling Marfa is timing, as restaurants have odd hours and can be closed unexpectedly. Your best bet falls between Thursday and Sunday.

Where to eat: On the way to Austin, make a lunch pit stop in Lockhart. With three standout barbecue restaurants, you’ll have to leave your ego at the door and join the ranks of brisket and rib enthusiasts eating with their hands off butcher paper “plates.” Stop at least one joint from the town’s holy trifecta: Kreuz Market , Black’s Barbeque , or Smitty's Market .

Where to stay: San Antonio’s Pearl District should be your starting point, with home base at the offbeat Hotel Emma , which itself is plenty of reason to visit San Antonio.

We planned the ultimate Texas road trip.

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California Travel Life

20 Weekend Getaways in Southern California

20 Weekend Getaways in Southern California

There are so many wonderful weekend getaways in Southern California! The region is incredibly diverse with mountain, desert, beach, and wine getaways just a short drive away.

Here are 20 great places to spend the weekend in California in 2023. Whether it is adventure or relaxation you crave, we’ve got you covered.

Headed north? Then you will definitely want to check our guide to the best Northern California weekend getaways.

Southern California Weekend Getaways

1. big bear.

Big Bear is one of the best Southern California Weekend Getaways

Big Bear has been one of the most popular weekend getaways in Southern California for generations. My great grandfather built a cabin up near Big Bear Lake nearly 100 years ago and since then, word has definitely gotten out about this special place! 

If SoCal residents want to enjoy snow, droves of them head up towards Big Bear after a winter storm. If you want to avoid a traffic jam, try to time your visit for mid-week. 

We love skiing at Bear Mountain or Snow Summit, enjoy snow tubing at Magic Mountain, and joining snowshoeing tours with the folks at Big Bear Discovery Center. 

When the snow is gone, Big Bear is still an ideal weekend getaway for those who want to enjoy some cool mountain air and walk among the pines. There are several hiking trails in the area.

The centerpiece of Big Bear is Big Bear Lake, and the summer is the perfect time to enjoy it. You can fish, rent a pontoon boat , coast around on a Wave Runner, or even paddle a stand-up paddleboard. 

Big Bear made our list of the best California mountain towns . See what other spots made the list!

Best Time to Visit : Winter for skiing and snow play. Summer for hiking and boating.

Don’t Miss:  Strolling through Big Bear Lake Village. This charming little downtown district is filled with cute little shops and fun restaurants. You can even take a horse-drawn carriage ride through town!

Stay Here: Big Bear is a great place to enjoy some time with family in a cabin. Big Bear Vacations has a great inventory of cabins at various size and price points.

2. Santa Barbara

Big Bear is a great Southern California Weekend Getaway

Heading up the coast to Santa Barbara is definitely one of my favorite weekend getaways in Southern California. Why? The scenery, weather, and wine scene are hard to beat!

It is no surprise that celebrities like Oprah and Prince Harry call the region home. Known as the American Riviera , Santa Barbara is a simply gorgeous place where the mountains meet the sea and the Mediterranean architecture reflects the region’s Spanish colonial roots.

Your visit to Santa Barbara should include some time at the beach , and East Beach is the city’s hub of activity. It is a popular spot for biking, sunbathing, kite flying, and water play.

It is also located adjacent to downtown as well as Stearns Wharf, a fun place to enjoy a drink and appetizers while taking in the waterfront.

Leadbetter Beach is a good spot to visit if you want to surf or boogieboard. Hendry’s Beach (aka: Arroyo Burro Beach) is the place to go if you want bring your dog along with you. Summerland Beach is a nice locale to relax and enjoy your own piece of paradise.

Downtown, you won’t want to miss Santa Barbara’s  Urban Wine Trail   which has more than two dozen tasting rooms with wines from the area’s celebrated wine region.

You also won’t want to miss strolling the grounds of Mission Santa Barbara , known as the Queen of the Missions . It was founded in 1786 and the inspiration behind the city’s red-roofed architecture.

If shopping and window watching are your thing, spend time strolling down State Street and through Paseo Nuevo , admiring the shops along palm-lined streets. There is a free shopping trolley that will help you around the area.

The Santa Barbara Zoo is a great destination for animal lovers. It is small but beautiful and feeding giraffes with beach views can’t be beat!

Best Time to Visit: Anytime, but summer and early fall are best if you want to get in the water.

Don’t Miss: Renting a surrey and biking along East Beach. It is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the scenery.

Stay Here : Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara is worth the splurge. It is one of my all-time favorite resorts because of it’s stunning beauty and ideal location, across from Butterfly Beach. It is also popular with the rich and famous.

3. Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is a favorite weekend destination in Orange County

Laguna Beach is a dream destination for those that love art and the ocean . It is the home of the famed Pageant of the Masters as well as several art festivals and galleries.

Laguna’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the state. Some of my favorites include Treasure Island Beach (in front of the ritzy Montage Resort), Victoria Beach with its famed tower, and Crystal Cove State Park which straddles the border of Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar.

Main Beach is located on the edge of downtown and the most popular beach with tourists. Take in the views and then walk across the street to stroll quaint streets filled with charming shops, great restaurants, and several art galleries.

If you enjoy hiking, don’t miss the trails at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park (I love the Serrano Ridge/Little Sycamore Canyon loop) or the Morro Canyon portions of Crystal Cove State Park . Both are exceptionally beautiful in the spring when the hillsides are lush and sprinkled with wildflowers.

If you want to get out on the water, consider taking a whale watching cruise out of nearby Dana Point. December through March is prime gray whale watching season while during the summer you may catch a glimpse of the blue whale, the largest animal on earth.

Best Time to Visit: Laguna is a year-round destination but if you love art, come during the summer to enjoy the Sawdust Festival and Pageant of the Masters.

Don’t Miss: Pageant of the Masters where locals dress up as characters from famed works of art and pose to recreate the paintings and sculptures. It is incredibly realistic and truly has to be seen to be believed!

Stay Here : Surf and Sand Resort is a beachfront resort with a great location. How close is to the surf? Close enough that ear plugs are offered to guests if they don’t want to listen to the waves crashing!

The resort is just a 15-minute walk from the heart of downtown (or take the free trolley) and nearly all the rooms have ocean views. The resort’s Splashes Restaurant is a great spot for a special meal overlooking the water.

4. Coronado Island

Hotel Del Coronado is one of the most famous landmarks in California

Coronado Island is just a short, 15-minute ferry ride from Downtown San Diego but in many ways, it feels like it is a world away. The island has a small town atmosphere and one of the best beaches in the country.

During the summer months, there is live music playing at the Coronado Ferry landing every weekend from 2-5PM.

My favorite way to explore Coronado Island is by bike. The island is flat and easy to navigate. There are several places to rent bikes and they all include maps.

The most famous spot in all of Coronado is the Hotel Del Coronado. This red-roofed landmark has been drawing dignitaries, Hollywood celebrities, and families from all over the country for over 100 years.

Discover why Hotel Del Coronado made our list of the 75 California Landmarks You Must See Before You Die .

It sits on Coronado Beach which is often included on lists highlighting the best beaches in America. During the winter months, the resort plays host to an outdoor ice rink, and there is nothing better than ice skating with ocean views!

Orange Avenue is the island’s main drag. It is a great spot to shop in one-of-a-kind stores, eat, and just taken in the overall vibe of the area. If you are craving something bubbly, make sure to stop by Coronado Brewing Company .

Best Time to Visit: The winter if you want to check “ice skate by the ocean” off your bucket list. But truthfully, Coronado is an all-season destination.

Don’t Miss: The Sandcastle Man . He is known for creating epic sandcastles in front of the Hotel Del and he even offers lessons !

Stay Here : Obviously the Hotel Del Coronado is the most well known choice, but we also love Loews Coronado Bay Resort which sits near Silver Strand State Beach.  Jet skis, powerboats, kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards are available for rent from the resort.

5. Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a popular Southern California weekend getaway

Palm Springs has been a Southern California weekend getaway since the Golden Age of Hollywood. It is the land of palm trees, golf courses, and swimming pools.

While the Coachella Valley is most definitely a desert, the Palm Springs region is an oasis. It sits on the 4th largest aquifer on the planet – that’s how they keep all those golf courses so green!

On the edge of town, Indian Canyons are lush, palm-filled canyons fed by the shallow aquifer. For a small fee, guests can gain access to these canyons which are great for hikes and picnics. Don’t miss Murray Canyon which has a 3.9-mile trail leading to the Seven Sacred Sisters Waterfall.

One of most unique experiences in Palm Springs is taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to the Mountain Station which sits at 8,500 foot in elevation on Mount San Jacinto.

Temperatures are typically 30-40 degrees cooler than they are on the valley floor, and there is often snow during the winter months! Where else can you trade sun-kissed palm trees for snow-blanketed white firs in just 10 minutes?  

Best Time to Visit: Late fall through early spring is you are looking for ideal golf and hiking weather. Summer if you want to snag hotel deals and spend most of your time in the pool.

Don’t Miss: Palm Springs Villagefest , the weekly street fair that takes places every Thursday night and features lots of great booths, music, and food.

Stay Here : If you have kids, the waterpark at Omni Rancho Las Palmas will be sure to keep smiles on their faces. The La Quinta Resort is known for its dozens of pools, world-class golf courses and tennis program, and being dog friendly.

6. Joshua Tree National Park

best southern weekend trips

With its towering boulders, diverse desert life, and iconic namesake trees, Joshua Tree National Park is a one of the best weekend getaways in Southern California for folks who love to be outside.

Joshua Tree National Park is a place where the high desert (Mojave) and low desert (Colorado) meet. This allows visitors to see two unique desert environments, but the high desert with its unusual-looking Joshua trees is the main attraction.

Climbing massive boulders is one of the most popular things to do inside the park. You will see plenty of professional climbers with crash pads, but amateurs will have just as much fun scrambling around in popular spots like Jumbo Rocks and Hidden Valley .

If you are looking for a nice hike, try the 1.1-mile loop to Barker Dam . There are boulders to climbs on along the way and prehistoric rock art to admire. Arrive at dusk or dawn and you may even see Bighorn sheep!

The Ryan Mountain trail is a great hike if you want a good workout. The trail gains 1,000 feet in just 1.5 miles before reaching the 5,461′ summit. Once at the top you will have a 360-degree view of Joshua Tree National Park.

I also recommend signing up to take the Keys Ranch tour. Long before Joshua Tree became a national park, it was the home of exceptionally hearty people with colorful stories.

This tour takes takes visitors to the former homestead of Bill and Frances Keys, which includes a ranch house, schoolhouse, and store, along with lots of great tales of pioneering desert life. You can only buy tour tickets at the Oasis Visitor Center, beginning at 8:30am each day.

Ready to visit the desert? Don’t miss our epic Joshua Tree Day Trip Itinerary .

Best Time to Visit: During the spring wildflower bloom when the desert becomes a riot of color.

Don’t Miss: Star gazing. These desert skies are far from the light pollution of the LA Basin and the Milky Way is sure to dazzle.

Stay Here : If you want to stay inside the park, bring a tent because campgrounds are the only lodging available. If you crave four walls, head to the small community of Joshua Tree which plays host to a couple charming small inns and B&Bs. Try the Joshua Tree Inn or bring a group and rent out El Coyote , a residence on five acres with views of the park.

7. Catalina

Catalina is one of the most popular weekend getaways in Southern California

Catalina is one of those weekend getaways in Southern California that is close by but feels like a world away. You can take a helicopter to Catalina Island, but most folks take the 40-minute ferry ride from Long Beach or Dana Point.

The most popular destination on Catalina is the charming town of Avalon, where golf carts are the main mode of transportation.

One of my favorite things to do in Avalon is take the zip line eco-tour. Tour guides offer up info about the unique flora and fauna of the island in between zips across a canyon with sweeping ocean views.

Your zip line tour ends at Descanso Beach Club , a great place to rent a cabana and enjoy a day of lounging, food, and drinks. The island’s signature drink is the Buffalo Milk which is made with creme de cacao, creme de banana, Kahlua, half & half, and plenty of vodka.

The waters off Catalina are filled with life. Many folks bring their wet suits and snorkeling gear to check out the fish living the kelp beds. If you would rather stay dry, try a glass bottom boat or submarine tour.

Back on land, you might want to spend your days four-wheeling on a back country tour in search of the island’s resident buffalo herd, playing mini-golf at one of the nicest courses I have ever seen, or admiring the Wrigley Botanic Gardens.

Best Time to Visit: Summer if you want to get in the water. Otherwise, Catalina is a great destination anytime of year.

Don’t Miss: Two Harbors , Catalina’s tiny hamlet with one hotel, one restaurant, one general store, and even a one-room schoolhouse. It is a great place to hike, spend time at the beach, and camp.

Stay Here : Hotel Vista Del Mar is located on the beach, overlooking Avalon Bay. It has incredible views, evening milk and cookies, complimentary beach chairs, and one of the best locations in all of Avalon.

The Millennium Falcon inside Disneyland's Star Wars-themed Land

Anaheim is the home of Disneyland, and us Disney fans think it is a fabulous place to enjoy the weekend. If you haven’t been to Disneyland for a few years, you will be surprised by how much has changed.

Disney California Adventure (DCA), Disneyland’s sister park, has had a full makeover. Highlights include Cars Land, Pixar Pier, and the food festivals that occur throughout the year.

Over at Disneyland, the newest land is Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge . It is basically paradise for Star Wars fans where you can pilot the Millennium Falcon, build your own lightsaber, and have a cocktail like the Fuzzy Ttauntaun or Jedi Mind Trick at Oga’s Cantina.

If you are a foodie, definitely head over to the Anaheim Packing District where craft beers and creative eateries are housed in the Anaheim Packing House, a former citrus packing warehouse.

Anaheim was founded by German immigrants back in 1857 and has been in the beer brewing business ever since. It is home to over 15 breweries , and I think a great goal is to try them all!

Anaheim is also home to the Angels, so make sure to visit during baseball season so you can catch a game.

Best Time to Visit: The first two weeks in December are great if you want to experience Disney at Christmastime with out the massive crowds. Spring and summer are ideal if you wan to see the Angels play.

Don’t Miss: The Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival . There are 13 different marketplaces serving creative dishes and regional beverages that reflect the bounty of California. Purchase a Sip & Savor Pass, a mimosa flight, and taste the day away in between rides.

Stay Here : There are so many great hotels in Anaheim but I want to give a nod to the OG of Disney lodging, the Disneyland Hotel . The hotel has undergone extensive renovations and the pool area is really fun. Plus, the drinks at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar are legit!

9. La Jolla

La Jolla is a great beach town and weekend destination

La Jolla is another one of my favorite Southern California weekend getaways because it a great place to enjoy a weekend at the beach!

La Jolla Shores is my favorite beach in La Jolla. It is a long strand of beach that is perfect for water play and sunbathing, and there are plenty of shops and restaurants nearby.

One of my favorite active things to do is kayak to the Seven Caves near La Jolla Shores. There are several companies that offer guided tours and it is the perfect “beginner” sea kayak experience.

Here are 25 caves in California you will defintiely want to visit.

On the way, you will paddle over the La Jolla Underwater Park which is home to sea lions, harmless leopard sharks and bright orange garibaldi.

 I like kayaking with Everyday California , and can never resist picking up merchandise with their cool surfing bear logo.

If you are looking for a great spot to take pictures, head over to Scripps Pier . It is small enough to get the full pier in your shot and snag those classic “California pier” shots .

La Jolla Cove is another beautiful beach. It is a small cove that is picture perfect, and just north of the ever-popular seals at Children’s Pool. George’s at the Cove is a great place to enjoys drinks, apps, and sunsets.

Another spot you won’t want to miss is the Torrey Pines Gliderport . This is one of our favorite places to bring a picnic and then enjoy watching hang gliders launching off cliffs to soar above the waves crashing below.

Speaking of Torrey Pines, you should definitely head over to the Torrey Pines State Reserve and talk a walk along the beautiful cliffside trails.

The Torrey Pines are the rarest pine trees in the country, and only grow in La Jolla and on Santa Rosa Island off the coast of Santa Barbara.

Best Time to Visit: La Jolla is an ideal destination any time of year.

Don’t Miss: If you visit during the late summer, definitely don’t miss snorkeling with the leopard sharks. Everyday California offers snorkeling gear rentals as well as snorkeling tours. The leopard sharks are harmless but you get the bragging rights of having checked “snorkeled with sharks” off your bucket list!

Stay Here : La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club is a private club that also has beachfront rooms for non-member guests. When guests stay in these rooms they have access to club amenities. In addition to beach umbrella and chair service, they also offer beachfront tables, chairs, and barbeques to rent to have a sunset dinner with your toes in the sand.

10. Long Beach

Long Beach is an up and coming Southern California Destination

Long Beach has had a bit of a renaissance in the 21st Century. It went from being gritty and a bit sketchy to being filled with hip, revitalized neighborhoods and world-class attractions.

Long Beach’s Naples neighborhood is trendy area filled with shops, restaurants, and beautiful homes lining the area’s canals and waterways. It is a great place to kayak, paddleboard, or take a chartered gondola ride at sunset.

While in Long Beach, you definitely don’t want to miss the Aquarium of the the Pacific , the largest aquarium in Southern California. Book a behind-the-scenes tour to get up close and personal with seals, sea lions, penguins, and sea otters.

You can also book whale and dolphin watching cruises as well as harbor tours via the Aquarium. The waters off Long Beach are great places to see gray whales in the winter and blue whales in the summer.

Across the street from the Aquarium is The Pike, an outdoor outlet mall filled with brand name shops and dining. Shoreline Village is also nearby and features fun little shops in Easter egg-colored buildings.

Long Beach’s most iconic attraction is the Queen Mary . Today, the Queen Mary is a hotel and attraction, but in its heyday, it made 1001 transatlantic crossings.

Visitors can choose from several different tours, watch a movie in the 4D theater, view a replica of the Queen Mary made from 250,000 LEGO bricks, eat at the onboard restaurants, or stay in one of the ship’s rooms. 

Best Time to Visit: Long Beach is an all-season destination. The weather is pleasant year round.

Don’t Miss: The Pow-Wow! Art Festival which takes place every July. Contemporary graffiti artists and muralists from around the world flock to Long Beach to create amazing street art in a week filled with music, events, and live scaffolding painting.

Stay Here : The Hyatt Regency Long Beach is located in the heart of Long beach’s tourist center and is within walking distance of Shoreline Village, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and The Pike.

11. Channel Islands

Santa Cruz Island Channel Islands National Park

The Channel Islands are one of the best Southern California weekend getaways for those who really want to get away from it all.

Channel Islands National Park sits off the coast of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties and is wild, remote, and beautiful. It is made up of five different islands, but most people visit Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands because they are the closest.

Most people reach the Channel Islands via the Island Packers ferry out of Ventura Harbor, but if you have your own boat, feel free to set sail for the islands yourself!

Santa Cruz Island is the best island for a weekend getaway because it is large and offers plenty of opportunities to hike and sea kayak.

Channel Islands Adventure Company leads guided kayaking tours of the islands many sea caves. There is also great snorkeling to enjoy in the kelp forests just off the coast. Wetsuits are recommended.

There are no food concessionaires on these largely undeveloped islands. Be sure to pack in all the food you will need for the duration of your stay. There is potable water available at the Scorpion Campground on Santa Cruz Island.

Best Time to Visit: Early spring for wildflowers or summer for snorkeling.

Don’t Miss: Wildflower season when brilliant yellow coreopsis and purple lupines dot the landscape with a riot of color.

Stay Here : If you want to stay on an island, you have to camp. Campgrounds are undeveloped and have pit toilets. If you prefer four walls, consider making a couple day trips out to the islands and sleeping at a hotel near Ventura Harbor .

12. San Diego

San Diego is one of the best weekend getaways in Southern California

San Diego has long been a favorite weekend getaway for Southern Californians due to its great weather and numerous things to do.

San Diego’s waterfront downtown area is a great place to call home base as you explore the city. The Gaslamp District is a happening area with lots of restaurants, bars, and people watching.

The entire downtown area is very walkable but there are always pedicabs in the main tourist areas that you can hop on if your feet get tired.

The USS Midway, a retired aircraft carrier, is docked at the waterfront and is open as a museum. Audio tours allow you to explore the massive ship at your own pace and learn what life is like aboard the cities at sea.

The waterfront is also a great place to catch a harbor cruise. I recommend opting for the sunset cruise where you can sip cocktails, watch the sunset, and then return to vibrant city lights.

If you are an animal lover, don’t miss the San Diego Zoo , often recognized as the best zoo in the United States. This zoo has had a hand in helping several species escape extinction, including the beloved California condor.

My family absolutely loves the zoo’s Animals in Action experience. We were able to pet a rhino and a zebra, feed hilarious pink flamingos, and see wild cats like the beloved cheetah, up close and personal.

The San Diego Zoo is in Balboa Park , a sprawling park that is larger than NYC’s Central Park and home to several museums. Our favorites are the San Diego Natural History Museum and the fun San Diego Model Railroad Museum.

San Diego is known as one best destinations in the US for people who love craft breweries. Head to 30th Street in North Park, aka Beer Blvd. , to taste your way through several breweries. Each spot has its own vibe and unique flavors.

Mission Beach is popular with the young, college crowd. There are several restaurants, bars, and a great stretch of beach. Nearby Mission Bay is a popular spot for watersports like jet skiing and water skiing, and home to SeaWorld, famous for its sea mammals and thrill rides.

Best Time to Visit: San Diego is a great place to visit year round. If you have kids, visit in October during “Kids Free” month to visit over 100 destinations offering free admission or meals to children all month long.

Don’t Miss: A ballgame at Petco Park , home to the San Diego Padres. The field is located right downtown.

Stay Here : I have never met an Embassy Suites I didn’t like and the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay Downtown is one of my favorites. Besides having a great location across from Seaport Village, a touristy shopping and restaurant area on the water, it has spacious rooms, a good breakfast, and that famous Embassy Suites complimentary happy hour.

13. Huntington Beach

best southern weekend trips

Huntington Beach is a fun weekend destination for those looking to spend some time on the sand. The city is known for its wide beaches and lively beach town vibe.

Also known as Surf City USA, Huntington Beach is a fun place to learn how to surf and there are several operators, like HB mainstay Cork Carroll’s , who are eager to get you standing on a board.

Surfing not your thing but like to stay active? There are several volleyball courts right on the sand.

Biking along the 15-mile bike trail that hugs the coast is another popular activity. There are several bike rental stands near the pier.

A bonfire is the best way to enjoy the beach at night. There are several bonfire pits on the city’s beaches, but you will have to claim them early if you are trying to snag one during peak season.

Huntington Beach is one of the best Southern California weekend getaways for dog lovers, thanks to its dog beach where pups can run unleashed on the sand and in the water. Restaurants like the Sit Stay Cafe and Park Bench Cafe and spots like Top Dog Barkery welcome Fido.

If it is dining and shopping you seek, there are lots of great options, including Pacific City, an outdoor mall filled with shops and restaurants located right on Pacific Coast Highway. Duke’s is a classic spot for a nice seafood dinner or Sunday brunch located at the base of the Huntington Beach Pier.

Best Time to Visit: There isn’t a bad time to visit Huntington Beach, but summer is best if you want to spend time in the water.

Don’t Miss: If you want to watch the best surfers in the world do their thing, visit during the annual US Open of Surfing which takes place during the end of July and beginning of August.

Stay Here : The Kimpton Shorebreak is a great pet-friendly (with no extra charge!) hotel that has beach cruisers, umbrellas, beach chairs, and even ice chests for guests to check out as part of their Beach Amenities Program. It is located in the heart of the HB action and the closest hotel to the dog beach.

14. Venice/Santa Monica

best southern weekend trips

Venice and Santa Monica are neighboring beach towns with great urban beach vibes.

Venice has long known for its funky Bohemian spirit and eclectic boardwalk filled with street performers, cheap sunglasses stands, and pot shops. I once had a guy offer to sell me a bunny out of his coat pocket while I strolled the boardwalk!

It is truly a great place for people watching because people come here to be seen! Muscle Beach is popular with the shirtless gym rat crowd and there is always a crowd around the beachfront skate park’ s bowl.

Beyond the boisterous boardwalk, head slightly inland to find peace and beauty while walking the Venice canals . If you have a kayak or paddleboard, you can also use it to paddle under the bridges and past beautiful homes.

If it is shopping and dining that you crave, stylish Abbot Kinney Boulevard has some of the city’s best shops, restaurants, and bars.

Just down the beach from Venice is Santa Monica, the beach and boardwalk most associated with LA, thanks to Hollywood cinema.

Route 66 once ended at the Santa Monica Pier, and it is still one of the most popular beach attractions in California today. Pacific Park, a fair on the pier, is home to classic rides and carnival games.

Santa Monica State Beach is very popular and usually bustling with tourists and locals alike. Its wide stretch of sand is a great place to spend the afternoon.

Shoppers won’t want to miss the 3rd Street Promenade or the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market . If it is a great meal you crave, try a farm-to-table meal at Rustic Canyon , the famed Office burger at Father’s Office , and handmade pasta at Uovo ,

Best Time to Visit: Both cities are great to visit year round but sunny days, fewer crowds, and lower prices can be find during the early fall months of September and October.

Don’t Miss: First Fridays , which takes place on the first Friday evening of each month on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. During this event the boulevard is lined with the region’s hottest food trucks.

Stay Here : Oceanfront Hotel Casa del Mar is located in between the Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach. Their Sea Wellness Spa offers a full array of facials, wraps, massages, and state-of-the-art treatments. On-site dining comes with perfect sunset views.

15. Temecula

best southern weekend trips

Temecula is a wonderful wine region northeast of San Diego that has become one Southern California’s most popular weekend destinations for wine enthusiasts.

Many people begin their weekends by seeing the Temecula Valley from above on a hot air balloon ride. Balloon rides begin bright and early at dawn, and include beautiful sunrises over the vineyards and mimosa toasts.

If you would rather stick closer to the ground, try a horseback ride instead. Wine Country Trails by Horseback offers 90-minute rides out on the hills and through the vineyards of  Maurice Car’rie Winery .

More animal-based fun can be found at The Alpaca Hacienda where you can feed and pet alpacas and shop for alpaca goods. It can also be found at Sugarplum Farm which is home to zebras, camels, and miniature horses, as well as incredible chocolates.

If you want to try something unique and fun, head into the hills south of town to mine for gems like tourmaline, aquamarine, quartz, and garnet at the Oceanview Mine . My family had a great time hunting for treasure and touring the mine. We all came home with special gems.

Old Town Temecula is a hub of shopping, dining, and lodging, all set in an Old West atmosphere, complete with wooden boardwalks. There are several breweries and bars in the area.

If it is wine you came for, you will be happy to know there are nearly 50 wineries in the region. It is always more fun to go wine tasting when someone else is driving, and Temecula Valley Jeep & Wine Tours are happy to act as your guide takes you to three wineries, into a barrel room, and on a back-road vineyard tour.

If you have a larger group, a limo tour is a better option. Temecula Limo Wine Tasting can accommodate groups of up to 14 people. They offer discount tasting tickets for seven different wineries and even have lunch packages.

Best Time to Visit: Avoid the summer and early fall if you don’t want to risk visiting on a 100-degreee day.

Don’t Miss: Socal Axe Throwing , which has a location in Temecula located right next to Wild Barrel Brewing. Beer and throwing axes will surely make for a fun evening.

Stay Here: Pont Vineyard Inn is located in the heart of Temecula Wine Country. Rooms are spacious and most have outstanding views of the property’s pond or surrounding vineyards.

The pool is a great place to lounge with a a cocktail and take in the scenery. Three wineries are within walking distance and dozens more are a short, Uber ride away.

best southern weekend trips

Malibu is well known for its celebrity residents, but us commoners can still enjoy a weekend getaway in this beautiful beach town.

When I was growing up in Ventura County, Zuma Beach was our favorite beach to frequent. Its a good place to surf, sunbathe on wide stretches of sand, and play beach volleyball. You may even spot a couple celebrities!

If you would rather skip the crowds and focus on spotting sea life instead of famous people, Westward Beach and Leo Carillo State Park are good options. Leo Carillo is known for its tide pools and sea caves. Westward is a good place to spot seals, sea lions, and dolphins.

If you want to surf (or watch surfers), head to Malibu Lagoon State Beach . I like coming here near sunset to watch the surfers ride waves as the sun goes down and take pictures of Malibu Pier in the foreground.

If you want to shop where the beautiful people shop, head to Malibu Country Mart . Far from country, this upscale shopping center is filled with high end boutiques, galleries, and a variety of dining options.

You visit Malibu without enjoying a meal to remember. Nobu Malibu has a stunning oceanfront setting and some of the best sushi in the state. Malibu Farm Cafe is a more casual spot on the pier with fresh made juices, a great crab cake sandwich, and a wide variety of vegetarian options

Malibu is surrounded by hillside and canyons, making it a great place to hike. Favorite spots include the ruins of Tropical Terrace at Solstice Canyon , the trail to seasonal Escondido Falls , sprawling views on Zuma Ridge , and over a dozen other trails in the area.

Malibu’s hills are home to a few different wineries and Malibu Wines is the place to be on Saturday and Sunday. It features wines from Semler and Saddlerock wines, live music, and food trucks.

They even have a wine hikes program that takes guests on guided hikes to Chumash cave paintings and through the Saddlerock Ranch vineyards.

Best Time to Visit: Malibu is fun to visit anytime but I love September when the weather is still warm and the crowds are gone, or March when the hillsides are covered in wildflowers and the waterfalls are running.

Don’t Miss: The Malibu Wine Safari at Saddlerock Ranch. You tour the property in open-air safari vehicles while stopping to taste wine and meet alpacas, bison, zebras, and Stanley the famed giraffe.

Stay Here : The Malibu Beach Inn is located right on the sand on a strip known as Billionaire’s Beach (in other words, they have some wealthy neighbors). Choose and oceanfront room and watch the sunset from your balcony, eat dinner at the onsite Carbon Beach Club, and then fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves.

17. Death Valley

Death Valley National Park is a great weekend getaway

Death Valley’s name turns a lot of people off from visiting. But the truth is, Death Valley is a vast and beautiful place , and there is plenty of life in Death Valley.

Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the lower 48 , and there are plenty of great places to explore. Just be sure to keep plenty of gas and water in your car because gas stations are scarce, the climate is usually very dry, and distances are vast.

One of my favorite things about Death Valley National Park is that you don’t need to stick to trails when exploring the park! Death Valley is famous for bein the hottest spot in North America during the summer months, but during the winter it is a great place to hike and explore.

You definitely want to visit Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. In this land of extremes, be sure to scan the horizon and take in Telescope Peak which is 11,331 feet in elevation and only 15 miles away!

If you are looking to hike, consider exploring Golden Canyon , Mosaic Canyon , Sidewinder Canyon , and the hills around Zabriskie Point . My family loves scrambling up rocky hillsides and forging our own paths.

If it is sand dunes you crave, head over to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes where you can wander, roll, make sand angels, and even snowboard down the hills. They aren’t the tallest dunes in Death Valley, but they are the most convenient to reach. Visiting the towering Eureka Sand Dunes requires a 2.5-hour drive down a remote dirt road.

The evening is a great time to enjoy Death Valley.  Stars are abundant and the Milky Way is visible.  If the moon is full, consider heading to the sand dunes for some moonlit exploration.

Here are 24 animals in Death Valley you may encounter on your visit.

Best Time to Visit: Winter is the best time to visit if you want to get out and explore the park in pleasant weather. Summer visitation is mostly dominated by Europeans looking to experience some serious heat!

Don’t Miss: The extremely rare pupfish in Salt Creek. Temps in the creek can reach 90 degrees in the summer months but the pupfish endures in the harsh environment. A 1/2 mile boardwalk runs alongside the side of the creek, making it easy to spot these special fish.

Stay Here : The Inn at Death Valley offers four star lodging in the middle of nowhere. This historic hotel was first built in the 1920s but has recently undergone a massive renovation.

The Inn has a spa, a great pool area, and is home to the lowest course in the world, the Furnace Creek Golf Course . It has been named one of the 50 toughest courses in the country.

Ojai Valley Inn

Ojai is one of the best Southern California weekend getaways to enjoy if you are dreaming of spa vacation and prefer things a bit on the “granola” side.

Ojai is a small town located in a valley in northern Ventura County, surrounded by avocado and citrus farms. It is a charming place that bans chain stores but embraces yoga, wellness retreats, and healthy living.

The Ojai Valley Inn is the queen of the spa scene. While stay at the Ojai Valley Inn is highly recommended you can still have still purchase treatments on weekdays without being hotel guest.

Purchase of a treatment also gives you full access to the spa pools, Mind & Body classes, fitness gym as well as indoor facilities for the entire day! The Mind & Body classes include things like yoga, meditation, fitness walks, and spin classes.

In addition to Himalayan salt massages and Kuyam treatments- part healing clay, part dry heat, part guided meditation- the spa offers spiritual counseling, crystal healing therapy, and even custom aromatherapy.

There are several other wonderful spas in the area such as the Oaks at Ojai and the Lavender Inn Spa .

Beyond the spa, Ojai is a great place to get outside. There is horseback riding, and several great local trails for hiking or biking.

Back in town, you don’t want to miss the wonderful shops along Ojai Avenue. Many sells goods from local artists and all are independently operated.

Best Time to Visit: I like to avoid the peak summer months. Summer temps in the Ojai Valley can be quite hot which may limit your ability to enjoy the great outdoors.

Don’t Miss: Bart’s Books, the largest independent outdoor (yes, outdoor) bookstore in the United States.

Stay Here : The Ojai Valley Inn is the big name in town, for good reason. This resort offers much more than the spa and beautiful rooms. There is also a golf course, pools, tennis courts, an artist cottage where you can take classes, and even a beekeeping experience!

19. Solvang

Solvang is a great weekend getaway in Southern California

Solvang is a charming little Dutch town 30 miles north of Santa Barbara. It is filled with cute shops, great pastries and several nods to Dutch culture.

We had fun renting a surrey and peddling around town. Keep an eye out for the Little Mermaid Fountain, five different windmills, and the giant red clog.

There are 20 different beer and wine tasting rooms downtown because Solvang sits on the edge of Santa Barbara County wine country. As a matter of fact, the wine-centric movie, Sideways , was filmed in Solvang!

I highly recommend going on a wine tasting tour to visit several of the 120+ wineries in the area. Options include everything from bike tours to limos.

Food is part of the fun in Solvang. Don’t miss breakfast at Paula’s Pancake House , beers and brats at the Copenhagen Sausage Garden , and Danish pastries from Olsen’s , Mortensen’s , and Birkholm’s .

Best Time to Visit: Visit during the fall and you can enjoy events like Danish Days in September or the Solvang Grape Stomp in October where you can stomp on grapes a la I Love Lucy !

Don’t Miss: Danish Days which is filled with Danish fun! Enjoy folk dancers, three parades, concerts, axe throwing, an Æbleskiver breakfast, historical Viking re-enactments, artisanal craft booths, and plenty of food and drinks!

Stay Here : The Landsby is a small, boutique hotel in the heart of Solvang. It embraces Scandinavian design and heritage, and has charming courtyards with fireplaces. The hotel’s restaurant, Mad & Vin, serves wonderful Wine Country cuisine.

20. Hollywood

best southern weekend trips

Hooray for Hollywood! Those of us who grew up in Southern California tend to take Hollywood for granted, but playing tourist for the weekend and going Hollywood can be fun!

Start by taking one of those cheesy celebrity TMZ bus tours or grab a map highlighting the star’s homes, because why not?

Walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame and search for your favorite stars, making time to place your hands and feet in the imprints left by celebrities outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theater .

Want to take pictures with your favorite celebrities but can’t find them anywhere? Head to Madame Tussaud’s and pose with wax replica’s of celebrities like Taylor Swift, Jimmy Kimmel, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, and Tupac.

If you want to see or be a part of the real thing, take a tour of Paramount Studios , the last major studio still located in Hollywood. Or sign up to be a part of a studio live studio audience during a tv taping.

You can’t spend a weekend in Hollywood without spending some time at the theater. There are several famed theaters around town hosting movie premiers, musicals, and concerts. I love watching the latest touring Broadway hits at the Pantages Theater .

After you have had enough of the city, head up into the hills and hike to the world-famous Hollywood Sign. There is a trail that link the sign with the Griffith Observatory . Views are especially impressive sight after a good rain. Runyan Canyon is another great place to hike (and potentially spot celebs).

Best Time to Visit: If you want to spot celebs, come during awards season (generally November through February) or wait for a movie premier starring your favorite actor.

Don’t Miss: A picnic at the Hollywood Bowl . This classic outdoor venue in the Hollywood Hills host famous music artists as well as the LA Philharmonic.

Stay Here : The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is a historic hotel that reflects the glamour Hollywood. It’s palm-lined Tropicana Pool is a great place to kick back with a cocktail and enjoy that California sunshine.

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Discover the best that Southern USA has to offer! Hidden gems, vibrant cities and more!

a couple walking on the beach in Lovers Key Florida one of the most romantic getaways in the South

15 Wildly Romantic Getaways in The South USA

February 28, 2021 //  by  Southern Trippers

Are you looking for wildly romantic getaways in the South? Then you’ll love this list of vacation spots for couples in the South.

The South is a very diverse area of the country, especially when it comes to landscapes and activities. In one state, you can explore the mountains, cities, and even beaches as well on occasion. That means that there is an endless amount of things to do.

This list has some of everything, for every kind of couple. There are large cities for those looking to explore a new city. Small towns and mountain retreats for couples looking for a little more adventure. There are even coastal cities and beautiful sandy beaches.

So, lets take a look at the 15 Wildly Romantic Getaways in the South USA.

A couple looking out at a mountain range in the fall

Lovers Key, Florida

With lover in its name, you know that Lovers Key Florida is going to be a perfect romantic getaway. Lovers Key consists of a beach and then the Lovers Key State Park. Both offer plenty of opportunities for romantic excursions. At the State Park, there are plenty of hiking trails where you can enjoy the local flora and fauna.

The beach is 2.5 miles of white sand and has spots for picnicking and restrooms. So you can stay the whole day and enjoy the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Visitors can also take their boat out onto the Gulf and enjoy fishing. If you just want to relax on the beach, you and your partner can enjoy a leisurely stroll as the sunsets.

A couple walking on a beach in Lovers Key at sunset romantic getaways in the south

Roanoke, Virginia

There some great romantic things to do in Roanoke Virginia. Roanoke is a city in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, which means it’s great for hiking and outdoor adventures. You can hike the Appalachian Trail or explore nearby Natural Bridge. There are also beautiful overlooks you can stop at, or hike to, and enjoy.

If you don’t want to explore the great outdoors, there are other things to do in Roanoke as well. You can take a Roanoke Food Tour and explore some of the best restaurants in the city. Or stroll hand in hand while you explore the Roanoke City Market. There you can enjoy the sights and sounds of this unique Southern city for a wonderful Virginia romantic getaway!

Roanoke all lit up at twilight

New Orleans, Louisiana

A trip to romantic New Orleans wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the French Quarter. It is full of amazing shops, delicious restaurants, and more. Pop into one of the stores that sells jewelry you can only find in New Orleans or grab a beignets and a cup of coffee.

You can also take a romantic tour of New Orleans in a horse drawn carriage. On your carriage ride you’ll learn about the city’s history in a romantic setting. Check out our post on 3 Days In New Orleans if you want to see an example itinerary!

If you’re feeling a bit luxurious, take some time at the Ritz Carlton for a bit of a spa day. They offer full and mini size spa packages for couples. After your spa trip, have dinner in one of New Orleans amazing restaurants.

From Michelin star restaurants to small locally owned places, no matter where you pick, you’re guaranteed to have a good meal. End your night going to one of the fun bars or nightclubs for a drink and a night of dancing.

A couple holding hands on a street in New Orleans one of the most romantic getaways in the south

Mississippi Beaches

For couples looking for a bit of fun in the sun, consider checking out the beaches of Mississippi . The state has a small coastline compared to most Southern states. But what coastline they do have is beautiful. There are a few different beaches in Mississippi and each has something different to offer. The most famous of Mississippi’s beach is Biloxi, but there is also Gulfport Beach, and Horn Island.

Biloxi is full of things to do. You can take a romantic steamboat tour, watersports, casinos, and even a lighthouse. After a day spent relaxing on the soft sands, head to one of the many great restaurants for a romantic candle-lit dinner. Gulfport is considered a local favorite beach and for good reason.

Biloxi is also home to some of the best Resorts In Mississippi , including beachfront ones!

It’s perfect for a romantic getaway because it is rarely crowded and there is still plenty of great things to do. Horn Island is another beautiful Mississippi beach that is rarely crowded and full of stunning beaches. It’s perfect for a couple looking to escape it all and experience one of the most romantic getaways in the South.

A pier in Biloxi Mississippi

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah Georgia has long been considered one of the most romantic cities in the South. It’s easy to see why as you stroll down the streets hand in hand with your partner. There is no end to the romantic things you can do in Savannah . Explore the botanical gardens or visit the Oatland Island Wildlife Center. If you like architecture and history, walk around Savannah’s famous Historic District. Or maybe even take a day trip to Tybee Island .

Foodie couples will find plenty of romantic activities in Savannah . You can start the night off with rooftop cocktails and take in the view of Savannah.

Then head to the Historic District for a plethora of dining options. There are farm to table restaurants, restaurants that do modern takes on Southern classics, and even an upscale restaurant in a mansion in Forsyth Park. Savannah is one of the best vacations spots for couples in the South.

A couple hugging on a lane covered in trees with spanish moss in Savannah one of the most romantic getaways in the south

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs Arkansas is located just outside of Hot Springs National Park. This is one of the best romantic getaways in the South that combines outdoor adventure and city romance.

It is somewhere you can visit year-round and still find something romantic today. However, the best time of the year to come explore the city of Hot Springs is in the Fall. There will be breathtaking views of the leaves changing at the park and there is an endless amount of Fall activities.

You will obviously want to visit the National Park and take a soak in the natural thermal hot springs. You can also take a romantic carriage ride through the city.

Or maybe spend some time walking through the streets, grab a bit to eat, and explore the many unique shops. If you like spending time outside, you may also want to visit the Garvan Woodlands Gardens. No matter what you like to do, there are plenty of romantic things to do in Hot Springs .

A hot spring in Arkansas' Hot Springs National Park sourrounded by greenery

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina is another Southern city perfect for a romantic getaway. It is a city full of history that makes it so unique. While you’re there, you’ll want to grab tickets for a show at the historic Dock Street Theater.

If you want to learn about Southern cooking, take a cooking class with your partner before enjoying an amazing dinner. You can even take a southern BBQ Road Trip In South Carolina!

For romance in the outdoors, head to the Cypress Gardens. There you can walk through bird and butterfly habitat greenery. You can also explore the swamp area, go kayaking in the creek, or explore beautiful blooms in one of the many gardens. Or, you and your partner can enjoy a sunset cruise around the Charleston Harbor. You and your partner will love exploring Charleston, one of the most romantic places in the South.

A couple holding hands in a nature preserve in Charleston one of the most romantic getaways in the south

Texas Hill Country

The Texas Hill Country is one of the most beautiful and romantic vacation spots for couples in the South. It is full of beautiful natural views and amazing cities. Because it is such a large part of the state, there are plenty of romantic things to do. Depending on what time of the year you visit, you may find yourself surrounded by Blue Bonnets , the state flower. There are several parks where you and your partner can pack a picnic and sit amongst the Blue Bonnets.

For a unique date night activity, head to Boerne and experience a concert inside a cave. Music lovers will love seeing a show in the Cave Without A Name . If you like camping and hiking, head to Enchanted Rock. There you can hike and see breathtaking views or camp out. The campsites include a full setup, and you can even choose a more secluded campsite, perfect if you and your partner want to feel a little more secluded.

Blue Bonnets in bloom in the Texas Hill Country

Blue Ridge Mountains Road Trip

The Blue Ridge Mountains is a mountain range that spreads across several states in the South. This makes it perfect for a romantic Southern road trip . Where you go on your road trip entirely depends on what states you want to cover. If you start in North Carolina you can see the Blowing Rock in Blowing Rock, the cute city of Boone , and Grandfather Mountain.

In Georgia, you can visit one of the cutest small towns in the South , Helen. Helen is an adorable Bavarian-inspired town full of fun activities and shops. You can also take a road trip through the North Georgia Mountains , which are part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Blue Ridge Mountains run through Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, and end in Georgia. Whether you drive the whole parkway or just explore a road trip through one state, a Blue Ridge Mountains Road Trip is one of the most romantic road trips in the South.

A couple standing in a stone overlook in the Blue Ridge Mountains while clouds roll through the mountains

Memphis, Tennessee

In Memphis Tennessee, you can find an endless amount of romantic activities. It is a bustling and lively city in the Southwest corner of Tennessee. Art-loving couples will enjoy strolling through the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. You’ll be able to view works by Italian Renaissance artists, French Impressionists, the master of the Baroque period, and even Modern and Postmodernists.

No trip to Memphis is complete without a trip down the city’s historic Beale Street. If you go at night, you can fully experience the street’s unique array of neon lights and just as unique shops and restaurants. Or, you can take a romantic carriage ride through the city and learn more about its history.

Even though Memphis is a large city, there is even something for outdoor lovers. You and your partner can enjoy a day of walking through the Memphis Botanic Garden. With over 100 acres, you can easily spend the whole day exploring and admiring the gardens.

Beale Street in Memphis Tennessee with all the neon lights turned on at twilight

Gulf Shores, Alabama

If you and your partner are looking for a romantic beach vacation in the South, then you may want to think about heading to Gulf Shores Alabama. With 32 miles of white sandy beaches, Gulf Shores offers one of the best romantic getaways in the South. Spend your days relaxing on the beach and stay at any one of the amazing beach resorts or homes.

After relaxing on the sand, head to a gourmet dinner at one of Gulf Shores many delicious restaurants. If you need a break from the beach, take some time to explore the unique shops on the main streets of Gulf Shores. For those who are a little more adventurous, you can book a sunset helicopter flight. Up in the air, you and your partner can take in the beautiful views and experience a unique and romantic adventure.

Two lounge chairs on a white sandy beach looking out towards the ocean in Gulf Shores Alabama

Lexington, Kentucky

Lexington Kentucky is a unique city in the South that is full of fun activities. If you and your partner are looking for a blend of romance, history, and bourbon, make sure to explore Lexington. In Lexington, make sure you and your partner take the time to walk around one of the many beautiful parks. Take a romantic stroll through the Arboretum, take a hike at the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, or ride a paddle boat in Jefferson Park.

For history-loving couples, there are several awesome museums. You can learn about the 16th First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln, at her childhood home. Or explore Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate.

A trip to Lexington also means a chance to taste bourbon. You and your partner can try the local brews at the James E. Pepper Distillery, the Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co., and so many more. Lexington is one of the best romantic getaways in the South for couples looking for a unique city to explore.

A field full of horses at sunset in Lexington Kentucky

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville is a beautiful city in North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a city perfect for art-loving couples as it has a thriving art scene. That art scene includes art galleries, shops with local artists’ works in them, and even the culinary arts. There are some tasty restaurants in Downtown Asheville that foodies will love to explore.

Asheville is also home to the Biltmore Estate. The Biltmore Estate is a beautiful mansion that is still a private house, but is open daily for tours. Built in the late 1800’s, the home is full of history, beautiful original antiques, and more.

It is located inside Pisgah National Forest, so you can also explore the grounds and experience some stunning views. The estate is also home to a winery and mini village. Romance is everywhere you look in beautiful Asheville North Carolina. This is truly one of the most romantic getaways in North Carolina!

A couple looking out at the mountains of Pisgah National Forest near Asheville North Carolina one of the most romantic getaways in the South

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

If you are looking for an outdoor adventure that is also one of the best romantic getaways in the South, then think about visiting the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Shenandoah Valley is a National Park in Virginia, as well as the name of the town. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, and even horseback riding.

Pack a lunch, or get something to go from one of the amazing restaurants, and head out on the road. On the Skyline Drive, you can stop at the many overlooks and enjoy breathtaking views of the valley. You and your partner can even go below ground and explore the Luray Caverns. For a romantic afternoon, head to one of the area wineries for an afternoon of winetasting. No matter what you do in Shenandoah Valley, you and your partner will enjoy a romantic vacation in the South.

Shenandoah Valley Virginia at sunset in the Summer

Islamorada, Florida

Islamorada is another one of Florida’s Keys, a small island off the coast of Florida. It is one of the most perfect tropical romantic getaways in the South. There are of course miles of beautiful white sandy beaches. But there are other things to do in Islamorada as well. Islamorada is also home to a few local breweries. For couples who like to enjoy craft brews, make sure you take a trip to the Islamorada Brewery and Distillery for a bite to eat and a drink.

If you want to learn more about the ocean and the creatures in it, take a boat tour and learn about the dolphins, fish, and other sea creatures that call Islamorada home. Couples who love diving will enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving around the area’s reefs. There is even a museum of the History of Diving. Explore the Rain Barrell Village to see art by local artisans, and take home a trinket to remind you and your partner of your trip.

A couple kayaking near Islamorada in the Florida Keys

Have you and your partner ever been to one of these amazing romantic getaways in the South? If you have, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!

couple standing in front of church during their 3 days in new orleans getaway

PlanetWare.com

20 Top-Rated Weekend Getaways in Southern California

Written by Freddy Sherman Updated May 11, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Author Freddy Sherman moved to Southern California 30 years ago to escape the cold Philadelphia winters and hasn't looked back since.

If you're looking for places to visit and getaway ideas, Southern California has plenty of options. Whether it's beaches like Santa Monica, Venice, or Malibu or the parades of Disneyland, there really is something here for everyone. Families may want to visit a specific city like Palm Springs, which offers a range of things to see and do. Couples may prefer a getaway to a specific location or romantic hotel, like The Inn at Death Valley, so they can just enjoy the time together.

View of Stearns Wharf and Santa Barbara

Southern California is also one of the few places where your weekend getaway can include skiing and surfing, even done in the same day, if you want. It's possible to spend your morning skiing the slopes in Big Bear and then have an afternoon surf session in Huntington Beach (or vice-versa).

The region's mostly warm and sunny weather also means most of its getaway destinations are good to visit all year-round. Plan your travels with our list of the top weekend getaways in Southern California.

1. Palm Springs

2. joshua tree national park, 3. santa barbara, 5. big bear, 6. lake arrowhead, 7. catalina island, 8. san diego, 9. pacific beach, 10. long beach, 11. idyllwild, 12. santa monica, 14. dtla: downtown los angeles, 15. ventura, 16. solvang, 17. death valley, 18. laguna beach, 19. tijuana, 20. rosarito, map of weekend getaways in southern california, best time to visit southern california.

Palm Springs

Highlights: Warm weather in the winter months, hiking trails, 100s of golf courses, great food and culture

The desert oasis of Palm Springs is 100 miles east of Los Angeles, and the drive takes about two hours. The city and the surrounding desert cities are great places to visit and offer a wide range of activities. Golf and tennis are popular here, as is hiking on the local mountain trails.

No visit is complete without a trip on the Palm Springs Tramway , which whisks you from the desert floor to an elevation of 8,500 feet in minutes. Palm Springs is a hot destination; the best time to visit is between November and May. The city hosts the internationally recognized Palm Springs International Film Festival in January and celebrates its mid-century modern architecture with Modernism Week each February.

Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in the Palm Springs Area

  • Read More: Best Tourist Attractions in Palm Springs, California

Joshua Tree National Park

Highlights: Huge national park with multiple eco-systems, great for camping or day-trip drive-throughs

This getaway is east of Los Angeles and about a two-hour drive, not far from Palm Springs . The focus on a getaway here is the vast, 800,000-acre Joshua Tree National Park. It's where two desert ecosystems, the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert, come together. It's a spectacular place to hike , take photos, or just drive through the park and admire the scenery. It also has some fantastic campgrounds .

There are many small motels near the park's north entrance in the town of Twentynine Palms and the town of Joshua Tree, and the area is also filled with home rentals. You can also camp overnight in the park. Some campsites can be reserved online in advance, and others are first-come, first-served. It's also legal to camp on BLM land outside the park boundaries.

The best time to visit is between October and May, as the desert temperatures soar well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) in the summertime.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Twentynine Palms

  • Read More: Fun Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park: Hikes, Sights & Activities

The Santa Barbara Mission

Highlights: Year-round sun and almost-perfect weather combined with culture and a great food scene

About 90 miles north of Los Angeles , this quaint seaside city has miles of beautiful beaches , several excellent museums, and a vibrant foodie scene. Popular things to do in Santa Barbara include taking whale watching cruises, hanging out on the beach, and shopping in the compact downtown area.

Santa Barbara is also the perfect place to see (and maybe buy) art. Aside from all the art galleries in the downtown area, there are two excellent art museums. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara both have impressive collections with an emphasis on California artists. There's also a fascinating (and free) Art, Design, and Architecture Museum on the UC Santa Barbara campus.

Consistently ranked as one of the nation's best small zoos , the Santa Barbara Zoo is a fun place to visit for an afternoon. Their popular Walkabout immersive exhibit features the land, animals, and cultural traditions of Australia.

Be sure to visit the city's Funk Zone , an area of former warehouses now occupied by restaurants, entertainment venues, and art galleries.

Palm trees reflected in a building in Anaheim

Highlights: Mainly known for Disneyland, also home to Knott's Berry Farm, Angel Stadium, and the Honda Center for sports and concerts

Another great place to visit in Southern California for a weekend is Anaheim. It's perfect for a local weekend getaway, as it's less than an hour from most parts of LA. Anaheim is home to Disneyland Park , the original theme park, as well as the newer Disney California Adventure . There's also Downtown Disney, a shopping and dining district for which no park ticket is required.

Baseball fans may want to take in a Los Angeles Angels game at nearby Angel Stadium, and NHL fans can catch an Anaheim Ducks game at the Honda Center. And although technically it's in Buena Park, not Anaheim, the Knott's Berry Farm theme park (and water park) is only 10 minutes away.

A hidden gem for families is Adventure City, located a few minutes away in Stanton. The compact amusement park feels like a state fair and offers free parking and unlimited rides for its low $24.95 per person admission price.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Anaheim

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Anaheim

Big Bear Lake

Highlights: Compact mountain resort with the best Southern California skiing in winter and great hiking and boating in summer

Big Bear is a beautiful mountain resort that offers year-round fun and is an easy, mostly-freeway drive from LA. You really can be on the slopes skiing within about two hours of leaving most parts of LA.

This vacation spot is great all year-round. In the winter, it's one of California's most popular ski resorts outside of Lake Tahoe, and in the summer, these mountains offer miles of hiking and mountain biking, along with great fishing. The ski resorts are open and use some of their chairlifts to carry hikers and mountain bikers to higher elevations.

And since the summer is off-season, it can also be a cheap weekend getaway, as accommodations are much less expensive than in the winter.

In addition to the outdoor and winter sports, Big Bear has a small downtown area with shops, restaurants, and even a few live music venues.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in the Big Bear Region

Aerial view of Lake Arrowhead Village

Highlights: Summer mountain lake resort with swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking along with quaint shopping and dining

This quaint lake resort town in the San Bernardino mountains is a great getaway destination no matter what time of year. The little town, located alongside a picturesque lake, has a small-town feel and is less commercial than Big Bear, its mountain neighbor about 45 minutes away.

Lake Arrowhead is the ultimate Southern California summer getaway destination since the temperature is normally cooler than the Southland, located 5,000 feet lower in elevation. There are beaches, and the lake is popular for swimming, water skiing, kayaking, and other water sports.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Lake Arrowhead

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do at Lake Arrowhead, CA

Catalina Island

Highlights: Island resort with beaches, boating, fishing, and diving, only 90 minutes from LA

Part of California, this formerly private island resort is 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. It's easily reachable via the Catalina Express jet catamaran, and the trip takes about 90 minutes (ports are Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point). Catalina Island's main city is Avalon, and most accommodations are here.

Aside from beach fun, there is SCUBA diving and snorkeling in the lush kelp forests, along with charter boat fishing. The plethora of quaint bed-and-breakfasts and small hotels makes it perfect for romantic getaways. The town is filled with art galleries, shops, and a lot of different restaurants.

Accommodation: Where to Stay on Catalina Island

Downtown San Diego

Highlights: Perfect weather, with many beaches and a thriving downtown area with multiple entertainment zones

This Southern California city is perfect for LA getaways. It's about three hours by car (you can also hop on the Amtrak train). It may be best to focus on a few areas, such as the revitalized downtown Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy areas, the tide pools of La Jolla , and a beach suburb like Mission Bay .

Two great attractions are the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park , one of the world's largest, and the USS Midway Museum, a museum aboard the preserved aircraft carrier.

Accommodation: Best Resorts in San Diego

Pacific Beach

Highlights: Casual, dog-friendly city with an iconic beach and boardwalk, along with a vibrant nightlife scene

This hip beach neighborhood, a part of the city of San Diego, is a popular choice for mini vacations. It combines reasonably priced oceanfront accommodations; a fun boardwalk on the sand; and a wide range of food, from street food to fine dining. This is an active town, with people always out running, biking, skateboarding, and playing on the beach. It's a popular surfing spot and there are several surf schools, which offer lessons for beginners.

Pacific Beach is also a dog-friendly neighborhood, with dogs allowed on the beach and boardwalk during certain times of the day. For a more upscale experience, La Jolla is right next door and has luxury shopping and dining (along with an outpost of the legendary Comedy Store comedy club).

The Queen Mary in Long Beach

Highlights: A beach city with several shopping and entertainment zones, especially popular in April for the annual IndyCar race

This Southern California city offers miles of wide beaches; a thriving restaurant scene; and a wide range of cultural activities, attractions , and museums.

Visits should include a stop at the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Long Beach Museum of Art , which overlooks the ocean. For great shopping and dining, take a stroll down Pine Avenue or visit Shoreline Village, the seafront entertainment district.

Visitors have many hotel options to choose from in all price ranges.

Tahquitz Rock, Idyllwild

Highlights: A quaint mountain community, with fun shopping and dining; perfect for weekend getaways

For an authentic mountain getaway, Idyllwild delivers blue skies, fresh air, and giant pine trees. Located high in the San Jacinto Mountains, midway between San Diego and Palm Springs, the town is reached via a curving, 50-mile-long road that rises over 6,000 feet in elevation. The road is called the Palms to Pines Scenic Byway, as it connects the palm trees of Palm Desert to the pine trees of Idyllwild.

Accommodations include many home rentals, as well as several small inns. Camping is also popular, with options from primitive campsites in national and state parks to private campgrounds with amenities.

In the little town of Idyllwild, you'll find all kinds of little locally owned shops, galleries, artist studios, restaurants, bakeries, and the beginning of endless miles of hiking trails. The area's hiking trails connect to many popular regional trails including the Pacific Crest Trail.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Idyllwild

Santa Monica Pier at dusk

Highlights: Massive beaches and outdoor recreation areas with world-class shopping and dining

This beach destination is surrounded by Los Angeles but is an ideal vacation spot and LA getaway . The city has some seriously wide beaches and some of the region's best restaurants. There is a wide selection of hotels, from beachfront bungalows to five-star resorts.

Santa Monica is relatively compact, with most of the shopping and dining focused on an area within a few blocks of the beach. The city also boasts the Santa Monica Pier , an old-school ocean pier home to a carnival-like atmosphere and an amusement park.

For some cool, but expensive shopping, go where the movie stars shop: the city's Montana Avenue retail area or the high-end Santa Monica Place outdoor mall.

Venture a bit south of Santa Monica to explore Venice Beach and its always-interesting beach boardwalk. Venture a bit north to visit some more remote (less crowded) beaches like those near Topanga Canyon.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Santa Monica

Beach houses in Malibu

Highlights: Beautiful, unspoiled beaches; celebrity beach homes; the Getty Villa art museum and upscale dining

There's a reason this SoCal community is home to so many movie stars. This oceanside city, just north of Santa Monica, includes 21 miles of coastline, but also acres of mountains and inland canyons (great for hiking and mountain biking). There are a few hotels in the city, some on the sand.

Two Malibu must-sees are Adamson House and The Getty Villa , part of the Getty LA. The Getty Villa is an exact recreation of an ancient Pompeiian villa, which houses one of the world's greatest collections of Ancient Greek and Roman art and artifacts. The Adamson House is the home of the founding family of Malibu, which was once mainly ranch land. The family also founded the famous Malibu Potteries and the house's interior has the world's largest Malibu tile installations

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Malibu

Read More: Best Beaches in Malibu

Downtown Los Angeles

Highlights: Packed with museums, also boasts eclectic shopping and foodie dining options like the Grand Central Market

DTLA, short for downtown Los Angeles, has been so transformed and revitalized, it now counts as its own getaway destination. What was once a ghost town after offices closed at 5pm is now the hippest and coolest area of the city to live and go out in.

What were once early 20 th -century bank and office buildings have been transformed into luxury lofts, hip hotels, and trendy restaurants. The influx of new residents has brought all kinds of other businesses and retail shops. Many of these former bank and office buildings have also been transformed into luxury and boutique hotels, and the city is also seeing a building boom of new hotels and luxury apartment buildings.

The area is also home to the Crypto.com Arena (formerly the Staples Center) , where the NBA's Lakers and NHL's Kings play (along with a packed schedule of musical concerts), and the LA Live entertainment zone. LA Live is a fun place to visit; it has multiple restaurants, music performance venues, and things to do like movies and bowling.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Los Angeles

Late afternoon at the Ventura Pier

Highlights: Retains a small beach city vibe with uncrowded beaches and reasonable prices, popular for sportfishing and whale watching

This getaway destination is just over an hour from Los Angeles and has clean, uncrowded beaches. There are a few reasonably priced oceanfront mini resorts, and Ventura's beachfront area has a long wooden pier extending into the sea.

Visitors should take a boat cruise to the nearby Channel Islands National Park , which will certainly include seeing a sea lion and maybe even whale sightings.

Ventura has a refreshingly old-school 1920s-era downtown area, with many locally-owned shops and small restaurants. The city was on the Camino Real, the trail of California missions established by the Spanish in the 18th century, extending throughout the state. Ventura's Mission Santa Buenaventura and its church from 1809 are on Main Street and can be visited.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Ventura

  • Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Ventura

Solvang

Highlights: A small piece of Copenhagen in California filled with Danish things to do, see, eat, and buy

Located just north of Santa Barbara in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang really is a little bit of Denmark in Southern California. It's filled with Danish people, Danish shops, and Danish food. Even the buildings look Danish, with a lot of windmills and European designs. The city was founded by Danish immigrants in the early 20th century looking to escape the Midwestern cold.

Don't miss the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum or the Hans Christian Anderson Museum , both interesting and fun places to visit for both kids and adults. The Elverhof Museum of History and Art is the only museum outside Denmark dedicated to both Danish and Danish-American culture. The Old Mission Santa Inez, built in 1804, is another must-see spot.

For an overview of the town, take a ride on the Solvang Trolley , an antique horse-drawn street car that travels in the downtown area.

Surrounded by agricultural areas, Solvang is also a good destination for foodies, as there are a lot of restaurants that feature farm-to-table cuisine.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Solvang

Hikers admiring the surreal landscape of Death Valley National Park

Highlights: One of the lowest, driest, and hottest places on Earth; Zabriskie Point has great views; Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes is an amazing photo background

Why not get away to one of the lowest and driest places on Earth? Death Valley National Park is all about extremes. It's the lowest, driest, and hottest of all our national parks. The park is 3.4 million acres, so it's hard to explore the whole area on a single visit. Aside from the low parts, some of the park's mountains rise 11,000 feet above sea level.

The Inn at Death Valley is a unique luxury desert resort, which first opened in 1927. It recently underwent a total renovation and is a very luxurious place to stay in what is such a barren environment. The area is about a four-hour drive from LA.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Death Valley

Crescent Bay, Laguna Beach

Highlights: Idyllic beach city focused on the arts and artists filled with art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants

Laguna Beach getaways are all about art. The town is filled with art studios and art galleries and hosts several big art festivals. The beauty of the curving beach, blue ocean, and consistently sunny sky also make it a popular subject for artists.

Like many SoCal beach towns, life is lived outside, so there is a range of fun things to do . The beachfront public park area has a big beach (called Main Beach), basketball and volleyball courts, and miles of bike paths.

Laguna Beach also has a good range of hotels, including several five-star beachfront luxury resorts. The food scene is also excellent with many restaurants serving all different types of food at all price levels.

July is festival month here, with the Festival of the Arts city-wide art show and the Pageant of the Masters. The Pageant of the Masters is a long-running festival, where works of art are recreated as life-size scenes using real people in make-up and costumes.

Tacos in Tijuana

Highlights: Exotic, easily accessible international destination with cheap and delicious food and lodging

Although it's not actually in Southern California, this Mexican border town is less than an hour from downtown San Diego . It's a great destination for a day or a weekend trip from San Diego. There are large parking lots on the American side of the border, and most people park their car, walk across the border bridge, and then take a taxi (or Uber) into downtown Tijuana. It's a fun tourist town filled with interesting shops, artisans, and, of course, delicious Mexican food.

Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Tijuana

Rosarito, Baja California

Highlights: Low-cost beach resort an hour from San Diego known for great street food and seafood

A Mexican beach resort within easy reach of the California border, Rosarito is about an hour south of downtown San Diego and is great for cheap weekend getaways . There are many places to stay, and it's a chance to experience real Mexican beach culture.

The food scene is great, from nice sit-down places to excellent street food like fish tacos. There are all kinds of things to do in Rosarito , both on the beach and in the water, (surfing, wakeboarding, and body boarding are very popular) along with a lot of fishing options.

The best time to visit Southern California is during April, May, and June, which offer the best weather. That said, coastal areas can be foggy in June. Average temperatures are in the high 70s during the day and low 60s Fahrenheit at night. The weather can get hot during June, July, and August, but usually, cooler temperatures return in September, making October and November also great times to visit.

Southern California usually doesn't see much rain, with storms typically coming in December and January and sometimes in March and April.

Temperature can also vary greatly between Southern California's coastal and desert areas, sometimes as much as 30 to 40 degrees. Coastal Santa Monica might be 60 degrees Fahrenheit in May, while the desert city of Palm Springs might hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit the same day.

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Intrepid Leader walks down the street in Savannah, Georgia

Southern USA Road Trips & Vacations

  • Destinations
  • United States
  • Southern USA Road Trips & Holidays

While you may be traveling far from home, when you're in the South, you're never far from home cooking

When it comes to snacking and sipping in the USA , you won't find anywhere more indulgent than the South. With biscuits and gravy, po'boys and pimiento cheese on the menu, these road trips will help you discover the  soul  in soul food . Whether you're nodding your head to the blues in  Nashville , sipping Sazeracs in  NOLA , or strolling around historic Atlanta , you'll never have to worry about what's for dinner. 

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Tailor-Made trips

Take four or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary

Highlights of the South

A boisterous second line parade marches down Bourbon Street in New Orleans

Laissez les bon temps rouler in NOLA

It's true what they say about Louisiana locals: these folks know how to throw a party.  If you hear music, make sure to follow it through the city!  Jump into a joyful second line parade, catch a show at the iconic Preservation Hall and end the night under the neon lights of Bourbon St.  If you're lucky enough to be in the city at the right time, you might even catch one of New Orelans' famous festivals, like Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest or the Voodoo Music & Arts Experience.  Do yourself a favor and get to know some of the Crescent City community who will undoubtedly seduce you with their southern hospitality and inspiring stories of resilience.

A traditional lowcountry seafood boil plate with crab, crawfish, and mussels

Enjoy Lowcountry cookin' in Charleston

Welcome to the Lowcountry, where history is preserved in food prepared by home cooks and mainstream chefs alike.  Hearty dishes, which often include locally grown heirloom produce and fresh seafood, are served both to nourish and educate about the roots of southern cooking that trace back to the Gullah Geechee people.  Enslaved descendants of West and Central Africa who arrived in the South brought with them many of the crops responsible for making southern cooking well...southern.  Think boiled peanuts, okra, and numerous varieties of heritage grains.  Try some gumbo or shrimp and grits and appreciate how the ingredients do the storytelling.

A woman poses with a giant guitar monument in Music City, USA

Scoot your boots in Music City

Nashville has some pretty epic nicknames, (the Country Music Capital, Music City and Nashvegas, to name a few), but they've all got one thing in common: toe-tapping, boot-stomping tunes.  From the Grand Ol' Opry to Tootsies, the Ryman Auditorium to the Bluebird Cafe, there's no shortage of acclaimed venues to catch some impressive live music.  While it can be tempting to stick to the stages you've seen on the big screen, don't miss out on some of the smaller clubs on Music Row that not only encourage up-and-coming songwriters but will often feature appearances from some world-renowned singers.

A group enjoys a cold beverage at a local spot in Asheville

Crack a cold one in Asheville

Asheville is known for being one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the Carolinas.  It has its fair share of local art and funky food, and recently this little town nestled in the mountains has blown up as a destination for craft beer. With over 40 craft breweries within the city limits, there's something for every palate; from classic lagers to hazy IPAs, sour ales, and even beers aged in bourbon barrels for more adventurous tastebuds. Whether you spend the day  hiking the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains , museum hopping through the arts district, or catching some live music, ending the day with an ice-cold beer is almost non-negotiable. 

A glimpse inside the eerily historic Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah

Get spooked in historic Savannah

Often referred to as "the most paranormal city in America", Savannah certainly looks the part with its live oaks dripping in ethereal Spanish moss and centuries-old buildings. Take a walking tour through Bonaventure Cemetery, one of the world's most beautiful gravesites. The cemetery is the former home of the iconic "Bird Girl" statue that was featured prominently on the cover of  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil , one of the great American murder mysteries.  While the statue now resides in the Telfair Museum, you can grab a map and check out other famous gravesites tucked away amongst the weeping willows and crumbling monuments.  Keep your eyes peeled for any wandering spirits!

Steel letters spelling out ATL

Appreciate the past and present in Atlanta

Over the past decade, the so-called "capital of the south" has undergone a steady cultural transformation, welcoming an influx of high-end restaurants, movie studios, sound stages, and community urban spaces.  Today, Atlanta invites visitors not only to see the booming growth of the present but to witness and appreciate the city's past and the people who shaped history here.  A trip to Atlanta is incomplete without visiting the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Movement hero.  Plan outings to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, the Atlanta History Centre, and the APEX Museum (African-American Panoramic Experience) to understand the African American experience from ancient civilizations to the present day.

Southern USA trip reviews

Southern usa faqs, do i need a covid-19 vaccine to join a trip in the south.

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travelers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travelers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Read more about Intrepid's COVID-19 policy

How to get to the South

Depending on which state you're traveling to in the South, getting around is fairly easy, with each state harboring at least one major airport.  Atlanta is a huge hub for international travel, and the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Airport sees the most amount of passengers per year worldwide (we weren't joking when we said huge!)

Select trains and buses will travel between the major cities, and you can use a website like BusBud to help choose the best route for your itinerary.  If road-tripping is your mojo, Southern road trips can be a blast!  There are tons of interesting cities to drive between, a myriad of entertaining roadside stops, and plenty of delicious food to keep your metaphorical tank as full as the tank of your car.  All you need is a map and a good playlist and adventure awaits.

What's the weather like in the South?

The South can get mighty steamy, especially in the summertime where you can expect high humidity for the majority of the day.  Since the Southern USA is made up of 16 of the 50 states the climate can vary, but keep in mind that all of the states in the South are subject to hurricanes and tropical storms from June 1-November 30.  If you plan on traveling during this period it's wise to pack a rain jacket and waterproof shoes and keep an eye on the forecast.

Read more about the weather in the South

When is the best time to visit the South?

Since the Southern states can have oppressively hot summers and cold, wet winters, the best time to visit is typically shoulder season: either April-May or September-October.  If you thrive in the heat and want to visit during the summer months, you can catch a cool breeze at one of the beaches outside of the coastal cities of Charleston or Savannah, or enjoy some cooler temps in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  In major cities, accommodations with air conditioning are almost ubiquitous.  If you pack the right clothing and hydrate properly, you might just come to love the sweet, sweltering heat of the South.

What to pack to travel to the South

The heat and humidity in the summertime can be extreme, so we recommend loose layers and a light jacket for rain or cooler evenings.  If you're planning on spending time in the mountains, proper hiking gear, good footwear, and rainproof clothing are a must.  Folks in the South typically dress casually but are known to up their game at fancier events or restaurants, so make sure to check for a dress code before you head out to a certain spot.

I'm a vegetarian, what can I eat in the South?

Soul food is at the epicenter of the Southern experience, and a visit wouldn't be complete without sampling the local fare.  When you think of Southern cuisine, you might be expecting exclusively heavy, meat-focused dishes, but it's a common misconception that vegetarians and vegans won't be able to find nourishing foods.  Culturally, there are long-standing generalizations that historically Black foods are unhealthy when in reality most recipes are rooted in farm-to-table cooking with fresh produce and heritage grains.

Some of the larger cities like Atlanta, New Orleans, and Nashville, have burgeoning and diverse vegan/vegetarian scenes with dishes like jackfruit bbq ribs, collard greens, and alternative meat burgers.  You'll even be able to find vegan versions of some of the classics like shrimp and grits and po'boys. The folks down South are friendly and welcoming, so if you've got a dietary restriction, just let 'em know and chances are they'll happily find a way to feed you.

Is the South accessible for travelers with disabilities?

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely  accessible , regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. Accessibility depends on where in the South you're traveling but in general, the major cities in the South are relatively well equipped to deal with any disabilities in many areas such as mobility, transportation, and communication. We’re always happy to talk to travelers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them toward the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

Is the South a safe destination for LGBTQIA travelers?

America is mostly a safe destination for travelers who identify as LGBTQIA+.  Same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states and there there are some anti-discrimination laws to protect sexual orientation and gender identity.

In more rural areas, overt displays of affection can attract negative responses in smaller towns, which tend to be more conservative. Parts of the Southern US belong to a region called the "Bible Belt" where very conservative Christianity plays a strong role in society, and many communities can remain stuck in their conservative ways.  Larger cities like Charleston, Nashville, New Orleans, and Atlanta have thriving gay communities and plenty of queer-owned businesses to support.

For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting  Equaldex  before you travel.

If you are traveling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travelers who do not wish to share a room.

Read more about LGBTQIA+ culture in the South

Does my trip support the Intrepid Foundation?

Yes, all Intrepid trips support the Intrepid Foundation. In fact, we make a donation on behalf of every traveler. Trips to this country directly support our global Intrepid Foundation partner, Eden Reforestation Projects. 

Eden Reforestation Projects

Eden Reforestation Projects are helping to mitigate climate change by restoring forests worldwide; they also hire locally and create job opportunities within vulnerable communities. Donations from our trips support restoration across planting sites in 10 countries around the globe.

Find out more or make a donation

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Two Drifters

17 Incredible Romantic Getaways in the South

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In the land of slow-living, fireflies, and sweet tea, you are sure to find romance. There are so many terrific romantic Southern getaways to be had in the region, from Virginia down to Georgia and across to Louisiana and Arkansas. In these states, and everything in between, you’ll discover the best romantic getaways in the South. We’re bringing them to you here in this list, with spots selected by travel experts.

If you’re looking to plan a weekend getaway in the south, for two, you can’t do better than these destinations. Whether you’re after sand and sun or the charm of a sweet southern city, these are the best romantic getaways in the southeast.

Table of Contents

17 Super Romantic Getaways in the South for Couples

Savannah, georgia.

One of the best things for couples to do in Savannah is to simply take a romantic stroll through the historic district. Start by grabbing a refreshing frozen daiquiri from Wet Willie’s on River Street and then make your way down through the Historic District (yes, you can take your drink with you!), stopping at the beautiful historic squares and taking in the ornate antebellum architecture. End your stroll at Forsyth Park, home to Savannah’s beautiful and frequently photographed fountain. Weddings are often held here, making this a very romantic spot!

A fountain sprays water in a forested area.

There’s nothing better on a getaway with your partner than a nice, romantic dinner. Make reservations at The Olde Pink House – one of the city’s top restaurants. Here you’ll be able to sample delicious Southern cuisine and unique cocktails – don’t miss out on the fried chicken, collard greens, or the specialty “Pink Lady” cocktail. For a fun dessert after dinner, walk down to Leopold’s Ice Cream. It’s worth the wait, and the line moves rather quickly.

Savannah is home to several romantic accommodation options. Consider staying at the Andaz Savannah, a wonderful luxury hotel in the Historic District.

Click Here to Check Prices & Book!

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Submitted by Ashley Hubbard

What better romantic Southern getaway is there than the ‘wedding capital of the South’ and one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in this region of the country. Gatlinburg is an incredibly accessible location – 60% of the country’s population can arrive there for their romantic getaway within one day, making it one of the best southeast vacation ideas for couples!

Gatlinburg has something for everyone, no matter what type of couple you are. There are hundreds of  things to do in Gatlinburg. For adventure and outdoor lovers, you have access to the most visited national park in the country, ziplining, white water rafting, ATVs, and much more. 

If shopping is the thing that gets you both excited, there are a ton of small and unique shops in Gatlinburg and even more if you head to nearby Pigeon Forge. 

In terms of food, have a romantic dinner at The Melting Pot or check out a more casual spot at Ole Red or Mellow Mushroom – you’ll find options for dietary restrictions at all of them. 

While in Gatlinburg, you can choose to stay close to town where you can walk to all of the wine and moonshine tastings or you can head further into the mountains and stay at a remote and romantic cabin or chalet. 

For all these reasons and more, Gatlinburg is the perfect option for a romantic weekend getaway away for couples.

Editor’s Suggestion for Where to Stay in Gatlinburg TN:  Bearskin Lodge on the River

Washington, DC

Submitted by Nicole Sunderland 

Cherry blossoms on a tree bloom out above the water.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Submitted by Lori Blalock

While Little Rock might not be the first city that springs to mind when you think about romance, it should be. Its location on the Arkansas River gives couples with a variety of interests plenty to do or not do if that’s the choice.

Let the romance begin downtown at the Capital Hotel, a quintessentially Southern hotel that even has its own front porch. Rooms are spacious with four-poster beds and bathtubs big enough for two. For couples that want to stay in, the hotel has two restaurants on-site . One Eleven and the Capital Bar & Grille, both serve one of a kind food, handcrafted cocktails and decadent—essential for romance—desserts.

The Hotel is just steps from the beautiful riverfront that’s perfect for wandering hand in hand with your love. The Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, Riverfront Park and the River Market together, have over 100 works of art to search out. Continue to stroll along the river and the bridges, which are colorfully lit up at night, take on a dreamy romantic glow. The bridge at the Clinton Presidential Park is a pedestrian bridge perfect for romance and great views of the city.

Couples can wrap up the evening with a nightcap at 42 Bar and Table. Located on the ground floor of the Clinton Library, that’s also on the riverfront, the restaurant has views like nowhere else in the city. It’s a cozy, intimate setting and another reason that makes Little Rock a perfect Southern city for romance.

Eastern Shore, Virginia

Submitted by Megan Starr, Absolute Armenia

A statue sits on the beach on a sunny day surrounded by grass with the ocean behind.

Mobile, Alabama

Even though it’s now part of Alabama, in many ways Mobile is like a smaller version of New Orleans in Louisiana. And in fact, it was the original capital of the French Louisiana territory, which explains the similarities and the French-inspired architecture. While New Orleans has a well-deserved reputation as a wild and raucous party town, Mobile is more mellow. This makes it an ideal alternative not only for families but also for couples looking for a quiet, romantic getaway.

Start your explorations with the downtown area, where the streets are shaded by huge oak trees strung with Spanish moss. Lining both sides of Dauphin Street, George Street and other downtown thoroughfares are huge antebellum mansions, a few of which are still furnished with period furnishings and are open to the public for visits. When touring these homes, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of Gone With the Wind.

A plantation-style house on an estate sits in the shade of surrounding trees.

The best time to visit Mobile is in the spring when the weather is not too hot and the city is filled with pink and white azalea blooms. There’s even a local festival to mark the occasion, called the Azalea Trail Festival. Local high school girls are chosen to represent the city as “Azalea Trail Maids”. They dress up in pastel-colored hoop skirts with matching parasols and play the part of the hospitable Southern belle. Mobile also has plenty of great restaurants, featuring seafood as well as a growing number of veggie options.

Submitted by Julie McCool of FuninFairFaxVA.com

Perched on a ridge in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland is one of the most dramatic and romantic places to stay in the greater Washington DC region . The resort offers luxurious accommodations in a stunning natural setting and a wealth of fun activities for outdoor-loving couples.

Guests at Primland can choose a spacious suite in the main lodge, a cottage room at the edge of a gorge, or a suite near the resort’s award-winning golf course. Couples willing to splurge should book one of the three stunning Tree Houses that seem to float over the surrounding mountains. The Tree Houses are more rustic, but the setting is hard to beat. Our favorite rooms for romance are in the Pinnacle Cottages, which boast a wall of windows and a private porch with dramatic mountain views.

When you’re ready to leave the room, there are some uniquely fun ways to enjoy Primland’s 12,000-acre property. Get your adrenalin pumping with an RTV ride over rocky dirt roads to a mountain viewpoint. Take a leisurely horseback ride, or try your hand at sporting clays, archery, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities. When you’re ready to relax, head to the spa for an indulgent treatment. At night, gaze at distant planets in Primland’s onsite observatory. Whatever diversions you choose, Primland’s natural setting provides a beautiful backdrop to romance.

Asheville, NC

Submitted by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide

With its gorgeous natural surroundings, forward-thinking environmental consciousness, charming atmosphere, fantastic foodie scene, and array of outdoor recreation activities, Asheville is arguably the ultimate Blue Ridge Mountain town for couples. But the city’s current status as the Portland of the South is even more impressive when you consider the fact that much of downtown Asheville verged on the cusp of demolition just a few decades ago.

View of a city skyline with mountains behind under a pink and purple sky.

The city has exploded in popularity in recent years thanks in part to its countless stylish boutiques, art galleries, hip breweries, and live music venues. But you can still find deals on romantic mountain cabins in the surrounding hills (including many with open-hearth fireplaces, hot tubs, and stunning scenic views). Then head into town to sample some of the best restaurants in Asheville , including Bouchon, Posana, 12 Bones Smokehouse, Plant, and more.

Just outside of town, you’ll find hiking trails for all skill levels in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Linville Gorge, Mount Mitchell (the tallest peak east of the Mississippi), Pisgah National Forest, and all along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Also, be sure to check out the uber-romantic Biltmore Estate, the largest home in America, which has 250 rooms, 8,000 acres of gardens and trails, and the nation’s most-visited winery.

Editor’s Suggestion for Where to Stay in Asheville NC: The Omni Grove Park Inn

Lynchburg, VA

Submitted by Debra Schroeder, Traveling Well for Less

Don’t let the name fool you, Lynchburg, Virginia is an unknown secret, a hidden gem if you will, and one of the most romantic places in the South.

Start your romantic Lynchburg getaway with an easy stroll on the River Walk Trail. The trail winds through Riverfront Park, historic downtown Lynchburg, ending on Percival’s Island.

After your walk, check into the Craddock Terry Hotel, a former shoe factory, now a luxury waterfront hotel. Offering views of the James River, the Blue Ridge Mountains, or historic downtown Lynchburg, the elegant rooms include daily continental breakfast.

Relax over dinner at Shoemakers. Then pop into the Academy of the Arts to enjoy a performance, listen to a talk or take an art class. Perhaps recreate the pottery scene from “Ghost.”

Enjoy a relaxing 60-minute couples massage in the therapeutic Salt Cave at London’s Salt Spa. The minerals and salts, imported, from the Himalayas and Poland, remove toxins and impurities out of the body. You’ll walk out (more like massage coma stumble) feeling refreshed and relaxed. The spa is a short 18-minute drive from Lynchburg.

Add a little spice to your evening with salsa dancing every Thursday night from 9pm to 11pm in downtown Lynchburg. Never danced the salsa or a little unsure of your footing? Come early at 8pm for lessons. A $5 cover charge (cash only) applies. This fun, inexpensive evening is bound to encourage a night of passion and romance.

From romantic riverfront walks to salsa dancing, consider visiting Lynchburg, Virginia for your next Southern romantic getaway.

Upstate South Carolina

Submitted by Brooke & Buddy of TrailingAway.com

Strolling through the vineyard, picking your own fruit, and getting happily tipsy as you watch the sunset over the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. Can it get more romantic? Oh yea, you get to sleep on the property in a cute tiny home and wake up to the sound of chickens clucking and the smell of a hot, fresh breakfast cooking just up the hill. Chattooga Belle Farm is one of the hidden gems of the upstate South Carolina area – owned by a sweet couple who really go out of their way to offer a special experience. It is a great place to spend a weekend away as a couple – with a restaurant, distillery, small cabins, and RV sites available as well.

Two wine glasses sit on a wooden table at a vineyard.

Located in Long Creek, SC, Chattooga Belle is close to lots of hikes, waterfalls, lakes, and other great outdoor activities. If you’re wanting to check out other wineries, head east about an hour to try out Victoria Valley Vineyards or hop the state line over to Georgia for plenty of other options within an hour, like Tiger Mountain Vineyards and Yonah Mountain Vineyards. Have time for a longer trip? The pretty little city of Greenville, SC; the unique German-themed town of Helen, GA; and the waterfall-heavy county of Brevard, NC, are all within a 1.5-hour drive!

Read more about our romantic visit to this mountain hideaway here.

Nashville, Tennessee

Submitted by Maggie DQ

Nashville is a great city for a romantic getaway due to its food scene, nightlife, and overall ambiance. Nashville is definitely considered a “foodie city”, and makes for the perfect spot for a couple’s weekend trip. There are many Southern food variations of their signature hot chicken, barbeque, and biscuits at restaurants around the city. At night, head on over to Broadway’s bars and lounges to grab a few drinks and listen to country music or cover bands.

Street lined with shops featuring neon signs.

If you and your significant other are country music fans, then Nashville is the place to visit. It is considered the birthplace of country music and tourists can visit famous locations such as the RCA Recording Studios, the Grand Ole Opry, and Ryman Auditorium.

The Belle Meade Plantation is another place to stop to soak in some history, and if you enjoy a glass of wine or beer, there are breweries and a winery around the city as well. Some other things to do are to visit Vanderbilt University and take a tour of the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home. A weekend getaway in Nashville  is perfect for those who would like to kick back, eat, drink, listen to music, and enjoy each other as a couple for a few days of peace.

Editor’s Suggestion for Where to Stay in Nasvhille TN: The Hermitage

Coastal Mississippi

Submitted by Charles McCool of McCoolTravel.com 

I have 99  praises  and the beach is one .  Coastal Mississippi  is incredibly easy to love and is a perfect romantic US Gulf Coast destination—with phenomenal beach sunsets to fun outdoor adventures to remarkable meals. 

Create very special private memories for your  anniversary, date, or romantic trip in superior  relaxed luxury romantic  lodging, like The Roost or Inn at Ocean Springs or Bay Town Inn. When the time comes to leave your cozy suite, enjoy the incredible beauty of the soulful and prevalent live oak trees, especially  the Avenue of Oaks (featuring Friendship Oak) at USM-Long Beach and along Washington Ave in Ocean Springs (and on the adjacent streets).

View of the water at the beach with a pier under a blazing pink sunset.

In Ocean Springs, visit various art galleries and craft shops, hold your honey’s hand while exploring the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, attend a festival or the farmers market, and pop into Vestige for an elegant lunch or dinner.

At the New Orleans end of Coastal Mississippi, Bay St Louis is another romantic small town, offering a different but empowering vibe, with frequent festivals, locally-owned shops and restaurants, and a waterfront setting (perfect for sunrises and sunsets). Also catch majestic and romantic sunsets from Henderson Point, Front Beach, Ocean Springs pier, Blind Tiger Biloxi, or pretty much anywhere out on the water. Sweet Coastal Mississippi adventures range from spa treatments to kayaking from Pascagoula River Audubon Center to a fun hands-on experience with Biloxi Shrimping Tour.

Durham, North Carolina

Submitted by Christina Riley

Durham, North Carolina is a city that was built on rustic tobacco and is easily a swoon-worthy destination for reconnecting with your partner. The city is filled with reminders of its past- from retro tobacco signs to the iconic Lucky Strike tower at the American Tobacco Campus, the Bull City has a charm of its own.

 Dress to the nines and hit the town for world-class cuisine at St. James Seafood followed by craft cocktails in the basement lounge of Kingfisher for an intimate evening. One of the most popular romantic things to do in Durham is to catch the sunset from the rooftop cocktail bar at The Durham hotel. Clasp hands and breathe in each other as you enjoy the retro midcentury modern décor, fresh oysters, and stunning cityscape.

Looking for a more laid-back way to rekindle your love? Some of  Durham’s casual restaurants  are so delicious that you might dream of moving here with your sweetheart! After filling your bellies with some Southern staples and laughs, hit Boxcar Arcade to duke it out together over some Mortal Combat. When you’ve run out of coins head next door to Urban Axes and have some laughs seeing who is better at throwing axes.

 Durham, North Carolina also has incredible outdoor activities. From wandering the rose bushes at Sarah P. Duke Gardens to hiking the trails along the Eno River, opting outside is one of our fondest romantic things to do. On these trails is where we dream about our lives together while watching the river slowly float by. 

Charleston, South Carolina

Submitted by Theresa McKinney, Fueled By Wanderlust

Couples who visit Charleston enjoy plentiful restaurant options that pack tons of ambiance and delicious menus.  The most famous restaurant for a memorable date night is Husk, which specializes in modern takes on traditional southern favorites.  Two more great choices are Fig, which comes just as highly recommended as Husk, and Circa 1886, especially if you are staying onsite at the dreamy Wentworth Mansion.

An empty walkway along the waterfront under a blue sky.

Charleston also offers the perfect opportunity to slow down and simply stroll together under the palmetto trees.  It’s easy to fall in love with the rows of colonial-era stucco-covered homes, painted in various shades of cheerful pastels.  The unique patina on some of these facades, where the stucco is peeling away from the brick underneath, really sends the charm over the top.  Finally, it would be remiss to ignore Charleston’s Waterfront Park, which offers beautiful scenery along the Cooper River and views of landmarks like Fort Sumpter in the distance.

For the ultimate romantic experience in Charleston, stay at a historic bed and breakfast, such as the delightful 1837 Bed and Breakfast.  These places abound in quiet intimacy while offering a peek into Charleston’s history.

Memphis, Tennessee

Submitted by Talek Nantes

Memphis is the perfect town for a romantic getaway. This vibrant city sits on the Mississippi River and exudes southern charm.  It is one of the more historically significant cities in the south with a culture build around music, cuisine and hospitality.

To plan your perfect Memphis romantic adventure, first pick a romantic hotel.  The Peabody Hotel, in downtown Memphis is a legendary landmark in the city. It manages to effortlessly combine old-world charm with modern conveniences. The rooms are recently renovated, and the restaurant offers classic gourmet French cuisine at Chez Philippe. 

The best part of staying at The Peabody is the March of the Ducks. Every day, twice a day a flock of trained ducks troop from a fountain in the lobby, down a hallway and into an elevator that whisks them to their home on another floor.  All this is accompanied by marching music. It is certainly unique.

Tear yourself away from the hotel and head to nearby Beal Street to listen to some of the best Blues around. The street is lined with Blues clubs where a musically inclined couple could club hop and indulge to their hearts’ content. Nearby are jazz and blues museums.

Other can’t miss activities in Memphis include tasting the local BBQ and craft beer, a perfect combination.

Don’t leave Memphis without visiting Graceland, the home of local-boy-done-good Elvis Presley.

Top off your romantic getaway with a visit to the fabulous Memphis Botanic Garden because, what’s more romantic than a rose garden?

New Orleans, Louisiana

A woman walks through wrought iron gates leading to an old Southern house.

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, Alabama

Submitted by Chris and Heather Boothman from A Brit & A Southerner

If you are looking for the perfect romantic getaway, look no further than the beautiful coastal area of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama. Both of these destinations may not be the first places you think about visiting but if you are looking for a relaxing, romantic break, there are not many places we would recommend ahead of this gorgeous Gulf Coast area.

Whether you are newly married couple or simply looking to rekindle a little romance in your relationship, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offers an eclectic blend of attractions, local restaurants offering decadent cuisine options and a collection of awesome accommodation options to satisfy every budget.

When it comes to the best things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach , head over to The Wharf for a hands-on experience making your very own bathroom products at High Cotton Bath Company. Alternatively, perhaps you want to showcase your artistic skills by visiting Sandcastle University to create a memorable masterpiece. Regardless of whether you hit the beach for this experience, you won’t want to miss spending some time on the 32 miles of pristine sandy beaches.

Stay at the incredible Turquoise Place by Spectrum Resorts to enjoy a jacuzzi hot tub on your private balcony overlooking the Gulf, while the list of local restaurants to choose from is endless – a couple of favorites include Sunliner Diner for a retro-themed experience dating back to the 1950s and GT’s on the Bay for a romantic meal overlooking Wolf Bay.

End your visit to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach by taking an evening cruise into the Gulf to enjoy what we consider to be one of the most incredible sunsets at one of the top Southern vacation destinations for couples.

Which of these romantic vacations in the south is going to be your next trip?

You’ll want to be sure to check out these posts, too:

  • 27 of the Most Romantic Places in the USA that Couples Will Love
  • 15 Romantic Beach Getaways in the USA
  • The Most Romantic Places in the World: 10 Epic Destinations for Couples
  • 15 Sweet Romantic Getaways in Michigan to Book ASAP
  • Planning a Romantic Getaway: 14 Tips to Make Any Trip More Romantic
  • 21 Incredibly Romantic Airbnbs Around the World
  • 10 Most Romantic Hotels in the USA for Your Next Getaway

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Amy Hartle   is the author of Do You Love Me? How To Stop Seeking Reassurance in Relationships , a book on reassurance seeking and relationship anxiety. Both her book and this blog are born of personal experience; Amy shares expert relationship advice from the lessons learned during her own 10+ years with her husband, as well as couples travel tips and romantic getaway recommendations, all gleaned while traveling the world together.

THE 10 BEST Resorts near Museum of Labor Glory, Elektrostal

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  • Best Value Properties ranked using exclusive Tripadvisor data, including traveler ratings, confirmed availability from our partners, prices, booking popularity and location, as well as personal user preferences and recently viewed hotels.
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  • Distance from Museum of Labor Glory See properties located closest to the place of interest first with confirmed availability for your dates from our partners.

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Train strikes 2024: Full list of dates as rail and London Overground workers strike in February and March

Both unions are locked in a dispute over pay. Here's a full list of the dates and lines affected by strikes in February and March.

Saturday 3 February 2024 04:33, UK

London Overground train with the gherkin in the background

Train and rail strikes will impact commuters in February and March, as both ASLEF and RMT union members walk out over pay.

The strikes by ASLEF will affect the services of 17 train companies.

Fresh industrial action and an overtime ban by drivers is likely to cause widespread disruption in an ongoing dispute over pay, the union said.

In some places, there may be no services at all on strike days, and services that are running will start later and finish much earlier than usual - typically running between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

Here is a full list of the services affected by strikes and overtime bans, and when.

Tuesday 30 January

Southeastern

Southern/Gatwick Express

GTR Thameslink

South Western Railway

SWR Island Line

Wednesday 31 January

Northern Trains

TransPennine Express

Friday 2 February

Greater Anglia

Saturday 3 February

Avanti West Coast

East Midlands Railway

West Midlands Trains

Monday 5 February

CossCountry

Great Western Railway

National Rail urges anyone hoping to travel on strike and overtime ban days to use its Journey Planner to keep an eye on how services will be affected.

London Overground

More than 300 union members will stage two 48-hour strikes after receiving a lower-than-inflation pay offer, the RMT said.

Security, station, revenue and control staff are among those taking industrial action.

The action will take place on the following dates

Monday 19 February

Tuesday 20 February

Monday 4 March

Tuesday 5 March

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best southern weekend trips

What has been said about the strikes?

The ASLEF union claims drivers have not had a pay rise since 2019.

General Secretary Mick Whelan said: "We have given the government every opportunity to come to the table but it is now a year since we had any contact from the Department for Transport. It's clear they do not want to resolve this dispute.

"Many members have now not had a single penny increase in pay for half a decade, during which time inflation has soared and, with it, the cost of living. We didn't ask for an increase during the pandemic, when we worked through lockdown, as key workers, risking our lives, to move goods around the country and enable NHS and other workers to get to work."

He urged the government to "come to the table" to end the dispute.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "London Overground workers do an important job delivering services for TfL and supporting passengers on journeys throughout London.

"Our members are furious that they have been given a below inflation pay offer and want to see an improvement that represents the value they bring to the company.

"If this dispute cannot be resolved then RMT is more than prepared for a sustained period of industrial action to get London Overground workers the pay rise they deserve."

Related Topics

  • London Underground

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