These 10 Small Towns Were Just Named Best In The Southern United States


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The Southern United States has no shortage of charming small towns.

Popular lifestyle magazine Southern Living just released its annual list of the best small towns in the Southern United States, and some new contenders and old favorites appear on the 2023 list.

Here are the best small towns in the Southern U.S. to add to your bucket list:

Saint Augustine, Florida view of church from ground

1. Saint Augustine, Florida

Saint Augustine tops the list of the best small towns in the Southern United States.

This historic Florida town, which the Spanish originally founded in 1565, is famous for being the oldest town in the United States.

When visiting Saint Augustine, you’ll be transported back in time as you stroll down quaint cobblestone streets lined with Spanish moss-draped trees.

Some of the best things to do in Saint Augustine include visiting the 17th-century Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, taking a boat tour or hitting the beach, and having some delicious Spanish food in one of the historic town’s many restaurants, like the famous Columbia Restaurant.

Saint Augustine, Florida view of market street

2. Beaufort, South Carolina

Beaufort is one of the most charming small towns in the South Carolina Lowcountry. This coastal town is located on Port Royal Island and is known for its stately antebellum mansions.

Aside from beautiful architecture, Beaufort is home to an ancient maritime forest filled with palmetto and pine trees. One of the best things to do in town is watch the sunset over the river from the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park before going out to dinner.

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Beaufort SC view of ocean and trees

3. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Another one of the best small towns in the Southern United States is Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This quaint town is popular with families because of the abundance of family-friendly activities nearby.

Gatlinburg is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the most visited national park in the United States. There are tons of hikes for all skill levels that you can do at the national park.

There are also many adventure parks and other activities near Gatlinburg, where you can enjoy adventures like ziplining, cable cars, hanging bridges, and more.

Gatlinburg at sunset overlooking the town

4. Dahlonega, Georgia

Dahlonega, Georgia is another Southern small town that is perfect for families and nature lovers. Located less than 1.5 hours north of Atlanta, this small town’s claim to fame is being the site of the Georgia gold rush in the early 1800s.

To this day, a popular activity in Dahlonega is panning for gold, which kids are sure to love.

Dahlonega is also the gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains, which offers many activities for hiking, fishing, and other outdoor activities. And finally, the town is home to a burgeoning restaurant scene.

Dahlonega Georgia Gold Rush Museum

5. Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Blowing Rock is a tiny town tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Located off the famous Blue Ridge Parkway scenic route, this town is named for the 4,000-foot cliff that offers sweeping views of the surrounding gorge and mountains.

Aside from climbing Blowing Rock, there are plenty of other hikes to do and outdoor activities like whitewater rafting to try nearby. The town itself is also home to a great art and history museum, restaurants, and boutique shopping.

Blowing Rock NC overlooking a cliff

More Best Small Towns In The Southern U.S.

Looking for more great small towns in the South? The remainder of the top 10 best towns in the Southern United States were:

  • Fairhope, Alabama
  • Tybee Island, Georgia
  • Sanibel, Florida
  • Folly Beach, South Carolina
  • Fredericksburg, Texas

You can read the full list of the 50 best small towns in the Southern United States for 2023 on Southern Living‘s website.

Sanibel Island, Florida aerial view

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