These towns represent the essence and charm of the South, showcasing some of the finest communities in the region.
Beaufort, South Carolina
Some towns have physical beauty. Some towns have character. Beaufort has it all.
This small but striking harbor town is found on Port Royal Island in South Carolina and has well-preserved antebellum architecture. The entire downtown area is designated as a historic district.
The town comes with a lot of history, as Beaufort was one of the first towns captured by Union forces during the Civil War.
The town also has a long, deep connection to Gullah culture, with a heritage that’s influenced by West African traditions, particularly in language, crafts, and cuisine.
You might have seen Beaufort in a movie, with its lush marshes and barrier islands. Beaufort has served as the backdrop for movies like ‘The Big Chill’ and ‘Forrest Gump,’ showing off its distinct look for a worldwide audience.
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the country, founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers.
With two beautiful bodies of water nearby, the Matanzas River and the Atlantic Ocean, there are plenty of scenic waterfront views.
As you can imagine, the town is ripe with historical landmarks, including the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century fortress. The site is the oldest masonry fort in the U.S., with stunning coquina stone architecture.
St. Augustine is full of historic Spanish colonial architecture, with that same coquina stone look. The town has winding narrow streets, red-tiled roofs, and standout structures like the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.
This 18th-century schoolhouse was made from bald cypress and red cedar logs. Nowadays, visitors can come in to look inside and learn about the daily life of colonial school children.
The perfect time to see the beauty of Gatlinburg is in fall, as the breathtaking foliage turns an assortment of reds, yellows, and oranges.
On three sides of town, the nearby Great Smoky Mountains are painted with the vibrant colors of fall.
Standing at 407 feet tall, the Gatlinburg Space Needle is an iconic observation tower in town. It has a 360-degree viewing platform and high-powered telescopes for great views of the surrounding areas.
To immerse yourself in the splendor of the nearby mountains, make sure to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This park spans the border between Tennessee and North Carolina and boasts an array of over 19,000 documented species.
It also holds over 800 miles of trails, including a segment of the Appalachian Trail, so grab your backpack and hiking boots and get exploring.
One of the first things you might notice about Fairhope is the iconic pier, stretching out into the yawning Mobile Bay.
Fairhope’s bayfront, along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, provides an unobstructed view of the peaceful water.
It is a great spot for quiet night strolls, or even pulling out the binoculars to see some of the resident birds passing by. Nearby moss-covered oak trees provide good canopies to walk under.
The downtown streets are lined with flowers and works of art, as the town has a long connection with the artistic community.
If you are going for a walk, make sure to visit Fairhope’s French Quarter, full of cobblestone courtyards to walk through.
The town also has Alabama’s largest crape myrtle, a small tree cultivated for its vibrant and long-lasting summer blooms.