“I’m so glad I’m from the South.”

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You don’t have to spend much time with country star Cole Swindell to know that he’s proud to be from Georgia. He is, almost always, sporting a baseball hat from his alma mater, Georgia Southern University, and his song lyrics reflect his small-town upbringing. Southern Living recently caught up with him to find out why he loves the South, and some of his favorite spots around the region.

For Swindell, the South is special because it’s where he’s from. “For me you know, it’s home and that’s what makes it special. It’s where I grew up and what made me who I am.” He continues, “and just the way people are, and the way people treat people.”

While Swindell now resides in Nashville, he still has deep ties to Georgia, even with his music. We asked him about his favorite small town and were happy to hear his answer: a town that has continued to land a spot on our South’s Best list year after year. “I went to Helen, Georgia, to write some songs before my debut album came out and that’s always been a special place to me. It’s just such a unique little town.” So, if we hadn’t already convinced you to visit Helen, here’s another reason to start planning your trip.

And of course, we had to discuss the food. Swindell’s favorite Southern dish is fried chicken, and other than his Grandma’s, his favorite place to eat is Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in Nashville. For the best barbecue, he heads to the Peg Leg Porker, also in Nashville. When asked to settle the debate, Waffle House or Cracker Barrel, he replied “yes” – and we can’t argue with that.


Watch: Why You Really Need Plan a Visit to Helen, Georgia

“I’m just proud to be from where I’m from and try to carry that everywhere.” You can catch Cole Swindell on the Sunset Repeat Tour with Luke Bryan this summer.