The South’s Best Small Towns 2017
What is it about a small town that hooks us? Whether they’re waterfront or mountaintop, the great ones all have a few things in common: a thriving downtown with locally owned restaurants, shops, and galleries; a touch of the artsy; loads of character; friendly locals; and, of course, a beautiful location. Readers’ #1 pick is a picture-postcard town on the South Carolina coast. Can you guess it?
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1. Beaufort, South Carolina
“Beaufort is more than a vacation spot or a photo op,” writes novelist Cassandra King. “It’s literally and figuratively halfway between Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia—not as grand as Charleston or as funky as Savannah but a homey, comfortable in between.” (FYI, it’s pronounced “BEW-fert.”)
2. Fredericksburg, Texas
Besides a historic downtown straight out of a Western, this German town has a happening food, brew, and winery scene.
3. Charlottesville, Virginia
Located in one of the oldest wine regions in the U.S., this college town has interesting food and drink—plus Monticello.
4. Dahlonega, Georgia
You’ll love the thriving wine scene as much as the spectacular views from the Appalachian foothills.
5. Beaufort, North Carolina
Unlike its South Carolina counterpart, this charming waterfront town is pronounced “BOW-fert.” It’s a seafood lover’s dream, separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Shackleford Banks and Carrot Island.
6. Fernandina Beach, Florida
This little sand-in-your-shoes town on Amelia Island has a colorful, lively downtown you can explore before you head back to those Atlantic waves.
7. Auburn, Alabama
As any Auburn Tiger can tell you, this small town in rural Alabama is addictive, with tree-shaded streets and great old storefronts. Together with sister town Opelika, it gives students and locals interesting options for food and drink, not to mention live music.
8. Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
After you explore its shops and restaurants, kick back and enjoy the mild temps and beautiful shoreline.
9. Florence, Alabama
A sister town to R&B mecca Muscle Shoals, Florence has an exploding food and music scene.
10. Madison, Georgia
Uber-Southern, Madison has around 50 antebellum buildings downtown—plus galleries, shops, and dining spots.