The South's Best Winners 2020

Orange Beach, Alabama
Photo: Jim McKinley/Getty Images

We asked, and you answered. Our fourth annual South's Best survey gathered responses from tens of thousands of Southerners by asking a very simple question: What's your favorite? We put out a call to find the spots that you, your friends, and your family are loving this year. We asked you to share your favorite places across the South, and you didn't disappoint: You chose some fantastic spots as The South's Best 2020, and we're happy to celebrate them, so we're raising a glass to your favorites—cities, small towns, BBQ joints, classic and new restaurants, beach towns, mountain towns, college towns, new and historic hotels, neighborhoods, scenic drives, garden shops, boutiques, bookstores, natural wonders, and more. Click through to see if your favorites took the top spots and were named The South's Best 2020.

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City: Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston South's Best City 2020
Peter Frank Edwards

From the architecture to the arts, this coastal gem continues to charm locals. It offers a warm welcome, inviting visitors from across the country and around the world to the South Carolina coast to experience life in Charleston.

Take a culinary tour of Gullah magic in Charleston, and find out why our readers picked Charleston for the fourth year in a row. Plus see what other cities topped the list.

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Food City: New Orleans, Louisiana

Upperline Restaurant with JoAnn Clevenger
Peter Frank Edwards

When it comes to a great meal, few places can serve up the variety and quality that New Orleans does every single night of the week. From long-loved favorites to brand-new establishments, the food scene in this town is unparalleled.

Learn why we'll always love the food in NOLA, and it just might inspire you to plan a trip. Then see what other food cities topped the list.

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Small Town: Williamsburg, Virginia

Williamsburg South's Best 2020
Peter Frank Edwards

It's a place with history, but it has all the contemporary charms Southerners love. Williamsburg, Virginia, is a small town that's worth planning a trip (or two) to experience.

See why Williamsburg has taken home the top prize this year, and then check out what other small towns topped the list.

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Beach Town: Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama

Orange Beach, Alabama
Jim McKinley/Getty Images

Long afternoons on the sand, seaside meals, and plenty of entertainment—these neighboring Alabama beach towns have it all. For a laid-back getaway or a long week with family, Southerners can't get enough of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

Find out why our readers love visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach season after season, and see what other beach towns topped our list.

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Mountain Town: Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Robbie Caponetto

This Tennessee mountain town is a perennial favorite. With its log cabins, nostalgic flair, and charming downtown, Gatlinburg has been enticing Southerners to make yearly visits for ages.

See why our readers love Gatlinburg, then plan a trip for yourself this season. Plus, see what other mountain towns topped our list.

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College Town: Athens, Georgia

University of Georgia, Athens
Robbie Caponetto

The South has some great college towns, and this year Athens took the top spot thanks to its great downtown and buzzy restaurants. If you visit in fall, you'll be swept up in its collegial energy and might even find yourself shouting, "Go Dawgs!"

It's not just a football-season destination; see why Athens has captured the hearts of so many Southerners. Then check out what other college towns topped the list.

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BBQ Joint: 4 Rivers Smokehouse (Winter Park, Florida)

4Rivers Smokehouse
Robbie Caponetto

In a category that is always filled with tough competition, this Florida BBQ chain came out on top. When it comes to hot brisket, St. Louis ribs, and burnt ends, Floridians know they can count on 4 Rivers Smokehouse to deliver the goods.

Find out why our readers keep revisiting 4 Rivers Smokehouse. See what other BBQ joints topped the list, and the full ranking of the best BBQ joints in every state.

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Classic Restaurant: Commander's Palace (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Commander's Palace
Cedric Angeles

Whether you're in the dining room or at the Chef's Table, Commander's Palace can be counted on for classic New Orleans dishes, fresh oysters, and more than a few traditional Southern desserts.

Read about one editor's experience at the Commander's Palace Chef's Table, and you'll find out why dining at this New Orleans institution is one of a kind. Plus see what other classic restaurants topped our list.

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New Restaurant: Alewife (Richmond, Virginia)

Alewife Dishes
Robbie Caponetto

Southerners across the region are planning trips to enjoy a meal at Alewife, the Church Hill seafood establishment (and newest must-visit restaurant) that claimed the top spot in its category this year.

See why Alewife was voted the best—then book a reservation and experience it for yourself. Read on to see what other new restaurants topped the list.

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Local Favorite Restaurant: The Grey (Savannah, Georgia)

The Grey in Savannah
Peter Frank Edwards

Chef Mashama Bailey's Savannah restaurant makes its home in a reimagined Greyhound Bus station. From the location to the food, which inflects Southern cuisine with influences from Europe and Africa—The Grey a can't-miss spot.

Enjoying a meal at this favorite Savannah eatery is an experience you won't soon forget. Learn more about The Grey, and see what other local restaurants topped the list.

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Catfish Joint: Taylor Grocery (Taylor, Mississippi)

Taylor Grocery
Robbie Caponetto

At tables topped with red-and-white checked tablecloths, Taylor Grocery serves up catfish the way only they know how. One bite, and you'll see why Southerners far and wide can't stop talking about Taylor's.

This eatery knows catfish—learn more about Taylor Grocery, and read on to hear what other catfish joints our readers love.

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Scenic Drive: Blue Ridge Parkway (NC/VA)

Linn Cove Blue Ridge Parkway
Cheryl Zibisky

Of all the beautiful scenic drives in the South, there's something special about the Blue Ridge Parkway. With its picturesque small towns and stunning vistas, it continues to be a favorite stretch of road—and well worth a detour.

Pack the car for a road trip, and see what other scenic drives topped the list.

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Natural Wonder in Texas: Big Bend National Park

Welcome to Big Bend National Park
Travel Texas

Southwest Texas is home to Big Bend National Park, the U.S. park that's been voted our readers' favorite this year. The dynamic landscape—with its rivers, canyons, cliffs, and hot springs—is ripe with opportunities for adventure.

See what other natural Southern treasures topped the list.

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Historic Hotel: The Peabody Memphis (Memphis, Tennessee)

Peabody Hotel Exterior
Robbie Caponetto

This Memphis mainstay has a deep history paired with plenty of contemporary luxury. A beloved landmark and bustling hotel, The Peabody Memphis is as popular a holiday getaway as it is a wedding venue and weekend destination.

The Peabody Memphis is a historic hotel that's better than ever. See what other historic hotels topped the list.

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Resort: The Inn on Biltmore Estate (Asheville, North Carolina)

The Inn at Biltmore Estate Exterior
Robbie Caponetto

Book a stay at The Inn on Biltmore Estate for close proximity to the iconic institution as well as an unforgettable stay. It provides more than just name recognition—it also serves up a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Find out why The Inn on Biltmore Estate continues to be a family favorite, and see what other resorts topped the list.

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New Hotel: The Dewberry (Charleston, South Carolina)

The Dewberry
Peter Frank Edwards

A re-imagined government building gets new life in this gorgeous Holy City hotel. With every amenity visitors could ever dream of (including a fleet of hotel bikes), The Dewberry is an ideal place to begin exploring the city.

Read on to see why The Dewberry is quickly becoming a classic, and learn more about the other new hotels that topped the list.

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Check Out The South's Best Winners

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Neighborhood: Thomas Square (Savannah, Georgia)

Thomas Square, Savannah
Peter Frank Edwards

Filled with history and charm, the walkable, oak-lined Thomas Square neighborhood in coastal Savannah, Georgia, is bound to charm you.

See what other neighborhoods topped the list, and you'll be tempted to move in.

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Bookstore: E. Shaver, Bookseller (Savannah, Georgia)

E. Shaver, Bookseller, Exterior Vertical
Peter Frank Edwards

A beautiful shop with a storied history, this independent Savannah bookstore is the perfect place to get lost among the shelves for an hour or two. Locals know that E. Shaver, Bookseller, is the place to go to find their next great read.

Learn more about E. Shaver, Bookseller, and find out which others were voted The South's Best this year.

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Garden Store: Tallahassee Nurseries (Tallahassee, Florida)

Tallahassee Nurseries
Courtesy Tallahassee Nurseries

Southerners love their gardens, and Tallahassee Nurseries has been providing fantastic garden resources and a huge selection of quality plants, trees, and shrubs to local gardeners since 1938.

See what other spots were voted the best garden stores this year.

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Boutique: Magnolia Market at The Silos (Waco, Texas)

Magnolia Silos
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Getty Images

Chip and Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Market at The Silos was voted The South's Best Boutique 2020. With a lovely selection of gifts and gracious goods, doesn't it make you want to plan a trip to Waco soon?

Learn more about why Southerners love Magnolia Market at The Silos, and see what other boutiques topped the list.

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Bar: Alley Cat Lounge (Savannah, Georgia)

The Alley Cat Lounge
Peter Frank Edwards

Savannah takes home another top spot with The South's Best Bar. Order up a craft cocktail at the Alley Cat Lounge and take a seat; this bar is as loved for its big menu of fresh-ingredient-filled drinks as it is for its people watching.

See why Southerners love the Alley Cat Lounge, a basement bar with plenty of signature cocktails, and see what other bars topped the list.

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Dive Bar: Green Parrot Bar (Key West, Florida)

Green Parrot Bar
Robbie Caponetto

Come for the cocktails and stay for the live music at this busy, neon-lit spot on Whitehead Street. Step foot inside Key West's Green Parrot Bar, and you'll feel like a local in no time.

Set your sights on Key West, and see what other dive bars topped our readers' list.

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