The South’s Best Winners 2020
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.
City: Charleston, South Carolina
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.
Food City: New Orleans, Louisiana
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.
Small Town: Williamsburg, Virginia
Beach Town: Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama
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.
Mountain Town: Gatlinburg, Tennessee
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.
College Town: Athens, Georgia
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.
BBQ Joint: 4 Rivers Smokehouse (Winter Park, Florida)
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.
Classic Restaurant: Commander’s Palace (New Orleans, Louisiana)
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.
New Restaurant: Alewife (Richmond, Virginia)
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.
Local Favorite Restaurant: The Grey (Savannah, Georgia)
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.
Catfish Joint: Taylor Grocery (Taylor, Mississippi)
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.
Scenic Drive: Blue Ridge Parkway (NC/VA)
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.
Natural Wonder in Texas: Big Bend National Park
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.
Historic Hotel: The Peabody Memphis (Memphis, Tennessee)
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.
Resort: The Inn on Biltmore Estate (Asheville, North Carolina)
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.
New Hotel: The Dewberry (Charleston, South Carolina)
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.
Check Out The South's Best Winners
Neighborhood: Thomas Square (Savannah, Georgia)
Bookstore: E. Shaver, Bookseller (Savannah, Georgia)
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.
Garden Store: Tallahassee Nurseries (Tallahassee, Florida)
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.
Boutique: Magnolia Market at The Silos (Waco, Texas)
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?
Bar: Alley Cat Lounge (Savannah, Georgia)
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.