The Best Southern Mountain Towns for Retirement
Say goodbye to the day job and hello to mountain views. When it’s time to pack up your things and start a new adventure, try one of the South’s mountain towns on for size. These great spots are surrounded by incredible views, great hiking trails, gorgeous fall foliage, and more restaurants, art galleries, museums, music venues, and parks than you’ll know what to do with. Sound fun? We can’t think of a better place to put down new roots than these fun-loving, laid-back communities. Whether you’re looking to fly fish or see a show, take up a new hobby or develop an old one, the close-knit communities in these mountain towns have plenty of opportunities for you to get involved, meet someone new, and make a fresh home in a beautiful place. These Southern spots are real jewels in the landscape, and it’s high time you started exploring one or two (or all of them!). When retirement calls, the mountains answer.
Blue Ridge, Georgia
A north Georgia mountain town with an old soul, Blue Ridge is a fun town for retirees. With plenty of things happening at the town’s art center, community theater, breweries, and restaurants, there’s lots to enjoy in town. There’s also the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, which runs antique trains to other neighboring mountain towns.
Learn more: blueridgemountains.com
Hendersonville, North Carolina
This Western North Carolina town is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a popular vacation spot with a low-key atmosphere. Outdoor activities abound, and there are plenty of nearby trails where you can take a hike (or climb, or bike, or cave, depending on your taste). Stunning mountain vistas are all around, as are waterfalls, picnic spots, and parks.
Learn more: visithendersonvillenc.org
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
This northwest Arkansas town is nestled in the Ozark Mountains and is a welcoming spot to decamp to during retirement. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in the area, and there’s a distinctly artsy scene that can be traced to the artists, makers, and galleries downtown, as well as the stunning Victorian buildings still standing in the historic district.
Learn more: eurekasprings.org
Highlands, North Carolina
A popular vacation spot, Highlands is a small North Carolina town near the Appalachian Mountains. It has a charming downtown area, and the the Nantahala National Forest stretches out in all directions, which means that Highlands offers the best of all worlds. Elevation-wise, it’s also one of the highest towns east of the Mississippi River, so there’s nowhere to go but up in this charming small town.
Learn more: highlandschamber.org
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Pigeon Forge, one of Tennessee’s favorite towns, is a longtime favorite spot for vacationers, but it’s also a great spot to retire. With Dollywood just next door, you’ll never be at a loss for entertainment. Cabins, hiking, and lots of great landscapes—with gorgeous foliage in the fall—make it a wonderful place to settle down.
Learn more: mypigeonforge.com
This great town in Virginia’s idyllic Shenandoah Valley is surrounded by beautiful scenery. It’s also home to a lively arts scene, with lots of live music and plenty of parks, museums, galleries, and restaurants in town too. Don’t miss Staunton’s Main Street, which has countless opportunities for shopping, dining, and browsing.
Learn more: visitstaunton.com
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Nestled in the Ouachita Mountains, this fun town is full of hiking and boating opportunities, as well as plenty of relaxing spas where you can pamper yourself after your outdoor adventures. It gets its name from the naturally heated springs in the area, which you can find in Hot Springs National Park and also Bathhouse Row, which is home to bathhouses that date back centuries.
Learn more: hotsprings.org
Boone, North Carolina
Adventure abounds in Boone, which is filled with cozy cabins, hiking trails, galleries, museums, and parks. Whether you’re looking for a place to cast a line or ski a slope, Boone has a place for you. It’s also just north of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, another great mountain community with a charming downtown that’s well worth a visit.
Learn more: exploreboone.com
There’s so much to do in and around Gatlinburg, which means it’s easy to keep the retirement blues at bay. Set your sights on this mountain town and take in the wide-open spaces from the Gatlinburg Skybridge and Anakeesta, then settle in for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a whole host of delicious, down-home restaurants.
Learn more: gatlinburg.com
Lewisburg, West Virginia
This friendly town is a picturesque vacation spot, and you’ll want to move in as soon as you arrive. That’s thanks to the welcoming atmosphere that seems to be everywhere in town, as well as the many concerts, antiques stores, eateries, and walkable neighborhoods that you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy in Lewisburg.
Learn more: greenbrierwv.com
This lovely Virginia town is an ideal place to retire not only because of its setting—nestled in southwest Virginia in the state’s stretch of the Blue Ridge Mountains—but also because of all there is to do in and around town, including shows at the Barter Theater, hiking trails along the Virginia Creeper Trail, and an artistic community that opens its arms wide to newcomers.
Learn more: visitabingdonvirginia.com