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Top 10 Unique Small Towns To Visit In The Southern U.S. This Fall

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The world is a vast and exotic place to explore, and the bigger metropolitan cities are often the most alluring. Yet the small towns are what give the U.S. culture and character.

This fall is a perfect time to venture into a charming small town with more to offer than you’d think.

field of red flowers with trees int he background

Here are ten special, corky, fun, and unique small towns to visit in the south that will make your fall travels unique:

10.  Fredericksburg, Texas

Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Austin, Texas, this small town offers an array of things to do. Fredericksburg is a town of German heritage and award-winning wineries.

Because Germans settled in the town in the 19th century, the city offers a unique blend of German traditions and Texas culture, especially when it comes to food. You can feast on traditional German sausages, apple strudel, and pretzels. For more of a food adventure, you can try a Texas-style schnitzel with guacamole and Monterey Jack cheese.

Despite being a small town, the area is lively, with downtown bars, breweries, and many historic museums.

Mansion with trees in front and sunlight gleaming through

9. Folly Beach, South Carolina

With the word beach in the name, it’s pretty clear that one of the main attractions of this southern town is the vast stretch of sand and ocean.

While fall is not optimal beach weather, you can still enjoy soothing walks along Folly Beach. You may even be lucky and see dolphins known to pass by the shore.

There is also kayaking and surfing if you want to venture into the water.

long pier at sunset on the beach

The area has a saying, “ Relax, Slow Down, It’s Folly.” So when at the end of the year and responsibilities start to pile up, Folly can be a great escape from the madness of everyday life.

While the town boasts of chill vibes, they aren’t short on entertainment. Folly Beach has its 50 Years of Folly celebration during the fall. It is an event that has street festivals, a classic car show, discos on the pier, and fun for all ages.

8. Tybee Island, Georgia

A barrier island close to Savannah, Georgia, Tybee Island can easily be overlooked as a place to visit. Yet, there is a wide variety of experiences the island has to offer.

The island is known for delicious and fresh seafood. And if you have a sweet tooth, you can visit The Sugar Shack, which has over 30 years of service and the best hand-dipped ice cream.

Besides enjoying delicious food, you can join a nature tour to learn about estuaries and see if you can find a shark tooth or other unique sea finds.

aerial view of a lighthouse at sunset with the city and beach in the background

7. Sanibel, Florida

If you don’t know, there is more to Florida than the Keys, Orlando, and Miami. However, without a beautiful beach, Florida wouldn’t be the great state it is. Sanibel lives up to that standard by offering an assortment of beaches.

One unique aspect of Sanibel’s beaches is that you can collect a variety of seashells and even find sand dollars. Just ensure no hermit crabs or other creatures live in the shell you’d like to collect.

If you want more wildlife than the critters you can find on the beach, check out J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. This education center offers visitors the chance to learn about the migration of birds that are threatened or endangered.


6. Fairhope, Alabama

Have you heard of the ‘Julibee'? Well, that is what Fairhope, Alabama, is known for.  It is when shrimp, crabs, and flounder abundantly swarm the bay. It’s a Fisherman's easiest day of work and quite the site to see for tourists. 

Another hotspot in Fairhope is the Fairhope Brewing Company. In 2012, they opened with just two beers on tap and now have 14 beers and ciders for guests to try. You can also participate in the brewery’s trivia and live music nights and introduce your taste buds to exotic flavors like a sour ale. 

Fall is a great time to visit Fairhope’s weekly farmers market and art walks. 

Fairhope alabama clock

5. Blowing Rock, North Carolina

If you’re wondering how this town got its name, it’s because of its 4,000-foot cliff that stands above a beautiful gorge and lush forest.

This small town is a great place to catch the fall foliage and host several fall festivals throughout the season.

rock cliff above a green landscape

4. Dahlonega, Georgia

Dahlonega was once known for being a literal gold mind. In 1838, the U.S. Branch Mint coined $6 million in gold. While gold mining is no longer a way to become rich, panning for gold is often a practice of many locals and tourists in this town.

One of the town’s biggest fall highlights includes the Gold Rush Days Festival at the end of October, with over 200 arts and crafts exhibitors, a parade, and a gold panning contest. It’s not surprising that the festival was voted one of the “Top 20 Events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society.

Dahlonega Georgia Gold Rush Museum

3. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg is the place to visit if you’re looking for a small town with big-city vibes. Perhaps one of the most unique attractions is the Gatlinburg Pinball Museum, where you can see over 100 retro arcade games and pinball machines and play them. 

If you’re looking for stimulation outside of an electric box, you can try the Gatlinburg Adventure Park, which includes a zipline, treetop obstacle courses, and gondola rides. 

City in the canyon at night.

2. Beaufort, South Carolina

For travelers who marvel at design and architecture, prepare to fall in love with the well-preserved mansions and plantations of Beaufort, South Carolina. Visiting Front Street, you’ll find styles such as Queen Anne-influenced architecture, Greek Revival, and Gothic Revival.

Take a horse-drawn carriage tour to understand the town’s beauty and history. This way, you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time as you learn how the town came to be.

Beautiful antebellum house in Beaufort South Carolina

1. St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine is a city that is growing in popularity. One of the main attractions is the cobblestone street, St. George Street. You can find restaurants, souvenir shops, historical spots, and many more attractions there. 

If you want a unique experience, you can head onboard the Black Raven Pirate Ship. This ship sets sail three times a week for those who are 21 and over. Crew members are dressed in pirate attire and provide fun activities and dancing throughout the trip. 

St. Augustine Florida

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.



Tuesday 26th of September 2023

Fall is far better than summer for beach vacations, as long as no storms hit the week you've planned. Often smaller crowds and not as hot. Fall in the mountains means crowds of leaf peepers and high prices.