Southern Towns You Will Love

August 14th, 2008 by Mariah

Have a hankering for some sweet tea and southern hospitality? You should. As September hangs on the horizon, a jaunt south is the perfect way to win some extra summer days, and these member-recommended Mayberrys are the best places to savor them.

Lawrenceville, Virginia
Just over the North Carolina border, little Lawrenceville has the surprising distinction of being the site of “some of the best diving on the east coast,” says vampirefan , who, along with her husband, headed to Lawrenceville on a tip from her local dive shop. In addition to world-class diving at Lake Rawlings Dive Park, the happy couple discovered a down-home B&B they highly recommend: the Brunswick Mineral Springs B&B, a tobacco plantation and then a health spa in previous lives. It’s now a bed-and-breakfast owned by Nan and Dave Spears, “two of the most wonderful people in the world.”

Mount Airy North Carolina
The Mayberry of Andy Griffith fame, “Mount Airy is not a hot destination, but you have to visit anyway,” says MCJ graduate, because “it is a quirky town with much to celebrate.” In addition to mad Mayberry memorabilia—and full-blown Mayberry Days this September 25-27—Mount Airy offers Pilot Mountain State Park, bluegrass jam sessions, a picturesque Main St., and, of course, what JF150 calls “that feeling of stepping back in time to those good old days.”

Madison, Georgia
Different visitors are drawn to Madison’s pillars and squares for different reasons, but they all leave wanting to return. For John Hollinger’s wife, it was historic Heritage Hall—but only because “John, being an antebellum-house buff, just had to see it.” Mrs. Hollinger ended up enjoying the town too, as well as nearby Social Circle, Georgia, and a meal at the famous all-you-can-eat Blue Willow Inn. Looking for a place to stay? Robvn Cook recommends the “gracious” and “luxurious” James Madison Inn, particularly for its breakfast. Rest assured you will not go hungry in Georgia.

Bell Buckle, Tennessee
An old railroad town, tiny Bell Buckle impressed Taylor Shelby right off the bat. She found that the words of the woman who’d sent her—“it’s just the cutest li’l town you ever saw”—rang true, as “the once-abandoned downtown is now thriving with antique shops, artists, unique stores, and one fantastic restaurant.” And Bell Buckle native Tideone adds that with so many “antique dealers and arts and crafts folks, it seems like there is always some kind of celebration taking place.”

Cullman, Alabama
Perhaps a testament to the town’s universal appeal, two IgoUgo members have opposite takes on Cullman, but both tout is as a great getaway spot. Because of its covered bridges, battle sites, and antique stores, Library Dragon says, “When travelers think of Alabama, they often envision towns such as Cullman.” NiteOWLTX, on the other hand, says that Cullman’s German heritage, grottos, and shrines make it a regional anomaly full of “some of the most obscure things you will ever see.” Cullman, it seems, is wonderful no matter what you make of it.

Oxford, Mississippi
When Ole Miss is in session and football fans are in town, Oxford isn’t exactly tiny, but it does infuse its academic inclinations with small-town charm. Fittingly, the home of William Faulkner and John Grisham offers the famous Square Books independent booksellers. And while you have your wallet in hand, Steve S. recommends heading to Neilson’s Department Store, the oldest shop in the South. He also raves about the many fine-dining opportunities around: “You’re probably thinking, ‘fine restaurants in a town of 10,000 in Mississippi?’, but yes, Oxford has its share of excellent eateries.”

Beaufort, South Carolina
North Carolinian vanpirefan has nothing but nice things to say about her neighbor to the south: “Beaufort has a long and rich history that can be seen everywhere you look.” She reports that the Low Country town is “a breeze” to walk around, but that buggy tours are equally enjoyable if your feet tire. Her compliments continue: “While Beaufort is not as big as Savannah or Charleston, she is nonetheless equally as beautiful and impressive.” And Beaufort has a leg up on even those two cities when it comes to eating: “This is the place to enjoy delicious seafood!” says ashlorene84 of Beaufort’s laid-back restaurants.

Morgantown, West Virginia
“Waterfront bike trails with dappled sunlight, riverfront jazz in the sun, and nights of theater magic, all in designated landmark settings” create, kjlougn says, “a formula for perfect days.” Another college town—the West Virginia University Mountaineers call it home—Morgantown delights IgoUgo members like drhough with its mix of art and nature. “Quaint yet cosmopolitan, Morgantown is my favorite weekend destination for original dining and compelling theater,” the regular visitor says. On another trip, he focused on the outdoors, saying, “I thought I knew Morgantown and was surprised to discover the recreational community it has been hiding along its riverbank.”

Seaside, Florida
With its ice cream parlors, pedestrian-only lanes, and white picket fences, the planned Gulf community of Seaside (you may have seen it in The Truman Show) looks like it stepped straight out of a storybook to become a respite from the spring-break madness of nearby Panama City and Destin. Nora Katz describes the town as a tiny community that “stands out among the snow-white dunes with its pastel-colored Victorian cottages topped with tin roofs that shimmer in the midday sun.” If your ideal Sunshine State experience is more verandahs and hammocks than roller coasters and parades, you’ll love Seaside.

Find more great places to visit at Bed and Breakfast Guide