- The South is one of the most beautiful parts of the United States.
- The region, which comprises 16 states and Washington, DC, is home to sweet tea, sweeping landscapes, and unique architecture.
- From Texas‘ Mexican-inspired cuisine to the stunning beaches of Florida and the lush forests of West Virginia, the region has something to offer everyone.
Between its beautiful beaches, charming cities, and its renowned hospitality, there are many reasons to visit the South.
The South, according to the US Census Bureau, is made up of 16 states – Alabama; Arkansas; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maryland; Mississippi; North Carolina; Oklahoma; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Virginia; and West Virginia – as well as Washington, DC.
These photos of the region will make you wish you lived in the South, or, if you already live there, make you feel grateful that you do.
Alabama’s capital of Montgomery is a beautiful city with much to see and do.
With a walkable downtown area, beautiful parks, and plenty of museums – a number of which are dedicated to the city’s history as the birthplace of the civil-rights movement – Montgomery has a ton to offer visitors and locals alike. Alabama’s capital also boasts a great food scene, known for its barbecue and seafood.
Alabama is also home to scenic hiking trails. Little River Canyon is one of the most photogenic trails in Alabama.
Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the challenge of hiking to this northeastern Alabama gem, while those with young children or limited walking abilities may prefer to take the scenic driving route to the site.
Speaking of beautiful natural scenery, look no further than the beaches of southern Alabama.
Beach lovers have good reason to flock to Alabama, too. The state’s southern coast has some of the most stunning ocean landscapes in the country. Places like Gulf Shores (pictured above) and Orange Beach are hotspots for fishing and water sports.
There’s no better place for college football lovers than Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide is one of the most dominant programs in college sports, having won five of the last 10 national championships.Bryant-Denny Stadium, the team’s home arena, can fit more than 100,000 fans per game.
Moving west into Mississippi, residents enjoy good food and long summers.
Jackson, Mississippi, the state’s capital, has plenty of state parks, museums, and even a zoo.
Jackson, Mississippi, is nicknamed the “City with Soul” for a reason, with some of the tastiest soul food the South has to offer.
The City of Soul also has a thriving blues scene with live music easy to find, according to Visit Jackson.
The Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi, draws an impressive crowd each year.
Known as “Mississippi’s Giant House Party,” the Neshoba County Fair draws tens of thousands of visitors to central Mississippi each year with live country music performances, horse races, a “Pretty Cow Contest,” and beautifully decorated fair cabins.
Just to the west of Mississippi is Louisiana: the land of crawfish, bayous, Mardi Gras, and jazz.
Louisiana has an incredibly unique culture compared to its neighbouring states. Due to its French, Spanish, African, Caribbean, and Indian influences, many Louisianans identify as Cajun or Creole.
Louisiana’s most famous destination is New Orleans.
New Orleans sits along the Mississippi River and near the toe of the Louisiana “boot.” The Big Easy, as the city is sometimes called, boasts incredible jazz music, delicious cuisine, and stunning French- and Spanish-inspired architecture.
New Orleans is known best for its annual Mardi Gras festival and citywide celebrations.
Each year, New Orleans residents and the thousands of visitors who flock to the city for Mardi Gras celebrate the holiday by partying in the streets while donning colourful masks, throwing beaded necklaces, and eating King Cake, a braided, halo-shaped cake made with cinnamon and decorated with icing.
Louisiana is also known for its gumbo, a dish that embodies the state’s melting pot of cultures.
This tasty, hearty Louisiana staple stems from French, German, Italian, and African cooking traditions, though scholars do not exactly know its etymology, according to The Daily Meal. Chefs usually combine okra, filé (a herb), and roux to form the base of Gumbo before adding in some chicken, sausage, shrimp, crab, or vegetables.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, the state that borders Louisiana to the West.
Texas’ capital city of Austin is a cultural hub where music, food, and technology meet. The city’s well-worn slogan, “Keep Austin Weird,” is a testament to its residents’ commitment to local businesses and to maintaining the quirky vibe of their hometown.
Houston, Texas’ largest city, is home to roughly seven million people.
Known for its contributions to space and science, Houston, Texas, is one of the most populous cities in the US. Beyond that, the region is also known for its vast food scene and its lively Theatre District.
Aside from its large cities, Texas is also known for its natural beauty.
Texas can be divided into seven regions, each with its own unique landscapes and cultures. The Texas Hill Country, located in the midwestern region of the state, is known for its springs, canyons, grassy hills, and underground lakes.
Texas’ Mexican history is still reflected in much of the state’s culture.
From the great plains to big cities, Texas’ northern neighbour, Oklahoma, has the best of both.
The Great Plains comprise much of the state of Oklahoma. While the sprawling landscapes are certainly pictureque, they are also so rife with destructive storms that some of the area has been dubbed “Tornado Alley.”
Oklahoma City, the state’s capital and most populous city, has a ton to offer residents and visitors.
Between the city’s Bricktown Entertainment District, theme parks, museums, zoo, and NBA franchise, there’s no shortage of things to do in Oklahoma City. Plus, the city’s “Western allure” should help anyone who finds themself in OKC feel at home.
Arkansas sits directly to the east of Oklahoma and is known for its gorgeous natural scenery.
Places like Arkansas’ Buffalo National River are a paradise for hikers, fishers, campers, canoers, kayakers, and campers. With its limestone cliffs, white water rapids, and stunning views covering nearly 135 miles, the river is accessible to people all across the state.
But Arkansas’ capital city has become the pulse of business and culture for “The Natural State.”
Residents and visitors of Little Rock will find shopping, restaurants, museums, and nightlife in the River Market District, while the Clinton Presidential Center & Park and Clinton Presidential Park Wetlands add some green space to the riverside city.
To the east is Tennessee.
Although the state has plenty of urban space in cities like Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee is also known for its natural landscapes and parks, like the ones at Fall Creek Falls.
Tennessee’s capital and most famous city, Nashville, is a big draw for tourists and is home to around 700,000 people.
As “The Songwriting Capital of the World,” Nashville, Tennessee, is best known for being the home to many great country musicians, but the city is also a hub for a wide variety of musical genres.
Tennesseeans have close access to Dollywood, the theme park owned in part by singer Dolly Parton.
Located in Pigeon Forge in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood is a theme and water park created and owned in part by “Jolene” singer Dolly Parton. According to the park’s website, more than two million visitors make their way to Parton’s wonderland each year.
The state is also famous for Tennessee whiskey.
Though it’s nearly identical to bourbon in terms of preparation requirements, Tennessee whiskey sits in a class all its own. According to state law, Tennessee whiskey must be distilled and aged in-state in order to earn the exclusive title, a fact that many Tennesseeans are extremely proud of. Jack Daniels and George Dickel are perhaps the most famous varieties of this smooth spirit.
Tennessee is also famous for its delicious barbecue, particularly in Memphis.
Any Memphis, Tennessee, native will tell you that other barbecue simply does not compare to their hometown variety, which embraces a dry style and leans more heavily on rubs than sauces. Of the many barbecue joints across the city, Rendezvous is perhaps the most famous of all. The restaurant’s specialty char-cooked ribs are coated with a secret sauce of a vinegar and herbs invented by late founder Charlie Vergos.
Those looking for a crispier, saltier treat can cross over the northern border into Kentucky to grab some world-famous fried chicken.
Forget KFC, we’re talking about the real, in-state variety of this Southern staple. According to Kentucky natives, the state’s fried chicken cannot be beat.
Local favourites in Louisville include Big Momma’s Soul Food Kitchen and Royals Hot Chicken, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. And, according to Heather C. Watson behind the lifestyle blog Her Kentucky, some of the state’s best fried chicken can be found at Merrick Inn and Ramsey’s in Lexington, and at Claudia Sanders Dinner House in Shelbyville.
Louisville, the biggest city in “The Bluegrass State,” is a transportation hub that is also a destination in itself.
Between its location near rapids on the Ohio River and its history as a major railroad stop en route to the west, Louisville has always been tied to transportation. Today, the city is home to UPS’ air operations headquarters.
Louisville is also known for its Victorian homes and “Hot Browns,” open-faced turkey sandwiches smothered in Mornay sauce and topped with crispy bacon.
The Kentucky Derby may be the state’s best-known event.
Each year, thousands of people flock to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, to experience horse racing’s biggest event. The Kentucky Derby comes complete with big hats and swanky outfits,mint juleps, the biggest fireworks show in the country, and, of course, horse racing.
Like many other places in the South, West Virginia is known for its natural beauty.
Between its mountainous terrain, lush landscapes, and beautiful, flowing rivers, West Virginia is ideal for anyone outdoorsy. Beauty Mountain Trail, which is located in the center of the state, has gorgeous views, especially around sunset.
And the record-breaking New River Gorge Bridge is a sight to behold.
The New River Gorge Bridge, located near Fayetteville, West Virginia, has the longest main span of all the arch bridges in the western hemisphere at 1,700 feet long, according to Bridge Walk, which offers tours of the New River Gorge Bridge. It’s also one of the tallest bridges in the US standing at 876 feet above the river.
Just below the Mason-Dixon line sits Maryland.
Maryland’s capital city, Annapolis, sit along the water and is home to the United States’ Naval Academy and multiple museums devoted to the navy and marine works.
Baltimore, Maryland’s largest city, is known for the Inner Harbour and National Bohemian Beer, among other things.
Residents and visitors can walk along the water and enjoy the best Baltimore has to offer at the city’s Inner Harbour area, where you can find many shops, museums, and restaurants.
Visitors can also find National Bohemian Beer, better known by locals as “Natty Boh.” The beer, which was once brewed in Baltimore, has a cult following in the city. Its mascot, Mr. Boh, is still a fixture atop one of the city’s prominent buildings.
But, beyond all else, Maryland is known for its delicious crabs.
Maryland crabs from the Chesapeake Bay are famous across the country. The state’s signature dish traditionally features steamed blue crabs smothered in Old Bay seasoning. If you know anyone from Maryland, you know that this seafood treat is an absolute staple in the region.
Delaware’s 2,489 square miles are packed with history, culture, and fun.
Delaware inhabitants are proud of their history as the first state in the modern United States.
Delaware’s beaches can’t be beat.
With 381 miles of coastline, this tiny state’s entire eastern side borders the sea. While many of its coastal towns boast stunning beaches, Bethany Beach, Delaware, is known as one of the most picturesque areas for summer fun. With a half-mile boardwalk, gourmet dining options, and a quaint town, Bethany Beach has something for everyone.
As the nation’s capital, there is no shortage of things to do in Washington, DC.
As the capital of the United States since 1790, Washington, DC, is home to tons of picturesque government buildings, historical sites, and museums. The city’s location, which sits close to the line between the American North and South, was selected as a compromise between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.
Washington, DC, is famous for its monuments and memorials dedicated to past presidents, war veterans, and civil-rights heroes.
Many of the city’s most famous monuments and memorials, including the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and National World War II Memorial, are within walking distance of one another.
Of course, visitors and passersby may look to catch a glimpse of the president at the White House.
First constructed in 1792, living in the White House comes with some pretty amazing amenities. The 55,000 square-foot home boasts an indoor pool, bowling alley, movie theatre, flower shop, carpenter’s shop, and even a dentist’s office.
To kick off spring, DC hosts the National Cherry Blossom Festival each year.
For a few weeks each year, DC locals and visitors can enjoy the beautiful pink flowers characteristic of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The mayor of Tokyo gifted the US capital with 3,000 cherry trees in 1912, and since then their annual bloom has been a focal point of the city.
Virginia, the state south of DC, is home to stunning parks.
Virginia, otherwise known as Old Dominion, was the birthplace of more US presidents than any other state in the union. Relics from George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others give the state a number of historical sites, and the state has beautiful beaches, gorgeous parks including Shenandoah National Park (pictured above), and a thriving wine country to boot.
President George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate sits in northeast Virginia.
President George Washington acquired the 21-room mansion and its expansive gardens from his father and brother in 1754. Now, visitors can view everything from the first president’s chambers to his dentures when visiting the former plantation. There’s also a museum and education center on the grounds.
And one state over you’ll find North Carolina, “The Tar Heel State.”
Home to big cities, stunning coastlines, and a rich history, North Carolina has a lot to offer visitors and residents alike. The state is known for playing host to the Wright brothers’ first flight, NASCAR, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and barbecue.
North Carolina has the largest home in America, a gigantic castle called Biltmore Estate that was constructed for George Vanderbilt.
Visitors can peruse Biltmore Estate’s 250 rooms and 8,000 acres of grounds in Asheville, North Carolina. In addition to the main house, the property boasts extraordinary gardens and the nation’s most-visited winery.
Though South Carolina is often closely associated with its northern neighbour, “The Palmetto State” has a ton of unique offerings.
Between cities like Columbia and Charleston, beaches from Myrtle Beach to Hilton Head Island, and quintessential Southern charm, South Carolina is a great place for anyone craving a warm climate and warmer reception.
Named the best city in the world in 2016, Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the most beautiful locations in the entire South.
Charleston, South Carolina, was voted 2016’s best city in the world according to Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards for 2016. The coastal destination beat out major travel destinations like Florence, Kyoto, and Barcelona thanks in part to its rich history, impeccably landscaped gardens, and stunning waterfront views.
Just southwest of South Carolina is Georgia, the largest state east of the Mississippi River.
Between Coca-Cola, pecans, Vidalia onions, and, of course, peaches, “The Peach State” is definitively one of the sweetest in the nation. Georgia is known for its succulent fruits, beautiful beaches, and quaint towns.
Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the largest cities in the South.
Georgia’s capital city was the most popular place to move in the US in 2016, according to truck-rental company Penske. Between the city’s many fantastic restaurants, beautiful parks and gardens such as Piedmont Park, and famous attractions like the zoo and aquarium, Centennial Olympic Park, and World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta’s newest residents will be plenty entertained.
The state is also home to Augusta National Golf Club, one of the most famous golf courses in the entire world and the renowned home of the Masters Tournament.
Each year in April, Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, plays host to the Masters Tournament, one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world of professional golf. Golf fans flock to the green oasis to watch their favourite players bid for greatness, but the scenery itself is enough to warrant a visit.
Florida is a popular place to visit.
Between its beautiful beaches, major cities, and Disney World, its no wonder that people from all over the world flock to this Southern state to live or to visit.
Miami is one of Florida’s most populous cities but is also a major tourist destination.
Known as “The Magic City,” Miami, Florida is home to turquoise waters, upscale hotels and restaurants, and incredible nightlife.
8 restaurants in Miami that locals swear by
The state is also home to “The Most Magical Place on Earth.”
Located in the heart of the state, Orlando, Florida, is home to one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions in Walt Disney World Resort. Visitors can rub elbows with Mickey, Minnie, and the rest of the crew at the theme park.
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