You’re tired of blizzards and scraping snow off your windshield every morning in January and February. Maybe you’re thinking about traveling to the South to get away from the frigid temperatures of Minnesota or New York. We’ve got you covered with 10 great small-town destinations. Let’s check them out!
What Makes Small Southern Towns So Charming in the Winter?
Maybe it’s the picturesque snow-capped mountains of western North Carolina or the postcard-worthy snapshots of antebellum plantations. Maybe it’s the gushing waterfalls of North Georgia or the Victorian old-town charm of a southern Main Street. With so much to offer in natural beauty and family fun, why not visit a small southern town this winter?
What’s the Weather Like Across the South in the Winter?
Because of the different elevations and the significant distance from Florida to North Carolina to Texas, the weather varies greatly. Winter in Asheville, N.C., is quite a different experience than winter in Seaside, Fla.
In the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains, you’ll see snow and cold temperatures dip into the teens regularly. But in the coastal regions, snow and freezing temperatures are very unlikely.
Ice is sometimes more common than snow across the South. But for much of the south across Texas to Florida, winter weather is pleasant, which is why so many people from northern states venture south for the winter.
10 Sweet as Pie Small Towns in the South That Are Amazing in the Winter
If you’re considering visiting the South this winter, check out these ten small towns. You’ll love the southern hospitality and small-town atmosphere.
If you’re still looking to see a few snowflakes, there are some options in higher elevations. But if you’re trying to escape wintry conditions, you’ll find several good small towns in this list where you’ll stay comfortable from December through March.
#1. Alpine Helen, Ga.
About Helen: Take a step into Bavaria in Alpine Helen, Ga. Enjoy schnitzel, pretzels, sausages, bratwursts, and craft beers. The southeast’s largest Oktoberfest celebration takes place here annually. Even though only about 430 residents call Helen home, it’s the third most visited city in Georgia. It’s a glimpse of Germany in two square miles.
Winter Activities: The land and climate here are great for vineyards and farming, so wineries and open-air markets abound. Outdoor activities include hiking and rappelling in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains. The area also pays tribute to its history with numerous museums dedicated to Native American history and early European settlements. And Babyland General Hospital, home of the Cabbage Patch Kids, is right down the road in Cleveland, Ga.
Traveler’s Tip: Rain or shine (or snow), use our list of top 10 things to do in Helen to plan your visit to this festive town in Georgia.
#2. Fredericksburg, Texas
About Fredericksburg: Another small town with German heritage is Fredericksburg, Texas. Explore German cuisine and culture in various restaurants, stores, and museums around town. Situated almost in the middle of Texas, Fredericksburg offers a small-town atmosphere less than 80 miles from the big cities of Austin and San Antonio.
Winter Activities: Visit Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, where you can enjoy camping, hiking, rock climbing, cave exploring, and wildlife watching. Go ice skating downtown and participate in the town’s Christmas Nights of Lights. You’ll also find local vineyards, orchards, and farms, as well as breweries and distilleries to keep you busy during your visit.
#3. Eureka Springs, Ark.
About Eureka Springs: Early Native American tribes spoke of the healing power of the springs in Arkansas. These legends spread quickly, and soon the town of Eureka Springs sprang up in 1879. Today about 2,100 people call this small town home. You can learn more about the town’s history and the Native American presence here by booking one of the walking tours.
Winter Activities: Venture underground to tour a cave or cavern, visit the wildlife refuge, book a ghost tour, or just stroll down historic downtown. Visit the Pea Ridge National Military Park or the 10-foot section of the Berlin Wall or Quigley’s Castle. And for outdoor enthusiasts, you’ll find places to hike, bike, ride horses, kayak, fish, and more.
Traveler’s Tip: Check out the 12 best things to do to make the most of your time in Eureka Springs.
#4. Madison, Ga.
About Madison: Southern Living Magazine called Madison a place with a great record of preserving its history and architecture. You can see everything from Greek Revival to Victorian architectural styles throughout town. If you’re looking for Southern charm, look no further. You’ll find majestic antebellum homes, perfectly manicured gardens, and trickling fountains just an hour east of Atlanta.
Winter Activities: In Madison, Ga., you can tour the historic homes and learn about the old South way of life. You can visit the country’s first certified Forest Therapy Trail at Hundred Acre Farm. Or you can take a short drive out to Hard Labor Creek State Park, where you can hike, bike, golf, and fish.
#5. Seaside, Fla.
About Seaside: If you’re looking for a quiet beach destination this winter, check out Seaside, Fla. This northwest Florida beach town is most famous for filming Jim Carrey’s “The Truman Show.” Here you’ll find quaint cottages and a slower pace of life along the Emerald Coast.
Winter Activities: In February, Seaside holds its annual half marathon + 5K and Expo. If you’re more of a biker, you’ll enjoy Seaside’s small-town way of life as you bike around, exploring waterfront dining and shopping. Also home to Food Truck Row, Seaside features six permanent Airstream trailers in Central Square.
#6. Dahlonega, Ga.
About Dahlonega: Another beautiful North Georgia location is the small town of Dahlonega. Ranked as one of the South’s Best Mountain Towns by “Southern Living Magazine,” Dahlonega is the site of the first major U.S. gold rush. An hour north of Atlanta, it offers beautiful mountain views, roaring waterfalls, and delicious Georgia wine.
Winter Activities: For adventurers, you can visit the nearby Chattahoochee National Forest. Some of the most popular waterfalls in North Georgia are in the Dahlonega area. Go panning for gold along a stream or purchase a Gold Fever Package with tickets to local attractions. Although the U-Pick apple season will be over by the winter, you can still visit local orchards and browse their markets.
#7. Franklin, N.C.
About Franklin: Once inhabited by the Cherokee people, Franklin, N.C., is now home to more than 4,200 residents. You can still view the remains of Nikwasi Mound from downtown. Located a little over an hour southwest of Asheville, Franklin is called the “Gem Capital of the World.”
Winter Activities: Most gem mining locations will close for the winter, as temperatures can dip below freezing in the western mountains of North Carolina. Most outdoor activities will depend on the weather here. But antiquing is also quite popular in Franklin. You’ll find one of North Carolina’s largest Antique Malls filled with quaint shops.
Franklin is also home to three museums, each focusing on a different facet of the past. And if you enjoy the arts, the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts always hosts events, ballets, musical performances, and more.
#8. Anderson, S.C.
About Anderson: Located right off Interstate 85 is the small Southern town of Anderson, S.C. Known for its supreme fishing at Lake Hartwell, Anderson welcomes anglers from all over the country during the Bassmaster Classic fishing tournament. It offers all of the conveniences of a larger city in a small town. You’ll find retail box stores but also local small businesses.
Winter Activities: Visit Anderson Axe Throwing, where you can be a spectator or participant in an ax-throwing competition. Visit the Palmetto Distillery and taste local whiskeys or take a drive to Sadlers Creek State Park for a picnic and an afternoon hike.
Split Creek Farm is a fun destination for kids where they can see goats up close. You can also purchase goat cheeses and goat milk fudge here. Whether you’re traveling alone, with a spouse, or with your family, you’ll find plenty of entertainment in Anderson, S.C.
#9. Asheville, N.C.
About Asheville: One of the largest towns on this list is Asheville, N.C. Focused on supporting local small businesses and sustainable living, Asheville is a unique mountain destination. Also known for its arts and contemporary culture, you’ll find street musicians and artists downtown even in the winter months.
Winter Activities: When you visit Asheville, plan on eating out often. Many of the local restaurants support local farms, and each one has its own niche. Visit the numerous microbreweries in the area like New Belgium Brewing Company, Highland Brewing Company, or Catawba Brewing.
You can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing at the Cataloochee Ski Area in nearby Maggie Valley. You can also try snowshoeing and ice climbing in the Asheville area during the winter season.
Traveler’s Tip: If you enjoy peculiar or offbeat destinations during your travels, you need to know about these 9 weird and unusual stops in North Carolina.
#10. Staunton, Va.
About Staunton: The northernmost small town on this list is Staunton, Va., located in the Shenandoah Valley. A charming small Southern town with a vibrant arts scene, Staunton boasts a unique Main Street. You’ll find vintage and contemporary shops, farms, wineries, and breweries. But Staunton is also more than 300 years old and celebrates this history with museums and Civil War sites.
Winter Activities: The winter here will be cold, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an abundance of activities. Check out the Frontier Culture Museum, an outdoor living history museum. Or visit the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Museum, seven galleries exploring his life and legacy.
Visit the wide selection of art galleries, specialty shops, and boutiques on Main Street. Located about 20 miles outside of Staunton is Grand Caverns Regional Park, where you can visit the oldest continually operating show cave in the country.
Which Small Town Will You Visit This Winter?
How do you choose which small town to visit? All 11 are great destinations for this winter. Perhaps you’re a foodie and want to check out Asheville, N.C. Or perhaps you have German heritage and want to explore Helen, Ga., or Fredericksburg, Texas.
Or maybe you’re fascinated with the Native American legends of the healing springs and want to plan a visit to Eureka Springs, Ark. No matter which small town you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
So which Southern town is on your itinerary?