Because Sam and I travel while balancing full-time work, we can’t always hop on the plane and backpack through Southeast Asia or Europe for weeks on end. Well, we could. But then we probably wouldn’t have a job waiting for us when we returned or any way to actually pay our bills. So when we find ourselves low on vacation days or funds (or both), we shift our focus to weekend trips.
While most of the items on our travel bucket list (and our travel Pinterest boards) involve exotic, far-flung destinations I can hardly pronounce, we have discovered that there are a lot of super cool destinations within a 2 to 6-hour drive from our home in Atlanta, GA.
Here is our list of the best weekend destinations in the Southeastern USA:
1. Savannah, GA
One of our favorite weekend destinations in the Southeast is Savannah, GA, which is situated near the Georgia coast and is dripping with Southern charm.
We love Savannah because it is full of amazing places to eat, beautiful architecture, and cute shops.
To truly experience Savannah, we recommend staying at a B&B in the historic district and exploring the city on foot. Be sure to hit the Riverfront and Forsyth Park. To learn more about Savannah’s history, sign up for a free walking tour (just be sure to take some cash so you can tip your guide).
2. Greenville, SC
Though small, Greenville is quickly gaining popularity as a hot-spot destination. It’s shopping and restaurant scene is strong, and its downtown is one of the nicest in the South.
We recommend taking a stroll through Falls Park, then eating a delicious lunch on the patio of Mary’s Cottage.
Even though it’s technically just outside Greenville, we also highly recommend having breakfast or dessert at Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse. Last time we were there we saw Harry Connick Jr. And if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us (Also, the food is amazing).
3. Chattanooga, TN
Chattanooga really has it all. The city has a cool, urban art scene and it is situated near the mountains.
We recommend checking out the free sculpture garden, then getting your caffeine fix at Revelator Coffee Company. If you’re feeling more energetic, hike Lookout Mountain. On a clear day, you can see seven states from the top. Reward yourself with delicious ice cream from Clumpies.
4. Asheville, NC
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has an off-beat, hippie vibe that is unlike anywhere else Sam and I have visited. The downtown area has loads of eclectic shops to browse.
Though tickets are pricy, we recommend spending a half-day exploring the nearby Biltmore Estate and its well-manicured grounds. Built by ultra-wealthy George W. Vanderbilt in the late 1800s, Biltmore Estate is basically the closest you can come to visiting Downton Abbey in the United States.
5. Jekyll Island, GA
Located off the Georgia coast, Jekyll Island is a lovely beach destination with lots of history. It is also much less crowded than some of the nearby beaches, and it doesn’t have an overblown “tourist” feel to it.
The highlight of any Jekyll Island trip is visiting Driftwood Beach, which is home to an eerie tree graveyard.
Further Reading: A Weekend on Jekyll Island, Georgia (on the cheap)
6. Nashville, TN
Home to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Music Row, and the Grand Ole Opry, country music fans will never run out of things to do in Nashville.
Even if you’d rather undergo a colonoscopy than listen to country music, the great food is reason enough to visit Music City. We highly recommend eating breakfast at the Pancake Pantry. Just be prepared for a wait, since the line is often out the door. To walk off the calories, take a stroll through Centennial Park.
7. Charleston, SC
Perhaps no destination better encapsulates the South than historic Charleston, SC.
Be sure to check out the Charleston City Market, which houses vendors selling a huge array of goods. While some of the stuff is tourist junk, you can also find some hidden gems. Next, take a walk along The Battery and admire the line of gorgeous Southern mansions overlooking Charleston harbor. If you’re feeling romantic, take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city.
What is your favorite weekend destination?
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