The Southeastern United States is blessed with mild weather, natural beauty and plenty of historical sights to see. It also has an excellent transportation system and modern, busy airports. These attributes make the Southeast an ideal region for a quick weekend getaway — whether you live in Atlanta or Charlotte, or somewhere a bit farther away.
These five destinations all have broad appeal and are conveniently located near major cities and/or transportation links. If you’re planning a getaway to the “lower right” corner of the United States, all should be high on your list.
Charleston may be the best-preserved Colonial-era city in all of America. (In terms of historic-to-modern-building ratio, its historic core puts Boston’s to shame — and that’s saying something.) Aside from stunningly well-preserved churches and squares, Charleston is home to a thriving and growing community of active retirees who appreciate the area’s mild climate, easy water access and historic charm. Key highlights include Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began.
2. Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is another popular destination for snowbirds and retirees that also happens to be a great place for a weekend getaway. It’s the central hub of the Grand Strand, a 60-mile stretch of nearly uninterrupted, publicly accessible beach — one of America’s longest. Myrtle Beach’s downtown area is hib and vibrant, but quiet spaces abound within a five- or 10-minute drive of the beach. And if you’re a golfer, you’re in luck: More than a dozen top-rated clubs and courses dot the area.
Atlanta is the unofficial capital of the South — its largest and most cosmopolitan city. Once known exclusively as the home of Coca-Cola and Ted Turner, Atlanta has evolved into a truly world-class city that mixes high culture, luxurious lifestyles and genuine glamour with a welcoming, down-home vibe. And thanks to a huge, convenient airport, Atlanta is likely just as easy to get to for many Americans as the nearest big city.
4. Florida’s Northern Gulf Coast
Florida is a big state. By car, Pensacola — the hub of Florida’s northern coast — is farther from Miami than San Francisco is from Portland, Oregon. So it’s no surprise that Florida’s northern coast has more in common with neighboring rural areas of Alabama and Georgia than glitzy South Florida. If you’re looking for a quiet, natural-feeling beach destination, this is your place.
5. New Orleans
Including New Orleans in a list of “Southeastern” destinations is a controversial proposition. Located on the banks of the Mississippi, in southern Louisiana, New Orleans is farther west than Chicago, Milwaukee and Indianapolis. And its local culture is a world apart, more “French Vegas” than Savannah or Charleston.
Still, New Orleans is well worth a weekend getaway — and not only for folks looking to blow off some steam on Bourbon Street. New Orleans’ well-preserved neighborhoods feature a bevy of inspired cafes and restaurants that trade in Cajun specialties like crawfish boils, beignets and catfish. Jackson Square is a marvel of French colonial engineering. And the vibrant street life features some of the country’s best outdoor artists and performers.
What’s your favorite Southeastern weekend getaway?