From the Mississippi River to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia, the Florida Keys to the Kentucky Derby, the Southeast United States is full of culture, friendly people, history, good food, and beautiful nature. Although I suggest trying to travel to as much of the Southeast United States as possible, there are seven destinations that stand out among the rest.
So, here are the top 7 destinations to visit in the Southeast United States – start planning your trip today!
#1: Nashville, Tennessee
Our first destination takes us to the heart of country music, Nashville, Tennessee. You do not have to love country music to fall in love with Nashville. The city is full of exciting events, things to do, and the perfect place to experience the culture of the Southeast United States.
Things to do: eat the famous hot chicken, visit the many bars on Broadway Street, tour the Grand Ole Opry, go to a concert at the Ryman Auditorium, explore the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, visit the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Gardens.
If you are spending an extended period of time in Tennessee, I also recommend these destinations: Memphis and Pigeon Forge.
#2: Orlando, Florida
With so much history and culture throughout the state, it is hard to pick just one place in Florida to recommend, but Orlando has it all. Laden with theme parks, there is never a lack of things to do in Orlando. Experience internationally famous theme parks and the Florida sun in Orlando.
Things to do: Walt Disney World, Seaworld, Universal Studios, explore downtown Orlando.
If you are spending an extended period of time in Florida, I also recommend these destinations: Miami, St. Augustine, and the Keys.
#3: Birmingham, Alabama
Many people skip over Alabama, thinking it does not have much to offer except football, but that is not true. Birmingham, Alabama is a must-visit destination.
Discover the history of the civil rights movement in person, explore an abandoned iron furnace and largest steel statue in the US, eat the best BBQ and fried chicken in your life, and catch a movie at the timeless Alabama Theatre.
Things to do: Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, Vulcan Park and Museum, Pizitz Food Hall, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.
If you are spending an extended period of time in Alabama, I also recommend these destinations: Montgomery, Huntsville, Gulf Shores.
#4: Charleston, South Carolina
The quintessential southern town full of charm in Charleston, South Carolina and no trip to the Southeast United States would be complete without slowing down in a small town. So, kick your feet up with a glass of sweet tea and plan your trip to Charleston.
Things to do: explore the historic district, find the Instagramable “rainbow row”, Fort Sumter National Monument, Middleton Place.
If you are spending an extended period of time in South Carolina, I also recommend these destinations: Myrtle Beach, Greenville, Columbia.
#5: New Orleans, Louisiana
The home of Mardi Gras and Cajun food, New Orleans will take you to another world. If you want to truly experience the culture, try to plan your trip around Mardi Gras (in February), but be prepared for endless parties, parades, and beads.
Things to do: eat beignets at Café Du Monde, visit the bars on Bourbon Street, The National WWII Museum, explore the French Quarter, visit Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, Mardi Gras, chow down on some Cajun gumbo.
If you are spending an extended period of time in Louisiana, I also recommend these destinations: Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Shreveport.
#6: Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia is a popular destination and more young adults are moving here to call it home. Most likely if you are flying to the Southeast United States, you will end up in the Atlanta airport, making it a great place to explore, even if it is not your final destination.
Things to do: Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta Botanical Garden, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, World of Coca-Cola, College Football Hall of Fame, Ponce City Market.
If you are spending an extended period of time in Georgia, I also recommend these destinations: Savannah, Golden Isles, Athens, Blue Ridge.
#7: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
You can hike anywhere in the world, but nothing compares to watching a sunset on the top of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located in both North Carolina and Tennessee, take your pick of where to explore this park, but one of the best places in Cade’s Cove.
Things to do: go hiking on the trails, visit one of the many waterfalls, camp in the park, have a picnic in one of the picnicking areas.
Other National Parks in the Southeast United States include Biscayne, Dry Tortugas, Congaree, Everglades, Hot Springs, Mammoth Cave.
As you can see, there are so many amazing destinations to visit in the Southeast United States. Discover the heart of the south as you eat, explore, and adventure through these seven destinations. Which of these seven would you head to first?
For more information about travel in the United States, read this article about the top 10 places to enjoy for Valentine’s Day!
Laurel McDaniel grew up in Alabama and now resides in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband and tiny pup, Maple. Laurel is the owner of Rose Colored Wandering, a travel and lifestyle blog focused on travel in the Southeast United States. Laurel takes her knowledge of the southeast to produce travel guides, restaurant and hotel reviews, and more on her blog.
When she is not planning for her next adventure, she is teaching math at the local high school, reading the next best novel, or doing yoga. You can follow along on her adventures on her blog, Instagram, and Pinterest.