The Southeastern United States is among the country’s fastest-growing regions. With the advent of air conditioning, the Southeast is hospitable year-round; more importantly, it boasts some of the nation’s rawest and most compelling historical sites, whether pure relics of history, such as Fort Sumter, or lovingly preserved colonial cities, such as Savannah and Charleston.
The Southeast is also a place of sublime natural beauty, from the towering mountains running along the North Carolina-Tennessee border to the bucolic “Lowcountry” of Georgia and South Carolina.
Best of all, the Southeast’s growing population, modern services and ever-improving transportation network mean that its bevy of tourist-friendly assets is more accessible than ever. If your family is considering a weekend getaway in the “lower right” of the United States, these four should be near the top of the list.
- Asheville and Environs
Asheville is an unexpectedly cosmopolitan refuge in the otherwise sparsely populated mountains of western North Carolina. Located in a high valley near the Great Smoky Mountains, this is a great place to escape summer’s heat and broaden your cultural horizons in the process. Can’t-miss sights in the Asheville area include the Biltmore Estate, which bills itself as the country’s largest private home; the quaint town of Black Mountain; and the myriad country- and indie-music venues within the city limits. The local art and cuisine aren’t half bad for a town of Asheville’s size, either.
- Historic Savannah
Savannah is an historic gem in the heart of Georgia’s Lowcountry, an extended region of swamp and forest that at one time served as the country’s cotton- and rice-growing heartland. Savannah itself features block after block of well-preserved and -restored 18th and 19th century structures, including an extended strip along Broughton Street. Pay special attention to the pocket squares at many intersections; there are several dozen flowery, and live oak-shaded within the city limits. Historic churches and museums abound here, too.
- Charleston and the Sea Islands
Charleston is like Savannah’s older, bigger brother: Both are clearly cut from the same cloth, but Charleston has even more experience and adventure to offer. Charleston’s downtown is probably the most intact colonial historic district in the country, exceeding Savannah, Boston and Philadelphia in scope. What’s more, Fort Sumter lies just offshore, and the Sea Islands boast incomparable culture in a picturesque coastal setting.
- Atlanta City Weekend
Atlanta is the undisputed cultural and economic capital of the Southeastern U.S. What better place to spend a weekend in the city?
Atlanta has it all: incomparable shopping opportunities (particularly in trendy Buckhead), excellent fine dining options (in Buckhead, again, and Midtown as well), and top-tier educational institutions (the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Morehouse University, to name but a few). Depending on the season, catching a pro sports game may be in the cards, with baseball (the Braves), football (the Falcons), hockey (the Thrashers) and basketball (the Hawks) all represented here. And if you enjoy urban outdoor oases, Piedmont Park is truly not to be missed.