The Top Places to Visit in the Southeast U.S.

Trip Ideas for Every Season and Vacation Reason

The Southeast United States is filled with fun for travelers. It has miles of warm sunny beaches in the summer, blooming gardens in the spring, colorful fall foliage, skiing in the winter, and much more. It really is a great region for year-round travel and there's something for everyone to enjoy.

With so many wonderful places to see and fun things to do, the choices are almost endless. Let's explore some of the top attractions and destinations to help you plan a great day trip, weekend getaway, or vacation.

  • 01 of 10
    The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, WV
    ••• David Wilson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Love is in the air year-round in the Southeast and you'll find plenty of places to escape for your romantic getaway. In the mountains, you'll find impressive resorts and inns like Blackberry Farm in Tennessee and the famous and historic Greenbrier in West Virginia.

    You might also enjoy the wine trails of Virginia or fancy one of the many culinary adventures available in the region. There's also a surprising number of chocolate festivals in the first few months of the year that are sure to be entertaining and delicious. 

  • 02 of 10
    Colonial era horse drawn carriage
    ••• image by WMay / Getty Images

    Turn your family vacation into a memorable time that everyone will enjoy. The Southeast is filled with adventures and opportunities that are both fun and educational.

    Take the kids on a tour through history in Alexandria or at America's Historic Triangle of Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. Visit the Outer Banks of North Carolina and see "The Lost Colony" reenactment about Roanoke among other things.

    National parks and outdoor experiences are also plentiful in every state. These are sure to get everyone's attention with their amazing views and great activities.

  • 03 of 10
    Grandfather Mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway
    ••• Smart Destinations/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    There's no need to spend a lot of money when traveling the Southeast. You'll find many fun and free (or nearly free) things to keep you busy.

    A lazy day on the beach is always a good choice or you can take in the vistas of a national park like the Great Smoky Mountains. A hike along the Appalachian Trail or a drive over the Blue Ridge Parkway ​are great as well.

    Pair those adventures with some camping or a budget hotel and you're good to go.

  • 04 of 10
    Cherry Blossom with Washington Monument
    ••• Flickr Vision / Getty Images

    Spring comes to the South early and if you have spring fever, you'll find loads of cures down here. Whether it's Easter in Richmond or March in Charleston, you'll see beautiful gardens in bloom throughout the region and many events to go along with them. 

    Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia has a great variety of activities throughout the season. Historic Alexandria and Mount Vernon in Virginia are not far from the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C., so that area can keep you busy for a few days. 

    Plus, there's always the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky, which thrills thousands of visitors the first weekend of May.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Fall at Cumberland Falls Kentucky
    ••• Fall at Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. Danita Delimont/Getty Images

    Spring is not the only colorful season in the Southeast and autumn is prime time for leaf peeping. Head to the mountains for spectacular displays of fall color or hit the beach for some off-season fun without the crowds.

    You'll also find many seasonal activities like apple picking, scary haunts, and quite a few Oktoberfest celebrations. Bird watchers will definitely want to hit the North Carolina Birding Trail, which boasts over 460 different species. 

  • 06 of 10
    Winter Scene in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
    ••• Bill Swindaman / Getty Images

    With all the mountains that fill the Southeastern U.S., this is sure to be a place where you'll want to catch some winter fun.

    The Blue Ridge Mountains offer great opportunities for skiers and snowboarders, as does The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia and the famous Shenandoah Valley of Virginia are also hot spots for those looking forward to a few days on the slopes.

  • 07 of 10
    Cooking Classes Offered at Zero George Street
    ••• Zero George Street

    Are you ready for some good, old-fashioned Southern cuisine? Whether it's enjoying regional favorites or exploring the culinary pursuits of today's hottest chefs, you will not go hungry in the Southeast.

    Beyond the impressive restaurants, true foodies will also enjoy getting a hands-on experience by adding a cooking class to your itinerary. These let you bring the adventure home with you and you'll find a fair share of whiskey and wine tastings to top it all off.

  • 08 of 10
    Outlets of Mississippi
    ••• Outlets of Mississippi

    Maybe you want to toss a shopping spree into your plans. If so, you'll find an abundance of opportunities throughout the region.

    The Southeast boasts over 30 outlet malls filled with hundreds of stores each. Whether you need to pass a rainy day or just want to pick up some great bargains, there's bound to be one near your destination. 

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    Chateau Elan Resort, Braselton GA.
    ••• Bill Showalter/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Vacation is all about relaxing and one of the best ways to do that is to spend a day at the spa. No matter where you're at, there's probably a little luxury nearby.

    From the mountains to the coast and the farmlands of Virginia to the gardens of Georgia, you'll find spas in every area. Plan on stopping by one and enjoy the pampered life for a day or two.

  • 10 of 10
    KY State Fair, 2012
    ••• Jason Meredith/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Who doesn't love a good fair? The Southeast is filled with state and county fairs that run from summer through late fall. Add one of these to your itinerary and get the real Southern experience.

    Not only are fairs filled with carnival rides and entertainment, they're also a glimpse into local culture and tradition. From animals, giant vegetables, and other agriculture exhibits to history and competitions, fairs are a great way to immerse yourself in the place you're visiting.

    As a bonus, there's no shortage of tasty food, so be sure to show up hungry.