The 17 Prettiest and Most Photogenic Places in the South
We don’t think it gets much better than moss-shrouded oaks, deep-fried hospitality or the feeling of a warm breeze on a hot summer night. Well, maybe a little better with a great view and a glass of bourbon. Here, 17 of the most beautiful places in the South.
Everyone’s going, and here’s why: Nestled in the heart of Hill Country, this tiny town has delicious farm-to-table cuisine, a burgeoning wine scene with vineyards galore and the cutest stores and quaint country shops on Main Street. Oh, and don’t even get us started on the wildflowers.
From the Mystic Caverns of the Ozarks to Hawksbill Crag of Buffalo River National Park (aka the most photographed place in the state), Harrison is the outdoorswoman’s (OK, and Instagram lover’s) paradise.
The numerous stately plantation homes of this unincorporated community on the Louisiana bayou will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time (or just to the set of True Detective, season one). Oak Alley is one of the largest and most well known, with its 300-year-old canopy oaks leading to its white-columned and wraparound-porched exterior.
New Orleans, LA
Dear Nola: How could we possibly leave you off our list? Jackson Square, the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, a beignet and café au lait from Café du Monde: You have enough camera fodder to last a lifetime.
This tiny town on one of South Carolina’s sea islands is an idyllic antebellum city with its centuries-old oak trees, Civil War-era mansions and marshlands winding into the Beaufort River. It’s also the second oldest city in the state—it’s aged well.
Not to be outdone, the bustling town of Savannah is the oldest in Georgia (founded in 1733) and dubbed “America’s first planned city.” It’s organized into grids with 22 brick-covered public squares (one of which is the famous Chippewa Square where Forrest Gump offers chocolates to strangers). But our favorite backdrop? The lush ivy-covered Colonial- and Federal-style homes.
Key West, FL
If you haven’t visited the chain of islands off the tip of Florida, you’re missing out on colorful pastel-painted beach homes, swaying palms and the rowdy bars of Duval Street. So grab a piña colada because, like Key West-favorite Jimmy Buffett said, it’s five o’clock somewhere.
The most photogenic street in the U.S. (and in our not-so-humble opinion, the world), Rainbow Row with its candy-colored houses, Battery Park and Charleston Harbor make us want to list our current digs and move in right this second.
Known as the cultural mecca of the South, this Mississippi town has been home to Ole Miss since 1848. Along with the university’s white-columned Georgian and Greek Revival buildings anchoring the campus, the spectacular tulip-filled town square and Saint Peter’s Cemetery are basically the definition of picturesque.
Dauphin Island, AL
Visit Alabama’s sunset capital on the Gulf Coast and you won’t regret it (unless you forget the sunscreen, of course). Pristine white-sand beaches surround this 14-mile-long island off the coast of Mobile. And when you're sick and tired of floating in the bathwater-warm waves of the Gulf, you'll be able to take in the abundance of wildlife, since the entire island is considered a bird sanctuary. (Binoculars: packed.)
Whether it’s the live music and nightlife on Broadway, the views of the Cumberland River or the historic Grand Ole Opry and Belmont Mansion, Music City has its fair share of photo ops. (We hear the hot chicken, gravy-smothered biscuits and local whiskey also deserve an Insta snap, too.)
Just 40 miles outside Jackson, Vicksburg’s location on the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers means you’ll see some of the prettiest sunsets over water this side of the Mason Dixon. But don’t forget to stop by the National Military Park for a taste (and quick ’Gram) of Civil War-era history.
St. Simons Island, GA
Midway between Jacksonville and Savannah, St. Simons is part of the Golden Isles off Georgia’s southeast coast. Although it’s a bit overrun with college kids during a certain weekend in the fall (cough, Florida-Georgia tailgate), its wide sandy beaches, rolling dunes and numerous PGA-level golf courses are the epitome of serenity the rest of the year.
The picturesque capital of Virginia on the James River, with its numerous microbreweries and whitewater rapids, is also the historic setting of Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. To that we say, “Give us a good Instagram and no one has to get hurt.”
The Bluegrass State’s second-largest city is also the “horse capital of the world,” so head to Keeneland Racecourse and Kentucky Horse Park to catch a glimpse of the Thoroughbreds before sipping on a glass or two of bourbon from a local distillery.
With ten universities and colleges, this academically inclined city has beautiful buildings galore, plus the grand Victorian-style facades of the state capital buildings. But its blossoming foodie scene and sprawling arts district make this one of the fastest-growing (and prettiest) cities in the South.