Image via Flickr by RobBixbyPhotography

When thinking of a Southern vacation, cities like New Orleans, Orlando, and Atlanta typically come to mind. However, the South is sprinkled with beautiful and entertaining cities that don’t have the crowds, the expensive hotels, and the traffic. Instead of following the masses, check out one of these five Southern cities instead. 

Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville has a lot to offer its guests. There are beaches, golf courses, shopping, and a cute riverwalk area. Jacksonville airport is very accessible, and the city is also perfect for a road trip with access to two major highways traveling north, south, east, or west. Whether you want to stay at the beach or downtown, you will find plenty to do for the whole family in Jacksonville.

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is a beautiful and enchanting Southern city with plenty of sightseeing and restaurants. Savannah offers the perfect balance of “history” and “contemporary” for its guests. Check out Savannah’s historic district, which you can experience either by the streetcar tours or by walking. If you would like to enjoy a cold adult drink on a hot day, it’s legal to have yours on the street in the historic district. If you want to experience a party, head to Savannah for St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy the legendary parade and experience.

Alpharetta, Georgia

If you want to visit delicious restaurants, see a concert, shop, and experience cool attractions, Alpharetta is your city. The city has five different shopping districts and over 200 restaurants for visitors to enjoy. Book a hotel close to downtown to put you in the center of all the action. The Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park has created a significant music scene in Alpharetta along with many other concert halls where local and touring artists perform.

Pensacola Beach, Florida

Many people head to Destin or Panama City if they want a beach vacation in the Florida panhandle, but Pensacola Beach offers all of the amenities without as many crowds or the high costs. This gulf coast beach offers white sands and emerald waters. Lay out and enjoy the beach, try parasailing or jet skiing, or sit on your balcony and watch for dolphins. Head to one of the local restaurants to enjoy a Bushwacker (the local drink) or some fresh seafood.

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina, is a popular East Coast town with traditional Southern charm. If you want to explore the downtown area, consider starting with a carriage ride. Experience all the historical significance of this city by visiting the Old Slave Mart Museum, Fort Sumter, or USS Yorktown at Patriots Point. Charleston is also a foodie’s dream with award-winning restaurants to enjoy. You can also visit one of the many boutiques, shops, and art galleries Charleston has to offer.

The smaller cities in the South are fun to visit, and usually, it’s at a much more affordable price. You can find some of the best restaurants and attractions while enjoying true Southern hospitality by going off the beaten path and planning a vacation somewhere a little different — instead of the typical touristy destinations.