Last summer my family vacationed in Bryson City, North Carolina, a little town nestled quietly in the mountains of NC. We rented a cozy little cabin located off a mountain road and surrounded by trees, and explored the town for a week. It was a very peaceful vacation, with cool nights and mornings, and beautiful warm days. The town itself won my heart. There was not a lot to do—its biggest attraction is the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, which is a beautiful open-air ride through nature with views of the Nantahala River —and the only recognizable stores we came across other than the grocery store, were a Family Dollar and a Burger King. That was my favorite thing about Bryson City. It had its own personality, with the essentials: library, post office, laundro-mat, but it also had jewels specific to the town. It had its own unique coffee house and wine bar called The Cork and Bean and along the city sidewalks there was an antique store, a used book store, and a train museum. The buildings were old and still had remnants of the city’s past. Though it did not take long to stroll through downtown, its charm was something I held on to, and what makes me want to visit the city again. If you are looking for a getaway, maybe a stay in a small town is the perfect destination. The South is full of them, so take your pick, and enjoy the allure of a small town. Here are a few to get you started.
Leiper’s Fork is just one of the many villages and small towns located in Williamson County, TN. This little village is just down the road from Franklin, TN, and not far from Nashville. It is a village that holds a lot of history. Guests enjoy a town peppered with examples of 19th century architecture, once a characteristic of all towns in Williamson County. The people are friendly, willing to enlighten visitors with tales of daily life. The restaurants are one of a kind, too. Specialties like country-style fried catfish and frog legs appear on menus every Friday at Nett’s Country Store. Enjoy a delicious breakfast at the longest-serving rural restaurant, Country Boy Restaurant. These are treats that you will only find here in Leiper’s Fork, where they would love for you to be a part of their story. It is a town sure to leave you charmed.
Perhaps staying in a town known as the “birthplace and deathbed of the confederacy” will pique your interest. Another quaint town full of history and a beautiful Victorian setting is Abbeville, South Carolina. One of its best attractions is the beautifully restored Opera House. It is no stranger to sell-out shows, and is the perfect way to end a day of shopping after a nice dinner at a local restaurant. For nature lovers, Abbeville has numerous state parks to explore and three lakes near the Savannah River Basin to float around on. To really make a connection with the town, take a tour, and sink your teeth into its Civil War history, and all its beautiful architecture.
While the world knows this small town as Berkley Springs, West Virginia, its official name is Bath. A fountainhead of warm mineral waters, this city is home to the country’s first spa. Visitors sought out these waters (similarly to the Fountain of Youth) for health and to relieve the stresses of everyday life. It is also the nation’s smallest state park, and visitors can lead self-guided tours through the park and the historic town of Berkley Springs itself. There is even a county-wide driving tour that highlights George Washington-related sites. George Washington and some of his men were the ones to dub the town “Bath”, when they discovered the hot springs in 1776. After exploring the state park, walking the Washington Heritage Trail, or wading in the warm waters of the spring, a night on the town at a local restaurant or café is the perfect ending to a day in Berkley Springs.