4 Places To Go In The Southern States For Magical Winter Memories

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This is more than a Christmas in the South events list, these are 4 magical places to go in the Southern states that have incredible experiences to enjoy all winter long.  Not only that, they are some of the absolute best places to visit in the Southern USA for a winter family vacation, in my humble opinion.  Not lacking for winter wonderland status, you’ll fall in love with these glorious family destinations for your next winter vacay! Fortunately, I was blessed to travel in the South to some of these spots throughout my childhood and have been able to take my own family as well.

view of 4 places to go in the southern states for a winter vacation


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One thing is for certain… my family sure knew how to travel and have fun during my childhood.  My maternal Grandfather loved nothing more than to load up all ten of our immediate family members and haul us to fabulous places around the Southeastern U.S.  I blame him for my insatiable appetite for travel and my longing to become the travel journalist in the glorious South that I am now!

Travel during the holidays can be absolutely magical for sure, and contrary to popular belief, it is possible to have a fantastic family vacation during the time frame from December 26th until springtime.  Some of our best vacations have been in the winter – even at the beach!

view of st simons lighthouse for places to go in the southern states
Winter vacation on St. Simons Island, Georgia


  • Which states are truly Southern?

This was a popular question, so I’ll answer it.  In my humble opinion, the true Southern states are those who geographically appear in the lower section of the U.S. AND still participate willingly in unique Southern culture when it comes to food, vocabulary, conservative-ism, style, hospitality, and manners.  Ideally, when I think of the South, I think fondly of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, and the Carolinas.

Some parts of Georgia (Atlanta) and the entire state of Florida are not considered southern by some.  I can attest to the fact that a lot of people that settle in Atlanta, Georgia come from all over the world and are NOT a part of our Southern culture, but many folks that do live in Atlanta are still southern.  The North Georgia mountains, all the way to the bottom of Georgia in the Okefenokee Swamp area, you won’t meet more hospitable and kind people – a trait of southern-ism.

The same holds true for many fine folks of Florida that we’ve met on our travels.  We have met some of the most talkative and helpful folks in our Florida travels who say “Y’all,” just like we do.

  • If THTG considers 10 states to be southern, why do you only write about a few of them?

I wish I could write about all of the Southern states but I honestly only write about the ones that we are closest to most often so we can give you amazing insider information. I hope to add more and more states as I am able to have more travel time!


These spots are breathtaking places to take the family that are unlike other travel destinations they’ve seen before.  Enjoy!


One of our absolute favorite places in the South, Charleston, South Carolina never disappoints no matter what time of year we visit.  Another thing I can guarantee is that throughout the winter season, there are more charming experiences than you could possibly attend.  Most of the magical Christmas in Charleston events last until January 1st just in case you can’t get there until after Santa’s visit.  The 29th Annual Holiday Festival of Lights on James Island (one of Charleston’s five islands), and the College of Charleston Holiday Light Show Spectacular are two that last until then.

Charleston gate pictures and one of the best places to go in the southern states
Just one of the many Christmas iron gates that dot the gorgeous city of Charleston at the holidays

January and February in Charleston don’t slow down by any means either.  Be sure to visit the Charleston Restaurant Week, Charleston Jazz Festival, Lowcountry Oyster Festival, and the Southeastern Wildlife exposition just to name a few.


December in Dahlonega Georgia is jam-packed with family activities to thrill the whole family – right in the heart of this historic gold mine town.  Similar to a cozy Hallmark town [oh yeah, Hallmark already DID film a movie here], you’ll feel right at home in this friendly, mountain community.

From November 23rd through December 23rd, the already gorgeous downtown area turns into an old fashioned, magical experience with caroling, Christmas tree lighting, gingerbread house contests, a Christmas Market, and more.

view of Dahlonega Gold Museum at Christmas as one of the best places to go in the southern states
Dahlonega, Georgia Gold Museum all decked out for Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration in Historic Downtown, muffinn, cc

watch Christmas in Homestead movie trailer (filmed in Dahlonega)


It’s most likely that you’ve heard of the tours of the Biltmore Estate (largest private estate in the U.S.) located in Ashville, North Carolina. because it is one of the more well known places to go in the Southern states. Not only can you feel the wonder of Christmas (up until January 6th) with its elegant decorations, live music, lights galore, and Candlelight Christmas Evenings, there’s lots of memorable events all winter.

The Biltmore room at Christmas as one of the best places to go in the southern states
Just one view of The Biltmore decorated in all its Christmas glory from one of the top floors down the spiral staircase, Caymon, cc

Close your eyes and imagine a winter getaway weekend where you can actually stay onsite at the Biltmore Estate.  Crowds and prices are lowest to visit from January 7th until March.  If you want an exceptional activity, attend the Vanderbilt House Party  and see what the Gilded Age’s was like with vivid audio storytelling and displays of clothing to pretend that you are a guest to Biltmore in the 1900s.



Although the theme park called Opryland USA closed in 199, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel is an experience like no other at Christmastime and one of the most magical places to go in the Southern states.  The atrium (pictured below) delivers an extraordinary view of larger-than-life decorations, lights, and waterfalls.

view of Opryland Tennessee as one of best places to go in the southern states
The Grand Opryland Hotel at Christmastime! denise mattox, cc

Of course, no Nashville, Tennessee family vacation would be complete without riding through the famous Music Valley Drive and catching a Show or tour at the Grand Ole Opry.

Whether you choose to spend your winter wonderland family vacation in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, or North Carolina, I hope these details about these magical winter destinations in the South were helpful to you!


For all your travels to places to go in the Southern states and beyond, this handy dandy little travel adapter is a lifesaver for those of us that need want to make sure our devices are charged no matter where we travel!  What I love is that this universal plug has three USB ports and a surge protector too.  Love it!



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Which one of the places to go in the Southern states would you like to visit first?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, and more, Shan is a Family Travel Journalist with a passion for helping women lose the overwhelm of planning family-friendly trips in the south. She shares travel reviews & insider secrets that Women REALLY want to know about Georgia, Florida, & the Carolinas vacations.

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️


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