The post below was originally published on This Life in Trips by Shaun Robertson.
When thinking of cities in the Southern states, New Orleans, Charleston, and Savannah come to mind — and with good reason. These cities offer some of the best culture, cuisine, music, and laid-back living that famously comes with this region. Of course, because of this, these popular tourist locations can be expensive to visit and crowded in the peak seasons. With that in mind, check out these great Southern city alternatives and the hotels to stay in for those looking for an affordable and less crowded stay.
Gatlinburg is a unique tourist destination, to say the least. Located on the doorstep of the Smokey Mountains, this eastern Tennessee town is a great jumping off point for exploring the great outdoors. That said, it’s also a great spot for family fun. With amusement rides, the Space Needle, and great restaurant choices, Gatlinburg has plenty to see and do within its city limits. Although not as popular as Nashville or Memphis, Gatlinburg receives its share of visitors. For thinner crowds, visit in the winter season or during the week in the summer. Either way, for a great mix of the outdoors and city fun, book your hotel in Gatlinburg in advance for the best savings. Furthermore, Reagan Resorts Inn is a nice option for budget travelers.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach may seem out of place on this list, but it can be enjoyed on the cheap year-round. Due to its famous beaches, great seafood, and spectacular golf courses, Myrtle Beach draws in over 14 million visitors per year — the majority of which are guests from the North seeking refuge during the cold winter months. Still, with popularity comes plenty of affordable hotels in Myrtle Beach no matter the season, like the Plantation Resort. With festivals year-round and plenty of free activities, Myrtle Beach truly is a budget-friendly destination in the South with much to see and do.
Due to its size, Texas is less crowded than other states in the South. Still, Midland, Texas, can provide an authentic Texas experience without the crowds of Dallas, San Antonio, or Houston at a fraction of the cost. Enjoy horseback riding in the sun or stay cool inside one of the city’s great museums. Aviation enthusiasts will enjoy the American Airpower Heritage Museum, and those interested in how the area came to be will enjoy the Museum of the Southwest. Hotels in Midland range from high-end chains such as the Hilton Garden Inn and Four Points by Sheraton, to budget brands like the Comfort Inn and Super 8. Regardless of the star rating, hotels in the city, like TownePlace Suites Midland, can be found at a lower rate than those in Texas’s major hubs.
Richmond, Virginia, offers similar history, character, and charm that’s found in Charleston and Savannah but with the added bonus of a lively downtown core and nearby outdoor activities without the crowds. Civil War history can be found throughout the area, and there are plenty of great restaurants, shops, and bars in town to keep you busy. The nearby James River offers guests the chance for some whitewater rafting, and there are plenty of parks in the area — perfect for hiking and leisurely strolls. Hotels in Richmond are affordable and range from modest to luxury, giving the option to enjoy the outdoors or relax in the city. One such budget-friendly hotel is Courtyard by Marriott Richmond Airport.
Last on this list is the charming town of Fredericksburg, Texas. Located an hour’s drive away from San Antonio and an hour and a half away from Austin, Fredericksburg is a great spot to explore Texas from. In town, you will find an interesting mix of Texan and German traditions. With its German roots, Fredericksburg has many great events and festivals such as Oktoberfest and Schuetzenfests (marksmanship tournaments), with a Texas-sized twist. Due to its obscure path location, hotels in Fredericksburg, like the Econo Lodge Fredericksburg, can be found at a great value compared to those in bigger cities. So break out your cowhide chaps and lederhosen and visit this interesting Texas town.