When it comes to experiencing the vibrant energy and excitement of the South, there’s no better way than immersing yourself in the charm of its cities. Southern cities offer a unique blend of lively food scenes, entertainment options, and captivating downtown areas, all while preserving the traditional Southern values of friendliness and hospitality.

The South is renowned for its rich historical heritage, warm welcomes, and diverse cultural experiences. With numerous enticing destinations to explore, planning a trip to the South can be a daunting task. However, do not worry; this article will walk you through the must-see cities in the area, which are spread out across several southern states. 

By exploring these cities, you’ll truly appreciate what the South represents – it’s more than just barbecue. So, get ready to embark on a memorable journey that will allow you to fully embrace the essence of the South and create lasting memories.

Best Places to Live in the Southern United States

Atlanta, Georgia

  • Population: 490,270
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.30%
  • Hourly Wages: $27.07
  • Average Annual Salary: $71,213
  • Poverty Rate: 18.52%

Despite being one of the largest metro areas on this list, Atlanta, Georgia, often goes overlooked when researching the best places to live in the South. However, this vibrant city has much to offer. It is the capital of Georgia and home to iconic attractions like the World of Coca-Cola, a museum dedicated to the popular soda. If you find yourself in Atlanta, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden, an expansive 30-acre outdoor space with diverse plants.

Atlanta holds a significant place in the history of the civil rights movement, spanning over four decades. Civil rights leaders emerged as visionaries in this city, paving the way for a new South and a new Atlanta. These courageous individuals believed in peace and made tremendous sacrifices to achieve it. Their unwavering dedication and commitment to change shaped the course of history. 

Activities to Explore in Atlanta, Georgia:

  1. Visit the Georgia Aquarium, one of the largest in the world.
  2. Visit the World of Coca-Cola and learn about its history.
  3. Explore the High Museum of Art for some culture.
  4. Shop and dine at Ponce City Market.
  5. Walk along the Atlanta BeltLine for scenic views and public art.

Nashville, Tennessee

  • Population: 692,501
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.90%
  • Hourly Wages: $25.77 
  • Average Annual Salary: $70k
  • Poverty Rate: 14.52%

Nashville, known as the nation’s music capital, is undoubtedly one of the best big cities in the South. Far from a sleepy town, it proudly holds the nation’s music capital title. If you have an ardent passion for music, Nashville undoubtedly ranks among the top cities to visit in the South. The town has iconic music venues such as the Grand Ole Opry House. This Tennessee city has also gained recognition as one of the best places to live in America, thanks to its affordable living and many amenities.

While Nashville’s country music roots are well-celebrated, the city is also home to many remarkable museums that cater to diverse interests. Of course, no visit to Nashville would be complete without indulging in the delightful culinary offerings. The city boasts a list of southern-inspired favorites, including finger-licking fried chicken and mouthwatering BBQ.

Activities to Explore in Nashville, Tennessee:

  1. Stroll along the scenic Cumberland Riverwalk and enjoy the picturesque views.
  2. Visit the Grand Ole Opry for a dose of country music history and live performances.
  3. Tour the Belle Meade Plantation to delve into the city’s antebellum past.
  4. Explore the vibrant honky-tonk scene on Broadway, known for its live music bars and nightlife.
  5. Enjoy the natural beauty of Centennial Park, home to a full-scale replica of the Parthenon.

Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Population: 482,504
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
  • Hourly Wages: $27.68
  • Average Annual Salary: $70,680
  • Poverty Rate: 12.12%

Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina. It’s known for having many excellent universities and smart people’s places. It’s also part of the Research Triangle, Chapel Hill, and Durham. This thriving city offers many attractions, making it a desirable place to live.

With its vibrant downtown area, Raleigh has experienced significant growth and development. The cityscape is dotted with modern buildings and a bustling atmosphere, creating a dynamic urban environment. Additionally, Raleigh boasts ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, allowing residents to enjoy the city’s natural beauty and pleasant weather.

One of the major advantages of living in Raleigh is housing affordability. The city provides various housing options, making it more accessible for individuals and families to find a comfortable place to call home.

Raleigh hosts some of the region’s top employers as part of the Research Triangle, including well-known companies like IBM, Cisco Systems, and Lenovo. This concentration of prestigious employers contributes to the city’s strong job market and economic stability. 

Activities to Explore in Raleigh, North Carolina:

  1. Explore the historic neighborhoods of Raleigh, such as Oakwood and Mordecai
  2. Wander around the lively downtown area with its shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.
  3. Discover local art at galleries like the Artspace and CAM Raleigh.
  4. Explore shopping districts like Cameron Village and North Hills for a mix of boutiques

New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Population: 364,659
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
  • Hourly Wages: $23.49
  • Average Annual Salary: $65,649
  • Poverty Rate: 23.84%

New Orleans, located in Louisiana on the Mississippi River near the Gulf of Mexico, is known as the “Big Easy.” This vibrant city is renowned for its lively nightlife, thriving live music scene, and delectable cuisine that reflects its rich history as a melting pot of French, African, and American cultures. New Orleans is a haven for creatives, and the unique culture that permeates the city makes living here an experience like no other. The locals take great pride in calling this place home.

While the best time to experience the true essence of New Orleans is during Mardi Gras, a festive celebration known worldwide, there’s no need to worry if you can’t make it during that time. The city offers an array of attractions and experiences throughout the year, ensuring there is always something exciting to enjoy.

Activities to Explore in New Orleans, Louisiana:

  1. Walk through the picturesque Garden District, known for its beautiful mansions and oak-lined streets.
  2. Join a haunted tour to learn about the city’s spooky history and tales of paranormal activity.
  3. Relax at Woldenberg Park along the riverfront, enjoying picnics and river views.
  4. Browse the unique shops and boutiques in the city, especially along Magazine Street.
  5. Enjoy an authentic jazz performance at Preservation Hall, a historic venue dedicated to traditional New Orleans jazz.

Charleston, South Carolina

  • Population: 153,040
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.20%
  • Hourly Wages: $22.85
  • Average Annual Salary: $56,915
  • Poverty Rate: 12.5%

Charleston, a port city in South Carolina founded in 1670, is known for its charming cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and picturesque pastel-colored antebellum houses. This South Carolina gem boasts plenty of outstanding restaurants, cozy cafes, and delightful local shops, providing the conveniences of a big city while maintaining a relaxed, small-town atmosphere.

What sets Charleston apart is its coastal location. As one of the best coastal cities in South Carolina, it captivates visitors and residents alike with its proximity to beautiful beaches, rivers, and lakes. The area offers many recreational opportunities, allowing outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy water-based activities.

In its early days, Charleston earned the nickname “the Holy City” due to its reputation for religious tolerance and its skyline with numerous steeples. One of the city’s oldest structures, the iconic St. Michael’s Church, is a testament to its rich history and architectural heritage.

Activities to Explore in Charleston, South Carolina:

  1. Stroll through the city’s historic heart, where you’ll find cobblestone streets.
  2. Explore the area’s rich history by visiting historic plantations such as Middleton Place, Boone Hall, and Magnolia Plantation. 
  3. Relax and take in stunning views of the Charleston Harbor at Waterfront Park. 
  4. Visit the only tea plantation in North America and take a tour to learn about the tea-making process.

Asheville, North Carolina

  • Population: 93,392
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.8%
  • Hourly Wages: $18.26 
  • Average Annual Salary: $51,080
  • Poverty Rate: 12.4%

Asheville, located in North Carolina, is undeniably one of the most renowned destinations in the South. This charming city is in the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains, synonymous with North Carolina’s natural beauty. Beyond its scenic surroundings, Asheville offers excellent employment opportunities in the education and healthcare sectors. Major employers such as the University of North Carolina Asheville, Buncombe County Schools, Mission Health, and Charles George VA Medical Center contribute to the city’s thriving job market.

What truly sets Asheville apart is its warm and welcoming community. The residents of Asheville are known for their friendliness, making it an ideal place for singles, young professionals, families, and retirees to call home. This small Southern city embraces diversity and inclusivity, including the LGBTQ community. Asheville boasts a higher percentage of LGBTQ households than the national average, creating a supportive and accepting environment for all residents.

Activities to Explore in Asheville, North Carolina:

  1. Visit the magnificent Biltmore House, America’s largest privately owned home. 
  2. Drive along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, known for its breathtaking mountain views and hiking trails.
  3. Outdoor enthusiasts will love hiking, camping, and mountain biking in Pisgah National Forest. 
  4. Explore the historic industrial area turned arts district. 
  5. Take a day trip to this nearby national park and enjoy scenic drives, wildlife viewing, and hiking trails.

Savannah, Georgia

  • Population: 339,000
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.8%
  • Hourly Wages: $16.28 
  • Average Annual Salary: $40,960
  • Poverty Rate: 19.82%

Savannah, a picturesque coastal city in Georgia, is situated on the banks of the Savannah River, separating it from South Carolina. Savannah is a timeless beauty known for its immaculate parks, quaint horse-drawn carriages, and breathtaking antebellum architecture. 

In every corner of the city, you’ll discover many delightful cafes, a historic district boasting charming cobblestone streets, and enchanting parks adorned with exquisite fountains. Before bidding farewell to your weekend getaway in the South, indulge in the culinary delights offered at The Olde Pink House, known for serving some of the finest food in the city. Savannah promises a memorable experience that blends history, natural beauty, and delectable cuisine.

Activities to Explore in Savannah, Georgia

  1. Visit the Telfair Museums, which include the Telfair Academy, the Owens-Thomas House, and the Jepson Center for the Arts.
  2. Savannah is known for its haunted history, and you can take a ghost tour to explore the city’s spookier side.
  3. Spend time in Forsyth Park, a 30-acre urban oasis in the city’s heart. 

Greenville, South Carolina

  • Population: 559,000
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.2%
  • Hourly Wages: $22.89 
  • Average Annual Salary: $53,187
  • Poverty Rate: 13.9%

Greenville, a vibrant city in South Carolina, beckons with its numerous attractions and amenities. The Greenville County Museum of Art showcases a remarkable collection of art by Southern artists spanning several centuries, offering a cultural haven for art enthusiasts. This Southeastern gem boasts affordable living, many outdoor amenities, delectable local cuisine, and excellent schools, making it an ideal place to call home.

For food lovers, Greenville is a paradise. The city’s culinary scene thrives, with many remarkable restaurants catering to every palate. The craft beer and farm-to-table restaurant scene add to the city’s gastronomic appeal. Its convenient location between Atlanta and Charlotte makes traveling a breeze, opening up opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Living in Greenville costs less than the average household income, making it an affordable place to live. Even though salaries here might be slightly lower than the national average, the lower living expenses benefit individuals and families, leading to a better quality of life in Greenville.

Activities to Explore in Greenville, South Carolina

  1. Visit the Greenville Zoo to see various animals and learn about wildlife conservation.
  2. Explore the Greenville County Museum of Art, which features a diverse collection of artwork.
  3. Walk or bike along the scenic Swamp Rabbit Trail, a popular local trail.
  4. Enjoy live music and entertainment at the Peace Center, a cultural hub in the city.
  5. Discover the vibrant culinary scene by dining at local restaurants and trying regional cuisine.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

  • Population: 60,841
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
  • Hourly Wages: $7.25 an hour
  • Average Annual Salary: $58,103
  • Poverty Rate: 19.65%

Chapel Hill, a charming town in North Carolina, is known for its vibrant community and diverse attractions. The city is home to the esteemed University of North Carolina, famous for its basketball team and providing a rich academic environment. Visitors can explore the Ackland Art Museum, which showcases an impressive collection of European and Asian art. 

Nature enthusiasts can wander through the North Carolina Botanical Garden, featuring nature trails and themed gardens. A stroll along Franklin Street, adorned with quaint local shops and delightful cafes, reveals why Chapel Hill is regarded as one of the best places to live in the South. 

The town’s welcoming atmosphere and vibrant community make it an inviting home for residents. Additionally, the diverse culinary scene ensures that residents are never left hungry, with a wide range of dining options. With its attractions and activities, boredom is not an option in Chapel Hill.

Activities to Explore in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

  1. Take a guided tour of this Federal-era plantation house and enjoy the scenic grounds. 
  2. Enjoy a walk or bike ride along the Bolin Creek Greenway Trail, which offers beautiful natural scenery.
  3. Basketball fans will appreciate this museum, which showcases the history of UNC’s basketball program.
  4. Stroll through the historic campus and visit the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.

Richmond, Virginia

  • Population: 226,472
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
  • Hourly Wages: $24.50
  • Average Annual Salary: $69,254
  • Poverty Rate: 19.78%

Richmond, the capital of Virginia, stands as one of America’s oldest major cities, steeped in history and charm. This unique city offers many housing options and a harmonious blend of live, work, and play opportunities, making it a coveted place to reside in the Southeast. Whether you’re a young professional, a growing family, or a retiree seeking a vibrant community, Richmond’s delightful neighborhoods provide a welcoming place to call home.

Regarding community well-being, the Richmond metro area has garnered recognition, ranking 36th out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. in the Sharecare Community Well-Being Index. This index surveys individuals nationwide, capturing their sentiments on community pride, sense of security, and overall satisfaction with their living environment.

Activities to Explore in Richmond, Virginia

  1. Enjoy the beauty of lush gardens, themed plant collections, and seasonal exhibits. 
  2. Explore the life and works of the famous poet Edgar Allan Poe, who spent part of his childhood in Richmond.
  3. Shop at Carytown, known for its unique boutiques, vintage shops, and diverse dining options.
  4. Discover a vast collection of art, including works by famous artists like Picasso and Warhol.

Austin, Texas

  • Population: 966,292
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.6%
  • Hourly Wages: $20.80
  • Average Annual Salary: $44,853
  • Poverty Rate: 12.5%

Austin, the capital of Texas, is a vibrant inland city that borders the picturesque Hill Country region. Renowned for being the home of the University of Texas flagship campus, Austin is synonymous with its eclectic live music scene, encompassing genres such as country, blues, and rock. The city’s many parks and lakes make it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering hiking, biking, swimming, and boating opportunities.

In addition to its cultural and natural attractions, Austin has established itself as a prominent tech hub, attracting startups and major corporations seeking to tap into the existing talent pool and entice prospective employees who desire the unique Hill Country lifestyle. Dubbed “Silicon Hills,” Austin ranks among the best cities in the United States for job opportunities.

Activities to Explore in Austin, Texas

  1. Explore Lady Bird Lake by renting a kayak or paddleboard. It’s a relaxing way to enjoy the water and get some exercise.
  2. Hike up Mount Bonnell for panoramic views of the city and the Colorado River.
  3. Explore Austin’s cultural side by visiting museums like the Blanton Museum of Art and the Bullock Texas State History Museum.
  4. Explore the beautiful outdoors by walking, jogging, or biking along the hike and bike trails around Lady Bird Lake.

Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

  • Population: 320,576
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.5%
  • Hourly Wages: $7.25
  • Average Annual Salary: $28,598
  • Poverty Rate: 15.71%

Lexington, Kentucky, is a city that offers the charm of a small town surrounded by picturesque rural areas. The Lexington-Fayette metro area, renowned for its abundance of horse farms, provides residents with a delightful setting. One of the key advantages of living in this area is the relatively low cost of living, with housing expenses accounting for just 22.27% of the median household income.

A prominent attraction in the Lexington-Fayette metro area is the Kentucky Horse Park. This renowned park showcases the International Museum of the Horse, the Hall of Champions, and various equine breeds. It serves as a hub for equestrian enthusiasts and offers an immersive experience in the world of horses.

Activities to Explore in Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

  1. Visit the Lexington History Museum, Lexington Art League, or the Lexington Opera House to immerse yourself in the local culture and arts scene.
  2. Discover the childhood home of Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of President Abraham Lincoln. 
  3. Explore aviation history at this museum, which features a collection of aircraft and exhibits.
  4. If you’re a horse racing fan, visit Keeneland, one of the most iconic racecourses in the United States.

Tampa, Florida

  • Population: 395,276
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
  • Hourly Wages: $11.00
  • Average Annual Salary: $40,569
  • Poverty Rate: 17.21%

Tampa, located on the stunning Tampa Bay along Florida’s Gulf Coast, is a thriving city and major business center. In addition to its economic prowess, Tampa is renowned for its vibrant cultural scene and array of museums. Its prime location with ocean access and beautiful beaches contributes to its rapid growth, making it a desirable destination. Tampa ranks as the 14th most desirable place to live out of the 150 metro areas in the Best Places to Live ranking for 2023-2024.

Tampa’s appeal extends beyond its natural beauty and cultural offerings. The city boasts large Mediterranean-style homes and is known for its award-winning schools, making it an ideal choice for families seeking a nurturing environment. Moreover, Tampa is an excellent city for military retirees, as it is close to MacDill Air Force Base. Additionally, the absence of a state income tax adds to the allure of this coastal gem.

Activities to Explore in Tampa, Florida

  1. Discover the historic and culturally rich neighborhood of Ybor City, known for its Cuban heritage, vibrant nightlife, and diverse dining options.
  2. MOSI is a fun and educational destination for all ages, featuring interactive exhibits, a planetarium, and a butterfly garden.
  3. Explore the rich history of Tampa and the surrounding region through interactive exhibits, artifacts, and engaging displays.
  4. This sanctuary provides animal lovers a unique opportunity to observe and learn about rescued big cats.

Fayetteville, Arkansas

  • Population: 97,697
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.4%
  • Hourly Wages: $19.08
  • Average Annual Salary: $63,000
  • Poverty Rate: 21.23%

Fayetteville, nestled in northwest Arkansas, is a charming city with many attractions. Located near the University of Arkansas campus, one notable site is the Clinton House Museum, the first home of Bill and Hillary Clinton. For aviation enthusiasts, the Arkansas Air and Military Museum showcases a collection of vintage and modern airplanes in an impressive hangar.

Fayetteville offers a lower cost of living than the national average and provides numerous free outdoor activities for residents. Surrounded by the breathtaking Ozark Mountains, the city has natural beauty. With 70 parks, 40 miles of trails, and three lakes, residents have ample opportunities to immerse themselves in the great outdoors.

In addition to its natural splendor, Fayetteville thrives as a business hub. Major employers like Walmart and Tyson provide job opportunities, contributing to the town’s economic success. This small Southern town is witnessing a booming business scene, making it an appealing destination for professionals seeking career growth.

Activities to Explore in Fayetteville, Arkansas

  1. Explore historic sites like the Headquarters House, Old Main, and the Clinton House Museum to learn more about the area’s history.
  2. On Saturdays, visit the Farmers’ Market on the downtown square to find fresh produce, local crafts, and artisanal goods.
  3. Explore the home where Bill and Hillary Clinton were married. The museum provides insights into their early lives and careers.
  4. Enjoy boating, fishing, picnicking, and walking or biking around Lake Fayetteville. 

Huntsville, Alabama

  • Population: 220,854
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.0%
  • Hourly Wages: $20.64
  • Average Annual Salary: $63,635
  • Poverty Rate: 14.62%

If you’re seeking an affordable place to live in the Southeast, look no further than Huntsville! This captivating city in Alabama offers a range of affordable real estate options, from charming Mid-Century Modern ranches to elegant Colonial two-story homes. Coupled with a great cost of living, Huntsville presents an attractive choice for those looking to settle down.

Families will find Huntsville particularly appealing, thanks to the excellent Huntsville City Schools. With several schools ranked among the best in Alabama, parents can rest assured that their children will receive a quality education in a nurturing environment.

Huntsville’s nickname, Rocket City, speaks to its prominent role in the aerospace and defense industries. Institutions such as NASA, the FBI, and the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command offer exciting job opportunities in these fields. Huntsville presents a wealth of possibilities for professionals seeking a career in these sectors.

Activities to Explore in Huntsville, Alabama

  1. Visit this renowned museum to learn about the history of space exploration and see impressive exhibits, including the Saturn V rocket.
  2. Stroll through downtown Huntsville to admire its historic architecture, boutique shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
  3. Wander through this historic neighborhood, known for its well-preserved antebellum homes and gardens. 
  4. If you’re traveling with kids, this interactive museum is a great place for them to learn and play.
  5. Watch for concerts, festivals, and cultural events in Huntsville, as the city often hosts live music performances and community gatherings.

Franklin, Tennessee

  • Population: 88,723
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.7%
  • Hourly Wages: $16.45
  • Average Annual Salary: $50,328
  • Poverty Rate: 5.08%

Despite its smaller size, Franklin, a city situated just south of Nashville, Tennessee, offers a vibrant and fulfilling lifestyle. Residents of Franklin are spoiled for choice when it comes to entertainment and activities. Downtown Franklin, in particular, boasts a charming array of shops, restaurants, and exciting events and festivals such as the Main Street Festival and Dickens of a Christmas. These local events provide ample opportunities for residents to engage with their community and enjoy themselves.

Franklin’s appeal extends beyond its lively downtown area. The city’s versatility and well-roundedness contribute to its reputation as one of the best places to live in the Southeast. Safety is paramount for families, and Franklin consistently receives high marks. It’s a city where parents can raise their children peacefully.

Moreover, Franklin’s job market offers yet another perk for its residents. The city is home to major employers such as Community Health Systems, Nissan North America, and Acadia Healthcare. These companies provide various career opportunities, ensuring residents find fulfilling work within their community.

Activities to Explore in Franklin, Tennessee

  1. Check out the local events calendar for festivals, art exhibitions, and cultural events during your visit. 
  2. If you’re a wine enthusiast, don’t miss a visit to Arrington Vineyards. This picturesque winery offers wine tastings and a lovely setting for picnics.
  3. Explore the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway, a historic road that stretches through beautiful countryside. 
  4. Enjoy southern cuisine and local flavors at Franklin’s many restaurants and eateries.

Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Population: 885,663
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.4%
  • Hourly Wages: $18.86
  • Average Annual Salary: $47,040 
  • Poverty Rate: 11.64%

Charlotte, the Queen City, is considered one of the best places to live in the Southeast and the entire United States! This vibrant city in North Carolina offers a winning combination of warm weather, affordable living, and Southern hospitality. Additionally, Charlotte boasts a thriving job market, making it an attractive destination for professionals.

As the most populous metro area in North Carolina, Charlotte exudes Southern charm while also embracing diversity. With many residents from other parts of the country, newcomers will quickly feel welcomed and find a sense of belonging.

Regarding housing options, Charlotte offers a diverse range of choices. From high-rise condos and townhomes near Uptown Charlotte for those seeking an urban lifestyle to cozy bungalows and Colonial-style homes outside the city center, there is something to suit every taste and preference.

Activities to Explore in Charlotte, North Carolina

  1. A short drive from Charlotte, Lake Norman offers boating, fishing, and waterfront dining options.
  2. Enjoy classical music and live performances at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.
  3. Explore stunning gardens, including themed areas like the Orchid Conservatory and the Canal Garden.
  4. Discover the history of Charlotte and the surrounding region through exhibits and historic buildings.

Alpharetta, Georgia

  • Population: 66,446
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.70%
  • Hourly Wages: $38.94
  • Average Annual Salary: $100,069
  • Poverty Rate: 4.28%

In northern Fulton County, Georgia, Alpharetta is a vibrant part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. One of the standout features of Alpharetta is its robust job market, offering many employment opportunities for locals. Top employers in Alpharetta include Halyard Health, Schweitzer-Mauduit International, and Thyssenkrupp Elevator, providing diverse career options.

In addition to its strong job market, Alpharetta offers residents many other amenities. The city is known for its excellent shopping opportunities and various retail options. Dining enthusiasts will also be delighted by the diverse culinary scene, offering different cuisines to satisfy any palate.

Alpharetta is a city that knows how to celebrate. Annual events such as Taste of Alpharetta and Alpharetta Arts Streetfest showcase the city’s vibrant culture and provide opportunities for residents to come together and enjoy the community spirit.

Activities to Explore in Alpharetta, Georgia

  1. Take a leisurely walk through this arboretum featuring a variety of trees and plants. 
  2. Discover the charm of downtown Alpharetta with its historic buildings, art galleries, and various shops and restaurants.
  3. Enjoy live music and concerts at this outdoor theater, which hosts multiple yearly musical performances.
  4. Learn about the city’s history by taking a self-guided walking tour through historic downtown Alpharetta.

Columbia, Maryland

  • Population: 110,961
  • Unemployment Rate: 1.8%
  • Hourly Wages: $17.77
  • Average Annual Salary: $68,174
  • Poverty Rate: 8.26%

Columbia, situated in Howard County, Maryland, is a vibrant census-designated place offering various cultural and artistic experiences. The annual Columbia Festival of the Arts infuses the city with creativity through concerts, exhibits, workshops, and more, while live music and public art can be enjoyed throughout the year. For book enthusiasts, the literary references in the street names add a charming touch to this cozy southern city.

Columbia is nestled within Howard County, a region known for its highly educated population. With a focus on education, the area has cultivated a reputation as one of the most intellectually advanced. This intellectual atmosphere contributes to a stimulating environment for residents.

The local economy in Columbia remains resilient and dynamic. Its central location between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., positions businesses favorably for growth and success. Moreover, the town benefits from a talent pipeline of highly educated workers, creating a skilled workforce that supports business development and innovation.

Activities to Explore in Columbia, Maryland

  1. Golfers can enjoy the scenic fairways at local golf courses like Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club and Fairway Hills Golf Club.
  2. If you visit during the holiday season, don’t miss the Symphony of Lights at Merriweather Post Pavilion.
  3. Keep an eye out for community events and festivals happening throughout the year.
  4. Explore the local dining scene in Columbia, which offers a diverse range of cuisines.
  5. Enjoy a night of dinner and live entertainment at Toby’s Dinner Theatre. They put on Broadway-style shows while you dine.

Dallas, Texas

  • Population: 1,259,404
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.1%
  • Hourly Wages: $18.77
  • Average Annual Salary: $77,029
  • Poverty Rate: 17.75%

Dallas, a contemporary metropolis in northern Texas, serves as the region’s bustling commercial and cultural hub. One of its most notable landmarks is the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which commemorates the tragic site of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

Each neighborhood in Dallas offers its unique charm and attractions. Whether exploring the trendy Design District, immersing yourself in the vibrant Art District, or strolling through the bustling Main Street District, there is always something new in this timeless city.

Spanning across its vast expanse, Dallas is constantly evolving, with museums, restaurants, and hotels continuously reinventing themselves. This ensures that no day in Dallas is ever dull. From art exhibits and culinary delights to luxurious accommodations, the city offers a never-ending array of experiences and adventures for residents and visitors alike.

Activities to Explore in Dallas, Texas

  1. Enjoy beautiful gardens, seasonal displays, and a stunning view of White Rock Lake.
  2. Step into a lush rainforest environment and explore marine life worldwide.
  3. If you’re a football fan, consider taking a guided tour of AT&T Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys. 
  4. Explore neighborhoods like Bishop Arts District, Trinity Groves, and West End Historic District, each with unique character and dining options.

San Antonio, Texas

  • Population: 1,479,493
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
  • Hourly Wages: $7.25
  • Average Annual Salary: $53,274
  • Poverty Rate: 17.64%

With a population of 1.5 million, San Antonio is a prominent destination in the southern United States. Brimming with rich history, the stunning Riverwalk, and a diverse culinary scene, San Antonio is the perfect city for a long weekend getaway.

San Antonio’s historical significance is a major draw for visitors. The city is renowned for being home to The Alamo, an iconic historical site that attracts tourists worldwide. Exploring this landmark is a must for history enthusiasts.

The picturesque River Walk is another highlight of San Antonio. This scenic pathway runs alongside the beautiful San Antonio River, offering visitors a delightful stroll through the city’s heart. The River Walk has charming shops, restaurants, and cafes, making it an ideal spot to relax and soak in the vibrant atmosphere.

In addition to its historical and natural attractions, San Antonio is also a cultural hub. The city boasts numerous art galleries, museums, and cultural events, providing ample opportunities for visitors to immerse themselves in the local arts scene.

Activities to Explore in San Antonio, Texas

  1. If you’re a sports fan, catch a basketball game at the AT&T Center and cheer on the San Antonio Spurs.
  2. For thrill-seekers, this amusement park offers roller coasters, water rides, and family-friendly attractions.
  3. Discover the underground world of natural limestone caves in the Texas Hill Country. 
  4. Enjoy a day at the zoo, home to various animals worldwide. It’s a fun and educational experience for all ages.

St Petersburg (St. Pete), Florida

  • Population: 257,290
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
  • Hourly Wages: $15.87
  • Average Annual Salary: $39,000
  • Poverty Rate: 12.4%

Nestled on the beautiful Pinellas Peninsula, St. Petersburg, Florida, affectionately known as St. Pete, is a rapidly growing city and a highly sought-after place to call home in the Southeast. Residents enjoy a remarkable work-life balance in this vibrant city, with plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun on the pristine beaches that dot the coastline. The town proudly carries the nickname “Sunshine City,” boasting 361 days of sunshine yearly. St. Petersburg holds a Guinness World Record for the longest consecutive sunny days.

St. Petersburg is a city that prides itself on its inclusivity and commitment to equality. It has earned a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Municipality Equality Index, a testament to its dedication to fostering an inclusive and welcoming community for all.

Activities to Explore in St Petersburg (St. Pete), Florida

  1. Explore the waters of Tampa Bay by renting a kayak, paddleboard, or jet ski. 
  2. If you’re a baseball fan, catch a Tampa Bay Rays game at Tropicana Field in downtown St. Pete.
  3. Explore the lush botanical gardens at Sunken Gardens, featuring exotic plants, cascading waterfalls, and vibrant flora.
  4. If you’re in town on a Saturday, don’t miss the St. Pete Saturday Morning Market. 
  5. Explore the region’s natural beauty by hiking or biking along the Pinellas Trail or in local parks like Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.

Louisville, Kentucky

  • Population: 621,764
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
  • Hourly Wages: $23.39
  • Average Annual Salary: $39,000
  • Poverty Rate: 15.25%

Louisville, the largest city in Kentucky, is situated along the banks of the Ohio River, right on the border with Indiana. The world-famous Kentucky Derby occurs every May at Churchill Downs, a renowned racecourse synonymous with this prestigious horse racing event. The Kentucky Derby Museum offers a fascinating exploration of the race’s long and storied history.

Apart from its iconic horse racing tradition, Louisville is also recognized as one of the best places to live in the Southeast. The city enjoys a strong and diverse economy, with prominent companies such as Yum Brands, UPS, Humana, and Texas Roadhouse calling the business-friendly region home. This helps foster a thriving job market and contributes to the city’s overall economic prosperity.

For newcomers to Louisville, immersing oneself in the local culture is a must, and a great way to start is by experiencing the Urban Bourbon Trail. This trail offers a delightful journey through the city’s bourbon heritage, allowing residents and visitors to sample various bourbon selections in multiple bars and distilleries.

Activities to Explore in Louisville, Kentucky

  1. Visit the Louisville Mega Cavern for an underground adventure.
  2. Experience the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
  3. Explore the vibrant art scene in the NuLu district.
  4. Take a stroll along the Big Four Bridge over the Ohio River.
  5. Tour the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.

Memphis, Tennessee

  • Population: 633,686
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.1%
  • Hourly Wages: $28.17 
  • Average Annual Salary: $62,163
  • Poverty Rate: 15.7%

Located on the banks of the Mississippi River in southwest Tennessee, Memphis is a legendary city renowned for its significant contributions to the world of music. It has rightfully earned its place as a vital hub for blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll, with the influential strains of these genres originating right here. Like Nashville, music is deeply ingrained in the city’s cultural fabric, making it a must-visit destination for enthusiasts.

However, Memphis offers more than just its incredible music scene. The city is also steeped in history, with landmarks like Graceland, the former home of the legendary Elvis Presley, drawing fans worldwide. Visitors can explore the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, and Sun Studio, where many iconic musicians kickstarted their careers.

Activities to Explore in Memphis, Tennessee

  1. Visit the iconic home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. 
  2. Explore the history of soul music and its impact on American culture at the Stax Museum, located at the original site of Stax Records.
  3. Spend a day with your family at the Memphis Zoo, home to over 3,500 animals worldwide.
  4. Enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and paddleboarding at one of the largest urban parks in the United States.
  5. Catch a Memphis Grizzlies basketball game at the FedExForum for exciting sports action.

Naples, Florida

  • Population: 19,969
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
  • Hourly Wages: $26.92
  • Average Annual Salary: $76,000
  • Poverty Rate: 7.57%

Nestled along the pristine shores of the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida, Naples is a city renowned for its upscale shopping destinations and world-class golf courses. Unsurprisingly, Naples is considered one of the most expensive places to live in the southern region, with the cost of living 11% higher than the national average. The real estate market also reflects this, with median home prices surpassing $600,000, making it one of the pricier locations in Florida.

However, the high costs associated with living in Naples come with many benefits. The quality of life in this charming city is significantly higher than the Florida average, offering residents a truly exceptional living experience. From well-maintained neighborhoods to top-notch amenities, Naples provides a sense of luxury and comfort that is unmatched.

Activities to Explore in Naples, Florida

  1. Visit the Naples Art District, home to numerous galleries and studios showcasing local artists’ works. 
  2. Naples boasts numerous world-class golf courses, making it a golfer’s paradise. 
  3. Savor delicious cuisine at the city’s many fine dining establishments and seafood restaurants. 
  4. Witness breathtaking sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. The Naples Pier is a popular spot to enjoy the evening sky as the sun dips below the horizon.

Sarasota, Florida

  • Population: 56,003
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.0%
  • Hourly Wages: $23.82
  • Average Annual Salary: $36,076
  • Poverty Rate: 14.36%

Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of Tampa, Sarasota is a captivating city with a rich history. Once serving as the winter home of the renowned Ringling Brothers Circus, Sarasota now stands as a cultural hub boasting numerous esteemed institutes. The Ringling Museum of Art, in particular, showcases a remarkable collection of old masters and modern art, delighting art enthusiasts from around the world.

Beyond its cultural offerings, Sarasota is also celebrated for its breathtaking beaches. The city is home to treasures like Lido Beach and Siesta Key Beach and is the entry point to a stretch of coastline adorned with miles of fine sand and shallow waters. These picturesque beaches attract visitors with their pristine beauty and offer a perfect setting for relaxation and recreation.

Activities to Explore in Sarasota, Florida

  1. Discover the lush and tropical beauty of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, home to an extensive collection of exotic plants, orchids, and stunning waterfront views.
  2. Explore Sarasota’s scenic waterways by renting a kayak or paddleboard. 
  3. Shop and dine in style at St. Armands Circle, an upscale shopping and dining district known for its boutique shops, art galleries, and diverse culinary offerings.
  4. Savor various culinary delights in Sarasota, from fresh seafood to international cuisine.

Roswell, Georgia

  • Population: 92,907
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.4%
  • Hourly Wages: $26.37
  • Average Annual Salary: $53,537
  • Poverty Rate: 6.09%

Roswell, Georgia, is more than just a favorite location for moviemakers—it is a dream destination for residents seeking a charming and idyllic place to call home. This highly desirable Atlanta suburb is considered one of the best places to live in the Southeast. Its appeal stems from its rich history, welcoming community, robust economy, and top-notch healthcare facilities, including WellStar North Fulton Hospital, Emory Clinic, and Piedmont Healthcare.

One of Roswell’s notable advantages is its prime location near the picturesque Chattahoochee River, which provides many outdoor activities for enthusiasts. From hiking and kayaking to fishing and picnicking, residents can enjoy a wide range of recreational opportunities right on their doorstep.

In addition to its natural beauty, Roswell boasts a flourishing arts and culture scene. The city is home to several art galleries, theaters, and museums, offering residents and visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the vibrant artistic atmosphere.

Activities to Explore in Roswell, Georgia

  1. Explore the childhood home of Theodore Roosevelt’s mother, Martha “Mittie” Bulloch. 
  2. Experience the natural beauty of the Chattahoochee River at this educational center. 
  3. Savor delicious cuisine at Roswell’s diverse restaurants, ranging from Southern comfort food to international flavors. 
  4. Roswell boasts a variety of shops, from antique stores to contemporary boutiques. 

Final Thoughts

The South USA is home to a diverse range of cities that offer an exceptional quality of life. From historic charm to thriving economies, these cities have something to offer for everyone. With their unique amenities, friendly communities, and attractive housing options, these cities offer residents an unparalleled living experience. 

Many individuals and families are turning to Redfin, a popular real estate platform, to help them in their quest for the ideal Southern city to call home. Whether you’re seeking the vibrant culture of cities like Nashville or the coastal charm of Charleston, Redfin can be a valuable tool in your search for the perfect Southern city to live in.