America’s Favorite Family Destinations in the South – Beyond the long lines and pricey tickets of Disney World and Universal Studios Florida, the American South has a wealth of destinations that offer the perfect combination of attractions, accommodations, and activities for a great family vacation.
Places where families can relax, reconnect, and make memories that last a lifetime. Here are five of our country’s favorite family vacation destinations located below the Mason-Dixon line.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Excellent fishing, lots of hiking trails, teeming wildlife and astonishing natural beauty make Great Smoky Mountains National Park a memory-making place for some family time together.
The gateway towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge rival Disney World for their number of amusements, attractions, and family-friendly entertainments.
Home to Dollywood, the area boasts mountain coasters, ziplines, water parks, and the nation’s first indoor snow tubing.
Dinner shows and spectaculars for the whole family abound, with restaurants and shopping everywhere – including handmade, unique wares from one of the country’s largest communities of independent artisans.
The area next to the national park offers plenty of lodging, including hundreds of luxury rental cabins nestled in the foothills.
Gatlinburg cabins offer the perfect blend of rustic charm and modern convenience, with full amenities for a home away from home, games to keep the kids engaged for weeks, a hot tub on the deck, and those Smoky Mountain views to gaze at forever.
Travel and Leisure magazine recently dubbed Seaside, Florida, “The Best Beach on Earth for Families.”
Warm gulf waters, powder white sand, and abundant sunshine are just the beginning of the charm of Seaside, a town designed deliberately for walking, and one you may recognize as the setting for the Truman Show movie with Jim Carrey.
Seaside accommodations mainly consist of rental cottages perfect for the “home away from home” quality time of a family vacation together.
Everything in Seaside is only a few minute’s walk from the beach, the boardwalk, and downtown.
Other daytime fun in Seaside includes free shows like “Stories by the Sea” – a storytelling experience for children – or sandcastle building at Sandcastle School on the Beach.
Seaside’s downtown area has dozens of shops, as well as world-class restaurants that serve up everything from steak to smoothies, good enough to be featured on the hit cooking show, “Emeril’s Florida.”
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Famous for world-class golf, Myrtle Beach has more than enough attractions and activities to satisfy even the crankiest family members.
The gorgeous beach draws large crowds during the summer months.
But, thanks to mild winters and extended summers, anytime is a good time to visit Myrtle Beach.
The city also attracts families with a wide range of nightlife geared towards all ages.
Area shopping consists of signature small shops dotting the boardwalk, as well as four major shopping complexes, including a Tanger Outlet Center.
Just a short drive south, one of our nation’s most beautiful and best-preserved cities, historic Charleston, South Carolina, offers a relaxing break from the sand and surf.
Along with plenty of outdoor activities and a great amusement park, many of the world’s top Country Music Stars play live concerts nightly in Branson. Outdoor fun in Branson includes fishing, camping, horseback riding, kayaking, and zip-lining.
Branson’s resident amusement park, the 1880s-themed Silver Dollar City, proudly features Time Traveler, the world’s tallest, steepest and fastest spinning roller coaster.
Other Branson family-friendly attractions include Branson Mountain Adventure Park, Bigfoot Fun Park, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Branson’s Promised Land Zoo, and lots of miniature golf.
In the evening, a variety of family-oriented entertainment like the Comedy Hypnosis Dinner Show, the “Absolutely Country, Definitely Gospel” show, and Dolly Parton’s Stampede provide plenty of laughs, fun and excitement for the whole family.
San Antonio, Texas
Year-round warm temps, several top-notch amusement parks, and a wealth of historical attractions make San Antonio, Texas, a perfect family vacation destination.
The 35-acre San Antonio Zoo features a collection of over 3,500 animals representing 750 species, as well as a world-class aquarium.
For families with children ages 3-10, the Legoland Discovery Center has rides, a 4D cinema, and ten Lego Play Zones. Also geared towards families with small children, Morgan’s Wonderland has over twenty-five-acres of rides and attractions.
On those extra hot summer days, twenty-acres and over fifty water rides and attractions make Splashtown San Antonio the perfect place to cool down and have fun.
History comes alive again at one of the country’s iconic legends, The Alamo, while nature enthralls on a guided tour at Natural Bridge Caverns, taking visitors through underground chambers filled with spectacular formations, 180 feet below the surface.
Family-friendly fun along San Antonio’s famous River Walk includes year-round parades, concerts, a variety of festivals, and some of San Antonio’s best shopping, dining and nightlife.