local hidden gems

10 Things to do + see near Popular Southern Cities

Planning a girls getaway to a major southern city?  Looking for something new to do in your current city?  If so, this list is for you!  We have dug up some hidden gems and must do/see attractions that most people pass up while visiting (or even living in) a major city in the Southeast.


1. The Ghost Church - Mechanicsville, VA

ghost church.jpg

Less than 10 miles outside of Richmond, VA, you can visit this skeleton of a structure with an interesting history.  Be sure to bring a camera so you can get some unique photos while visiting one of America’s oldest historic sites.


2. Land of Oz - Beech Mountain, NC


Tucked away in the Appalachian mountains, just under 2 hours north of Asheville, NC, is quite the hidden gem for movie lovers of all ages.  Land of Oz™ offers a full Wizard of Oz experience you won’t want to miss.

Tip: Plan your visit accordingly as this attraction in only open for a limited time during the year.


3. Abandoned Henry River Mill Village - Hildebran, NC

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Still in Asheville?  By heading an hour east, you can visit this mining town abandoned shortly after America’s Gold Rush era.  Not only does this site have some unusual characteristics, it was also used as the setting for the post-apocalyptic dystopia District 12 in The Hunger Games flims.


4. Ulele Fairyland Figures - Tampa, FL


Sticking on the theme of abandoned attractions, if you happen to be in the Tampa area, be sure to check out Ulele on Tampa’s Riverwalk.  Not only does the restaurant have great reviews, but you can take a few snapshots with some left over figures from Tampa’s now-closed Fairyland Amusement Park (two birds, one stone).


5. Mississippi River Basin Model - Jackson, MS

Located in the capital city of Mississippi, this abandoned large-scale hydraulic model of the entire Mississippi River basin covers an area of 200 acres.  The sheer size of this model is impressive alone; however, the history of the project is even more interesting.

Tip: Take caution when exploring this site, because, although it is a part of the Buddy Butts Park, the model remains open yet abandoned.

Mississippi River Basin Model Link

6. Skull's Rainbow Room - Nashville, TN

To the locals, Printers Alley may not seem like much of a hidden gem, but it can be easily overlooked by the eyes of a visitor.  Printers Alley alone is quite remarkable, but our favorite stop is Skull’s Rainbow Room. As soon as you enter, you’re instantly transported to a 1940’s speakeasy with some of the best food you’ll ever have in Nashville.

Tip: Get there at 9:30pm.  This way you won’t miss dinner or the burlesque show. Oh and DON’T SKIP DESSERT! You’ll thank us later.


7. Storyville - New Orleans, LA

New Orleans is more known for it’s Mardi Gras celebration along Bourbon St. or its French Quarters than this semi-abandoned district; however, Storyville’s history is understandably one of the Big Easy’s more noteworthy attractions.  This scarlet thread, simply known as The District, is not only known for it’s Red-Light past, but also it’s integral part in the popularization of jazz.


8. The Original Mardis Gras - Mobile, AL

Speaking of Mardis Gras, did you know that while the celebration is most widely linked with New Orleans, the first carnival festivities were celebrated in 1703 (before New Orleans was even founded in 1718) in Mobile, the first capital of French Louisiana.  Because of this, Mobile continues to have one of the largest Mardis Gras celebrations where MoonPies are thrown instead of cracker jacks (yum).


9. Oktoberfest - Helen, GA

This German tradition may not have originated in this small Georgia village, but Helen holds America’s longest running Oktoberfest.  Even if you choose not to visit during the festival that lasts from September-October, the mountain town, just an hour and a half north of Atlanta, is also known for it’s beautiful views, Bavarian-themed villages and wineries.  But rest assured, Oktoberfest is a must, and is even family friendly.

Oktoberfest in Helen

10. The Angel Oak - Johns Island, SC

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What can we say, we’re suckers for Spanish moss draping on an old oak tree, but this 400-500 year old oak takes the cake.  With branches reaching up to 187 ft., this picturesque tree is worth visiting. And contrary to popular belief, and google searches, the Angel Oak is located on Johns Island - just 10 miles SW of the more touristy Charleston.


Diedre BatthComment