Travel + Leisure Readers’ 15 Favorite Resorts in the South of 2024

Travel + Leisure Readers’ 15 Favorite Resorts in the South of 2024

From family-run inns to grand island-bound resorts, these are the 2024 "World’s Best Awards" survey winners in the Southern U.S.

The Southern states are known for their distinct architecture, cuisine, and music, along with their renowned take on hospitality — warm, welcoming, and sweet. It’s a winning combination that puts travelers at ease and turns those in-between moments into lifelong memories. The 2024 World’s Best Awards survey asked readers to call out their favorite Southern resorts, and these spots rose to the top.

<p>Courtesy of Blackberry Farm</p>

Courtesy of Blackberry Farm

How Voting Works

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Over 186,000 T+L readers completed the 2024 survey. A total of more than 700,000 votes were cast across over 8,700 properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).

Hotels were classified as either resort hotel, city hotel, inn, or safari lodge based on their location and amenities, and they were specifically rated on the criteria below:

  • Rooms/facilities

  • Location

  • Service

  • Food

  • Value

For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.

What Readers Loved

Of all the Southern states, Georgia had the biggest presence on the list, with five properties making the top 15. The Lodge at Sea Island, at No. 3, is a 43-room boutique property on Georgia’s St. Simons Island that one reader said has “literally, something for everyone! Great food at all restaurants.” Another reader said it had the best spa they’d ever been to.

Two sister properties in Tennessee took the No. 1 and 2 spots, while an impressive four properties in North Carolina made the list. Old Edwards Inn & Spa, which is set in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, had a host of positive reader reviews, including one who noted that “Old Edwards is a beautiful inn conveniently located right in town. It was convenient [for] dining, shopping, and hiking trails. We had a huge and well-appointed room. The whole inn was very charming and would be wonderful for small groups traveling together. We loved the food and ate most of our meals at the Inn.”

The Winner

Blackberry Farm: Walland, Tennessee

<p>Courtesy of Blackberry Farm</p>

Courtesy of Blackberry Farm

Blackberry Farm started as a six-room country inn that the Beall family opened in 1976. Over the years, it transformed into a 68-room property with historic rooms, cottages, and multiroom houses, all furnished with hand-selected antiques and art.

As Blackberry Farm grew in size, so did its offerings. The Relais & Châteaux resort now has three renowned on-site restaurants that rely on produce from the garden and foods foraged on the farm’s 4,200 private acres. During the day, a long activity and event list keeps guests busy — from fly fishing and horseback riding to wine tastings and spa treatments. The property is perched in the Great Smoky Mountains near forest and national park land, providing a quiet and nature-filled escape paired with exceptional Southern hospitality.

One reader noted, “I extended my stay several days because I just needed more time. The food is unmatched. Foodies belong here, and I have never been somewhere [where] the staff is so encouraged to give you recommendations, friendly, and just overall happy to be around. If you need a fire lit, they will come to your room within minutes to light it for you; you can sit around it for hours literally looking over the beautiful Smoky Mountains.” Another reader simply stated, “Magical! Once in a lifetime experience ... Everything is the finest.”

The family-owned Blackberry Farm expanded in 2019 to include Blackberry Mountain (No. 2 on the list). Blackberry Farm and Blackberry Mountain were ranked No. 5 and No. 4, respectively, in the 2023 World’s Best Awards.

The Full List

1. Blackberry Farm: Walland, Tennessee

Reader Score: 95.57

2. Blackberry Mountain: Walland, Tennessee

Reader Score: 95.32

3. The Lodge at Sea Island: St. Simons Island, Georgia

Reader Score: 94.57

4. The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island: Little St. Simons Island, Georgia

Reader Score: 93.26

5. The Cloister at Sea Island: Sea Island, Georgia

WBA Hall of Fame honoree Reader Score: 93.00

6. The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee: Greensboro, Georgia

Reader Score: 92.48

7. Old Edwards Inn & Spa: Highlands, North Carolina

Reader Score: 92.00

8. Williamsburg Inn: Williamsburg, Virginia

Reader Score: 91.50

9. The Tides Inn: Irvington, Virginia

Reader Score: 91.47

10. Keswick Hall: Charlottesville, Virginia

Reader Score: 90.63

11. The Inn on Biltmore Estate: Asheville, North Carolina

Reader Score: 88.63

12. Barnsley Resort: Adairsville, Georgia

Reader Score: 88.61

13. High Hampton: Cashiers, North Carolina

Reader Score: 88.00

14. Pinehurst Resort: Pinehurst, North Carolina

Reader Score: 87.60

15. The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection: Point Clear, Alabama

Reader Score: 87.36

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