Skip to site content
The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Southern Small Towns are in

The Southeast is full of quaint small towns that roll out the red carpet for meeting groups. Here are five places with walkable downtowns, unique history and full-service amenities that give groups the convenience of larger destinations.


Anniston, Alabama

Anniston, Alabama, started out as a private company town in 1872, founded by the Woodstock Iron Company. It wasn’t until 1883 that the city officially incorporated. The area is known for its walkable communities, the outdoors and mom-and-pop shops. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy hiking, biking and horseback riding along trails on the former U.S. Army base Fort McClellan. The Chief Ladiga Trail, a paved pedestrian path through Anniston, will soon connect to the Silver Comet Trail coming from Georgia, creating the longest paved pedestrian pathway in the U.S.

The city also figured prominently in the fight for desegregation in the 1960s after a mob of white residents attacked and then firebombed a Greyhound bus full of African American Freedom Riders trying to call attention to the problem of segregation. Visitors to the city can take a self-guided driving tour of the Anniston Civil Rights Heritage Trail, which includes the Freedom Riders National Monument where the bus burning happened in 1961, as well as  a mural of the bus on a wall facing the bus depot alleyway.

Anniston Meeting Center is the largest event center in the city, with the 13,000-square-foot Anniston Hall, three conference spaces that can each seat 100 to 150 people and the Victoria Room for executive meetings. Anniston Museums and Gardens, home to Anniston Museum of Natural History, Berman Museum and Longleaf Botanical Gardens, also offers several meeting spaces for rent, from auditoriums and classrooms to museum exhibit halls and the Longleaf Event Center.

Hotel Finial on the city’s main boulevard has 61 rooms, breathtaking architecture and ample room for meetings or events up to 200 people.

New Bern, North Carolina

The second-oldest city in North Carolina, New Bern has a beautiful downtown district surrounded by water. Its biggest claim to fame is the Tryon Palace State Historic Site, which was the first capitol of North Carolina. Visitors to New Bern can take advantage of the quaint independently owned shops, restaurants and galleries in town while enjoying the waterfront views. Groups can take trolley tours of the area or enjoy the Croatan National Forest for hiking and biking.

New Bern’s 40,000-square-foot Riverfront Convention Center is the top meeting spot in the city. It underwent a full renovation in 2019, so everything is state of the art. There are 170 hotel rooms attached to the convention center, divided between a Doubletree by Hilton and a Tapestry by Hilton, which is set to open in April. The Courtyard by Marriott offers an additional 100 guest rooms about a block from the convention center.

The Doubletree and Tapestry offers an additional 16,000 square feet of meeting space, which is undergoing complete upgrades with digital reader boards, infrastructure, and an updated food and beverage program.

New Bern is the birthplace of Pepsi, and groups can visit the store and pharmacy that started it all. The facility also can be utilized for dessert and cocktail socials. Several art galleries in town can double as event spaces, as well as the New Bern Firemen’s Museum. In their downtime, groups can take guided boat tours or ghost tours in town.

Camden, South Carolina

South Carolina’s oldest inland city, Camden is known as the steeplechase capital of the world, with the National Steeplechase Museum and the 60-acre South Carolina Equine Park, which plays host to the Carolina Cup every year. Camden is also the site of the Battle of Camden, a Revolutionary War battle that took place in August 1780, where the British Army under Lt. General Charles Cornwallis defeated the Continental Army.

Meeting planners can tap into that history by organizing events at the Revolutionary War Visitor Center, which can host groups up to 240. The center tells the story of the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War and South Carolina’s part in turning the tide when all seemed lost.

Hampton Inn Camden is the only full-service meeting hotel in the city, with 400 square feet of meeting space and 70 guest rooms. Holiday Inn Express and Suites and Comfort Inn and Suites offer another 131 guest rooms between them. The multi-purpose Camden City Arena can seat 1,600 and has facilities for sporting events, conventions and entertainment. Other venues include the Arts Center of Kershaw County, which can accommodate up to 300, the National Steeplechase Museum or the Historic Camden-Kershaw-Cornwallis House.

Downtown Camden and Uptown Dusty Bend offer plenty of shopping opportunities with boutique shops, antique stores and art galleries to peruse.

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Murfreesboro, in the heart of Tennessee’s Rutherford County, is just 35 minutes southeast of Nashville. The county is steeped in history, and visitors will enjoy exploring the Stones River National Battlefield and Cemetery or wandering the halls of two antebellum homes, Oaklands Mansion and Sam Davis Home. Cannonsburgh Village, a reconstructed pioneer settlement that represents 100 years of early Tennessee history from the 1830s to the 1930s, has a gristmill, schoolhouse, doctor’s office and general store to explore. The Rutherford County Historic Courthouse Museum from the pre-Civil War era is worth a visit. It served as a watchtower, ballroom, prison and hospital.

The county has 62 lodging properties with 5,500 guest rooms and more than 250,000 square feet of meeting space in more than 60 venues and a beautiful convention center to welcome events of all sizes.

The Embassy Suites Murfreesboro Hotel and Conference Center is the largest meeting venue, with 283 guest rooms and 63,000 square feet of flexible event space. The largest space is the Grand Ballroom at 28,800 square feet. It has 19 meeting rooms. The Doubletree by Hilton-Murfreesboro has 3,840 square feet of meeting space with three meeting rooms and 169 guest rooms.

Off-site venues include The Grove at Williamson Family Farm, with 10,000 square feet of space in the Main Barn, Loafing Barn and Silage Shed, Oaklands Mansion or the View at Fountains, a modern conference and event venue at Fountains at Gateway. The full-service venue includes 5,800 square feet of indoor event space and 1,900 square feet of outdoor, covered patio space.

Staunton, Virginia

Located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Staunton is known for its beautiful architecture. The city was lucky enough to survive the Civil War relatively unscathed and features many wonderfully preserved 18th and 19th century homes and buildings.

Downtown Staunton has six historic districts to explore and features independent retailers, art and antique galleries, restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops and craft breweries. From April through October, the city closes four blocks of Beverley Street to vehicle traffic so businesses and musicians can spill out into the street. Staunton boasts a vibrant arts and music scene, and the American Shakespeare Center presents the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries at Blackfriars Playhouse, a re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre.

The Frontier Culture Museum is a living history museum that sheds light on life in early America. Staunton also is home to the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum. The entrances to Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway and Blue Ridge Tunnel are all located within a short drive of Staunton.

The city has several full-service meeting locations, including Hotel 24 South and Conference Center, which can host groups up to 400, and the Blackburn Inn and Conference Center, with 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and 49 guest rooms. It can host groups of 20 to 200. The city has 25 hotels with 1,659 hotel rooms.