We know there is a lot to love in North Carolina. The state is full of some fantastic places to live whether you are looking for small-town living or city-dreaming. We report a lot about the fantastic small towns our state is home to. But now it’s time for some of our best cities to shine. And shine is just what they are doing. Southern Living Magazine recently released its 2023 The South’s Best Cities list and three North Carolina cities were featured. The list is voted on by the publication’s readers, and I have to say they did a good job selecting. The number one and two best southern cities are Charleston and Savannah which epitomize southern hospitality.

But Charleston wasn’t the only South Carolina city to make the list. Another, increasingly popular, city came in at number 7 on the list. I’ll give you a hint that ranks higher than both Charlotte and Raleigh who fell back to back on this list. Keep reading to see which of the North and South Carolina cities were named as some of the best southern cities. You’ll also find the top 10. Read more about them and how this list was curated on Southern Living’s website.

  • North Carolina

  • 12. Raleigh, NC

    North Carolina

    Raleigh, North Carolina, USA downtown skyline.

    Coming in at number 12 on the list is Raleigh. Our state’s capital city is home to a number of wonderful restaurants, museums, festivals, and of course, the North Carolina State Fair which happens every October. It’s also home to the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team, and several universities.

  • 11. Charlotte, NC


    Back to back are Charlotte and Raleigh the two largest cities in the state. And while I don’t buy into the “rivalry” between the two cities this time Charlotte one-upped Raleigh. An ever-growing city Charlotte is home to breweries, renowned restaurants and shopping, Carowinds, and the US National White Water Center. And for the sports lovers, there is the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Football Club, Charlotte Knights, and NASCAR is a short drive north in Concord.

  • 3. Asheville, NC


    All the way at number 3 is the mountain paradise of Asheville, NC. It eclipses destinations such as New Orleans, Nashville, and Austin Texas. Which are heavy hitters. But Asheville’s beauty and culture can’t go unrecognized. Whether it’s the incredible culinary scene, attractions like Biltmore and the Grove Park Inn, hiking, or the arts culture there is something for everyone to love in Asheville. Visit in October during leaf season? You’re in for an even bigger treat!

  • South Carolina

  • 7. Greenville, SC

    Greensville South Carolina City Park

    Once a dilapidated section of Greenville, South Carolina, Falls Park on the Reedy is now a beautiful urban park space with walking trails, falling water, surrounded by art galleries and restaurants.

    Greenville has had quite a revival of late and has positioned itself as a destination city in South Carolina. From festivals to the bustling downtown, parks, trails, and more after a visit you’ll be saying what the locals say “Yeah, that Greenville”. 

  • 1. Charleston, SC


    Charleston, South Carolina (SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images Plus)

    I’d be shocked if Charleston didn’t top this list. The city received (deservedly so) accolade after accolade and is a popular vacation destination for people all over the country. The gorgeous scenery, historic downtown, world-class restaurants, bars, and more make it what it is.  And in my, completely biased opinion, is there a better example of a quintessential southern city? I think not.

  • Top 20 Southern Cities

      1. Charleston, SC
      2. Savannah, GA
      3. Asheville, NC
      4. Atlanta, GA
      5. Nashville, TN
      6. New Orleans, LA
      7. Greenville, SC
      8. Chattanooga, TN
      9. Alpharetta, GA
      10. Austin, TX
      11. Charlotte, NC
      12. Raleigh, NC
      13. Fort Worth, TX
      14. Franklin, TN
      15. Orlando, FL
      16. Birmingham, AL
      17. Dallas, TX
      18. Huntsville, AL
      19. Bentonville, AR
      20. Richmond, VA

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