Charming Downtowns | RTX Traveler Issue 20 Exclusive Destinations

Take a stroll and let time slow down.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Nestled at the base of the 300,000-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is appropriately nicknamed the “Gateway to the Smokies.” With three entrances to the park from downtown and numerous roads and trails leading into the park, there are endless opportunities for outdoor recreation in the area. The bustling downtown lies in a valley between the mountains, and has tons of gift shops, restaurants, bars and fun stuff to do. Take the gondola at Ober Gatlinburg for a spectacular view up the mountain.

Charleston, South CarolinaCharleston, South Carolina

This Southern charmer oozes character: horse-drawn carriages, gas lights, handmade goods at the historic Charleston City Market and some of the country’s best restaurants, all set on a coastal backdrop. Take a historic city tour and learn of the antebellum history, or visit Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Take a sampling of some of the best Southern cuisine you’ve ever tried during a food tour, or if the after hours are more your thing, take part in a ghost tour highlighting the city’s haunted past.

Scottsdale, Arizona Scottsdale, Arizona

When staying in Scottsdale, don’t miss the trendy yet authentic downtown. The Southwest’s largest shopping destination, the Scottsdale Fashion Square, has more than 250 distinctive retailers including Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. Hit the Scottsdale Wine Trail, showcasing several wineries within walking distance to downtown. The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, dedicated to art, architecture and design, is an educational institution that connects visitors to the dynamic art and ideas of our time. Relax in the Civic Center Park, a lush pedestrian park just steps east of Old Town.

Bentonville, ArkansasBentonville, Arkansas

Global capitalistic juggernaut Wal-Mart was founded in Bentonville in the early 1950s by Sam Walton as Walton’s 5&10. You can still visit the original store and see the extensive Wal- Mart museum full of artifacts and nuggets of information. No, you won’t find any Duck Dynasty toilet paper holders here, but you will find a fascinating history of the frugal founder’s quest to offer lower prices so his customers could live better. The museum is self-guided and admission is free.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as staff writer and photographer for RTX Traveler Magazine, based in Asheville, NC. His favorite RTX destinations are on the beach: Orange Beach, Alabama, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. .

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