Southern Living's South’s Best Awards Methodology: How We Conducted Our Survey

The South's Best

Gabriela Herman

To determine winners of our 2023 South’s Best Awards , a survey developed by the editors of Southern Living in association with the research firm M&RR was posted online at from August 10, 2022 to September 15, 2022. Readers were invited to participate through promotions in Southern Living magazine, email newsletters, social media platforms, and on M&RR kept the survey website secure, collected the data, and monitored the responses for any fraudulent votes, which were eliminated.

The lists of nominations were compiled by Southern Living editors, and then respondents were asked to select their favorite barbecue joints , cities , hotels , local restaurants (no multi-state chain restaurants), small towns , and state parks . To tap into the regional expertise of the audience, respondents were only allowed to vote on places in their own state or in states they had visited. The one exception was the Cities category, which was open to all voters regardless of their location. Additional categories, such as wineries in Virginia and bourbon distilleries in Kentucky, were chosen to highlight a range of destinations that reflect each state’s unique attributes and culture. The following 14 states were chosen to participate: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Categories Unique to Each State

Alabama: Meat n’ Threes; Home & Garden Stores

Arkansas: Fried Pies; Botanical Gardens

Florida: Key Lime Pies; Historic Hotels

Georgia: Orchards; Food-Hall Spots

Kentucky: Bourbon Distilleries; Shopping Areas

Louisiana: Hotel Bars; Po' Boys

Mississippi: Catfish Restaurants; Bookstores

North Carolina: Bakeries; Breweries

South Carolina: Public Gardens; Seafood Spots

Oklahoma: Music Venues; Hamburgers

Tennessee: Biscuits; Honky Tonks

Texas: Dance Halls; Tacos

Virginia: Oyster Restaurants; Wineries

West Virginia: Coffee Shops; Bridges

See all the winners of the 2023 South's Best Awards

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