The Great Southern Road Trip: More Than Just Soul Food and Barbeque

Whether you are looking for a relaxing summer vacation along the beach or a more rugged vacation outdoors, the South offers more than enough options to keep your entire happy. From its heart warming soul food to Southern hospitality, the South has so much to offer! It is definitely a region you’ll want to road trip around this summer.

Her are four recommendations for an All-American vacation in the South:

The Great River Road – Mississippi

This summer, explore the Mississippi Blues as you drive along the Great River Road, a path that follows the Mississippi River from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. During your drive south, you’ll find yourself in the history, culture and traditions of Mississippi’s unique music scene. Discover the birthplace of the blues at the B.B. King Museum in Indianola to learn about the fascinating roots of the blues and how it spread throughout the nation. Next, take a trip to Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, a significant area in American history where John C. Pemberton surrendered and gave the Union control of the Mississippi River during the Civil War. History buffs will love the U.S.S. Cairo Museum which displays a recovered Union gunboat, weaponry and other artifacts from the Civil War. Also in Vicksburg is the Biedenharm Coca-Cola Museum where your family can learn about how the classic America cola is made and see equipment used to process the first Coke bottles from 1894. Finish your trip at the Rosemont Plantation near Woodville. Once a thriving cotton plantation with over 100 slaves and home to Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate, Rosemont is now open for daily tours.

Overseas Highway – Florida

Whether you are a long-time Florida resident or an out-of-towner, nothing says summer better than the beach. This summer, take a road trip along U.S. Route 1 to explore Florida’s many beautiful islands. Route 1 is often known as the Overseas Highway because it runs through an 105-mile chain of islands—from Key Largo to the Key West. In addition to lounging on the warm sand and watching the shimmering ocean in the background, there are many opportunities for your family to explore and learn on this road trip. Consider stopping in Tavernier at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center, the only place in the Keys where you can see indigenous bird life in close quarters. And if you want a better view of the ocean, consider going to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo where you can see Florida’s coral reef by a glass-bottom boat as well as snorkeling, sailing and scuba. Finally, you can also visit the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, home to a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. The Center even offers “hands-on-training” sessions.

James River along Route 5 – Virginia

Richmond, Virginia shares a deep connection to our nation’s roots. After being plundered by the British during the Revolutionary War, the entire city was almost destroyed by a fire during the Civil War. Even with its rich and sometimes violent history, Richmond is home to the serene James River and many historic structures, including an 18th century building designed by Thomas Jefferson. Whether your family members are history buffs or nature lovers, the drive along Rte. 5 on the James River begins near the state capitol and will take you through rural farms and fields of corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton. Further down the road, you’ll find historic plantation houses that sit along the banks of the James River.

Central Texas Getaway – Texas

While Texas is known for its state-pride, cowboys and George Bush, it has more to offer than the stereotypes it is often associated with. Take a trip with the family to Central Texas for a good time, filled with fishing, barbeque and other Texan memories. Start your trip in Hill Country along the Guadalupe River, one of the top 100 U.S. trout streams. You can take a day-long fly-fishing trip, go rafting and tubing or just explore the area’s shopping options. Afterwards, consider visiting the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in Fredericksburg, home to a unique pink granite dome that rises 425 feet above ground. It is home to one of the largest and oldest batholiths, or exposed underground rock formations in North America. In addition to hiking and backpacking opportunities, you can also go rock climbing, birding and relax at night with some stargazing and camping. During your road trip, be sure to make a pit stop and get a taste of some famous Texas-style barbeque.