by Kathryn Crow
Washington DC. Savannah. Smoky Mountains. The American South offers cities, lovely mountain drives and delicious food. Follow my guide for the Ultimate Southern Road Trip and you won't miss a single must-see destination.
First stop: our nation’s capital. The city's history, culture and entertainment make this a perfect spot to begin your road trip. View the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights or visit monuments you will find yourself overwhelmed with the magnitude of America’s history.
Next, get lost in various the Smithsonian Institute museums (free!). End the day with a nighttime bus tour of all the presidential monuments.
Need a break from monuments and museums? National Zoo and National Gallery of Art will spark your imagination and give you a place to stretch your legs.
Next stop: Charlottesville, or C’ville as it is affectionately called.
Stop for a hike through the iconic Shenandoah National Park, followed by lunch. In the afternoon, see the Neoclassical architecture of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Don't forget a stop at Jefferson Vineyards for a charming wine tasting.
After a day or two in Charlottesville set your GPS for Nashville and head to a city of country music fun! This town is home to both the Country Music hall of fame, featuring both old time music heroes and modern twists on country music, and the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, located in Ryman Auditorium.
But Nashville is for more than the country music enthusiast. Here you will find the full sized Parthenon and feel as though you have been transported to ancient Greece and a great collection of gardens, zoos, and museums on every topic from the Civil War to Trains.
Be sure to take your time and enjoy Nashville on your way through America’s great South.
This next stop is not so much a destination as is a journey in itself. These gorgeous mountains are the home to a sunning national park, black bears, and lots of honeymooners. It is easy to see why these tree covered giants has served as inspiration for so many books, songs, and movies. They are truly a sight to see.
Whether you decide to camp in a rustic lean-to along a section of the Appalachian Trail or rent a luxurious mountain cabin, be sure to get a room with a view.
The Great Smoky Mountain National park offers dozens of trails, great nature centers, and a history on the people who once called these mountains their homes.
This historic city located along the Blue Ridge Mountains is an important stop along any Southern road trip if you want the trip to be complete. This city is known for its dramatic art scene and a collection of beautiful gardens and parks.
The Biltmore House is a must see, especially if you visit around the Christmas Holidays. If you go in the spring or the summer, there will flowers galore at the North Carolina Arboretum and the Botanical Gardens of Asheville. However the autumn season will bring along a whole different pallet of colors to enjoy when you go for a hike or drive through Blue Ridge Parkway or Pisgah National Forest.
This charming waterside location is perfect for relaxing or having adventures. Some must do activities while you are visiting Wrightsville include taking the walking tour of the historic sites, enjoying a cruise along the intercostal waterway, and picking out souvenirs at the local shops.
Charleston is a historic city filled with modern charm. Relive history at Fort Sumter or walk though the historic City Market, and finally, feast on grits and shrimp at a local restaurant.
Walk through Forsyth park, grab a coffee, and people watch at The Savannah College of Art and Design buildings. Follow it up with lunch at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room.
What better place to end your Southern road trip than the Big Easy. New Orleans is a city filled with history, tragedy, and culture that will overwhelm you. Walking through the French Quarter is a rite of passage for all new visitors, as well as buying an original work of art in Jackson Square.
Are there any places you'd add to the Ultimate Southern Road Trip? Let us know in the comments!
Kathryn Crow is a freelance writer who currently lives in Ohio with her family of almost five.