Summer is the perfect time for vacation. the kids are out of school, work slows down, and every person feels the pull to get out of town. But, air travel is looking particularly sketchy and most of the standard places you visit are starting to get tired. It’s time for someplace new, a place at the end of an eventful stretch of road that promises everything you are searching for.
We’ve got you covered.
We’ve put together a diverse list of diverse destinations that are worth the drive. Whether you are traveling with friends, your whole family, or alone (but why?) seeking adventure, history, rest, or to escape you will find something to love in each of the following destinations.
10 Best Southern Destinations for Your Summer Vacation:
1. Austin, Texas
With over 250 music venues, iconic movie theaters, a variety of spa resorts, and plenty of recreational areas, Austin is a can’t-miss destination. You can take on Austin in a cosmopolitan way, taking in the food, museums, and historic sites or recreationally swimming in Barton Springs, paddleboarding on Lady Bird Lake, hiking in the Hill Country, or catching a show downtown. You could also parlay Austin into a longer trip, making stops in San Antonio (under 2 hours away) or Fort Worth (3 hours) before heading home.
Austin is also home the best breakfast sandwich of all-time and Paper Boy.
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The B.E.C. looking 👌 this morning thanks to @infatuation! Thanks for the love! ・・・ Austin is famous for a lot of things – music, migas, BBQ, @sxsw – but we're here to tell you that their breakfast is also pretty damn good. The 17 best breakfast spots according to @infatuation_atx, up in bio. #EEEEEATS
2. Big Bend National Park, Texas
This park is one of the most beautiful and awe inspiring parks in the country. The rugged and vast terrain is looks like something out of a John Wayne movie and is ideal for an extended camping trip. If you aren’t the “roughing-it” type, there are a few hotels ranging from ranch-like to historic to luxurious. No matter where you stay, make sure to get away from the city lights at night. There is no better place to see the Milky Way than Big Bend.
3. Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited park in the world. Most visitors come to see the fall foliage, but you should go for the fireflies. These aren’t normal fireflies that blink at random. Fireflies in the Smokies blink in sync, lighting up the forest with thousands of tiny flashes. The lighting only happens between the third week of May and the third week of June, so plan accordingly. Even if you can’t see the synchronous fireflies, there is plenty to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg and a dozens of breathtaking day hikes.
4. Bentonville, Arkansas
Ten years ago, the home of Walmart used to be a dumpy little town. Today, Bentonville is one of the fastest growing areas of the country and a testament to what can happen when a corporation invests in its city. Bentonville oozes culture with dozens of excellent restaurants around the city’s quaint square and Crystal Bridges, one of the country’s finest American art museums, which is free, thanks to the Walton family. If you enjoy the outdoors you can spend the day on Beaver Lake, a gorgeous recreational lake just outside of the city, catch some trout in the White River, or hike in one of the many state parks nearby.
5. Key West, Florida
Key West is a bucket list destination for any road warrior. It’s where the road runs out, the edge of America. Mile 0. But this is not the edge of culture. The Island is packed with character, history, great food, beaches, and hopping nightlife. Once you get there, ditch your car for a bike and head down to Caribbean Coffee Queen for a large Cafe con Leche and a Cuban Sandwich. Then you could spend the day at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, paddle boarding, snorkeling with manatees, fishing, or anchored in a quiet cove for some well deserved R&R.
6. Outer Banks, North Carolina
Outer Banks is a 130 mile string of barrier islands full of bustling tourist attractions and sleepy fishing villages. You could keep your head down and sleep at the beach all day, golf until you get sick of swinging your sticks, learn about the pirate-laden history, or fly at Kitty Hawk where the Wright brothers made their historic first flight. The only problem with Outer Banks is that you probably won’t be able to do everything in one trip.
7. Lexington, Kentucky
The rolling hills of the Bluegrass state will lull you into deep relaxation before you can say “Seabiscuit.” Lexington is the “Capitol of Horse Racing,” home to some of the most beautiful and storied horse farms in the world. It is also the heart of bourbon country, the city the Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Town Branch and Wild Turkey distilleries call home. It is a hidden gem of southern culture and should not be missed.
8. Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is wonderfully unexpected: it is a coastal town with reams of history and an artistic community that rivals any city in the country. This small town has something for everyone offering adventure, culture, and plenty of restful resorts. You would be hard pressed to find something not to love about this Georgia peach.
9. Memphis, Tennessee
Between Graceland and Beale Street, Memphis absolute must for any music enthusiast. But don’t just come for the blues. Memphis is one of the Barbecue capitals of the world, hosting the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest and some of the best hole-in-the wall rib joints in the south. Memphis is also home to the largest sporting goods stores in the world. The Bass Pro Shop in the Pyramid is a 535,000 square foot sportsmen’s paradise 600,000 gallons of water habitats and wilderness hotel. It’s the craziest outdoors experience you will ever have indoors.
10. Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf Shores is the perfect destination for the person looking for a classic beach getaway who doesn’t want to deal with the fuss of Florida crowds. It is only an hour south of Mobile, making it easier to get to than Destin, while boasting the same amenities: pristine beaches, great fishing, golf, and plenty of sun. There’s are few better ways to spend a summer vacation than spending your days on the beach, eating fresh seafood for dinner, and falling asleep to the sound of rolling waves.