In response to travel articles about interesting places in the world or in the U.S., I decided to write a more localized version. At first it was difficult to think of iconic places, but then it became difficult because of the many great places that couldn’t make the cut. Here are my picks:
The South has much to be proud of, and you don’t have to put up with Yankees or go all the way to California to find experiences to remember.
Blue Ridge Parkway: Hwy. 1 in California may be spectacular, but we have the Blue Ridge Parkway, a ribbon of highway across the Appalachians. Talk about wonderful vistas, especially in the fall when the leaves turn red and orange, no place on earth is more scenic or more popular.
Florida Keys: For a unique atmosphere with scenic beauty, how about the Florida Keys? The colors of the ancient coral reefs beneath the sea are breathtaking and the city of Key West is a relaxed, sub-tropical spot that is one of a kind.
Graceland: Visit the home of the late Elvis Presley in Memphis. 141 platinum and gold records attest to the fact that he is the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Thousands of fans have paid homage to his memory, making Graceland the most visited home in America after the White House.
Grand Ole Opry: An entertainment icon featuring legendary country music singers in live performances also broadcast on the radio. The show attracts thousands of visitors from around the world to Nashville.
Myrtle Beach: While many sing the praises of the beautiful sandy beaches of Miami Beach and Pensacola, southerners have discovered their own seashore paradise and Redneck Riviera at Myrtle Beach, SC.
Dollywood: If amusement parks float your boat, you probably think of Disney World, but don’t forget Dollywood, a family vacation Mecca nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains and loaded with rides and musical entertainment. It is only a short drive to the most visited National Park in the U.S.
Hot Springs: Nothing can beat Yellowstone for geothermal activity, for sure, but the South has Hot Springs, Arkansas, our smallest National Park. You can soak in soothing thermal waters and enjoy the pleasures of a natural spa resort in a historic setting.
Colonial Williamsburg: For a taste of colonial times, this restored historic area in Virginia has become a must-see attraction for history that predates the American Revolution. Nearby Jamestown was the first English settlement in America.
Daytona Speedway: Southerners are shade-tree mechanics at heart and big fans of cars and motor sports. Daytona is the Indianapolis of the South and the most prestigious NASCAR racetrack, confirming auto racing as a southern passion.
Stone Mountain: With giant carving of Confederate military leaders, Stone Mountain, GA, has been called the Mt. Rushmore of the South. From Ft. Sumter, SC, where the first shot of the War Between the States was fired, to Appomattox Courthouse where Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered, the South has an abundance of battlefields and memorials of the War Between the States.
Atlanta: The bustling hub of today’s South, Atlanta is appropriately located in the heart of the Old South. The birthplace of civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, it claims CNN News headquarters, the Atlanta Braves, Coco-Cola, the Atlanta Aquarium and some nightmarish traffic.
Kitty Hawk: Where the Wright Bros flew the first airplane, and the world was changed forever. The South is still home to numerous aviation and space localities, including Cape Kennedy, NASA Space Museum in Huntsville, AL, and Pensacola Naval Air Station, home of the Blue Angels.
Kentucky Derby: Southerners love tradition and Louisville is host to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Almost as important as the world-class racing is the fashion spectacle of ladies in sundresses and wide-brim hats that make it not only a horse race but a true southern experience.
Rock City: A roadside attraction made famous by “See Rock City” signs on the roofs of barns and red birdhouses, Rock City in Chattanooga is little more than an area of interesting rock formations with a view of the city; however, the success of clever advertising has made it a world-famous attraction.
You are probably making a mental list of your own by now, so grab the camera and the kids, take to the road and see these nearby sites right in our own backyard.
Copyright 2012 Sheila Moss