There is nothing quite like summer in the South. Heat and humidity aside, the region offers a lot to keep everyone busy and satisfied during the long summer days. Regardless of your interest, time and budget, the South has you covered when it comes to boredom-busters and unique experiences.
Here are some suggestions to get you started on creating a summer to remember.
...As you know, the South doesn't lack when it comes to beaches. From beaches along the Gulf Coast to those on the Atlantic, each have their own personalities and activities. Truthfully, you can't go wrong with visiting any of them.
While there is a lot of focus on the beaches, don't overlook the variety of lakes (along with their activities) in the region. Learn to windsurf
on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Ga. Practice YOLO-boarding (SUP) on Western Lake in South Walton, along Florida's panhandle, or at Stonewall Jackson Lake
in Roanoke, WVa. Go after the "big one" on Lake Eufaula
or Lake Guntersville
(both part of the Alabama Bass Trail
), Lake Toho
in Kissimmee, Fla., Lake Hartwell
in Fair Play, S.C., or Lake Cumberland
in Somerset, Ky. Rent a floating lake house
on Norris Lake in Norris, Tenn., or a cabin
at the Atchafalya Basin with Atchafalaya Basin Landing & Marina in Henderson, La. Go water-skiing
on Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Ga. Take a guided boat tour of Lake Caddo
on the Texas/Louisiana border or Lake Lure
(N.C.) Learn how to row
with the Austin Rowing Club on Lake Lady Bird in Austin, Texas. Rent a pedal boat at Lake Tika O' Khata Resort
in Louisville, Miss., or Lake Fairfax Park
in Fairfax, Va. Dive into Lake Rawlings
in Rawlings, Va.
If you want a little more when it comes to your water experience, go whitewater rafting. Take on the rapids in such places like Columbus, Ga
., or on the Ocoee River
in Ducktown, Tenn., Chattooga River
on the South Carolina/Georgia border, Nantahala
in Bryson City or French Broad River
in Marshall, N.C., or New River Gorge
in West Virginia.
Get misted or sprayed on an airboat tour. Explore such rivers as the Choctawhatchee in Homes County, Fla., with Jeep Sullivan's
Outdoor Adventure, the Brazos in Cleburne, Texas with Brazo River Adventurez
or the St. John in central Florida with Firestorm Airboat Tour
. Head into the southern swamps with Gulf Coast Gator Ranch
in Moss Point, Miss., or Bayou Black Airboat Swamp Tours
in Houma, La.
For a water experience a little less intense, but still a lot of fun, "Ride the Duck" (and enjoy a tour) at Stone Mountain Park
(Georgia)., in Newport, Ky
., or Panama City Beach, Fla
Relax and enjoy the natural scenery in downtown Augusta, Ga., as you ease down the Augusta Canal
in a Petersburg boat.
Go tubing along the 'Hooch (Chattahoochee) in Helen, Ga
., or along the Bogue Chitto River in Franklinton, La
., and hope you don't turn over.
...For land lovers, there are many ways to carve out an adventure or two. Go zip lining at Historic Banning Mills
in Banning, Ga., try the Blue Ridge Experience with Navitat
in Asheville, N.C., or the Hummingbird Ziplines
at Gulf Adventure Center at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Ala. Amp up your experience by zip lining underground with Mega Zips
offered in the Louisville (Ky.) Mega Cavern. For something a little unusual, check out Forever Florida's (St. Cloud, Fla.) Cypress Canopy Cycle
Beat the summer heat when you explore the caves at Florida Caverns State Park
in Marianna, Fla., Tuckaleechee Caverns
in Townsend, Tenn., or Mammoth Cave National Park
(Ky.) View the Natural Bridge Caverns (Texas) on a Lantern Tour
. Take the glass boat bottom ride
through the caverns at Lost Sea in Sweetwater, Tenn.
Like heights? Like bridges? If you answered "yes," test those likes on the New River Gorge Bridge catwalk
in Lansing, WVa.
Go horseback riding. Take a guided tour with Oak Hollow Farm
in Fairhope, Ala., Long C Trails
in Tenn./Ky., or in Shenandoah National Park
in Luray, Va. If horseback riding isn't your thing, there's llama trekking with Smoky Mountain Llama Treks
in Cosby, Tenn., or when staying as a guest
at Applewood Inn in Lexington, Va.
Take a hike. Explore a portion of the Appalachian Trail from places like Amicalola Falls State Park
in Dawsonville, Ga., and Great Smoky Mountains National Park
. Check out the Florida National Scenic Trail
. Covering 1,300-miles, the trail begins in Big Cypress National Preserve and ends at Gulf Island National Seashore. South Carolina is home to the 80-mile Foothills Trail
Tour Big Bend National Park in Texas on a guided ATV tour
with Far Flung Outdoor Center, or explore Virginia's outdoors with Appalachian Adventures in Luray, Va.
Get muddy with ATV Swamp Tours
, outside of New Orleans or with Carolina Backwood's "down 'n dirty" tour
, outside of North Myrtle Beach, N.C.
... Catch a show in places like Pigeon Forge, Tenn
., Myrtle Beach, S.C.
, or Elkins, WVa
. Listen to storytellers at the Wren's Nest
in Atlanta or the Storytelling Live! Teller-In-Residence
at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tenn. Support local community theaters like Vicksburg (Miss.) Theatre Guild
. Stop by the Knoxville Visitors Center at noon, Monday - Saturday, to be a part of the Blue Plate Special
, WDUX's free music show. Enjoy a performance of The Stephen Foster Story
in Bardstown, Ky.
... The South is filled with minor league baseball teams with names like the Montgomery Biscuits
(Ala.), Charlotte Stone Crabs
(Port Charlotte, Fla.), Chattanooga Lookouts
(Tenn.), Myrtle Beach Pelicans
(S.C.), Durham Bulls
(N.C.) and Lynchburg Hillcats
(Va.). Catch a game or two, and yell for the "boys of summer."
... Get in the car and explore sections of the Natchez Trace Parkway
, the Blues Highway
(Highway 61), Creole Nature
Trail or the Blue Ridge Parkway
. Try craft brews along Louisiana Brewery Trail
. Discover new eats with the Mississippi Seafood Trail
. Get some weekend road trip ideas from Alabama Roadtrips
. Get off the main road and see Tennessee
through the trail and byways. Find your favorite barbecue place
in South Carolina. Feel the beat of the music along southwest Virginia's Crooked Road
heritage music trail. Sample small batch bourbon along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour
Take a tour. Visit a museum. Explore your area. Get lost and find what you can discover.
Celebrate (the) Region
... No matter what time of the year it is, the South knows how to throw a party. Where ever you may be, chances are, during the weekend, you are close to an event or two. Keep informed with SHM-Traveler on what's happening close by.
photo credit: (top left) Floating lake homes on Norris Lake; (top right) Exploring Choctawhatchee River; (middle left) Horseback riding with Oak Hollow Farm; (bottom left) Creole Nature Trail