Holiday Time

Fun and Fireworks: 14 Events Celebrating Independence Day (June 2017)

Celebrate 2017 Mardi Gras in the South (February 2017)

Three Festive Ways to Avoid Going Stir Crazy Before the Holidays (December 2016)

30 Ways to Get Your "Jingle" On in the South (December 2016)

Five Ways to Experience the Holidays "Louisiana-Style" (December 2016)

"Brighten Up" Your Holidays with These Holiday Light Displays (November 2016)

Red, White, Blue and You: Fourth of July Celebrations in the South (July 2016)

Drops, Celebrations and More: Memorable Ways to Welcome in 2016 (December 2015)

Spark Your Holiday Spirit with the Many Events Happening Around the South (December 2015)

Six Places to Celebrate the Holiday Season (December 2015)

So Many Ways to Kick Off the Holiday Season in the South (November 2015)

14 Dazzling Holiday Light Displays Throughout the South to Enjoy Now (November 2015)

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New Twist on an Old Favorite: Amping Up the Grilled Cheese (April 2015)

Celebrate National Soup Month Anytime with Recipes from Benchmark Resorts & Hotels (January 2015)

Move Over Ball Drop - This is How the South Welcomes in the New Year (December 2014)

Ways to Get Your Holiday On in the South (December 2014)

Liven Up Your Thanksgiving Meal with Some Myrtle Beach, S.C.-Style Comfort Foods (November 2014)

Warm Up the Days and the Nights with These Chili Recipes (October 2014)

Creating the Perfect Cheeseburger with Crawford Ker on National Cheeseburger Day (September 2014)

Celebrate National Martini Day with these Recipes (June 2014)

It's Great to be King...Celebrating Mardi Season with King Cake Creations (February 2014)

Celebrate Your Valentine with a Getaway (February 2014)

A MoonPie, Pickle, Red Stick and More...Welcoming in the New Year in the South (December 2013)

Celebrate the Holidays with a New Orleans' Reveillon Dinner (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide...Packages and Escapes (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Books (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Food and Beverage (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Made in the South (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Experiences in the South (December 2013)

End Your Holiday Meal on a Sweet Note courtesy of Chef Sara Thomas (November 2013)

From Their Table to Yours: Holiday Recipes from The Carolina Inn (November 2013)

Firing Up the Grill: Tips and Recipes for a Successful and Tasty Grilling Season (May 2013)

Breakfast for Mom, Southern-Style (May 2013)

Mom-Worthy Hotels in the South (May 2013)

Talkin' Mardi Gras, Shreveport, La. Style (February 2013)

Southern Style: 13 Things You Must Do in 2013 (January 2013)

Holiday Joy: Tips for Creating the Perfect Gingerbread House (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Secret is in the Sauce at Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Make It Memorable and Give the Gift of an Experience (December 2012)

8 Reasons to Visit Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights this Season (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Chef's Table at Emeril's Delmonico (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Simply Ballastone Cookbook (November 2012)

Treat Your Mom to One of These Eight Southern Destinations (May 2012)

Seeing Various Shades of Green: St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations in the South (March 2012)

It’s Mardi Gras Time in the South (February 2012)

Celebrate Elvis Presley’s Birthday in the South (January 2012)

A MoonPie, a Pickle, a Horseshoe and More: Ringing in the New Year Southern-Style (December 2011)

Celebrate the Holidays New Orleans-Style with a Reveillon Dinner (December 2011)

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Holiday Fun in the South After Thanksgiving (November 2011)

Holiday Fun at Gaylord Opryland (November 2011)

Tours and Treats Along Virginia’s Inn to Inn Cookie Trail and Tour (November 2011)

Celebrating Milestones in the South (August 2010)

5 Activities that Add a "Sizzle" to Your Summer Vacation (June 2010)

Forget Gifts, Give Experiences This Mother’s Day (April 2010)

Celebrating Mardi Gras 2010 (February 2010)


Published: January 2013
Southern Style: 13 Things You Must Do in 2013  

2013 is here, and while you might be busy planning your New Year’s resolutions (and promising to keep them), don’t overlook making some travel ones.

Here are 13 things to do in the South that you want to have checked off your list by the time 2013 comes to an end:

1. Take home local: Postcards and ornaments may make great souvenirs, but make it a point this year to beyond the standards when bringing home some tangible memories from your trip. For instance, purchase a box of candy home made from local candy makers or grab a bottle or two of wines from a local winery. Other suggests include if you are visiting Chattanooga, Tenn., take home your favorite flavors of soda from Pure Sodaworks. Happen to be Gatlinburg for a weekend? Impress everyone at home with a jar of moonshine from Ole Smoky Moonshine. Stopping in Biloxi, Miss. for a quick visit, then don’t forget get some Lazy Magnolia beer. In Kentucky, you can go wrong with a bottle of bourbon from any of their distilleries.

2. Stay Unusual: Let 2013 be the year you adopt the thought of ‘never be ordinary’ when it comes to hotel stays. Enjoy a safari-lite experience at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas. There are many opportunities to view animals from the Lodge, Foothills Safari Camp (tents) or Wolf Ridge Nature Camp (cabins.) Relax in apartment-like settings above Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Miss. Never know, you might get to overnight Morgan Freeman’s room. Be sure to sign a wall before you leave. Celebrate Christmas year-round at Inn at Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Rooms are adorned with holiday decorations. When you opt for either a king mini-suite or a two-room themed suite, you can gaze at the fully decorated mantel and in-room Christmas Tree. Sleep with the fish (in a good way) when you stay underwater at Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Fla. Don’t worry if you aren’t a certified diver, because the facility offers a discover SCUBA course that once passed allows you to stay overnight.

3. Eat Well: We in the South love our food, and take our meals very seriously. Treat yourself a few times this year to places like High Cotton in Monroe, La., or Epic in Columbus, Ga. Taste regional fare along Southwest Alabama’s Culinary Trail or the Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail.

4. Rediscover “Old”: What’s old is new again when it comes to destinations and places. This year, the state of Florida is celebrating its 500th anniversary with various celebrations and events. Also, 2013 is the final year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C.,  is celebrating its 100th birthday this year as well.

5. Take a Tour: From culinary tours to historic tours to ghost tours and more, there is truly a tour (either guided or self-guided) in the South for every interest. If you are looking for something a little different, consider one of North Carolina’s pirate tours or the educational and fun, “Where Hollywood Meets History” Richmond (Va.) Film Tours.

6. Enjoy a Festival (or Two): Much like eating, southerners also enjoy celebrating and try to find any reason to throw a party. Throughout the year, during many weekends, you probably aren’t too far from a festival or two. The tough choice you have is deciding which one (or ones) to attend.

7. Learn Something New: Taking a class or building on skills is perhaps one of the more popular (and often repeated) resolution. Stick to it this year by adding a element of fun. For instance, you can participate in a cooking class offered through Viking Cooking School (Baton Rouge, La., Greenwood and Ridgeland, Miss., Atlanta, Franklin and Memphis, Tenn.) or learn how to drive a NASCAR race car through Richard Petty Driving Experience (Texas Motor Speedway, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Bristol (TN) Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Orlando/Walt Disney World Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kentucky Speedway.) Let Colonel Michael Masters teach you the nuances of bourbon with a bourbon tasting at Chapeze House in Bardstown, Ky. Learn how to distill moonshine with a Moonshine Distilling Class at Dark Corner Distillery in Greenville, S.C. Get adventurous by learning how to rappel or rock climb through classes with True Adventure Sports in Fort Payne, Ala.

8. Explore the Outdoors: The region provides of wealth of ways to enjoy and explore the outdoors. Hike a portion of the A.T. (that’s the Appalachian Trail) off the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or you can choose another way get outdoors in the Smoky Mountains. Go horseback riding at Hilltop Riding Stables in Fort Gordon, Ga. ( near Augusta, Ga.) Like to kayak? How about paddling the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Go YOLO boarding on Western Lake in South Walton, Fla.

9. Push Yourself: Get out of your comfort zone this year by trying something new. Go zip lining, there are a number of places in the South to try it. And remember, you can start small and work your way up. Take a biplane ride at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Fla. Helicopter over the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or other parts of the area with Scenic Helicopter Tours in Sevierville, Tenn. Explore caves like the Caverns of Sonora Texas, Cathedral Caverns in Woodville, Ala., or Linville Caverns in Marion, N.C.

10. Go Beyond: This year, don’t settle by always finding a way to further an experience.  When the opportunity presents itself, go with it. Swim with manatees at Plantation on Crystal River in Florida, or dolphins at Gulf World Marine Park in Panama City Beach, Fla. Go behind the scenes at Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta or Gulf Breeze   (Fla.) Zoo. For history buffs, don’t miss going where not many have gone before at the Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C., or Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Va.

11. Small Towns: Filled with charm, unique characters and many stories, small towns are special in the South. Find this out for yourself over one Saturday or one weekend.

12. Get Lost: Think you know everything about your favorite destination? Think again. Why not get lost (safely, of course) and explore that side road, or find out what’s on the backroads. You just might be surprised.

13. Take a Road Trip: Find out how many new places can you visit in 2013. All you need are free weekends, a map (or GPS), your keys and a sense of adventure.

photos: private collection

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