12 Spots We Missed on Our Southern States Road Trip
Our southern United States road trip took us from inland Arkansas and the banks of the Arkansas River to the warm waters of Florida’s Gulf Coast, stopping at many iconic spots along the way. But that trek was just a small sample of the food, music and culture the South has to offer. Here are 12 more spots that we’re eager to visit during our next trip to the region.
Little Rock Central High School – Little Rock, Arkansas
Erick Gustafson/Creative Commons
When it was built in 1927, a group of architects named Little Rock Central High School “the most beautiful high school in America.” Thirty years later the school became a major symbol in the United States Civil Rights struggle when nine African-American students insisted on attending what had been an all-white school. While it’s still a functioning high school, tours are available.
Arkansas River Trail – Little Rock, Arkansas
A 142-kilometer loop through Arkansas, the Arkansas River Trail connects 38 parks, six museums and more than 2,000 hectares of parkland. We’re excited to get back and explore it on bike, foot or inline skates—even if it’s just the smaller 25-kilometer loop from the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge in Little Rock.
Garvan Woodland Gardens – Hot Springs, Arkansas
Jim Gourley/Creative Commons
Located at the University of Arkansas in the southwest corner of the state, the Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs will show us why Arkansas is known as The Natural State. Under a canopy of pine trees lie flora and fauna, 7.2 kilometers of wooded shoreline, and rocky slopes.
Delta Blues Museum – Clarksdale, Mississippi
Visit Mississippi/Creative Commons
Robert Johnson isn’t the only bluesman from Clarksdale, Mississippi. The Delta Blues Museum celebrates the region’s rich musical history that influenced performers around the world. We’re excited to see the Muddy Waters guitar, which was crafted from a blank of wood from the legend’s cabin and used on tour by the band ZZ Top.
Square Books – Oxford, Mississippi
An independent bookstore on Oxford, Mississippi’s town square, Square Books is located in the former hometown of writers William Faulkner, Barry Hannah, Larry Brown, Willie Morris and John Grisham. The bookstore has a deep selection of classic fiction with a focus on Southern writers.
Follow the Natchez Trace Parkway – Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee
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Beginning in the southwest part of Mississippi and continuing 715 kilometers, cutting into Alabama before ending in Nashville, Tennessee, the Natchez Trace Parkway offers a look at both lush scenery and 10,000 years of North American history. Natchez is believed to be the oldest European settlement on the Mississippi River. We’ll plan a little extra time so we can get out of the car and hike, bike or camp, too.
Tupelo Automobile Museum – Tupelo, Mississippi
James Case/Creative Commons
Starting with an 1886 Benz and ending with a pristine 1994 Dodge Viper, the Tupelo Automobile Museum leads visitors through almost 100 years of automotive design and engineering history. Located in the town where Elvis Presley was born, the museum includes a Lincoln once owned by The King.
Muscle Shoals/Fame Recording Studio – Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Ralph Daily/Creative Commons
From Aretha Franklin and Little Richard to Jason Isbell and Band of Horses, Fame has recorded some of the best musical artists of the past 56 years. On a tour of its studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, we’ll be able to see behind the scenes at the venue that has produced work that has sold more than 350 million albums worldwide.
Old Cahawba Archaeological Park – Selma, Alabama
Jeffrey Reed/Creative Commons
The former state capital of Alabama, Cahawba became a ghost town after the U.S. Civil War in 1861-1865. Now it’s an archeological site with ruins from the early 1800s. Historians and archeologists are in the process of discovering more about its past in the hopes of creating a permanent interpretative park. To that end, they are in the process of restoring a 150-year-old church.
Mobile Carnival Museum – Mobile, Alabama
The Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel
While the most famous Mardi Gras takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana, Mobile, Alabama is where the carnival began. The Mobile Carnival Museum commemorates the history of the celebration, showcasing the accessories of Mardi Gras kings, the construction of floats and the art of costume design.
Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum – Pensacola, Florida
VISITFLORIDA/Colin Hackley/Creative Commons
It’s 177 steps to the top of the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, but the sweeping views it offers of three forts, the Pensacola skyline, the historic Navy Yard and the spot where Pensacola Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico make it well worth the climb.
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge – Tallahassee, Florida
With more than 28,000 hectares, including 69 kilometers of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is home to a wide variety of plants and wildlife. We’re eager to look for them across its coastal marshes, islands, tidal creeks and estuaries. The refuge was created to be a winter habitat for migratory birds.
Check out the highlights of our southern states road trip.
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