Summer in the South calls to mind lazy days, country music, and tantalizing barbecue and seafood. To explore these hallmarks and more — vineyards, wildflowers, and antebellum homes, to name a few — do as the Southerners do and take it slow on these road trips through some of the country’s most beautiful and unique regions.
Delta Blues Highway, TN
From Memphis to Vicksburg, Route 61 is a winding discovery of music new and old. Follow in the footsteps — or tire tracks, rather — of musical giants from B.B. King to the King of Rock and Roll himself. Traversed by these legends and more, the road seems to honor what it’s seen — or more importantly, heard — with near–incessant tunes pouring from every dive bar, neighborhood church, and fellow cars on the road, filling the air with R&B, soul, gospel, and blues. Trace the legacy left by the Tennessee musicians with pit stops at juke joints, retired cotton farms, and down-home diners serving mouthwatering barbecue.
Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail, TX
Spring may be the height of bluebonnet season, but summer on the Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail still affords many colorful views and picture-perfect vineyard stops. Quench your thirst and stroll the vines at any (or all) of the seven wineries included in the trail, such as waterfront Peach Creek Vineyards or Saddlehorn Winery, with a quintessentially Texas barn-like tasting room. If you’d like to continue on, you’ll reach the scenic chain of interconnected lakes on the Colorado River outside Austin. Then, as you approach Fredericksburg, you’ll be greeted by the exploding hues of Wildseed Farms, the nation’s largest working wildflower-seed farm, where butterflies flit between the vibrant fields of flowers.
Blue Ridge Parkway, NC and VA
469 miles of the Appalachians wait to amaze you on the winding mountain path of Blue Ridge Parkway. Around each corner is another panorama encompassing waterfalls, rugged forests, and breathtaking valley views. If you want to stretch your legs, pull off by Humpback Rocks for a trek or a picnic amidst natural rock formations. Top it off by catching a sunrise or sunset at Waterrock Knob for a brightly hued natural light display.
The Great River Road, LA
Journey into the heart of the south with a drive through the quintessential sugar plantations and associated mansions of Louisiana. Antebellum architecture is in full force on the Great River Road, each plantation deeply enmeshed in lush greenery that adds to the take-it-easy, slow as molasses vibe of the sugar cane fields. Venture down the 100-mile Plantation Alley between Baton Rouge and New Orleans to admire the grand, pristinely white homes surrounded by gnarled live oaks draped in Spanish moss.
Low Country, SC and GA
The 200 miles of coastline that make up the Lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia are marked by marsh grass, live oak trees, and seemingly endless water of all kinds: estuaries, rivers, tidal marshes, and, of course the Atlantic. Journey between Charleston and Savannah to experience the unique charms of two of the region’s most famous cities, and don’t shy away from veering off to the islands dotting the coastline, marked by shrimp trawlers and “pluff mud,” the dark marsh soil left by receding tides. Soak in the salty air, and don’t forget to make frequent stops for some of the world’s best fresh seafood.