The South is a beautiful, sprawling mish mash of history, pine trees, and fried foods. This is our culture and it’s as broad and sprawling as some of our cities. Ask anyone to define what’s so great about the South and you’re probably not going to get a word into the conversation for a while. So while we’re not going to sit here and tell you what the South is, we’d love to show you a few examples.
We present to you now a few great Southern culture stops we saw in 2018. We hope they’ll remind you just how many different and wonderful experiences you can have below the Mason Dixon line. Stops are listed in alphabetical order by city because, come on, we’re not ranking which cities are better than others.
College Football No Matter The Season
ATLANTA, GEORGIA | The South is built around gathering points, be it a bustling port, a local watering hole, or a secret fishing spot. Well, college football might be the biggest gathering point of them all. This is the activity that brings people together every Saturday in the fall and has inspired communal joy (and heartbreak) across the South for generations. You can experience every moment of that history at the College Football Hall of Fame in Downtown Atlanta no matter what time of year or who you root for.
Sailing Out For Seafood
BILOXI, MISSISSIPPI | We visited a ton of great museums this year, but this is the only one that took us on a boat ride. At the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum you can get the full Biloxi historical experience by heading out on one of their schooners for a trip through the Gulf. Our captain, Ron Reiter, has been sailing since he was 6-years-old and is one of a dwindling number of captains who can actually operate a schooner. We loved his personal sea stories just as much as the folklore of Biloxi.
A Landlocked Naval Museum
COLUMBUS, GEORGIA | It would be fair to wonder why a landlocked city is the home of a naval museum. Well, did you know Columbus was a critical strategic point for both armies in the Civil War thanks to its placement on the Chattahoochee River? This place is full of fascinating facts like that as well as a few actual war vessels. Take a stroll through here then get out on the river for yourself to see why this town is so great.
A Town Built Around An Arts School
GATLINBURG, TENNESSEE | Art museums are a great way to learn the history of an area but we think art schools are even better. Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts started out as a general school and medical clinic when Gatlinburg was still a group of homes off in the Smoky Mountains. Now students can spend a day or weeks on the historic campus immersing themselves in training for a new skill. And don’t worry, if you’re not ready to get your hands messy yet, there are a few beautiful galleries you can wander for an afternoon.
Getting Lost In Louisville
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY | Louisville is one of the oldest towns in the South and it’s been a Southern staple since Colonel George Rogers Clark parked his troops on the banks of the Ohio River. We got the complete tour of Louisville history through a city-wide scavenger hunt put on by the folks at The Louisville Quest. Sign up for a quest and wander through the history of the city, the journey of Muhammad Ali, or learn a thing or two about bourbon. These tours are fun for all ages and one great way to see a few stops in a city rich with history.
A House That Saved Lives
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE | It’s one thing to hear the stories of the Underground Railroad. It’s another thing entirely to actually stand in a highly trafficked spot on the road to freedom. Memphis was one of the busiest and most dangerous cities for people making the perilous journey to Canada and Jacob Burkle’s home housed hundreds of them. Hear the story of one brave family and stand in the basement safe room to experience exactly what a stop along the railroad was like. More than one of our crew members got choked up during our visit here.
A Studio In A Swamp That Changed Music Forever
MUSCLE SHOALS, ALABAMA | Step inside the Fame Studios and it’s easy to lose track of time and that’s not just because it’s windowless and perfectly soundproof. This is where dozens of your favorite albums were recorded, where The Allman Brothers Band was formed, and where people like The Rolling Stones made intercontinental pilgrimages to find “the Muscle Shoals sound.” Here you learn the stories of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and stand where Aretha Franklin stood to record her first single, “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You).” We just said this place was soundproof but you can still hear the soul bouncing off the walls at Fame.