Enjoy a Weekend in Alabama

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway in the great state of Alabama, then you’re in luck with this excellent, detailed, and informative travel guide from Southern Living. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, Alabama has plenty of great places to explore. From hiking to boating and camping, there’s something for everyone in this historic, cultural epicenter of the American South. So pack your bags and read on to discover the magic of Alabama.

Lake Martin, Alabama

Lake Martin is a picturesque lake in Tallapoosa County, Alabama It has become a weekend getaway for many of Birmingham, Montgomery, and even Atlanta, as it has become known for its clear water and beautiful scenery. The lake is home to a variety of fish, including bass, catfish, crappie, and bream. There are also several species of turtles and snakes. The lake is popular for swimming, boating, fishing, and camping. There are several public beaches and boat ramps on the lake. Wind Creek State Park offers a variety of activities such as hiking, biking, picnicking, and fishing. Also, if you’re visiting in the summertime, you can check out the array of float-up restaurants on boats that are popular that time of year!

Guntersville, Alabama

Situated among the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Guntersville is a scenic spot for a weekend getaway in Alabama. The city offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and boating. There are also several historic sites to explore, such as the Guntersville Museum and Cultural Center. For a taste of the local culture, be sure to check out the Guntersville Farmers Market and the city’s annual ArtsFest.

Fairhope, Alabama

The quaint town of Fairhope, Alabama is the perfect place for a weekend getaway. The charming downtown area is full of boutique shops and local restaurants, and the beautiful Gulf Coast beaches are just a short drive away. There are plenty of things to do in Fairhope, from exploring the aquatic life via canoe or paddle boat along the Bartram Canoe Trail to exploring the natural wonders at the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.. And with fair weather year-round, it’s the perfect place to escape the cold winters up north.

Dauphin island, Alabama

Reached by way of a three-mile-long high-rise bridge, Dauphin Island is a beautiful barrier island off the coast of Alabama. It is known for its sandy beaches, clear Gulf waters, and charming small-town atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy fishing, swimming, shelling, and bird watching.

Florence And Muscle Shoals, Alabama

If you’re looking for a town inundated in Music History and American legacy, then look no further than the towns of Muscle Shoals and Florence. Muscle Shoals is located in northwest Alabama along the Tennessee River, and the city is home to the infamous FAME Studios, which is a must-see for music fans, as legends like Aretha Franklin and Etta James have recorded their music there. The city of Florence is located just south of Muscle Shoals. Like its northern neighbor, Florence is also home to a number of historic landmarks such as Helen Keller’s birthplace and housing theFrank Lloyd Wright house.

In addition to its musical history, Muscle Shoals and Florence are each also home to a vibrant arts scene. Muscle Shoals’s Downtown Arts District is home to a number of galleries, shops, and restaurants. Florence also has a thriving arts community, with several galleries and museums to explore. So, whether you’re a music fan or an art lover, Muscle Shoals and Florence are sure to offer something for everyone. So take a weekend trip and explore all that these two Alabama cities have to offer!

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The Best Southern Lakes to Visit in 2023

Simply put, there’s nothing quite like a day spent out on the lake. Whether you prefer fishing, boating, or simply soaking up the sun, there’s something magical about spending time on a large body of water surrounded by nature. If you’re looking to experience this magic for yourself, then look no further than the wide array of Southern Lakes, and thanks to this travel blog post from Southern Living, you’ll have all that you need to visit and enjoy some of the most beautiful and tranquil lakes in the country.

Lake Lanier, Georgia

If you’re looking for an ideal lake destination in the American South, know that you can’t go wrong with Lake Lanier. The Peach State’s Lake Lanier Islands is a resort that’s made up of over 200 guestrooms and 30 charming cottages that perch themselves above Lake Lanier. Located just north of Atlanta, Lake Lanier makes itself a convenient getaway destination for city dwellers.

But don’t let its proximity to the city fool you; the Lake Lanier Islands is a true oasis, complete with sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush vegetation. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy at the lake, including swimming, sunbathing, fishing, boating, and hiking. Then, when you’re ready to take a break from the outdoors, you can retreat to one of the islands’ many restaurants or shops. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a reliable vacation spot, Georgia’s Lake Lanier Islands is a destination that is sure to please.

Douglas Lake, Tennessee

Tennessee’s Lake Douglas or Douglas Lake is one of the best lakes in the Southern United States for a number of reasons. First, it is one of the largest lakes in the region, with over 20,000 acres of surface area. Second, it is located in a beautiful setting among the rolling hills of Tennessee. Third, it is one of the most popular and rewarding destinations for both fishing and recreation. This is because Douglas Lake is home to a variety of fish species,including bass, crappie, catfish, and trout. Lastly, Douglas Lake is surrounded by a number of parks and public access areas, making it easy to enjoy the lake whether you are camping, hiking, picnicking, or just enjoying a day out on the water. If you are looking for a great lake to visit in the Southern United States, be sure to put Tennessee’s Douglas Lake at the top of your list!

Lake Austin, Texas

Lake Austin is a wonderfully popular reservoir located on the Colorado River in Central Texas. The city of Austin owns more than 22,000 acres of land along the shores of Lake Austin, meaning that the lakeshore is also home to several public parks, including Bull Creek District Park, Emma Long Metropolitan Park, Mount Bonnell Shores Park, Red Bud Isle, West Bouldin Creek Greenbelt, and Zilker Metropolitan Park, so there’s no shortage of recreational space when you visit Lake Austin.

Lake Austin is well known for its recreational opportunities. The lake is widely considered to be one of the best places in central Texas to boat, fish, and swim. The Lower Colorado River Authority operates several public boat ramps around the lake and there are numerous private marinas as well. Fishing is popular on Lake Austin for species such as largemouth bass, catfish, and sunfish. The lake is also a popular swimming destination with several public beaches open year-round.

Lake Ouachita, Arkansas

Located near Hot Springs and within the picturesque Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas’s Lake Ouachita is not only the largest man-made lake in Arkansas, but it’s one of the best lakes in the Southern United States. The lake itself encompasses 1,000 miles of shoreline and stretches over 40 acres, making its clear waters and scenic beauty the perfect destination for swimming, fishing, boating, and much more. With its towering mountains and deep blue waters, it’s no wonder Lake Ouachita is such a popular destination.

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The Best Barbecue Restaurants in the American South

The United States is a big country, and that means there are a lot of barbecue restaurants to choose from. But which ones are the best? Thanks to this excellently researched travel blog post from Southern Living that counts down the 50 best barbecue restaurants in the Southern United States, there’s never been a better time for a barbecue road trip. From Texas to Tennessee, these restaurants will satiate your cravings for slow-cooked barbecue, savory side dishes, and southern hospitality. So whether you’re looking for ribs, pulled pork, or brisket, be sure to check out this list before your next BBQ road trip.

There’s no denying that the South has some of the best barbecue food in the country. The following are just a few of the reasons why the South has the best barbecue in the United States. First, the proof is in its history. Barbecue has been a part of Southern culture for centuries, and it’s something that locals take great pride in. When it comes to barbecue, the South simply knows what they’re doing. Secondly, the flavor; southern barbecue is all about slow-cooking meats over low heat to get that perfect balance of smoke and flavor. This cooking method lets the natural flavors of the meat shine through, and results in some of the most delicious barbecue you’ll ever taste.

Thirdly, there are the excellent side dishes. No Southern BBQ meal is complete without a heaping helping of coleslaw or baked beans on the side. Lastly, the hospitality is simply unmatched. When you eat barbecue in the South, you can expect to be treated like family. Whether you’re at a casual roadside stand or a fine dining restaurant, southern hospitality will make you feel right at home.

If you find yourself in Texas wanting to seek out some excellent barbecue, you’re in luck. The state is home to some of the best barbecue restaurants in the country. Franklin Barbecue: Located in Austin, Franklin Barbecue is widely considered to be one of the best barbecue joints in Texas (and the country). The line to get food here can be long, but it’s definitely worth the wait. Elsewhere in Texas, be sure to check out the Pecan Lodge. A favorite restaurant of Dallas, the Pecan Lodge has won numerous awards for its delicious barbecue, and its notable brisket. Lastly, Texas has Killen’s Barbecue, which is located in Pearland (just outside of Houston). Killen’s Barbecue has been voted one of the best barbecue restaurants in Texas by multiple publications.

Mississippi has no shortage of excellent barbecue restaurants. In particular, one of the prides of the state and Ocean Springs, Mississippi is The Shed Barbecue & Blues Joint. This restaurant has been serving up some of the best barbecue in Mississippi for over 25 years. The Shed is known for their pulled pork, ribs, and chicken, and they also have a great selection of sides and desserts. Located in the Mississippi towns of Gulfport, Hattiesburg, and Ocean Springs is Murky Waters Blues and BBQ. This restaurant is also a vibrant blues club that serves up an authentic Mississippi atmosphere alongside its world-class smoker.

If you’re looking for some of the best barbecue in Arkansas, look no further than Sims Bar-B-Que in Little Rock. While the original restaurant was started in 1937, the modern-day Sims is still satisfying customers with its world-famous Sims Bar-B-Que Sauce. Check out Sim’s pork shoulder, as it’s slow-cooked to perfection and smothered in a tangy, slightly sweet sauce. Another can’t-miss barbecue destination in Arkansas is Whole Hog Cafe, also located in Little Rock. As the name suggests, this restaurant specializes in whole hog roast, and it’s definitely worth trying if you’re a fan of pulled pork. The meats are smoked over hickory wood for hours until they’re perfectly tender, and the resulting sandwiches are absolutely awesome.

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Swimming Holes To Visit in the American South

Are you tired of spending the summer months soaking in salty oceans or over-chlorinated pools? If so, you may want to consider this list of the best swimming holes to be found in the south from Southern Living Magazine.

Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy some cooling water in the summer months that doesn’t involve sand, beach parking, or pool chemicals. If that sounds ideal to you, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to travel too far to enjoy it, because there is an easy-to-reach beauty in your own backyard that you should check out: a natural swimming hole. After a day of hiking, biking, and climbing at nearby state parks like the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or Roan Mountain State Park, you’ll find these places are more than just great for outdoor recreation – they’re also located close to a refreshingly beautiful swimming hole in their own right.

Mississippi’s Black Creek in DeSoto National Forest

A great way to get out of the Mississippi summer heat and cool off is by visiting the swimming hole in DeSoto National Forest known as Black Creek. The Black Creek is a National Scenic River, meaning that this river is so remarkable in terms of scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, or historic value that the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service has designated it and given it our nation’s strongest form of protection for free-flowing rivers and streams. In addition to this designation, the Black Creek also features multiple sandbars along its expanse that create several natural swimming holes that are perfect for cooling off and relaxing after a day hiking the Black Creek Wilderness found within the DeSoto National Forest.

Tennessee’s North Chick Blue Hole

The North Chick Blue Hole is a beautiful, secluded collection of swimming holes located in the woods along Walden’s Ridge and the Cumberland Plateau near Chattanooga, Tennessee. The river gorge found here has several large boulders along the waters, disrupting the flow and thus creating several swimming holes all along the creek. Better yet, these boulders serve as excellent ledges that are perfect to jump off of into the waters below, making this the perfect spot for any outdoor adventurer seeking to keep cool this summer.

Texas’s Barton Springs Pool

One of the outstanding crown jewels of Austin, Texas is the Barton Springs Pool, a 3-acre, water-filled area nestled within the beautiful Zilker Park. This mineral-fed swimming hole is within the channel of Barton Creek and utilizes water from Main Barton Spring, the fourth largest spring in Texas. Open year-round and featuring gorgeous limestone formations that reflect its natural spring waters, this natural swimming hole has been a favorite of locals and visitors alike since its opening  in 1837 shortly after the city of Austin was incorporated. The Barton Springs Pool is incredibly popular due to it being open to the public for year-round swimming and consistently hovering between 68 °F and 74 °F throughout the entire year.

North Carolina’s Cashiers Sliding Rock

If you’re looking for a fun and quirky way to spend a day or weekend in the North Carolina mountains, you have to visit Cashiers Sliding Rock. Located in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains of Jackson County, not far from Highlands,Cashiers Sliding Rock is just one of many spectacular natural attractions that draw millions of visitors every year. At the bottom of this 10-foot slide you’ll find yourself in a uniquely beautiful setting. The water is crystal clear and cool, and while you’re sliding down you can enjoy the view of hundreds of babbling brooks that feed into the larger pool of water at the bottom.

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The Best Summer Vacations

While many travelers find comfort in revisiting their old favorites during the summer months, many others find that a lot can be gained from trying out an experience that is unfamiliar, exciting, and classically summer. That’s why this article from Travel + Leisure that’s gathered 20 classic summer vacations from its readership is truly the perfect solution to those wondering how they can best add a little something new to their Summer 2022 plans.

If you’re like most people, your vacations are probably pretty routine. You go to the same place every year and do the same things. There’s comfort to be found in the summer vacation routine, but for all of the solace that predictability brings, you’re missing out on experiences that could be the answer to a question that you never thought to ask. Surveying Travel + Leisure’s suggested list of nearly two dozen “classic” summer vacation ideas” might spark your imagination to venture out of your comfort zone and into your new niche for future vacations to come.

Taking a Road Trip along the Pacific Coast Highway

This first suggestion may seem to be the most obvious, but if you’ve never hit the open road on a multi-state road tripbefore, you are sure to be surprised by how much of an eye-opening experience it can be. For the purpose of venturing out of your comfort zone, it’s suggested that you plan a road trip around locaitions new, enticing, and close-in-proximity to you, and for most, that means heading along the United States’s West or East coast during your travels.

One perfect pathway for your road trip is to venture down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). The PCH is one of the most scenic drives in the world; running from San Francisco to Los Angeles, it’s a winding road that takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of California. As you travel along the PCH, you’ll pass through several beach towns, national parks and other beautiful places, but some of the stand-outs are: San Francisco, Big Sur, and Santa Barbara.

Taking in the Sights of Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia

Alternatively, if you’re more interested in visiting fewer separate sights and seeking out enriching experiences in two classic American cities, then you should consider road tripping on the Eastern coast of the United States from Charleston, a beautiful city on the coast of South Carolina that’s full of history and culture, to Savannah, another southern pinnacle that is supplied with an old world charm and a modern flair. If you’re traveling from Charleston to Savannah via Interstate 26, then be sure to check out Historic Downtown Summerville before heading out, as it offers plenty of shops and restaurants along with historic sites like Old Towne Hall as well as several parks throughout the town where you can relax and take in the scenery. Elsewhere, plan to visit the over 35,000 artifacts on display at the Charleston Museum or simply visit the Market, located in downtown Charleston. The Market is home to different shops and restaurants, including local favorites like The Grove, Sticky Fingers Bakery & Café and more.

Once in Savannah, you’ll be able to inundate yourself with the first place you should stop is Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens. This plantation is home to a beautiful 18th century mansion and an authentic working rice plantation. You can take a tour of the plantation or just walk around and enjoy the beauty for free. Secondly, you should consider taking a tour of Bonaventure Cemetery. Understandably, a cemetery might not be the most fun sight to see, but Bonaventure Cemetery contains many interesting sculptures, mausoleums, and gravestones and is also known as “America’s Most Haunted Cemetery.” Lastly, for a little more culture, be sure to check out the Telfair Museum of Art and Jepson Center, as these two art museums showcase works by famous artists such as Picasso and Monet and also host different events throughout the year such as Jazz Concerts.

Ride the Rails in Europe

Outside of an enticing road trip, Travel + Leisure also suggests that you inject some wonder and excitement into your summer vacations by traveling by train in Europe. While there are many reasons to travel by train in Europe such as cost effectiveness or environmental efficiency, the most obvious and alluring is that it’s a great way to see the beautiful countryside of this area of the world. While it’s possible to drive through Europe, there are many beautiful spots where you’re not allowed to stop and walk around, or even pull over and snap a picture.

Hop Aboard a Cruise Line

Another suggestion for summer vacations from the article is to hop aboard a cruise, as they offer a variety of activities and entertainment that will make your trip memorable, whether it’s with family or friends. Once on a cruise, every element from food to entertainment is elevated. The cuisine that’s found on board cruises is delicious and plentiful, allowing you to choose from fine dining at a restaurant with white linen tablecloths and waiters in tuxedos or casual dining at an open-air deck buffet– depending on the mood you find yourself in. Similarly, cruises have many entertainment options available including live shows performed by professional entertainers, dance performances, piano bars and discos. Outside of performances, you can also find plenty of things to do during your down time such as golfing or shuffleboard tournaments, proving that there’s something for everyone.

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Georgia Beaches Worth the Trip

With summer just around the corner, there’s never been a better time to start preparing, planning, and maybe packing for your next trip to the beach, the unmistakable, ideal destination of summer. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to travel impeccably far in order to enjoy a beach trip in the continental United States, because thanks to this article from Southern Living detailing the best beaches in the state of Georgia, your next beach excursion is just a drive away! While many Americans think of Florida as one of the premiere beach-supplied states in the country, they often overlook Georgia beaches.  While it  only has 110 miles of shoreline in comparison to Florida’s 1,350 mi., what that figure doesn’t account for is the many patches of marshlands and barrier islands that are found throughout the Peach State.

Southern Living’s article primarily focuses on the four beautiful barrier islands that are nestled atop the Georgia coastline between Savannah, GA, and Jacksonville, FL: St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, and Little St. Simons Island—as well as the mainland city of Historic Brunswick.  These barrier islands offer visitors pristinely kept stretches of marshland that are accompanied by small islands, colloquially known as hammocks. This interspersing of marshland, islands, and beaches creates the effect of appearing as though there is a single, continuous stretch of land that reaches out to the barrier islands, making for a truly unforgettable, breathtaking scene.

In speaking about the beaches to be found on one of the four barrier islands, Golden Isles CVB, a nationally-recognized resort destination aiming to promote the Golden Isles listed above, the Golden Isles press describes them as being “loved by visitors, all of these barrier islands feature stunning beaches on the seaward side, alongside attractions, restaurants, hotels, and more. Each island has its own unique personality, from the laid-back Jekyll Islandto the luxurious Sea Island.”

One of the stand-out hits of Southern Living’s list is the inclusion of the St. Simons Island Beaches and their ability to transport you backward in time in which a pristine coastline was undisturbed and free for you to explore. What sets this beach apart from the others is that the development around the perimeter of the beach is still moderate, making it possible to still explore a lot of the sandy coastline and natural surroundings just as it was many years ago.  Specifically, at the well-reviewed East Beach, the low tide regularly exposes the sand bars and tidal pools along the beach that give a postcard-adjacent aesthetic. The most popular beach among the St. Simons Island beaches is the East Beach, located at the Historic Coast Guard Station.

Outside of the Golden Isles barrier Islands is a beach that is often noted due to its “secretive” or “off-the-beaten-path” status. This is of course Tybee’s Back River Beach, which is hidden away at the end of Highway 80. This beach is often heralded for being a relaxing, quiet, and undisturbed beach that is perfect for families due to its shallow waters and gentle surf. This makes the beach perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming. If you’re feeling up to it, use Tybee’s Back River Beach as a launching point to make your way out to Little Tybee Island, a completely undeveloped neighbor that’s located just across the river.

Generally, as long as you find yourself within the Golden Isles and their encompassing barrier islands, you’re sure to be rewarded with an assortment of activities and beach memories. Due to the temperate climate and scenic backdrops of the destination, there are ample opportunities to enjoy activities along the beachfront and adjacent beach towns during your stay. Put on your sandals and feel free to peruse the quaint beachside shopping boutiquesthat are sprinkled along the Georgia coastline, enjoy some unique and first-class dining experiences with some of the freshest seafood you’ve ever eaten, and even learn about the communities and cultures that came together to make these beaches what they are today by going on a historical tour of the area. No matter what you choose to do or which beach to experience in Georgia, you’re sure to have a great, memorable time.

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