Nature

13 Best Road Trips in the Southern U.S.

When it comes to stunning views from your RV’s windshield and lots to do, the southern part of the U.S. has plenty to offer. 

Sorting it out and figuring out where you want to go can be a big job, however. 

Fortunately, there are lists available that can help you plot out a route. For example, Best Life put together a list of the “Best Road Trips in the South.”

To make it easy, I put the list below:

Key West to Amelia Island, Florida
Start: Key West, Florida
End: Amelia Island, Florida
Distance: 557 miles

Florida’s eastern highway hugs the Atlantic coast, stretching from Key West on the southern tip up to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, below the Georgia border. Along the way, feel free to pull over at whatever beach strikes your fancy. Other attractions include St. Augustine’s rich history (established in 1565 by Spanish explorers), the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, the surf at Melbourne Beach, and, of course, Miami’s famed nightlife scene.

Bourbon Trail, Kentucky
Start: Lexington, Kentucky
End: Louisville, Kentucky
Distance: 130 miles

The bourbon trail is a must for those visiting Kentucky (though requires a designated driver, of course). Popular distilleries — Town Branch, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, and Angel’s Envy, among others — dot the rolling hills between Lexington, Elizabethtown, and Louisville. At each location, visitors can learn about the process and taste the fruit of master distillers’ labor. Along the way, you’ll also be able to take in the state’s best barbecue and bluegrass music.

Skyline Drive, Virginia
Start: Front Royal, Virginia
End: Rockfish Gap, Virginia
Distance: 105 miles

Skyline Drive is a great route because it slices through the center of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The 105-mile ridge road will take you through some of the most stunning Appalachian peaks while snaking through a landscape that also includes plenty of wetlands and waterfalls. 

Scenic Highway 30A, Florida
Start: Sandestin, Florida
End: Inlet Beach, Florida
Distance: 24 miles

Florida locals know all about this secret hideaway in the Panhandle between Pensacola and Panama City Beach. From I-98 near Sandestin, merge onto Scenic Highway 30A, which is an artery that strings together a cluster of beach towns on the Gulf of Mexico. Each enclave offers its own personality, from the quirky art community of Grayton Beach, the postcard-perfect Seaside (as seen in The Truman Show), and the design-forward Alys Beach, which hosts the Digital Graffiti Festival every May. 

Houston, Texas to New Orleans, Louisiana
Start: Houston, Texas
End: New Orleans, Louisiana
Distance: 347 miles

Mosey east from Houston along the 347-mile drive to New Orleans, making sure to experience the region’s treasures on the way. Examples? Canoe the swampy Lake Martin, listen to toe-tapping zydeco music in Lafayette, and wander the antebellum Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie (made famous as the backdrop of Interview with the Vampire). And, of course, when you make it to New Orleans you can reward yourself with stuff like beignets and bourbon in the French Quarter.

Memphis to Nashville, Tennessee
Start: Memphis, Tennessee
End: Nashville, Tennessee
Distance: 212 miles

Tennessee is the beating heart of American music with proof in form of Elvis Presley’s estate, Graceland, as well as the the Stax recording studio, the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, the Ryman Auditorium, The Country Music Hall of Fame, and Grand Ole Opry — and all before catching some live tunes at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, a classic honky-tonk. Check out our video below from last year on RVing to a Nashville Family Vacation.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina
Start: Rockfish Gap, Virginia
End: Cherokee, North Carolina
Distance: 469 miles

It’s not hard to see why the Blue Ridge Parkway has the nickname of “America’s Favorite Drive.” The 469-mile route offers the best of the Appalachian range, connecting Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park with North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Suggested route: Start at the northern entrance in Rockfish Gap, Virginia, then drive south, passing through Roanoke before entering North Carolina. Of course, Asheville is a popular stop.

Savannah, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina
Start: Savannah, Georgia
End: Charleston, South Carolina
Distance: 107 miles

Savannah is nicknamed “The Hostess City” for its legendary Southern hospitality. The historic district is a must, offerings cobblestone squares, Gothic-Revival architecture, and manicured parks. Movie buffs might want to stop and take a few pics at Chippewa Square, the location of the iconic park bench filmed in Forrest Gump. Travel north along the coast toward Charleston, and you’ll pass through quaint low-country communities including Bluffton and Beaufort. In Charleston, explore the Fort Sumter National Monument, soak up the sun in Folly Beach, and eat your fill of signature seafood.

Austin to San Antonio, Texas
Start: Austin, Texas
End: San Antonio, Texas
Distance: 80 miles

Think of Austin as the Brooklyn of the Lone Star State. This young, vibrant capital has it all—live music, killer eats, and a central location just an hour outside Texas Hill Country. Spend some time in the city itself and enjoy outdoor activities such as paddling on Lady Bird Lake and swimming in the Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park. Then, drive west to Fredericksburg and explore the more than 20 Texas Hill Country wineries. The rest of the journey south is winding through a chain of charming German towns like Gruene and New Braunfels. End the journey in San Antonio, where the River Walk has been revived with new restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques.

Montgomery, Alabama to Atlanta, Georgia
Start: Montgomery, Alabama
End: Atlanta, Georgia
Distance: 161 miles

In Montgomery, Alabama, check out the Rosa Parks Museum and the six-acre National Memorial for Peace and Justice, featuring sculpture and artwork by African-American artists. Heading northeast on I-85, you’ll hit Atlanta, the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., among other things. Be sure to walk through the national park named in King’s honor, which is comprised of his birth home on Auburn Avenue, The King Center, and Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he was a co-pastor with his father from 1960 until his untimely death in 1968.

Williamsburg to Mount Vernon, Virginia
Start: Williamsburg, Virginia
End: Mount Vernon, Virginia
Distance: 140 miles

In Williamsburg, visitors will find the Governor’s Palace, which served as the residence for the Royal governors and later as the home to post-colonial leaders Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. Next up, check out the state’s five James River Plantations, built around the country’s earliest European settlement, Jamestown, established in 1619. When you get to Richmond, swing by the capitol building; designed by Jefferson in 1785, it was the first state capital after the Revolutionary War. Then, head north to check out George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon.

Dallas, Texas to Little Rock, Arkansas
Start: Dallas, Texas
End: Little Rock, Arkansas
Distance: 319 miles

Culture vultures will adore Dallas for its world-class Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture while nature enthusiasts might want to spend an afternoon running or biking on the 3.5-mile Katy Trail. On the way to Arkansas, stretch your legs in Sulphur Springs at the quirky Southwest Dairy Museum or at Cooper Lake State Park. Kids will appreciate the Discovery Place Children’s Museum in Texarkana or the Museum of Discovery in Arkadelphia. Roll into Little Rock and explore the 1,000-acre Two Rivers Park or the city’s zoo, which boasts more than 600 native and exotic animals.

Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee
Start: Natchez, Mississippi
End: Nashville, Tennessee
Distance: 444 miles

The picturesque Natchez Trace Parkway is one of the longest road trips in the South, delivering 444 miles through three states (Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee). The route follows the “Old Natchez Trace,” a historic trail used first by Native Americans then by early European settlers, tradesmen, and soldiers. Whether hiking, camping, horseback riding, or cycling strikes your fancy, there are near-endless opportunities along the route.

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