On the Road Trip

U.S. Road Trips: The South

by Team Gentedimontagna
Photo courtesy of Early Girl Eatery.

Roadside diners, Blue Ridge mountains, Main Street, biscuits, banjos, and more. With the help of friends and admired travelers, we compiled a list of weekend road trip destinations in the southern United States. Are we there yet?

Jump to: Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | North Carolina | South Carolina | Tennessee | Texas | Virginia 


FLORIDA

 

Photo courtesy of Casa Monica.

Head to St. Augustine

If you're in the mood for a historic, laid-back beach town with an artists' colony vibe.
Route to take: I-95 to the Jacksonville Beaches, then scenic A1A down the coast.
Good to know: Grab lunch at the famous , and shop for ceramics at Market to Market on historic St. George Street. is right in the center of the action, and those trolley tours are worth a spin, too.


GEORGIA

 

Photo courtesy of Serenbe.

Head to Palmetto Springs

If you're in the mood for a weekend romp in the woods.
Route to take: I-85 south from Atlanta.
Good to know: is a sustainable farming community and inn nestled just outside the city limits, with incredible on-site dining dens and .
Read more on Gentedimontagna:

Head to Savannah

If you're in the mood for a little history with your Georgia peach. Take a history-filled bike tour with , then nosh on fried green tomatoes and candied bacon at , a mandatory stop for old-school Southern indulgence, with jazz in the historic basement bar. Stop into for killer views (and rose) and for beer tastings.
Route to take: Don't miss the peach stands on the four-hour drive from Atlanta.
Good to know: Alex Raskin Antiques (441 Bull St.; +912-232-8205) houses hundreds of antiques in an essentially untouched mansion.
Read more on Gentedimontagna: An Unforgettable Group Trip in 8 Steps


KENTUCKY

 

Cherokee Park, Kentucky. Photo by  / Flickr.

Head to Lexington

If you're in the mood for horses and bourbon. Spend a day at the track: is a racecourse famous for the Bluegrass Stake, whose winner advances to the Kentucky Derby. Dress to impress, but save your hat for the Derby. Visit , an industrial patch of land revitalized by trendy breweries, restaurants, and ice cream shops, but save room for dinner at .
Route to take: If you don't mind taking a little detour, head northwest from Nashville and drive through before turning northeast toward Lexington.
Good to know: For real-deal Kentucky fried chicken, go to .
Read more on Gentedimontagna: Bourbon for Breakfast. Playing the Ponies at Lunch. Fried Chicken for the Plane Ride Home.


NORTH CAROLINA

 

Photo courtesy of Cucina 24.

Head to Asheville

If you're in the mood for stunning mountains, music, and eats. A perfect evening involves a nibble at followed by live music at . down by the railroad tracks is the best in town.
Route to take: Anything that passes through the Blue Ridge mountains. Bonus points if you make a stop along Virginia's heritage trail (banjo optional).
Good to know: Flex your artsy muscles at .
Read more on Gentedimontagna: A Sweet and Smoky Food Tour of Asheville

Head to the Appalachian Forests

If you're in the mood for scenic mountainscapes across three states. Late June brings the blooming of Roan Mountain's rhododendrons. September brings stunning hues of deciduous leaves.
Route to take: Start just north of Asheville. Zip-line through the leafy canopy at ; later, stretch your legs with a hike off Route 143 in Roan Mountain State Park. Don't miss a homemade Southern-style breakfast at and a local brew at Barley's Taproom — Asheville was for the fourth year running. Drive through Roan Mountain State Park, straddling the NC-TN border.
Good to know: Bristol's main drag, State Street, has the distinction of falling along the Virginia-Tennessee border. Great burgers can be found at

Head to Wrightsville Beach

If you're in the mood for boogie boarding and flip-flops.
Route to take:
Zip down from Raleigh (two hours).
Good to know: There are 44 public access points along the stretch of Wrightsville and four public parking lots with restrooms. Amenities like public volleyball nets, , and are clustered around , as are slightly bigger crowds.
Read more on Gentedimontagna:


SOUTH CAROLINA

 

Photo courtesy of The Vendue.

Head to Charleston

If you're in the mood for a culinary hotbed in the prettiest Southern town. Drop off your bags at historic , , or . If love is in the air, check into (one of Gentedimontagna's Most Romantic Hotels in the USA).
Route to take: After your city fix, drive for an hour to , a stunning nature preserve.
Good to know: Book tables at , , , , and .
Read more on Gentedimontagna: Charleston Guide


TENNESSEE

 

Photo courtesy of Warehouse Row.

Head to Chattanooga

If you're in the mood for Southern-style cool. Check out the chic 's cafes, historic buildings, and galleries. has recently become a haven for shopping, dining, and strolling.
Route to take: It's about 130 miles (or a two-and-a-half hour drive) southeast of Nashville. You can zip down I-24. If you've got a boat, you can make a grand entrance via the Tennessee River.
Good to know: has beautifully appointed rooms in three restored turn-of-the-century homes. There's a free shuttle line to help you get around the district.
Read more on Gentedimontagna: Where to Go from Nashville

Head to East Tennessee

If you're in the mood for The Great Smokies, bluegrass, and country kitsch.
Route to take: The one that leads you to Dolly's homeland.
Good to know: Hike Mount Lecont and rest your toes at . Take a spin around during the day (your visit earns you lifelong music street cred) for rides and bluegrass music a plenty. Dine in a log cabin at at night or splurge on an unforgettable meal at .

Head to Leiper's Fork

If you're in the mood for a funky little country town.
Route to take: Drive 30 minutes south of Nashville on the heavily wooded, historic Natchez Trace Parkway.
Good to know: Drop by to scout antiques. Have lunch at , a meat-and-three with nightly live music. Pick up provisions at .
Read more on Gentedimontagna: Nashville Guide


TEXAS

 

A historic house from 1861 in Jefferson, Texas. Photo courtesy of .

Head to Jefferson

If you're in the mood for antiques and good old-fashioned biker bars.
Route to take: Just west of Texarkana, the 59 leads you in from points North or South and the 49 from the west.
Good to know: serves up the fried pickles while Allman Brothers cover bands play. The people watching can't be beat. Stay at a Victorian B&B like and antique your heart out at the dozens of shops on Austin Street.

Head to San Antonio

If you're in the mood for a vibrant city with a colorful history and strong culinary scene. Check into the newly opened Roman and Williams-designed . Built inside an old brewhouse, the industrial-chic hotel is part of a larger cultural village on the site of what was formerly the Pearl Brewery. Dress the part in a custom-made guayabera from . (Designer Caroline Matthews is also responsible for the light blue seersucker robes at Hotel Emma.) The local food scene is top-notch: Start with globally inspired barbecue and craft beers at .
Route to take: Drive down I-35E S and I-35 S for four and half hours until you hit San Antonio.
Good to know: Skip the state's most famous battle site and spend your last day floating down the Guadalupe River with an  in hand.

Head to Austin

If you're in the mood for hip indie hotspots alongside old-school mainstays. Stroll down South Congress Avenue and end up at for some of the best live music Austin is so famous for. Stay for dinner at the for bowling and the best enchiladas of your life. Check out the landmark and feel like a cattle baron among the cowhides and sultry music.
Route to take: Take I-35 North from San Antonio, or if you're coming from Dallas on I-35 South, stop at , a luxurious retreat just 40 minutes from downtown Austin.
Good to know: If you're feeling artsy, head to East Austin, which has managed to retain roots in art and the local community.
Read more on Gentedimontagna: Everything Old Is Cool in Austin


VIRGINIA

 

Ah, country life! Photo courtesy of Red Fox Inn.

Head to Middleburg

If you're in the mood for a romantic weekend with a backdrop of rolling green hills and grazing horses.
Route to take: Drive a little over an hour on Route 50 east of Washington, D.C. The charming was established in 1728 and has been visited by historical greats like George Washington, John F. Kennedy, and Elizabeth Taylor. Try for farm-to-table French cuisine sourced from the onsite organic herb and vegetable gardens.
Good to know: With a glass of ' 2010 Lost Mountain (a cabernet sauvignon and merlot blend) at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The intimate winery accepts , so book in advance.

Head to Sperryville

If you're in the mood for scenic hikes and truly stellar meals.
Route to take: The 72-mile drive takes approximately two hours by car. Don't miss the scenic that winds through the and features waterfalls and starry skies. Chef Patrick O'Connell at oversees one of the world's only double five-diamond establishments where chawanmushi (warm, local duck egg "tea cup" custard with ginger-scented Asian tea) and carpaccio of herb-crusted baby lamb loin are the orders of the day. Once in a blissful food coma, repair to one of the historic Relais & Chateaux's sumptuous suites and take in the garden views. Bring someone special: The Inn is one of Gentedimontagna's Most Romantic Hotels in The South.)
Good to know: Check out will be depressing, so stock up at the Inn's where chef O'Connell has selected exquisite kitchen items, including Laguiole knives and artisanal cheeses.


MORE FATHOM-APPROVED GETAWAYS

Have you seen our list of the Most Romantic Hotels in The South?


Special thanks to contributors Tiffany Davis, Becca Dollan, Kate Donnelly, Brooke Lewy, Laura Siciliano Rosen/, Beth Silverman, Caitlyn Slivinski, Christina Ohly, Kim VanderVoort.

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