Ultimate U.S. Road Trips Part One: The Southeast
We all love to travel, and Willie Nelson expressed it best as he sang “just can’t wait to get on the road again”. The U.S. is full of interesting routes surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, and each of them offers a truly unique experience. Today, we’ll examine some of the most interesting routes in the Southeast of U.S. If you crave adventure and wish to enjoy the wonders of nature, buckle your seat belt and get ready to hit the highway.
This will be the first part of a series that will cover ultimate road trip ideas throughout various regions of the United States. Let’s see what the Southeast of the U.S. has to offer.
1. Blue Ridge Parkway: 469 Miles of Captivating Beauty
Blue Ridge Parkway will welcome you with its sweeping curves and eye-catching natural beauty. This iconic mountain road runs 469 miles through North Carolina and Virginia, following the Blue Ridge Mountains closely and connecting Shenandoah National Park with the Great Smoky Mountains. The scenic landscape on each side of the road includes river valleys, mountain crests, shrubs and wildflowers that will captivate your senses. The route is especially mesmerizing during the fall, when the foliage turns vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange. Interesting locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway include Civil War battle sites, Virginia’s Natural Bridge, and Looking Glass Rock.
2. Tail of the Dragon: The Legend of Route 129
All die-hard motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts know about this legendary route: Tail of the Dragon is a must-visit destination. Despite being only 11 miles long, it includes 318 curves and is often referred to as “a roller coaster for adults”.
Even though there are no intersecting roads that would slow down your driving when braving the Dragon Tail, caution is advised while testing your cornering skills on this legendary part of U.S. Route 129.
Tail of the Dragon is located on the Tennessee and North Carolina state line and is bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest. The short route has become a major attraction for many motoring fans, who can unwind at the local Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort and enjoy great food at the conveniently named Dragon’s Den Grill. Various dragon sculptures lie scattered along the roadside, and when you finish the route, you can enjoy the scenic view over the horseshoe-shaped Chilhowee Lake and the lush forests and evergreen mountains from the overlook.
3. Blues Highway: Music Lover’s Paradise
The Blues Highway along U.S. Route 61 will take you on an unforgettable journey to the birthplaces of famous artists and homes to vinyl record shops and countless blues clubs scattered from St. Paul to St. Louis, through Nashville, Memphis, Clarksdale, and New Orleans.
Take a break and visit one of the many juke joints hosting local talent. You’ll relish in the thump of guitar chords and local charm, which is the perfect backdrop for music lovers. To fill your stomach, try some of the tastiest southern cuisine at the many barbecue pits and down-home restaurants. Don’t leave the area without visiting Morgan Freeman’s “Ground Zero Blues Club” in Clarksdale or “The Stax Museum of American Soul Music” in Memphis.
4. Coast Trip through the Low Country: 200 Miles of Coastal Delights
Riding along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia brings you the sights and smells of tidal marshes, rivers, estuaries, and the ocean. The stretch is just over 200 miles long, starting in Charleston, South Carolina and ending in Savannah, Georgia. Unwind and enjoy the salty sea breeze, ancient forests, lazy rivers, old towns and isolated islands while travelling on this route.
This is an area rich in history and cultural heritage, so don’t miss out on exploring Charleston and its beautiful architecture, St. Helena Island and Savannah and its gothic atmosphere. The proximity of the ocean and an abundance of fresh shrimp, fish, crab, and oysters mold the local culinary identity, so do not skip on local specialties in one of the many restaurants.
5. Overseas Highway: The Key of Beauty
The Overseas Highway gives you the opportunity to explore a beautiful coral cay archipelago without leaving the country. The “Highway that Goes to the Sea”, as it’s often referred to, is the main coastal road between Miami and Key West. The iconic “Seven Mile Bridge” is an integral part of the route, and its 6,765 miles made it one of the longest bridges in the world when its first section opened in 1912. It has been the setting for action scenes in numerous movies, including “2 Fast 2 Furious”, “Mission Impossible III” and “License to Kill”.
The Overseas Highway runs through the Florida Keys, the southernmost point in the continental United States, and it’s the ultimate road trip destination of many ocean lovers, especially because it takes you across coral and limestone islets. Enjoy breathtaking sunsets that send radiant hues of coral and tangerine orange, gold and lavender blue across the sky, and visit The Florida Keys History and Discovery Center to gain more knowledge about the region.
6. Pig Trail Scenic Byway: Rugged Forest Beauty
The Pig Trail Scenic Byway is a 19-mile mountainous stretch of Highway 23 that passes through the picturesque Ozark National Forest in Arkansas.
There are various myths about how this road got its name. Some believe it was due to the large number of feral and domesticated pigs that roamed the area. Others claim the road resembles the curly tail of most pigs. No matter the truth, you’ll enjoy spectacular waterfalls, unique rock formations, scenic mountain views, and the Mulberry River.
To get the best taste of nature in this location, be sure to visit Eureka Springs Village and the White Rock Mountain Recreation Area, where you will be greeted by the tranquility of the forest and its magnificent trees and wildflowers.
Taking these trips is an excellent way to get a closer look at the beautiful Southeast region and collect priceless memories, enjoy nature and sample some of the country’s tastiest culinary delights.
Have you visited any of these locations?
Which locations in the Southeast have you visited that are not listed here?
Please share your experiences, impressions and recommendations in the comments below!