With summer coming up quick, you’ll need to start researching, planning, and preparing. Knowing the best adventures for the summer is the first step, so let’s get started!
In this article, we’re going to show you some of the best places to visit in the Southern United States this summer. This region includes Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma.
No matter what you are looking for – museums to gardens to mountains – we’ve got you covered. So start planning and get ready to pack your bags, adventure is right around the corner!
Known for being the birthplace of the nation, Virginia is a historic state producing most of the country’s tobacco. Along with the tobacco industry, Virginia is also known for being the home of Washington D.C. (borders Virginia & Maryland).
Not much needs to be said about this wonderful location. The capital is one of the most popular destinations in the US and is home to many historical monuments including the Washington Monument, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and plenty of others. Along with these amazing monuments, also make sure to check out the White House, the United States Capitol, and the National Building Museum.
A historic location that truly represents the American sacrifice. Arlington is home to the Arlington National Cemetery which is also where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier lays. An inspiring and remarkable sight, the changing of the guard is a must-see.
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
Monticello was the primary plantation of Thomas Jefferson. It is the same location featured on the back of the current US Nickel. Monticello features beautiful gardens, rich history, and a lot of interesting things to see and do. Well worth a visit.
Noted for its rolling hills and beautiful mountains, West Virginia is heaven for people who love the great outdoors. Perfect grounds for almost any outdoor activity, a lot of natural scientific research and caving occurs in gorgeous West Virginia.
New River Gorge Bridge
For years the New River Gorge Bridge was the largest single-span arch bridge with an arch of 1,700 feet. Now the third largest, this incredible bridge is huge in person and an architectural masterpiece.
Hawk’s Nest State Park
This state park spans 370 acres and offers beautiful view points of the land in West Virginia. With many outlooks and stopping points, this state park is filled with incredible hiking trails, a lodge, a swimming pool, and even a restaurant.
Grandview State Park
Another incredible state park in West Virginia, Grandview offers inspiring views and beautiful lands. This park also provides incredible views of New River which will be great during the warm summer months.
Maryland is home to America’s first railroad station (Mount Claire Station) which was built in 1830 and located in Baltimore. Maryland is also known for its spectacular seafood, most notable are their crabs, perfect for a summertime seafood feast!
This historical coastal fort is known for its miraculous star shape and also for defending Baltimore in the War of 1812. In 1939 it was deemed a National Monument and a Historic Shrine. Another interesting fact about this monument is that after the U.S. defeated the British, they flew a large Garrison flag to signal their victory. This inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” which was later turned into the Star Spangled Banner after it was set to the tune “To Anacreon in Heaven.”
Deep Creek Lake
The largest inland body of water in Maryland and also man-made, this incredible body of water has over 65 miles of shoreline. Perfect for summertime fishing, this lake is home to many different species of fresh water fish.
American Visionary Art Museum
America’s official museum for intuitive, self-taught artistry and is also a national education center. While even the building is a work of art, the Museum prides itself for preserving and displaying outside art.
Kentucky is home to the Kentucky Derby, the oldest continuously held race horse and also the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. Featuring beautiful, vast lands, Kentucky is another great state for outdoor lovers!
The famous. The notorious. The prominent. Churchill Downs is the famous race track which holds the Kentucky Derby every year on the first Saturday in May. This beautiful race track is heaven for horse lovers, even throughout the year in the Kentucky Derby Museum.
The Big Four Bridge
Once used for trains and railway equipment, but now a walkway and bike path, the Big Four bridge is an incredible bridge connecting Louisville, KY and Jefferson, IN offering some great views of both towns on each side of the Ohio River.
Red River Gorge
The Red River Gorge is a canyon system inside of Daniel Boone National Forest featuring sandstone cliffs, rock shelters, waterfalls, and natural bridges. The abundance of cliff lines and sandstone have made it one of the world’s top rock climbing destinations and is even nicknamed “The Red” by the climbers.
“The Country Music Capital of the World.” Tennessee is a beautiful scenic state housing over 3,800 caves to explore and the largest freshwater aquarium!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National park is one of the largest protected masses of land of the eastern United States. It also encompasses more than 522,000 acres and is one of the first state parks to be partially funded by federal funds.
Beale Street Historic District
Located in downtown Memphis, the historic Beale Street District is a significant blues and jazz town where many traveling musicians used to perform in the late 1800’s. Later in the early 1900’s, much of the land was purchased by African Americans and turned into restaurants, bars, and jazz clubs.
The capital of Tennessee and also a college town with many students and activities to go around. Along with this, it is a big music hub nicknamed “Music City, U.S.A”.
North Carolina is filled with wondrous nature and tons of mountains. It is also home to Mount Mitchell, the highest point East of the Mississippi River, standing at 6,684 feet.
Asheville is a quaint, historical town with a mix of city and nature. Here you will be able to find some amazing restaurants, beautiful hikes, and lovely downtown walking – fun for the whole family.
The Biltmore Estate
Feast your eyes on the largest privately owned house in America. The Biltmore Estate is an illustrious piece of work taking up over 178,000 square feet and is one of the most prominent examples of the Gilded Age that still remains.
Blue Ridge Mountains
Staying true to their name, the Blue Ridge Mountains are called this because of the blue glow that the trees give off when looking from a distance. This is because of the isoprene that the trees emit into the atmosphere. This wonderful science phenomenon provides incredible views and a unique look.
Grandfather Mountain is the highest peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains and well-known for its mile high swinging bridge.
From beaches to forests to cities, South Carolina has it all, especially in the summer time! Whether you are visiting the well-known Myrtle Beach, exploring historic Charleston, or adventuring through one of the various state parks, you are bound to have a good time.
Reedy River in Falls Park
A beautiful community and city around the falls of Reedy River in Greenville, SC provides great photo opportunities as well as a comforting atmosphere with southern hospitality.
Huntington Beach State Park
This state park is an awe-inspiring coastal preserve with a large sandy beach and a wide variety of birds to watch and observe. This is a great state park to come to and relax on the beach after a long, exhausting trip.
This is the second largest and the oldest city in South Carolina and is quite a big tourist attraction. Known for its preserved architecture, incredible restaurants, and its hospitality, Charleston has been named “America’s Most Friendly City” by Travel + Leisure.
Georgia is the largest state East of the Mississippi River and holds many beautiful mountains, scenic attractions, and family fun! Home to the Coca-Cola Museum, the Georgia Aquarium, and much more, Georgia has endless sights to see for any adventurer.
Atlanta is the capital and largest city in the state of Georgia. Atlanta is also an “alpha city” meaning that they impact the economy in many great ways in e-commerce, research, finance, technology, art, media, and more!
The Georgia Aquarium
A must see for families! The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere and houses thousands of different animals and thousands of different species all of which live in 10 million gallons of U.S salt water.
The oldest city in Georgia, Savannah, is a beautiful, artistic town home to the Savannah College of Art & Design, the Telfair Academy of Arts & Sciences, and various other art schools. This is also where many southern, historical attractions including the Old Colonial Cemetery, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Old Harbor Light, and many more fascinating sights are found!
Home of Universal Studios and Disney World, along with many beaches and miles of coast line, Florida is a perfect travel trip for the family. Endless palm trees and sun on your skin will keep a smile on your face and a nice, relaxing stay.
Spanning a massive 1.5 million acres, the Florida Everglades are home to thousands of different animals, plants, and Florida wildlife. With endless nature opportunities, these wetlands will provide great photo and adventure opportunities!
The Keys are a coral cay island chain that extend and make up the southern-most part of the United States. At the lowest point, you will be only 90 miles from Cuba and surrounded by crystal clear waters and the hot sun.
Miami is a major center for finance, art, media, tourism, and more. Along side this, Miami is also known as the “Cruise Capital of the World” for its vast seaport area allowing many cruises to come in and out at all times of the year.
Filled with everlasting forests, the Mississippi River, and more nature, Mississippi is an outdoorsman’s dream. Rolling hills and beautiful waters cover the state and provide amazing adventure opportunities all over.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Featuring natural beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, islands, bayous, historic sites, and more this seashore is sure to fulfill your beach and nature adventure desires!
The Mississippi River
The famous river that runs through the center of the United States is over 2,000 miles long and it is the second largest drainage system in America only standing behind the Hudson River in New York. Including bright colors, mucky swamps, and many nature walks, the Mississippi river – which is found in many more states than just Mississippi – is a great outdoor adventure, just don’t forget your bug spray.
Vicksburg National Military Park
This historic site is the location of preserved land where the American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg was held. The park has a cemetery for the veterans, a canal by the name of Grant’s canal, and many other monuments and landmarks to explore and learn about.
Nicknamed the Yellowhammer State because of the state bird, Alabama is a southern territory filled with good eats, a ton of wildlife, and lots of football fans. Whether you are visiting to see landmarks & monuments, historic Mobile, or just coming to watch football, you will be sure to have a fun time in Alabama.
Civil Rights Memorial
In the 1950’s-60’s many lives were lost for a greater cause – equality and justice. Today, and everyday, we honor these 41 men and women for their brave sacrifice. The memorial was created and designed by Maya Lin whom based it on the southing and healing effects of water, using inspiration from Martin Luther King, Jr.
Battleship USS Alabama
The sixth battleship of the U.S. Navy to be named after Alabama, the ship was fighting in 1942 and fought through WWII until it was decommissioned in January of 1947. About 20 years later the ship was taken to Mobile Bay and has been used as a museum since.
Monte Sano State Park
This publicly owned state park consists of more than 2,100 acres and includes picnic areas, modern campsites, and scenic views of Monte Sano Mountain. The name comes from its Italian meaning “Mountain of Health” which is where they sent cholera and yellow fever patients to healing retreats so they could become healed.
Arkansas’ geography ranges from thick forests to big mountains to lowlands throughout the state. Perfect for outdoor adventures, camping, hiking, and backpacking!
Hot Springs National Park
This National Park was actual the first piece of land that was set aside by the government for future recreational use. It was created before the concept of National Parks had become a common thing and the hot springs are still thought to have medicinal powers which may or may not be a myth passed down from the Native Americans.
The Old Mill
The Old Mill, or the T.R. Pugh Memorial Park, is a re-created version of a late 1800’s water-powered mill located in Little Rock. Because of its beautiful scenery and picturesque views many wedding photographers come here and create magical photos.
Garvan Woodland Gardens
Just a few miles away from Hot Springs National Park and owned by the University of Arkansas, these beautiful botanical gardens feature incredible flowers including camellias, magnolias, roses, and many many more.
Much of the land in Louisiana was formed by sediment that was washed down from the Mississippi River forming enormous deltas, vast swamps, marshes, and other natural attractions. Louisiana is also known for its multicultural atmosphere including many French, Asian, Native American, and African American citizens.
The French Quarters
This is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans with many of the buildings being built in the 1800’s and 1900’s. Because of this, the district has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Located in New Orleans, city park is 50% larger than the famous Central Park and the 20th most-visited park in the United States. City park is also home to the world’s largest collection of mature oak trees, some older than 600 years old.
These wonderful gardens were created in 1895 by a man named Edward McIlhenny who raised eight egrets in captivity until one fall he let them go for migration. The following spring, they returned, and with other egrets. They have continued to do for years and years and now live in the gardens during appropriate times of the year.
Known for being the second largest state (area & population), Texas has diverse geographical features and incredible wildlife. Not only is Texas an amazing state in terms of nature, it is also home to wonderful, urban cities such as Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and more.
Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
Located in Eastern Dallas, this iconic arboretum spans 62 acres and includes many fountains, views of Dallas’ skyline and of course, thousands upon thousands of plants and flowers. With over 15 separate gardens, you will be surrounded by endless flowers and wildlife.
Home of the grounds of the famous Battle of the Alamo. On this land in 1865, the Texan Army was left defeated with every member of the army dead. Riddled with revenge and disgust, many Texas settlers and adventurers joined the Texan Army and defeated the Mexican Army, thereby ending the revolution.
San Antonio River Walk
Also known as Paseo del Rio, this scenic river walk is a network of paths along the river. Just one floor before the city, the walk is lined with bars, restaurants, shops, and other attractions.
Big Bend National Park
Located in southern Texas, this national park covers over 800,000 acres and houses the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology. This park is great for photography and hiking, as it provides some of the greatest views in the southern United States.
Being the state capital of Texas and also the fastest growing large city in the United States, Austin is a beautiful city with many scenic views with urban architecture.
Oklahoma’s state name is derived from a term meaning “red people” and the state is known as The Sooner State. Oklahoma is also a large producer of agricultural materials and is known for its vast farm land and rolling hills.
Myriad Botanical Gardens
Not only does the majestic botanical garden span 17 acres, but it also has an interactive, urban park in downtown Oklahoma City. Perfect for families and also a great spot for wedding photography and scenic videography.
Philbrook Museum of Art
This beautiful art museum is located in a historic house in Tulsa, Oklahoma and also includes some formal gardens. The main art focus that the Philbrook stands for is Native American art including baskets, pottery, jewelry, and paintings.
These wondrous falls are the largest in Oklahoma streaming at 77 feet high. The falls are located in the scenic Arbuckle Mountains which is perfect for taking photos and enjoying scenic views.
We hope this summer is packed with adventure whether you travel to the South or not. Be sure to share this article with your friends and let them know the best adventures of the summer in the Southern United States! Also, stay tuned for more adventure ideas and fun trips for the summer. :) Happy travels!