Southern Bucket List


If there is one thing (and trust me, there's more than one thing) I've discovered in my two months interning in Southern Living travel headquarters, it's that these people know the South. Seriously–any one of the editors can rattle off where locals dine on the freshest seafood, the personality of City A compared to City B, and how on earth to pronounce that little island of the coast of Carolina. 

These erudite scholars of the South were prime suspects for assistance in compiling a Southern Bucket List. Here's their Top 40 Things to Do in the South Before You Die.

What have you done? What would you include on a Southern Bucket List?

Not for the faint of heart
1. Try hang-gliding at Jockey's Ridge in Nag's Head on the Outer Banks area of North Carolina.
2. Take an adventurous whitewater rafting trip down West Virginia's Gauley River.
3. Hike the Appalachian Trail–or at least part of the 2,000 mile trail.
4. Compete in the Texas Water Safari, the world’s toughest canoe race—"even if you only make it to the first rapids," Les Thomas says.
5. Brave the zipline adventure at Historic Banning Mills, GA.
6. Raft in Olympic glory down the Ocoee River in southeast Tennessee.
7. Swim across the Mississippi River.
8. Hike to Laconte Lodge in the Smokies. "It’s a lodge that you can only get to by a pretty intense hike," Taylor Bruce says.
9. Island hop as you sail down the Carolina coast.

Simply southern
10. Sit on a screened porch on a summer night and "just listen to the music made by the bugs and the night birds," Nick Patterson says.
11. Stroll the Alamo plaza on a moonlit night or the River Walk as the sun rises in San Antonio, TX.
12. Experience Washington D.C. in its element on the Fourth of July. "Watch fireworks, hear speeches, witness parades and feel the patriotism," Joe Rada says.
13. Catch an iconic southern sunset.

Key West, FL
Ocracoke, NC
Davis Mountains, TX
On the western steps of the U.S. Captol in Washington D.C.
On the east bank of the Mississippi River in Natchez, MS or Memphis, TN

14. "Meet even more incredible southerners," Richard Banks says. Hit up our events calendar to find some locals near you.
15. Relax at The Greenbrier or The Homestead. "To my mind, these two gracious resorts, just an hour apart on opposite sides of the West Virginia-Virginia border, ooze with Southernness. We chose The Greenbrier for our wedding reception site and The Homestead as our go-to after the reception. You can’t get more Southern—or more pampered," Carolanne Roberts says.
Shout from the stands
16. Watch southern teams tear up the NCAA college basketball charts. "See the University of Memphis men's or women's basketball team win a national championship," Richard says. "Go Tigers!"
17. Trek over to Tampa during February, March, or April to soak up MLB spring training. Take a page from the little boy I babysit and bring a couple of pens and baseballs–you're going to in the presence of greatness.
18. Tailgate at a SEC football game. Make sure you've got all you need so you can focus on tossing the pigskin or shaking that (orange-and-blue) shaker. War eagle!
Shore things
19. During the heat of the day at Padre Island, take a break and watch a release of youth Ridley's Sea Turtles–the rarest sea turtles in the world. 
20. Take a seaplane ride to the Dry Tortugas—the southernmost point in the continental U.S.
21. Dive into Rainbow Springs on the hottest day of the summer in Florida's Rainbow Springs State Park.
22. Hang ten in North Carolina. Read about Amy Bickers and her son Jacob's five days at WB Surf Camp in Wrightsville, NC.
23. Ride along 30A to see the snowy sands of the Florida Panhandle. "I grew up thinking snow was cold and wet," Carolanne says. "Now I know snowy sand is simply the coolest and those lapping waves the prettiest I’ve ever seen." Rosemary Beach, Seagrove, Seaside, Alys Beach, Watercolor, and Grayton Beach are simply idyllic. 

Get cultured
24. Discover more of the South's great music. An area that launched numerous genres and artists, the South's music scene is still hoppin'. Check out concert listings and musical festivals near you.
25. See fabulous art. Whether it's at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, or at Duke University's Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, NC–spectacular art facilities dot the map.
26. Own an southern souvenir. Traditional folk art and crafts in the South include sweetgrass baskets from the Lowcountry, blown glass pieces from Blenko Glass Company in Milton, WV; pottery from Seagrove, NC, and quilts from Gee's Bend, AL. Check here for more about the folk art scene in the south.
27. Witness the Osborne Light Spectacular at Disney World. "For Lower South Southerners who don't see much snow at Christmas, the fake flakes are sheer delight," Carolanne says.
28. Among all the sights to see in D.C., sit at Abraham Lincoln’s feet and look out on the national mall from the Lincoln Memoral.
29. Three words: Spoleto Festival USA.

30. Visit an iconic sculpture in the South. 

Castings in the battlefield at Vicksburg, VA
Monument Avenue in Richmond, VA
The Vulcan in Birmingham, AL "I live in Vulcan's shadow and know his personal charm, his park, his awesome view at night, and what he means to the history of Birmingham," Carolanne says. 

Taste tests 
31. Enjoy a cup mango ice cream at the Menger Hotel, a San Antonio, TX delicacy for more than 100 years.
32.  Finish Louisville's Urban Bourbon Trail.
33. Sip a frozen margarita while you bask on the cantina style patio at Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth, TX.
34. Eat an autumn apple you picked from a tree in the Catoctin Mountains, MD.
35. Take down a Big Orange at Tanner's Big Orange in Greenville, SC.
36. Drink a Lone Star longneck in the general store at Luckenbach near Fredericksburg, TX–in operation since 1849.
37. "I want to teach my son how to cook barbecue shoulder over a charcoal-filled hole in the ground," Richard says.
38. "Cast a net for my own dinner of shrimp," Taylor said. Look out for Joe's October issue story on this very topic.
39. Eat a dish in its native habitat. 

Sample crab cakes in Baltimore, MD
Peel shrimp in South Carolina.
Try etoufee in New Orleans, LA
Swallow oysters in northwest Florida.
Grab some brisket in Texas
Bite into Mississippi catfish.
Dine on ham in Virginia
Feast on North Carolina pork barbecue.
And of course, eat grits in any deep south state.

40. Date a southerner. More specifically, "date George Clooney," Amy says. Hey, the Lexington native counts.

A few of you were quick to Twitter more must-do's: 
Eliz_Mahaney says to check out To Kill a Mockingbird in Monroeville, AL; hit up an SEC football tailgate at The Grove in Oxford, MS; and spend some time at The Cloister in Sea Island, GA.
My friend Juliabiebs reminded me that Priester's Pecans in Fort Deposit, AL has delectable and renowned candy.
Danieldreher mentions that a weekend at Lake Martin near Alexander City, AL is a must-do as is a golf trip at the Peninsula Golf Club in Gulf Shores, AL.
RobbieChampion piped in, reminding us to tour the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, TN.

Follow me on Twitter (EAStallings) or comment below and let me know what tops your Southern Bucket List! 


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    October 4, 2011 at 11:12 am
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    September 7, 2011 at 12:14 am
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    I never been in any of this places here mention but this a great guide of the placesthat i would like to visit very interesting i taste once the crab cakes from Baltimore and they are memorable very delicious now is just a matter on havingmy list ready to try this other places.

    March 18, 2011 at 11:06 am
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    I am sure my Bucket List includes some activities above!!

    February 19, 2011 at 5:53 pm
  6. Sildenafil

    That list is too perfect in order to get fun, you include in there the most funny activities we can find, actually through my life I’ve gotten adventures like those that’s exciting.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:12 pm
  7. Kham

    Here is a great place to create, manage and share your bucket list. You can also get some interesting ideas to put on your bucket list from others.
    Check it out.

    May 31, 2010 at 12:25 pm
  8. Melissa

    A few other ideas to add: Calabash…..Monticello & Michie’s Tavern….
    an Old Fashioned at The Galt House…picnic along a VA river or in the Blue Ridge….a Texas Thanksgiving…Georgia in the spring..evening swim w/the kids in East TN lake…Port Aransas shrimp boil and breakfast burrito’s…good friends and friendly faces

    July 21, 2009 at 8:34 am
  9. jackie

    Ar(not AK) The baths in Hot Springs, Blanchard Springs Caverns, Crater of Diamonds, Clinton Library, or any of the great state parks.

    July 19, 2009 at 9:34 pm
  10. Corey

    How could you not mention going to the Kentucky Derby?? It isn’t just southern, it’s global!!

    July 9, 2009 at 9:23 am
  11. Amy McDavid

    Eat at Provisions in Southport, NC; drive and hike on Skyline Drive in Virginia; visit the tomb of Robert E. Lee at the campus of Washington and Lee Univ. in Lexington, Va; watch a Friday afternoon parade at VMI or the Citadel!

    July 8, 2009 at 11:14 pm
  12. mccxxiii

    PLEASE don’t tell people to swim across the Mississippi River!
    It’s very dangerous — the currents are stronger than you think, and you can drown quickly if you’re not a very strong, very lucky swimmer.

    July 8, 2009 at 7:04 pm
  13. Michelle

    Here are two of my favorite:
    Try the Rebel Press bar or a chocolate cherry coke float at The Chocolate Bar in Oxford, MS.
    Take a class with the Viking Cooking School in Memphis or at The Alluvian in Greenwood, MS.

    July 8, 2009 at 5:03 pm
  14. Dawn

    The Varsity in Atlanta is the best place to people watch in the south. Bubbas to Bluebloods all know how to answer “Whatta ya’ have?”.

    July 8, 2009 at 4:14 pm
  15. Ashlyn Stallings

    Ha–Oh Sloan, I so agree. We could probably get up to 1001 Things to Do in The South Before You Die thanks to everyone’s comments!
    April, I’m crazy about Charleston carriage rides too! I’ve been on an embarrassing amount because I’m such a history nerd.
    And Gone with the Wind is showing at the Alabama Theatre in a few weeks–you can bet your boots I’ll be in the audience.

    July 8, 2009 at 3:29 pm
  16. Sloan

    Looks like you need to make it a bucket list of 100 things to do before you die if these comments keep coming at this rate:)

    July 8, 2009 at 3:25 pm
  17. April Roland

    How ’bout taking a Carriage ride in downtown Charleston or going on a Ghost Tour in Charleston or Savannah. Visit Lady and Sons in Savannah.
    You got so hung up on MD, DC and Florida ya’ll forgot the great spots!
    I am 35 years old and I am born and rised from the city of Augusta, Georgia; home of The Master’s, so if you can try to get tickets you need to go the tournament.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:57 pm
  18. Ashlyn Stallings

    Thank you for reading it! And Barbara and Mason, as a deep south born-and-bred girl, it took me until age 15 to accept that “the south” extended past the Nashville-Louisiana-Destin-Williamsburg dot to dot map I had drawn in my head.
    Southern Living actually considers the following states in its southern readership:
    TX, OK, MO, AR, LA, MS, TN, AL, KY, GA, FL, SC, NC, VA, WV, MD and DE
    But the readership extends far beyond these borders!

    July 8, 2009 at 2:46 pm
  19. April Roland

    Go to the Kentucky Derby.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:45 pm
  20. April Roland

    There are several that you did not include. Eat at Bubba Gump’s in Charleston. Watch three great southern movie’s; Paris Trout, Gone with the Wind and Forest Gump. Eat Keylime Pie in Keywest during the sunset.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:43 pm
  21. TR Hughes

    See the Wild Mustangs run at Ocracoke Island in NC. It is surreal.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:42 pm
  22. April Roland

    You did not include visit the Grande Ol’ Opre, or Dollywood.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:40 pm
  23. Becky Bowen

    How very sad since Vic Profis just passed away. Although I had not seen him in years, I still had very fond memories of when he worked for my Dad. Godspeed Vic.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:37 pm
  24. Mason

    Washington DC and Maryland are FAR from being in the south! Someone needs to look at a map!

    July 8, 2009 at 2:35 pm
  25. Barbara Desing

    Washington, D.C. in the south? Since when??

    July 8, 2009 at 2:32 pm
  26. Mary Cracchiolo

    No Southern Bucket List would be complete without experiencing The Biloxi Shrimping Trip or spending time out in the Mississippi Sound where the largest population of bottle-nose dolphins reside.

    July 8, 2009 at 2:21 pm

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