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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
34. Eat an autumn apple you picked from a tree in the Catoctin Mountains, MD.
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.
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.
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.