In this article we’re going to cover 6 of the most overlooked yet unique things to do while traveling throughout the South.
Our journey will begin in Florida and we’ll travel through South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, and wrap things up in Arkansas–where the idea of a hot bath takes on new meaning.
So, if you enjoy the outdoors then you’ll love the stops we’re covering in this article. But there’s something for everyone regardless of your background.
Coral Castle in Homestead, FL
No one really knows how Coral Castle was built. Some say the stones were moved into place using the same techniques the ancient Egyptians used to build the Great Pyramids. Others say Coral Castle is the result of Edward Leedskalnin going mad by his unrequited love for 16 year old fiance Agnus Scuffs.
Regardless, Coral Castle is a sight to behold especially when you consider that Ed constructed the castle all by himself under the cover of night and in secret. If you’re up for a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the South, then put Coral Castle on your bucket list. You won’t be disappointed!
Did You Know…?
Two-time Grammy nominated rock artist Billy Idol wrote and recorded his song “Sweet Sixteen” as a tribute to Ed and the Coral Castle.
Ellison’s Cave in Walker County, Georgia
If you’re an expert cave dweller and love to scale tall things then Ellison’s Cave is for you. If, however, you’re scared of heights and dark places then we must admit Ruby Falls on Lookout Mountain might be a better fit.
Ellison’s Cave is the 12th deepest cave in the United States. Due to the dangerous nature of the cave, inexperienced cave dwellers are often discouraged from entering the cave. We can see why. It has claimed several lives over the past due to its’ wet and bouldering environment.
If you’re looking for something a bit more mild keep reading. Perhaps the sound of the Angel Oak in Charleston, SC will be music to your ears.
Did You Know…?
Ellison’s Cave features a number of underground vertical pitches including the two deepest pits in the contiguous United States: Fantastic (586 feet) and Incredible (440 feet).
Angel Oak in Charleston, SC
You’re probably thinking, what could be so amazing about a tree. I mean, it’s just a tree right? Well, yes and no. You see, this is no ordinary tree. This tree is absolutely amazing and like all of the places listed in this article, writing about it doesn’t do it justice. However, we’ll give it our best shot.
The Angel Oak is between 400-500 years old. It is said to be one of the oldest living things in the country. The sheer size of the trunk and limbs are overwhelming and unbelievable. To put it into perspective, the shade this tree provides is over 17,200 sq ft. Not to mention, the longest branch is 187 feet long.
If you’re serious about visiting the Angel Oak you must know that even though the tree is owned by the City of Charleston it actually resides on John’s Island. If you happen to be touring the luxurious homes located on Kiawah or Seabrook Island then you may as well stop and check it out.
Did You Know…?
Local folklore tells stories of ghosts of former slaves appearing as angels around the tree.
Kayaking, Waterfall Rappelling & Ziplining in Saluda, NC
If you’re looking to escape that hot ole summer sun the deep south is so famous for then the picturesque romantic town of Saluda, North Carolina is for you . Saluda, NC is where the foothills end and Blue Ridge begins–but that’s not all.
Right in the heart of town you’ll find Green River Adventures which offers whitewater kayaking, water rappelling, ziplining, stand up paddle boarding and more. You won’t have to worry about bringing your own gear because Green River Adventures provides you with everything you need to safely complete your journey. And after playing hard all day, you’ll be ready to enjoy a delicious meal in a casual atmosphere at The Purple Onion.
If a full day’s play outdoors isn’t enough, then scoot on over to the historic Grove Park Inn located less than an hour from Saluda, NC. Grove Park Inn is well known for the many Presidents of the United States and other famous people who’ve stayed there throughout the years. Not to mention, the architecture is breathtaking and there’s something for everyone of all ages.
Did You Know…?
Racers and spectators come from all over the world to participate in and watch the Green River Narrows Race.
Mammoth Cave National Park in Southern Kentucky
They say seeing is believing and that’s certainly true of Mammoth Cave located between Louisville, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee.
Mammoth Cave is chock-full of history, tales of terror, and beautiful scenery that legends are made of. Be sure to take one of the lighted tours that range anywhere from 1 to 6 hours. As you journey back in time you’ll learn about early indeginous cave dwellers dating back to (3,000 – 1,000 B.C.) to the Kentucky Cave Wars — a war of economics.
If the thought of traversing the longest cave in the world sounds unappealing to you then there’s always horseback riding, canoeing/kayaking, camping, hiking, biking and more. Click here to learn even more about Mammoth Cave National Park.
Did You Know…?
Mammoth Cave is the longest cave in the world.
Thermal Baths at Hot Springs Park in Garland County, Arkansas
By now you’re probably exhausted, you’ve hit every spot on our list and you’re ready to unwind and relax. So why not wrap things up by indulging in the hot thermal baths located in Hot Springs Park in Arkansas?
Infectiously known as “The American Spa,” both the rich and poor alike traveled for miles to bathe in the 143 degree (F) thermal springs and as a result a thriving city was built up around this natural resource.
The truth is, while you can’t directly submerge your body into the scorching water, there are two operating bath houses designed and maintained by the park so that you can fully experience the soothing qualities of the hot spring water. Don’t forget to bring empty bottles or jugs because the park encourages drinking the water and says that the water is good to drink upon arrival.
If after recharging your batteries you feel up for another journey, you can always take a stroll, hike or drive through Hot Springs National Park. Or, if you’ve seen enough for one lifetime, check out the Historic Hotel Hale. Surprisingly, it was also originally connected to one of the Bathhouses back in 1892 when it was first built.
That concludes our stops along some of the most unique and often overlooked places throughout the southern United States.
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Happy and safe travels on your journey down south!