The South has always been ideal for road trips with its winding backroads and quirky attractions. While travel is still limited in many parts of the country, these places are easy to visit by car while still taking the necessary precautions.
Alligator Alley, Florida
As one of Florida’s most desolate stretches of road, Alligator Alley seems like an unusual choice for a road trip. But the 100-mile section of I-75 that cuts across the state from Fort Lauderdale to Naples is surrounded by wildlife like alligators and Florida panthers.
There are limited gas stations along the way so be sure to fuel up beforehand and drive during daylight hours. Detour to the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation to learn about the native people of Florida.
Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina to Virginia
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most well-known routes in the South, running over 100 miles from Waynesboro, Virginia to Cherokee, North Carolina over nearly 11,000 square miles of land. It was built as a Civilian Conservation Corps project.
The road is close to the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah national parks, as well as the Appalachian Trail, making it popular with hikers. There are also museums, music venues, and charming towns.
Blues Highway, Mississippi
The road known as the Blues Highway, Highway 61, technically starts to the north outside of Chicago, passing through St. Louis, another city central to blues music.
The section in the South starts in Memphis with blue markers that denote significant music history. It passes through small Mississippi Delta towns on two-lane highways. Visitors can visit “juke joints” and informal music venues along the nearly 250-mile section.
The Bourbon Trail, Kentucky
Lovers of whiskey flock to Lexington and the surrounding communities to tour the bourbon distilleries that make up the Bourbon Trail. Set across 80 or so miles, it’s easy to visit a few in a day.
There’s an official trail where visitors can get passport stamps to earn a prize but there are many more not a part of it like Buffalo Trace. Most are located along Bluegrass Parkway, or state road 9002.
Coastal Highway 17, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, & Florida
Known also has US Route 17, Coastal Highway 17 runs over 1,000 miles parallel to I-95 from Punta Gorda, Florida to Winchester, Virginia. It’s a quiet alternative to the busy highway for travelers heading south.
In some places, it’s little more than a small country road, while in others it’s the main thoroughfare like it is in Charleston. Stop by the World’s Smallest Church in South Newport, Georgia or see the colorful elephants of Hardeeville, South Carolina.
Florida Keys Overseas Highway, Florida
Running 125 miles from Miami to Key West, the Overseas Highway is one of the region’s best road trips, showcasing the stunning blue water on both sides of the road.
It follows a train path created by Henry Flagler. The trip features offbeat attractions like Coral Castle, Robert is Here fruit stand, and the polydactyl cats of the Hemingway House.
Great River Road, Louisiana
The Great Mississippi River Road runs 70 miles alongside the curves of the namesake river from north of Baton Rouge to the confluence in New Orleans, with the levee on one side.
This stretch of road is the site of many of the grand plantations the region is known for, which allowed them to ship resources. But it’s also industrial with plants and residences along the two-lane road. Restaurants and gas stations are few, so come prepared.
Natchez Trace Parkway, Tennessee, Alabama, & Mississippi
The Natchez Trace Parkway follows the routes of the Old Natchez Trace routes originally used by Native American tribes. The two-lane parkway runs over 400 miles between Nashville, Tennessee, and Natchez, Mississippi.
It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and it has become a popular route for road trips, motorcycles, and cycling enthusiasts since then. Among the landmarks are Native American settlements and Civil War battlefields.
The Outer Banks, North Carolina
Once the domain of pirates, the Outer Banks is a stretch of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, connected by state road 12. Running from over 100 miles Corolla to Ocracoke, in some sections a ferry is also required.
The road is mostly two lanes and is surrounded by residential areas and shops. People bike along the road, so drive slowly. Historic landmarks in the area include Kitty Hawk, historic Bath, and the Hatteras Lighthouse.
The Smokies, North Carolina & Tennessee
The stunning Great Smoky Mountains are poised for road trips with many small roads winding through the country. SR 441 cuts 80 miles through the heart of the park from Knoxville, Tennessee to Bryson City, North Carolina.
Here travelers can go on hikes, visit moonshine distilleries, get up close with wildlife, and catch a dinner show. Ride the coasters at Dollywood and browse for locally made crafts in Pigeon Forge.
Have you taken any of these road trips? Share your favorite below!
We are a senior couple taking a road trip to the South in April. Please give us 10 sights we should not miss. We will be driving from Southern California.