I Want to See the South

Discussion in 'Southeast, The Lair of the Dragon - The Blue Ridge' started by High Country Herb, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    My wife and I would like to see the South.

    Unfortunately, this will be a car trip, (unless someone wants to contribute a loaner bike). We plan to use air miles for travel from California, then rent the cheapest car we can get for about 2 weeks of driving around, on a very low budget. A rough route might include Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington, Greensboro, Knoxville, Nashville, Huntsville, Birmingham, and Atlanta. Depending on time, we may have to skip one leg of that rectangle. The trip would be in late July - early August.

    I have been to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida tourist areas, but would like to experience the old culture of the Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee. I don't need to see the sanitized modern culture, as I can read about that in Garden and Gun magazine, and can't afford it anyway.

    We would like to eat BBQ (especially if it is at some town function), listen to bluegrass (especially an informal jam), and attend church at an Assemblies of God church. We currently attend church at an AG church in California, but it is very conservative and low key. Something more charismatic (don't care if it is black or white congregation) would be inspirational frankly. A swamp buggy race, truck pull (I'm on a pit crew for a Pro-Modified), or drag race (I'm also on a pit crew for a Nitro Funny Car) would be a blast. I could even check a rifle/shotgun on the airplane for a hunt of some sort. We want to experience what most Californians might consider backwards or redneck, and embrace it instead. I need a break from the fruits and nuts of California. Get the idea?

    So does anyone have suggestions of events, places to see, places to eat? Let the suggestions fly!
    #1
  2. Disco Stu

    Disco Stu Long timer

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  3. Dirtysouth

    Dirtysouth Stud fee waived for noobs

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    I would definitely recommend visiting Charleston, SC. A lot of history and stuff to see and do there. The two restraunts that stand I would recommend are Hymans for seafood, and Pugans Porch for the southern charm. Bring a camera, and comfortable shoes.
    #3
  4. Wlfman

    Wlfman Long timer

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    If you come thru Columbia Sc area give me a shout and I'll take you to for some really good BBQ.
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  5. patmo

    patmo Long timer

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    2nd on visit to Charleston.....beautiful downtown area. For a real historical perspective of it....do a Ghost Walk, tons of fun and really very informative, super restaurants all over. Savanah is very similar, but IMO not as nice as Charleston, although still a fun city to visit.

    Now.....further west.....if you want a real "southern" experience you need to come over to Franklin, Tn. Specifically, for the downtown Bluegrass Fest the weekend of July 27-28. On a budget you say? Well the festival, and all the entertainment is FREE. Well, you will have to pay for any of the food you buy from the venders, but you can bring a cooler and a couple of chairs and just sit out on the town square for free. That is what we always do.

    20 miles north of Franklin lies a city you might have heard of.....Nashville! I highly reccomend some time spent at the country music hall of fame and a stop in any of the clubs along Broadway for some good beer and entertainment. What's more southern than country music? ( hey I am NOT a country music fan, but I did enjoy the museum, and found the bluegrass Fest lots of fun as well).
    Of course, there are several places around here that also have great rock and jazz as well.

    There are also some really cool small towns around here to visit....Lieper's Fork, Bell Buckle, and others that hold their own festivals and events throughout the year.

    Did I mention BBQ? Heck, can't go in any direction and not go by a BBQ place or two. Haven't tried them all, but haven't found a really bad one yet either. Martins in Nolensville is probably my favorite around here, but there are plenty of good ones throughout the south for sure.

    If you come this way, please let me know. I might be able to help out with housing and a bike to use while here.
    #5
  6. Rob578

    Rob578 Been here awhile

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    I grew up in the South, so here's my suggestion.

    If you want truly good barbecue you have to go to eastern NC, Wilson NC would be the place to start, but barbecue is all they have nothing else there. Area hasn't changed much in the last 40 years. They did finally take down the big billboard on I-95 that said " Welcome to Klan Country"

    I lived in SC 22 years, they don't have a clue what good BBQ is.

    This would be my route.
    Fly into Raleigh NC
    Head West to Boone NC then South down the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville NC
    If you really want to see Atlanta/Birmingham keep going South but I would turn East and head to Savannah
    Then turn north to Charleston
    Follow Hyw 17 North you'll hit Mrytle Beach, Wilmington and all the little beach towns
    If you have time go to the Outer Banks
    Head west back to Raleigh making sure you stop at every barbecue joint in eastern nc

    Plan a couple extra days in Asheville and the Smokies, Charleston (stay on Folly Beach) and at one of the NC beaches or Outer Banks

    You'll run the full gamut of the South
    The Southern Mtn culture
    geechie in Savannah
    The Lowcounty in Charleston
    The fishing/maritime on the Coast
    The old Eastern NC farming

    I've almost talked myself into going
    #6
  7. The Opa

    The Opa Long timer

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    Here's a link with a lot of SC bluegrass info. There is a local (Spartanburg, SC) festival, but I see it is in May. Plenty of other action though. If you drive through the area on a Saturday tune to 88.7 ; 11;00 AM - 7:00 PM, all bluegrass. The area would be roughly Greenville, SC to Charlotte, NC to Asheville, NC with lots of overlap; depending on what hollow you might be in :wink:
    http://www.lastroadbluegrass.com/Bluegrass_Happenings.htm
    If you want real redneck, try Gaffney, SC (Cherokee Speedway) on a Saturday night.
    http://www.cherokeespeedwaysc.com/news.html
    or many others :lol3
    #7
  8. knybanjo

    knybanjo kinda slow

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    Late July-early August?!?!? :huh

    [​IMG]
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  9. HPTuner

    HPTuner Been here awhile

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    That's what I was thinking! You will discover the true meaning of the word "humidity"! But I do like Rob578's route. Happy touring whichever way you go...& let us know what you think of it!
    #9
  10. 5punksdad

    5punksdad Tag-Master-Flash

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    Thats what Ulysses S. Grant said...........:rofl
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  11. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    You gotta have the humidity for the genuine experience!


    You guys are great! I'm already feeling the hospitality, and I'm not even there yet. I'm making a list of all these suggestions by state, then I'll make a plan that includes just enough to avoid rushing through. I hope to meet up with some of you along the way. Now I'm off to research some of these websites.

    Please keep the suggestions coming!
    #11
  12. augiedog

    augiedog augie dog

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    central nc around the lexington area is the BBQ capitol of the south. about 40 miles northwest is a place called pilot mountian where almost every sunday a group of locals get together and play music. musicians from the sorunding area take turns playing together. its in the state park of the same name.
    #12
  13. mikem9

    mikem9 Wanderer

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    Ha! Which state or area has the best barbecue has been long debated by Southerners. It's part of the fun. BTW Augiedog's route plan is a good one. Here's a pretty good list of good barbecue in Georgia: http://www.urbanspoon.com/f/149/15604/Georgia/Barbecue-Restaurants.

    If you are in Atlanta - I suggest visiting the Varsity Restaurant. Atlanta Landmark. I'd recommend two Chili slaw dogs and an order of onion rings, with an orange drink or Coca-Cola. There are proven health benefits to this meal, but I'd stay out of traffic on the highway for at least a couple of hours after eating there! :)

    In addition to Charleston, definitely suggest visiting Savannah.

    As others have said, it's going to be ridiculously hot. That time of year, I try to head to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the mountains of North Carolina to escape the heat. I'd suggest visiting some of those areas. Also, some of the mountain lakes and rivers. Rafting down the rivers is a popular pastime.

    When you are in the lowlands, I'd bring some quick drying loose materials, like they make for fishing.

    The coastal areas and beaches are nice. They get some breeze in the summer. NC/SC/Georgia beach areas all have areas that will give you a flavor of the old South. Some of the out islands still have old Geechee sp? and Gullah African cultures which are pretty cool. The Beaufort SC area is a nice area to add to the list. Between Charleston and Savannah. Also, the have access to some Gullah Islands. Good article here: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/nothing-could-be-finer

    Have you considered seeing some dirt track stock car racing? - The roots of Nascar. Here is a popular place North of Atlanta: http://www.dixiespeedway.com/indexX.php

    I hear you can hunt wild hogs all year in some places - not sure of the rules. I know a group of people that hunt them with dogs and they jump on the wild hogs and kill them with knives. I think jumping on a scared or mad wild hog with nothing but a knife would be quite a southern experience.

    Hope you have a great time!
    #13
  14. t-bills

    t-bills mcs are dangerous

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    May I suggest the cornbread festival:
    http://www.nationalcornbread.com/
    The festival is in South Pittsburg, TN. This is about 40 minutes from The famous Rock House Holiness Church known for snake handling. Nothing says welcome to the south like letting rattlesnakes determine whether or not you are a true believer.
    #14
  15. Rob578

    Rob578 Been here awhile

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    "I hear you can hunt wild hogs all year in some places - not sure of the rules. I know a group of people that hunt them with dogs and they jump on the wild hogs and kill them with knives. I think jumping on a scared or mad wild hog with nothing but a knife would be quite a southern experience."

    Not many rules at all, I think in SC you may even be able to blast them at night. Bring your AR for that. The smaller ones make excellent BBQ
    #15
  16. Wlfman

    Wlfman Long timer

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    South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
    Department of Wildlife website: www.dnr.sc.gov
    Department of Wildlife Phone: 803-734-3886
    #16
  17. Disco Stu

    Disco Stu Long timer

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    if you come to Memphis, don't get BBQ unless you go to the BBQ shop in midtown or Interstate BBQ. Whatever you do, avoid Rendezvous downtown.

    Instead, get some fried chicken from Gus's downtown or Uncle Lou's Sweet & Spicy Love.
    #17
  18. SUMORYDR

    SUMORYDR Old school rookie

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    If I could add something to the already incredible list of places I would agree with Charleston for sure but I would add Asheville, of course but then I'd throw in Bryson City, NC, Franklin, NC, the whole Deals Gap area, and everything West of there. The whole area is incredible!!
    #18
  19. 4PawsHacienda

    4PawsHacienda Been here awhile

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    Check out the "Crooked Road" music trail for some info on traditional music and local jams along the NC / VA border region. Absolutely authentic. Also check out the Blue Ridge Music Center for schedules, free music every day along the BRP around milepost 205 (?). Frequent bluegrass and fiddling contests in the Floyd/Galax region all summer. Scenic and serene. Hard to believe but the region around Elkin NC produces some fairly decent wine in a low-key atmosphere that is quite enjoyable (corn squeezin's optional). The website "virginiablueridge.org" might warrant a visit. If you have a week to devote to the area I could keep you busy. Good riding area too.

    The Greensboro NC newspaper (since you mention my city) as well as the Rhino Times usually have the info on local music happenings. If interested I can send you contact info for local bluegrass gathering spots as well as smaller interesting places to visit or eat. Chain restaurants are predictably similar. Got some seriously rockin' churches in the area.

    Charleston SC is an excellent tourist attraction, outstanding area and deservedly popular. Wilmington NC is nice, smaller and less crowded- for a reason. New Bern NC and Beaufort are coastal towns I'm fond of. Asheville and Boone NC are quite popular mountain cities with lots to see.

    If you spend every night in cities large enough to have an airport you won't get the feel of the region. remember - those reports of summer humidity are not exaggerated at all, we have bugs too. If you try and cover the entire area you mention you'll see a lot of the interstates. I'd suggest a week along the southern coast (the low country) and a week exploring the mountains.
    #19
  20. t-bills

    t-bills mcs are dangerous

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    Definitely hit up the Asheville, NC area. I'd recommend spending the time there instead of Knoxville. Knoxville is rather lacking. It is an industrial town. From Asheville to Nashville, consider taking 64/74 to Chattanooga instead of 40 thru Knoxville. There are a bunch of awesome towns all along the way. Plus Chattanooga is pretty sweet. If you spend any time in Chattanooga, I'll be happy to show you around. Great food and lots of history here.

    In Nashville, go to Swett's. People will say to go to Loveless Cafe. Don't. Go to Swett's instead. Loveless is where all of the tourists go. Swett's is where the locals go.
    #20