There just isn’t anything better than a weekend getaway to the South. You might love it so much you stay the whole week, or maybe a month. Just move here already, you know you want to. But when exploring the same few beaches or hiking trails every year gets old you don’t need to leave our beautiful region. Plan your next trip around one of these unusual destinations and collect some vacation stories no one else will have.
Have you ever wanted to write a letter to a mermaid? Maybe tell a little secret or leave a gift? A trip down to Navarre, Florida is just the thing for you. In the Santa Rosa Sound, you’ll find an abandoned mailbox stuck straight up in the sand; no one knows how it got there or who owns it, but big block letters say “Whitley” on the side. Boaters love to leave “mail” like treats, bags of chips, and letters. This mystery mailbox can only be reached by boat, which sounds like a great excuse to spend the day lounging on the Florida water. Just make sure to bring the mermaids a snack.
PARI: Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute
If you have a space-lover in the family, a trip down to North Carolina might just blow their mind. Located deep in the Pisgah National Forest, PARI was built by NASA in 1962 to monitor manned space flights and track various satellites. In recent years it has switched gears to become a research and non-profit educational center. Explore the 200-acre campus while enjoying telescopes of all sizes, STEM educational programs, and collections of rare meteorites and minerals.
For a particularly unique spectacle, take a drive down to Tarpon Springs, Florida to visit the famous Sponge Docks. A walk down Dodecanese Boulevard will include sights of docked sponge boats and shops with sea sponge trinkets. While you’re there, make sure you stop in and learn about the Greek community who brought their knowledge of sponge fishing to Florida over 100 years ago. Once you’ve purchased sponges for everyone you know, follow your nose to one of the fifteen area restaurants, many featuring world-renowned, authentic Greek dishes.
Maybe you’re looking for something a little edgier, a little spookier. At the crest of West Mountain near Eureka Springs, Arkansas you’ll find the Crescent Hotel and Spa. Built in 1886, this chilling inn has been labeled as America’s most haunted hotel. Guests report apparitions in rooms 202 and 424, a ghostly waiter perpetually carrying his tray down the hallways, and many others. And while you’re ghost hunting, you can also enjoy the Crescent Hotel’s luxurious accommodations and modern amenities. Don’t forget to visit the New Moon Spa which boasts a full menu of treatments and a salon.
We love our beaches here in the south, but we’re so much more than the Atlantic coastline! Checking out these hidden gems is a great way to enjoy the wonder of travel. Explore the culture, history, nature, and world-class food of the south, then head back home with stories you’ll never get bored of. Give your adventures some unique southern flair by traveling somewhere new this year.