Think one Southern city is like all the others? Think again. As these six towns demonstrate, stereotypes and generalizations can’t possibly account for all the distinct, quirky, and amazing towns that blanket the American South!Home of the Locavore Aesthetic: Asheville, NC
Nestled between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains lies the town of Asheville, which has earned a reputation for itself as a hub of artsiness, outdoor adventure, and a strong local aesthetic. The city’s downtown is comprised almost exclusively of independent shops and eateries, and the town is filled with artists and musicians from all walks of life (which explains the city’s vibrant busking scene). The city is also a self-described “Foodtopia,” a rich food scene with a farm-fresh bent. And if spiritual exploration is your thing, you’ll be right at home in Asheville, which attracts many a mystical seeker. In short? If you want to expose yourself to unique sights, tastes, sounds, and people, get thee to Asheville.2. Home of Eclectic Attractions: Birmingham, AL
An odd assortment of attractions has made Alabama’s largest city a popular destination for travelers of all backgrounds. The largest cast iron statue in the world—dubbed “Vulcan”—stands guard over the city, broadcasting to all who enter that Birmingham is just a little bit different. Whether you spend your time at the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, the McWane Science Center (which features exhibits on topics ranging from dinosaurs to space exploration), the Splash Adventure Water Park, the Barber Motorsports Museum (home to more than 1,200 motorcycles), or the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham offers something unique for every kind of traveler.3. Home of Southern Outdoorsiness: Charlotte, NC
Charlotte’s culture is distinct in that it combines refined, southern hospitality with rugged outdoorsiness. That’s thanks in no small part to the city’s location: The lively downtown sits near the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Locals and tourists alike take advantage of this prime location at popular outdoor destinations that range from the refined Anne Springs Close Greenway, Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, and Biltmore Estate to the more adventurous U.S. National Whitewater Center, which offers rafting tours of the area’s Catawba River. Combined, Charlotte’s zest for life and welcoming attitude have earned it a reputation as one of the friendliest cities in the South.
4. Home of Epic Festivals: Columbia, SC
Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Akhenaton06
Columbia’s tagline is “famously hot,” and it’s easy to see why. The weather is warm (the temperature rarely drops below 50 degrees in winter), the attractions are popular, and the college sports scene is hoppin’. The city serves as the capital of South Carolina and is home to the University of South Carolina, which makes for an interesting mix of college-town culture and commercial prowess. But what really sets the city apart is its exciting annual calendar of events, including January’s World Beer Festival, February’s Lake Carolina Oyster Roast, June’s Ribs & Renaissance extravaganza, July’s Lexington County Peach Festival, October’s South Carolina State Fair, and December’s Famously Hot New Year.5. Home of Stately Art and History: Savannah, GA
Art and history collide in gorgeous Savannah, where the weather is fine, the architecture is Antebellum, and the trees are shrouded in Spanish moss. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time while strolling the streets of Savannah’s pre-Civil War district, and you’re likely to feel out of place virtually anywhere in the city if you aren’t wearing your Sunday best. Class and elegance infuse every aspect of Savannah—including its most popular tourist activities, such as the Savannah Arts Festival, the Savannah Tour of Homes, and the Savannah Film Festival. But don’t let all the stateliness fool you; in Savannah, Southern hospitality is alive and well.Home of All Things Retro: Tulsa, OK
Tulsa has been a cult favorite since the heyday of Route 66, which passes right through the city. Today, the town draws tourists who are interested in both what the city used to be and all that it now has to offer. From its iconic oilman statue to its neon signposts, old-fashioned pump stations, and art deco buildings, Tulsa has retro funk on lock. The city is also home to a thriving festival scene—most notably, Tulsa hosts one of the country’s largest Oktoberfest celebrations each fall.
From giant statues, to exciting festivals, to dynamic arts, music, and food scenes, these cities provide a whole new take on the meaning of Southern charm.
This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on January 18th.
The Carolinas are a fantastic destination to enjoy a historic hotel. Well known for their Southern hospitality and charm, historic hotels here exude luxury, and are fine examples of culture, architecture and art. They are always fabulously located near their city's main attractions, and in fact, some even qualify as the main attraction themselves.
Depending on the season and the time of year, you can often even finding a cheap hotel deal. The following are the most standout historic hotels in the Carolinas.
Hotels in Asheville offer travelers the chance to stay just off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, and if looking for an accommodation experience which combines luxury with a historic hotel, the Inn on Biltmore Estate is where you want to stay.
This 4 star upscale hotel sits on the historic estate and puts you within a 15 minute drive of the area's main attraction; Biltmore House. This is the largest privately owned home in America; a 250 room French Renaissance château built by George Vanderbilt in 1895. Guests of the hotel can enjoy an outdoor pool with views of the Mountains, enjoy a bite to eat in the Library Lounge, and enjoy the same level of personalized service the Vanderbilts would extend to their friends.
The Dunhill hotel is a fantastic choice of accommodation in Charlotte; a boutique hotel with sophisticated accommodations steeped in history and surrounded by modern significance.
Guests are conveniently located close to museums, art galleries, nightlife, shopping and the CBD. The hotel opened in 1929 and is among the few National Trust Historic Hotels of America in North Carolina. It has been fully restored and is now a landmark in Charlotte's cultural district and arts community.
In the historic district of Hilton Head Island, Marriott's Heritage Club is close to Baynard Plantation Ruins, Harbour Town Lighthouse and Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.
This property has an outdoor pool, a fitness center and spa tub, as well as complimentary internet access in public areas. Spacious two-bedroom villas are fully self-contained, and rooms open out onto beautiful patios. This accommodation is a perfect base for those looking to spend a relaxing vacation in Hilton Head.
Decorated with original hardwood floors, antique furniture, oriental rugs, four-poster canopy bed, a fire and modern technology, guests enjoy modern creature comforts balanced with the quaint coziness of a historic inn.
In the center of downtown Columbia, Hampton Inn by Hilton is a traditional hotel in a fabulous location, a mere 15-minute stroll from Bicentennial Park, and 1 miles drive from the University of South Carolina.
Classic rooms offer free WiFi and flat-screen TVs as well as desks and coffee makers. Suite upgrades offer extra living space, as well as pull-out sofas, microwaves and whirlpool tubs.
This article was posted on Mapping Megan by Megan.
In terms of thinking of a vacation, North Carolina isn't at the top of everyone's list, but perhaps it should be. Take a look at some of the state's best destinations:
Although it's not the biggest city in North Carolina, Raleigh is one of the state's most hip, up-and-coming destinations (take that, Charlotte!). The city is a veritable melting pot of artists, chefs, entrepreneurs, and hip locals. Nightlife, including live music and the craft beer scene, is steadily improving. Also, the city is absolutely gorgeous, flawlessly wrapping its historic North Carolinian charm in a sleek, modern that still retains its uniquely artistic, relaxing vibe. Don't believe me? Here are 10 amazing photos that will make you want to visit Raleigh right now.
For travelers looking for the diverse excitement of a metropolis like Raleigh but with a much more subdued countryside escape, look no further than Durham. The city is renowned for its breathtaking beauty and historic charm but at the same time is experiencing a rejuvenation of sorts thanks to surge in festivals, art exhibits, and enough unique eateries and craft breweries to keep even longtime residents busy experiencing new places. More in the mood for golf? The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club is the city's première hotel and golf course. Featuring exquisite architecture, sprawling grounds, world-class golf and nothing but the finest amenities, this is the place to stay.
When it comes to finding the best beaches in North Carolina, Wilmington takes the gold. The city is part of a small peninsula nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River, so rest assured there is no shortage of water-based activities here. Wilmington even includes several beautiful beach islands that act as a natural barrier to the ocean. Surfing, fishing, boat and jet-ski rentals ... the city caters to water sport enthusiasts. However, there is also much to do on dry land, including golfing, hiking/biking, museums, and art galleries, even a surprisingly wide selection of nightlife and live music options.
Like many destinations in North Carolina, Greensboro is great at combining natural beauty with historic charm and plenty of ex align="justify"citing activities to keep visitors entertained, whether they are in town for a weekend or a week. The city is also home to a large selection of budget-friendly hotels, making it easy to save some extra money for all the fun things to do/see/eat around town. The Wingate by Wyndham offers an amazing level of comfort and service for only around $100 a night. Of course, there are also plenty of other options that are even more affordable.
In the time-honored tradition of saving the best for last, let's conclude this list with Asheville. From craft beer to live music, the city has everything that makes Raleigh great but wrapped up in a smaller, more hip package. And if by some strange chance you do happen to get restless in the city, there are many amazing outdoor destinations just outside the city limits. If you only have time to visit one city in North Carolina, make sure it's Asheville — you won't be disappointed!
Asheville, North Carolina, is one of the trendiest smaller cities in the eastern U.S., which is not really surprising seeing as it offers something for everyone.
Whether you come here for the stunning fall colours, amazing food scene, great outdoors, artsy culture or just to see the historic Biltmore Estate — the most famous and iconic of Asheville’s attractions — this cool and cultured town is sure to be a great short escape.
Asheville is a stylish place with gourmet dining options, mouth-watering chocolate shops and microbreweries. However, underneath the glossy façade, Asheville is still a down-to-earth mountain town that will be a welcome breath of fresh air to city dwellers. The artsy and hippie population also adds character and soul to this town that’s hard not to fall in love with.
Biltmore estate in Asheville. Photo Credit: Steven Hirsch
Fall is one of the most popular times to visit Asheville, because the region is known for having some of the most beautiful fall colours in the country. Visit in the first few weeks of October to view the magnificent leaf colours of over 100 species of deciduous trees.
Asheville is also a town with a conscience; you’ll find plenty of yoga classes, vegan food and sustainable businesses. Therefore, when in Asheville, do as the locals do and support independent and local businesses. With so many boutique hotels in Asheville, it’s not hard to have a stylish, independent and sustainable visit.
The Haywood Park Hotel is a great boutique hotel with a unique twist due to its history as a department store. With a great central location and super friendly staff, a stay at Haywood Park will get you all set for a memorable experience in Asheville.
If you want to splash out in Asheville, then the Omni Grove Park Inn is the ultimate luxurious mountain resort escape. The location view and setting are stunning, and with luxurious rooms and a huge array of facilities, you might not want to leave!
Views from Asheville. Photo Credit: Curt Rosner
The 1900 Inn on Montford has the benefit of a downtown location but still offers a quaint alternative to standard Asheville hotels. This bed and breakfast has luxuriously appointed rooms full of Southern charm and all the home comforts you need for a perfect stay.
If you want to feel more like a local while staying in Asheville, then check out the Residences at Biltmore for conveniently located, spacious and luxurious apartment-style accommodation. The featured fireplaces, spacious balconies and stylish swimming pool area add nice touches.
The Hill House Bed & Breakfast Inn offers a great all-around, independent stay in Asheville. Rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable with touches of historic character. The location is close to downtown but far enough away to be peaceful, and the free full breakfast is a tasty extra touch.
This post was sponsored by Hipmunk and originally appeared on Global Gallivanting's The Best Boutique Hotels in Asheville on February 25th.
Planning your summer vacation already? Check out these up-and-coming destinations.
The Biloxi Lighthouse by Ipung Zan via Flickr
The beachfront city of Biloxi is a popular summer destination for people looking to enjoy the gulf. Water-based activities such as fishing are some of the biggest pastimes of the area. In fact, every 4th of July the city holds the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, which draws crowds in excess of 50,000 people. Nearly all the hotels in town are located on or near the water, and because gambling is legal in Biloxi, most have casinos as well.
Charlotte, North Carolina skyline by James Willamor via Flickr
Charlotte is the largest and most well-known city in North Carolina. Home to nearly 3 million people, there is no shortage of sights, activities, museums, theme parks, festivals, and excitement to keep visitors of all ages and interests amused. Plus, all the sports fans will be excited to hear that not only does Charlotte have a team for every major sport, it is also the home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Sunset on the grounds of Deer's Head in Salisbury, Maryland by Eric B Walker via Flickr
Salisbury is a small city at the head of Wicomico River in southeastern Maryland. It is a peaceful, unassuming town that is perfect for a family weekend getaway or a quiet pit stop on an American road trip. Venues like the Salisbury Zoo, Coco's Funhouse, Pemberton Historical Park, and the Wicomico County Youth & Civic Center are perfect for the entire family. Other places, such as the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art and Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame Museum, are geared more toward older guests. When it comes to lodging, the Hampton Inn Salisbury is the only one you should consider. Not only does it have a central location, but it's also the highest-rated hotel in town!
Main Street in College Park, Georgia by Robert S Donovan via Flickr
Contrary to the name, there is no college in the small, charming southern town of College Park; the building that was a college many years ago is now city hall. Despite having a population of only 14,000, the city has over 850 properties on the National Register of Historic Places, making it an intriguing destination for anyone interested in the historical side of Georgia. Just a 10-minute drive from downtown Atlanta, College Park is home of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport. As such, there is no shortage of hotels and restaurants in town.
Sunset over Bardstown Road in Louisville, Kentucky by Scott Smithson via Flickr
Louisville is Kentucky's largest city and one of the most popular year-round destinations for out-of-state visitors thanks to its abundance of things to see, do, and eat. Baseball fans will immediately recognize the city because it is the home of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, the iconic baseball bat. However, the city is also the home of the Kentucky Derby Museum and the Muhammad Ali Center, among others. Plus, just outside of town are countless parks, trails, lakes, and rivers offering a seemingly never-ending amount of outdoor activities. If you've got an entire family to keep happy or just want to pack as many diverse activities as possible into one trip, definitely put Louisville on your list of destinations this summer!
Thanks in part to its wide-open landscape and sprawling interstate system, the United States has maintained a long-term love affair with the automobile. The romance certainly hasn’t waned over the years, as more cars were sold in the United States in 2015 than during any other year in history. Many of those sales were pragmatic vehicles like Crossover Utility Vehicles, but you don’t have to cover many miles to encounter far more interesting autos. So hit the highway and take the exit for these motor-friendly metropolises!
Portland may conjure up images of farm-to-table brunch spots and thick-bearded Millennials pedaling past organic coffee shops and tattoo parlors, but this hipster-friendly city knows how to burn some rubber. Portland International Raceway, just south of the Columbia River, features a full calendar, including Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events, motorcycle road-racing, ⅛-mile dragstrip, karting, and unique events featuring vintage racecars, rally cars, British autos, and the surprisingly versatile Volkswagen Beetle. Sign up for their Pro Drive racing school and learn how to handle your car both on and off the track. If you’re more into aesthetics than pure speed, PDX Car Culture can point you towards the myriad car shows, cruise-ins, and custom builders in the area!
Often seen as Las Vegas’ smaller cousin, Reno provides a gearhead culture unlike anything Vegas has to offer. The National Automobile Museum presents The Harrah Collection, the eponymous casino-owner’s world-renowned collection of over 200 of the world’s rarest, most historic automobiles. Nowhere else can you see the 1938 Phantom Corsair, or the only original example of Buckminster Fuller’s “Car of the Future” – the 1934 Dymaxion – or the 1907 Thomas Flyer, the American-built car that conquered the world in the 22,000-mile 1908 New York to Paris Race. Once a year, Reno offers an adrenaline-pumping alternative to the static displays at the museum: the Reno Air Races, where some of the fastest propeller-driven aircraft in the world tear through the air at over 400 mph. At that speed, they could cover the 7-hour drive from Vegas to Reno in just over an hour!
Another Millennial favorite, Austin boasts something no other city in the contemporary United States can claim: a chance to see Formula One cars at full-tilt. This racing series represents the pinnacle of automotive technology, and, in terms of global popularity, is the soccer of the auto-racing world. The Circuit of the Americas also hosts a number of other high-octane events throughout the year, including a weekend of MotoGP in April (the motorcycling equivalent of Formula One), the Summer X-Games, and the Pirelli World-Challenge in March, contested by racecar versions of the world’s fastest street cars, including McClarens, Ferraris, Porsches, and American iron like Fords, Chevys, and Cadillacs. COTA’s Austin360 Amphitheatre also plays host to huge music and comedy events throughout the year, packing in upwards of 14,000 fans to see headliners like Duran Duran, Florence and the Machine, and Jeff Foxworthy’s RedFest.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is hallowed ground in the world of motorsport, and no tour of American automotive history would be complete without paying homage to ‘The Brickyard.’ Except for brief hiatuses during the First and Second World Wars, the world-famous Indy 500 has been run on this site every year since 1911. Contemporary racers cover the 500-mile distance in under three hours, at average speeds nearing 200 mph! The Brickyard also plays host to many other top-notch racing series, including NASCAR, MotoGP, and the Red Bull Air Race. For a more sedate experience, be sure to pay a visit to the Speedway’s Hall of Fame Museum, where a rotating selection of historically significant racecars, around 75 at a time, are on display.
Better known as the Country Music Capitol of the World, Nashville also offers a little something for those who prefer the music of internal combustion. While the Musician's Hall of Fame features musician-owned cars like Elvis’ Gold Cadillac, the true gearhead won’t want to miss the Lane Motor Museum. Featuring one of the most extensive collections of eccentric cars in the world, be sure to pay a visit to gawk at bizarre gems like their 1966 Citroen DS Ice Racer, the three-wheeled (and elegantly named) 1934 B.S.A. TW33-10-4 Cylinder, and the 1951 Hoffmann, which Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky gleefully dubbed "the worst car ever built." Who wouldn't want to see that?
No motorsport is more American than NASCAR, and no city in the United States is more steeped in it than Charlotte, North Carolina. Take a lap through NASCAR history at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, tour the headquarters of one of the many NASCAR teams who call Charlotte home, and feel the thunder of horsepower at the legendary Charlotte Motor Speedway. In addition to multiple NASCAR races and events throughout the year – including the only Saturday night race in the NASCAR Chase – the Speedway hosts events featuring monster trucks, MXGP motocross, World of Outlaws, and the 8,000 horsepower, 320 mph acceleration-machines known as NHRA Top-Fuel Dragsters. Let your gearhead flag fly, and don’t forget your earplugs!
This article was published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on February 15th.
Be sure to check out these famous sandwiches on your next trip, which are must-tries whenever you visit their region of origin.
The Windy City draws large crowds for deep-dish pizza and Chicago dogs, but the Italian beef is a long-time local favorite. Thinly sliced seasoned beef is piled high on an Italian sub roll, dredged in gravy or au jus, and topped with hot or sweet peppers. You can find these bad boys at a local dog stall down the street from yourChicago hotel or other street-food style restaurants around the city.
If you’ve ever spent time in the Carolinas, you’ve likely caught wind of the BBQ standoff between the eastern and western parts of the state (and don’t get them started on South Carolina BBQ). Visit the state's capital, Raleigh, or stay close to the coast at a Wilmington hotel and check out little hole-in-the-wall joints that boast vinegar-based sauces and a mix of dark and white meat. Or head to the western part of the state, which holds onto the belief that dark meat and a ketchup-based sauce is the ticket. We’ll let you decide.
Buffalo chicken may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of upstate delicacies, but beef en weck is an equally famous local crowd-pleaser. Sliced roast beef is stacked on a salted and seeded bun and served with a side of au jus for a simple but satisfying meal.
In the South, pimento cheese goes with just about everything. Use it as a topping, a dip or the main ingredient of a good ole Southern sandwich. Georgia’s laid claim to the sandwich as the signature eat of the Master’s at Augusta National, but you can find this sandwich on many a Southern menu. Make it your own with additions like bacon or tomato.
You can bake ‘em, boil ‘em, or smother 'em in butter. Or you can add a bit of mayo and herbs to fresh lobster meat for a knock-your-socks-off lobster roll. Eat your way up and down the New England coast on a self-guided food tour. Whether you're staying at a hotel in Bar Harbor or spending a few nights in a Boston hotel, you wont be far from one of these delicious seafood sammies.
If you’ve ever been so hungry you could eat a horse, getting a meal fit for a cowboy could be the next best thing. Not to be confused in any way with the pork BBQ on the East Coast, Texas BBQ is made with brisket, with sauces ranging from a tomato-based sweet sauce in East Texas to molasses-based sauce in the South and spiced rub in the central part of the state.
Tasting these culinary masterpieces in the places where they were perfected is the best way to enjoy an authentic sandwich experience.
This article was published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on January 12th.
Once you have secured your travel plans, possibly through a respectable agent such as a travel agent in Raleigh, there is still more planning to do. There are common checklists that individuals have utilized over the years, however with the changing times there are some items and situations that may not be properly accounted for. Below are a few items and protocols that are essential for the new-age traveler.
There are common travel documents that you should carry with you for travel period, but especially if you are traveling internationally. The most common documents include:
TIn the case that you lose these documents or any of your traveling material, you should carry at least two copies and store them in a safe location. A few other items that you should store copies of would be:
With the various outbreaks that are occurring across the world, it is important that you are properly vaccinated against any possible illnesses. Be sure to check with your doctor before travel to not only make sure that your shots are up to date, but that you have all the right vaccinations against any sickness that you may encounter while on your trip; certain areas are more susceptible to specific illnesses.
Though this may seem more like a travel amenity, having a proper money stash can be critical in high crime areas. There are a number of different money stash options that you can choose from, such as fanny packs, money belts and neck wallets. Whichever you choose, make sure that you keep it on your person at all times and hidden away when you are at your resting location. You also should not carry all of your money on you at one time; it is suggested that you have several different money stashes amongst your belongings, so that in the case that you lose some, you will not be left high and dry.
It is also important that you become familiar with the currencies that you will be encountering on your trip. If possible, convert a good amount of your money before arriving to your destination. This can help you to avoid high conversion rates and spending excessive amounts of money unnecessarily.
As times have changed, so have policies and common procedures. Therefore, it is critical that you are aware of the way that you should conduct yourself in the specific regions that you visit. If you do not have a set itinerary, look up and map out a few safe destinations that you plan to visit. If you are traveling internationally, be sure to note where your home embassy is located in the area you are visiting. Taking time to learn these tidbits before your travel can save you possible headache or harm on your journey.
By keeping these things and other common aspects of your traveler's checklist in mind, you can be sure to have a safe and enjoyable trip. For other details and resources, check with your travel agent in Raleigh or other local agents.
For some reason people tend to overlook Raleigh, North Carolina as a vacation destination but they really shouldn't. From music to nature, nightlife to history, there is something for everyone here!
Raleigh skyline, as seen from South Saunders (source)
Raleigh is a very bicycle-friendly city (source)
Charles Frazier House, built in 1925 and on the National Register of Historic Places (source)
Sun down, fun up (source)
Lots of live music can be found in Raleigh (source)
There is history in Raleigh too (source)
Plenty of beautiful nature in Raleigh as well (source)
Raleigh Lake (source)
Lake Johnson Park (source)
There is even a trolley pub! (source)