The South is an amazing place to visit this time of year. Good people, great food and limitless outdoor activities.
This is simply a Southern writer’s rundown of quick tips travelers and outdoor enthusiasts should heed before they take a trip to the states below the Mason-Dixon Line.
We don’t all sound like Scarlett O’Hara
Based on the United States Census Bureau, you’ve got 15-ish (some of Maryland and Delaware are considered) states south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Then there’s our individual ideas of what the South is and who’s included.
You’ve got the Deep South where people speak with the ocean-wave-like lilt vs. the banjo-picking twang accent of Southern Appalachian folk. Then there’s the New South, the Old South, Dixie, Southeastern United States and more all with their accents and dialects and sub-accents and sub-dialects. That means we’ll laugh as hard at your declaration of “I do declare” as you would our renditions of anything from “Good Will Hunting.”
The photo filter properly how this how rare afternoon run felt for me today-humid! August is here and the early wake up times proved to be worth it when running in “pea soup humidity” (term a grandparent used to say) and knocking out a few miles. #augustishere #humidity #humidityfilter #peasouphumidity #summerrunning🔥
From Bear Creek in Georgia to North Carolina’s Pisgah trails, you will be riding through hot, wet air in the warm months.
Sweat won’t relieve you, and you’ll begin to wonder if maybe you have asthma. Paddling Tennessee’s Ocoee River or hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains — with its above-5,000 feet elevation and low humidity — will save you from the misery for a little bit.
Just get used to it. You’ll have three to four months of it before temperatures drop and the region transforms into one of the country’s greatest places for outdoor recreation.
Come down here for almost year-round everything
Despite the summer months of heat and humidity, you can mountain bike, climb, hike and paddle anytime.
Asheville, North Carolina is a prime example in that — it’s the major reason for the mass migration to Western North Carolina in the last decade.
Despite the reputation of having no good snowboarding or surfing, if you look hard enough, you’ll find that down here, too.
SURFER magazine chose a few Southern locales among its top 10 surfer towns, including Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina and New Smyrna, Florida.
As for getting your ski on, West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain and Sugar Mountain in North Carolina work — but only to prove the point that you can enjoy most all the outdoor sports in the Southeast.
Know your barbecue
Do you like it rich and sweet, or just the vinegar, or so spicy your mouth’s on fire?
Tear into a slab of smoked spare ribs, dripping with thick molasses-styled sauce, during a stop in the three-day Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest in Big Bend, Texas.
Or dive into the pulled pork sandwich with white sauce, complete with a side of coleslaw after a day of trad climbing near Jamestown, Alabama.
Southern cuisine extends beyond barbecue, of course. Order the chicken and waffles in Memphis, trout tacos along the Tennessee/North Carolina border, or the gumbo in Louisiana.
“Bless your heart” is obvious
There’s this idea from non-natives that we’re hiding our true feelings. Correction: We’re just polite about it.
Why remark “you’re an idiot” when we could just as easily say “bless your heart.” If you did eat it hard in that big swell or had a yard sale on a river above your ability, the locals the will let you know, darlin’.
Pay attention and slow down
I don’t mean your speech, but your pace. If a cashier asks about your day, answer and chat a second. In fact, ask them about their day first, and you’ll go a long way down here.
If you really want to get on the trail at some fixed time, it’s better to start your day earlier than to brush off a chance at a meaningful connection.
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