There has been a lot of talk about Southern heritage lately. Some folks want to reduce that down to symbols and flags. Unfortunately, those symbols and flags often represent those parts and histories we should be ashamed of. I don’t like to focus on that. I want to focus on what we can be proud of! I love the place I call home.
So, for that reason, I wanted to give some alternatives here. I am as happy as a lark to be from the greatest State in the Union–Alabama. Further, I love to celebrate, explore, and enjoy the whole region I call home. I know it isn’t right theologically, but I honestly get what Hank was driving at when he said, “If Heaven ain’t a lot like Dixie, I don’t wanna go.” Here’s 25 ways to celebrate our little slice of the world.
1. Enjoy something delicious
Pimento cheese, boiled peanuts, barbecue, fried chicken, Gulf seafood, Atlantic seafood, gumbo, shrimp and grits, grits, turnip greens, cornbread, Nashville hot chicken, tailgating food, biscuits and gravy, country ham, peanuts in a Coke, etc. Just go eat at your grandmother’s house, for goodness’ sake. If you can’t find some Southern food to celebrate, then bless your heart.
2. Visit an award winning restaurant
Frank Stitt and Sean Brock are my favorite Southern chefs, but we are covered up with great ones! Start with seeing who’s been recognized by the James Beard Foundation and go from there.
3. Read a great piece of Southern literature
This would be a great summer to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” again. Then, you can read “Go Set a Watchman” next week!
Otherwise, grab a classic. Faulkner, O’Connor, Welty, Percy. The possibilities are endless.
4. Read one of our celebrated magazines
5. Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Visit the Mobile river delta, the Louisiana Delta, the Great Smoky Mountains, Gulf beaches, the Atlantic seashore, and more.
6. Watch a College Football Game
You might find some other teams you’d like to see, but I think you should go see the Auburn Tigers play this Fall so you can take in their new, gigantic video screen as well. War Eagle!
7. Enjoy some music
Jason Isbell has a new record out. So do Alabama Shakes. Go to a major music festival like Bonnaroo or Hangout Fest. Explore the scene in Nashville. Hear the blues in Memphis. Knock yourself out.
8. Visit a Quaint Small Town
Oxford, MS? Fairhope, AL? Beaufort, SC? Natchitoches, LA? Enjoy a weekend in an idyllic, small Southern town.
9. Visit a Cool City
Birmingham, Charleston, New Orleans, Louisville, Asheville, Jackson, Mobile, Greenville, Chattanooga, and more. There are lots of cool cities all across the South.
10. Visit a Diverse Metro
Want something a little bigger? Charlotte, Atlanta, Nashville, Dallas, Houston, Orlando, Miami, and more all offer amazing diversity and larger city amenities.
11. Enjoy the Burgeoning Coffee Scene
Revelator, Octane, Barista Parlor, Counter Culture, Methodical, Quills, Sunergos, Brash, and more. You can get caffeinated and stay that way.
12. Go to the Beach
There are amazing beaches all across the South. From the Outer Banks to Sea Island, Florida’s miles of seashore, and the amazing gulf beaches of Alabama and the Florida panhandle, there is a lot of fun to have in the water.
13. Go Fishing
How do you prefer to catch your fish? From the bass boat? On the fly? Out to sea? You’ll find amazing opportunities all across the South.
14. Go Hunting
Deer, duck, dove, turkey, wild boar, and more. Take the opportunity to harvest an animal.
15. Watch a Race
Charlotte, Talladega, Barber Motorsports Park, and countless other opportunities for motorsports are out there.
16. Watch a Baseball Game
The Atlanta Braves, folks.
17. Wear a Seersucker Suit
18. Cook Something
We like to cook. Learn to smoke BBQ, make biscuits, make a cobbler, fry okra, make gumbo, or some other useful skill.
19. Take a Beautiful Drive
My favorite drive is Highway 90 from Pensacola to New Orleans. Oceans, beaches, antebellum homes, shopping malls, gritty strip malls, fast food, fine dining, bays, beautiful views, and amazing coastal cities and towns.
However, you could also drive the Natchez Trace or the Blue Ridge Parkway.
20. See Horse Farms
Take the back roads from Louisville to Lexington and see amazing scenery and horses. Grab lunch at Wallace Station while you’re near Midway.
21. Visit Some Killer Men’s Shops
Clothes horse? Check these spots out:
22. Go to an Art Museum
I haven’t been yet, but I really want to visit Crystal Bridges.
23. Experience Hospitality
Meet friends. You’ll be invited to eat with them before you know it. Just enjoy it.
24. Go to Church
Ok, maybe I am a little biased here, but give it a try. Every Southern city is littered with churches. Find one, attend, and get treated like family. Who knows what you’ll find? You might even get found yourself.
25. Sit on a Porch and Drink Sweet Tea
At the end of the day, it’s the simple things and the people that make my home a great region. Find people you love, a porch with a breeze, and a glass of tea. Next thing you know, it’ll be bed time.