It thrills me to share Southern family travel ideas with my friends so you can make the most of your family vacations. On some family travel trips in the South, we stumble upon quirky tourist attractions, so I’m spilling the beans on a few fabulous ones that are worth stopping for. Don’t miss my video and favorite travel app below too!
When I first began travel writing about the South, I had no idea about these odd little roadside stops. Over the last few years, we’ve stumbled across quite a few of them, and I’m not going to lie… I adore finding these hidden gems!
Just off of GA Highway 75 in Cordele, a 98-foot tall ballistic missile stands unexpectantly. You read that right, a missile that was specifically designed as a warhead during the Cold War is handing out there like it’s no big deal. Can you imagine being a resident of this tiny middle Georgia town and using it as a landmark when giving directions?
“Oh just turn right past that tall missile and you’ll be almost there,” some might say. Make no doubt, Cordele residents are very proud of this icon in their town – especially the Veterans. They know that this rocket that’s sandwiched in-between a tiny gas station and a Krystal drive-through traveled many a mile to make its home in Watermelon country.
Read the full story about the Titan missile’s arrival to Georgia in 1968 that made the Los Angeles Times.
Our recent adventures at a Florida Campground was the first time I’d heard of bat colonies. Apparently, it’s a thing at the University of Florida! There are approximately 300,000 bats that live in two permanent structures in Gainesville Florida that were built for them on campus.
Bats swoop from under their dwellings each evening about 15 minutes after sunset. They are searching for insects, fresh air, and maybe even a sip of water. The UF Bat Colony is definitely something your family needs to see at least once!
South of the Border is a 50-year old landmark that you can’t miss while driving along South Carolina’s Interstate 95. The oversized signs and displays that greet you along the highway (the main one is 97-feet-tall) are themed in tongue-in-cheek, faux Mexican style. You’re probably wondering why it’s called “south of the border?”
The name for this quirky tourist attraction comes from its location just minutes from the border of North and South Carolina. Funny, huh? Known for their hospitality, this isn’t just any rest stop! You’ll find restaurants, shopping, fireworks, accommodations, service stations, arcades, swimming pools, a reptile lagoon, and a campground.
You won’t believe South of the Border until you see it!
The Lost Sea Adventure in Sweetwater, Tennesee has a very accurate slogan. “Get Ready to Take an Unforgettable Adventure! You have never seen, heard, or done anything like this before…”
It’s true. Most folks have never wandered down below the earth to explore a cavern and a hidden, underground lake! This tourist attraction includes a General Store, Ice Cream Parlor, Gem Mine, and Glassblower. There’s also a cafe, the Cavern Kitchen, real pit barbeque, picnic facilities and a nature trail. By far, the most exciting part of The Lost Sea is riding on a glass bottom boat on the World’s largest underground lake.
A visit to Alligator Alley in Summerdale, Alabama can be a heart-pounding adventure for all ages of the family. Not only do you get a unique experience of walking up-close-and-personal through habitats of 450 alligators — you can also hold them, cuddle them, and feed them!
On your guided walks through the swamp, you’ll also get a chance to view other wildlife such as turtles, ospreys, owls and bull frogs — only a couple feet away from where you stand. The alligators that call Alligator Alley home are rescue animals. They have all been removed from places that were not in their best interests. Have fun hanging out with the Gators!
Travel app for tourist attractions
One of the ways I’m able to find fun tourist attractions in the South is with my favorite travel app. Roadside America is my new best friend while traveling! It’s so easy to find oddities and attractions ahead of time or as you go. This app also lists normal tourist attractions as well. You’re welcome!