Most of you know that we attended the Travel South Showcase in Little Rock, Arkansas, last month. Moving to a different Southern city each year, the showcase includes representatives from 11 Southern states (excluding Florida and Texas) revealing what’s new and noteworthy in their state. Of course, parties, tours and, this year, the Peabody Ducks, are all part of the fun. We wanted to share some highlights and reveal a few tidbits we’ll be developing into longer stories throughout the year. As for the ducks, we’ve got them parading up to their room on video (at bottom). We also learned that they won’t be in Little Rock much longer, as the Peabody there has been bought by Marriott, so go see them now while you have the chance.
- Mississippi and Arkansas have teamed up to “Bridge the Blues” and highlight the Highway 61 Blues Festival and King Biscuit Blues. Events coordinated over a 12-day period in the fall include live music at juke joints, clubs and casinos from Memphis to Vicksburg and self-guided tours along the Mississippi Blues Trail.
- Georgia is launching a new website to highlight its destinations featured in movies filmed in the state. Keep an eye out for cometourgeorgia.com, which will be live soon.
- Tennessee is excited about Nashville being named the new “it” city by The New York Times, in addition to a culinary hotspot and a Top 5 Tourist Destination Worldwide by Conde Nast. Nashville Music Center is expected to open in May, and the city’s National Civil Rights Museum is undergoing renovation and expected to reopen in late spring as well.
- Arkansas is working on restoration of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess, where the musician lived from age 3 until he graduated from high school. Plans are to have the home open by September, in time for the 10th anniversary of Cash’s death.
- Our home state of Louisiana has launched the Louisiana Soundtrack, a campaign that showcases the state’s musical heritage, from jazz and blues to Cajun, Zydeco and country. The campaign website will develop a personalized Louisiana Playlist based on questions you answer and features a roster of musicians by genre, Top 25 Louisiana songs, music landmarks and more.
- In Virginia, the Crooked Road Heritage Music Trail winds through the mountains in the southwestern part of the state, where bluegrass, old-time and traditional country music have their roots. Venues like the Floyd Country Store are listed, along with a calendar of events and when to see jam sessions.
- Kentucky continues to promote its Bourbon Trail and spirits-based offerings located through Bourbon Country. The state also now has an Urban Bourbon Trail of the world’s best bourbon bars, food dishes and events.
- The only state born during the Civil War, West Virginia is the place to discover war-related trails, along with new ziplining and canopy tours and the recently opened New River Gorge walk.
- North Carolina has become the South’s beer stronghold, and the state’s breweries will be celebrating with an inaugural North Carolina Beer Month in April. Meanwhile, Winston-Salem serves as the gateway to the state’s wine country, and Salute! wine celebration is a great way to taste the state’s vintages in June.
- In Birmingham, Alabama, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement will be remembered with events through December, including special exhibits, concerts, a one-act play about Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and lots more. Alabama is also adding to its Road Trips site, which can always be found at www.alabama.travel.
- South Carolina’s capital of Columbia is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement, while the state’s new vacation guide features classic diners and top music festivals.
And here’s video of those Peabody Ducks we promised. They march twice daily from the lobby fountain down the red carpet and up the elevator at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to the sound of John Philip Sousa’s King Cotton March.