7 Reasons to Take a Motorcycle Trip Through the South This Fall
Autumn is nearly upon us and most Southerners love this time of year. The leaves change colors (in the northern parts), the air at night is crisp and cool, and you start to see pumpkins on porches and in stores.
Motorcyclists particularly enjoy this time of year. They can hop on their Harley and cruise through the newly-fallen leaves, savoring the chill in the air.
This year has been tough thanks to COVID-19, and some motorcyclists plan on taking road trips this fall to clear their heads. If you’ve had that idea, then you might consider visiting the South. If you aren’t familiar with this part of the country, 2020 might be the year to explore.
Get your jacket and boots out of the closet and check out these reasons why a Southern motorcycle trip is a good idea this autumn. Just be sure to wear a helmet. (Helmeted riders have a 73 percent lower fatality rate.)
The first thing worth mentioning about the South is the abundance of Southern hospitality. It might sound cliché, but those visiting the South for the first time often say they like the region’s way of doing things.
Life seems to move a little bit slower in the South. This is even evident in Southern speech, as locals tend to speak with a Southern drawl, which you rarely encounter up North.
Not only is the slower pace a welcome change from the hustle and bustle in the North, but you’ll find most of locals are friendly and eager to hear about your life and where you come from.
Visiting major Southern cities like Charleston, Charlotte, Atlanta, Louisville or Memphis can be fun, but you might also enjoy riding through or stopping in smaller communities and chatting with the locals.
If you’re going to hop on your motorcycle and head South, then you should bring your appetite, because there’s nothing that beats Southern cooking.
The South is known for its phenomenal fried chicken, catfish, barbecue and a whole lot more.
From collard greens to chitlins to poboys, there are dozens of delicious Southern specialties that will make you forget all about your diet. If you’ve never tried fried green tomatoes, gumbo, sweet potato pie or fresh, hot corn pone, you’re in for a treat. The food alone might convince you to uproot the family and move down South.
Scenery in the South during the fall is spectacular. If you’re on your motorcycle, you can experience the season changing as you zoom through pastoral farmland or swamp country.
You might not always get the leaf-changing color explosion of a New England fall, but the ripe corn and apples more than make up for that. Take note of the cows lowing in the fields and chickens clucking as you pass the farms and lonely homesteads.
If you’d prefer the bright lights, then check out Bourbon Street in New Orleans or Beale Street in Memphis. These cities are a different kind of cosmopolitan than Northerners typically experience.
If you like motorcycles, then you’ll probably make some new Southern friends on the road. You could easily lose an entire evening talking to some fellow bikers. Whether you’re into Harley, Triumph, Kawasaki or something more exotic, you’ll surely encounter some individuals who want to talk shop.
You can often find motorcycle exhibitions or rallies down South too. Check along your route before you leave, so you’ll have some stops to consider along the way.
The South has no shortage of culture or history. Louisiana’s Oak Alley Plantation is spectacular, and it’s no wonder that filmmakers shot part of “Interview with the Vampire” here. Oak Alley also has a restaurant and restored cottages if you want to stay the night before rolling on.
Maybe you’d prefer Alabama’s Old Monroe County Courthouse. Famous author Harper Lee grew up in Monroeville, and the courthouse there inspired her writing. You can sit in the same courtroom where her father practiced law.
In Nashville, you can swing by the highly popular Johnny Cash Museum. It’s a repository for tons of fascinating Johnny Cash memorabilia, including the last song he ever wrote. As a bonus, Patsy Cline has her own museum upstairs.
Stroll Through Cemeteries
If you don’t think it’s too morbid, you can also stop at some of the most incredible cemeteries in the U.S. Many of the Southern monuments to those who have passed on are breathtaking.
One of the best ones is Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery. This is where you’ll find Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell’s grave. Founded in 1850, this spacious cemetery has art, period gardens and weekend tours.
Another popular graveyard is Savanah’s Bonaventure Cemetery featured prominently in the book In the Garden of Good and Evil. Bonaventure is a Southern Gothic graveyard featuring poet Conrad Aiken’s grave, along with lyricist Johnny Mercer and Edward Telfair, Georgia’s first governor.
Many people have Southern relatives, and this fall might be the ideal time to visit them. The pandemic has made things hard for everyone, and you might be missing a sibling, parent, cousins, etc.
Track them down and visit them along your route. You might not be able to give them a big hug right now, but you can have a socially distant visit and catch up on all the family gosspi, provided you wear a mask.
Motorcycle trips, the fall season and the South all seem to fit together like biscuits and gravy. Before the weather gets too cold, clear your calendar and hit the road. Just be sure to wear all your safety gear, ride carefully and don’t eat too much of that scrumptious downhome cooking.