When you visit a new place, you want to get a feel for it and take a piece of it with you when you leave. Visiting a city in the South will definitely stay with you. Whether it’s the rich history, kind and generous spirits of the people who live there or the one-of-a-kind cuisine, Southern culture is not easily forgotten.
Here are five ways to immerse yourself and soak up the South on your next trip.
Visit a History Museum
To really get to know a certain area of the world, you should go back to the beginning.
Learn about the most impactful historical events that shaped the world we live in today—from wars to civil rights and the evolution of U.S. voting rights. For example, the main mission of the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas is to preserve the importance of the state’s military heritage, veteran leadership and unique historic artifacts, as well as to educate the public about the country’s military history. Many museums even have films and reenactments of events that will make you feel like you were right there.
This kind of activity is one that can spark an interest in a particular world issue or craft, which can be life-changing.
Leave Technology Behind
We have the best intentions of using technology to enhance our travel experience, but most of the time, it takes away from it. You can hardly immerse yourself in an experience if you are tied to your connections and responsibilities at home.
This is where we must set boundaries in our professional and interpersonal relationships. Give contacts a heads up that you’re going to be out of town, so you’ll be able to properly soak up the sunshine, accents and cocktails in the South.
Try Southern Cooking
You’re going to get a taste of comfort or soul food in the South whether you like it or not. Do some research to get started. Read the reviews of restaurants you’re considering to see which one has the best experiences or take a cooking class or culinary tour.
Try out a number of different foods, from gumbo to barbecue and collard greens. Get recommendations by word of mouth, and savor this unique opportunity to try something new and authentic.
Nothing helps you understand a place like actually talking to the people who live there. There’s researching it—and then there’s experiencing it with your own senses.
It can be difficult to strike up a conversation with a stranger, but most of the people you come across in the South will be happy to have a conversation with you. They might even invite you back to their home for a meal.
You never know. These small conversations might become lifelong friendships.
Attend a Concert
Music is a culture’s core. A song is more than just a beat and lyrics. It tells the story of those who lived in that place and time. It’s also an opportunity to cut loose, dance and have fun. Country and folk are the most common genres of the South, but there’s also Cajun and Zydeco in Louisiana and shag in South Carolina.
There are also plenty of dancehalls, juke joints and roadside bars with music across the Southern states if you know where to look.
Have the Trip of a Lifetime
You’ll come back from an experience in the South a different person. Along with the great memories, learning about other cultures expands your mind and allows you to walk a while in someone else’s shoes. Take home original art, an indigenous craft, album of a new favorite band or the recipe for a new dish so that the South will always be with you.