The soapy Bravo reality show “Southern Charm” is set in Charleston, but that’s not the only place to find authentic Southern hospitality. The region’s warm and inviting small towns and big cities all sport unique and interesting cuisine, art, music, and culture.
In the South, people are renowned for treating their neighbors with kindness and inviting anyone and everyone they meet into their homes, often for a warm meal and a friendly visit. Sure, neighbors can get a little nosy and gossipy at times just like in the show, but they mean well and truly care about each other. So, during your visit to the South, be sure to strike up conversations with a few strangers to experience real Southern charm.
The Southern Way
The concepts of hospitality and warmth are not limited to regions in the South. These types of ideas are common in several other communities. However, it plays a significant part in forming the culture and tradition of Southerners. In addition, Southerners’ warm and welcoming nature is widely regarded as a unifying and bonding force in the region.
Historians have linked Southern charm and hospitality to the practices of wealthy planters in several Southern colonies in the 1600s and 1700s. However, the phrase “Southern hospitality” did not appear until the 1820s and 1830s, when the country was having passionate debates about slavery.
Southerners are known for their warm hospitality, and guests are frequently invited into their homes. In the past, it was common for wealthy guests to stay in the large houses of local plantation owners because of the proximity and convenience of the accommodations. Plantation estates were not merely family residences but vital sites for mixing and mingling.
Many plantations are available for ours today, especially in Louisiana’s Plantation Country between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and Whitney Plantation is significant for its focus on the history and legacy of slavery.
People who live in the South take great pride in their region’s distinct culture. The Southern culture places a premium on politeness, which is commendable. One of the secrets to Southern charm is knowing when to smile and when to nod your head politely. You can practice your manners by indulging in Southern cuisine or taking a road trip to some of the region’s most famous sites and landmarks.
To immerse yourself in authentic southern culture, you must first indulge in its distinctive cuisine.
Southern cuisine takes its inspiration from various cultures, including Caribbean, Mexican, African, Creole, Central and South American, and more. Sample regional delicacies, including gumbo, BBQ, pecan pie, catfish, fried chicken, Brunswick stew and so much more. (Pack those stretchy waist shorts or pants.)
You’ve probably seen photos of some of the region’s most famous tourist attractions, but nothing beats experiencing places like the Great Smoky Mountains, Gulf of Mexico beaches or lowcountry sunsets for yourself.
Have an Adventure
The South is full of activities and attractions suitable for the entire family. Get tickets to the Daytona 500 at the world-famous racetrack in Daytona Beach. The Daytona International Speedway features other sporting events besides NASCAR races, including AMA Superbike, Supercross and ARCA. You can also visit Six Flags Over Georgia, OWA in Southern Alabama, go hiking or biking in Texas or fishing in Florida.
Make Some Art
The South is definitely known for its art forms, many going back several generations. From basketry to pottery, quilting, woodcarving and instrument making, visual arts are deeply ingrained in the South’s communities.
Participating in workshops that teach you how to make a mug, basket or quilt using traditional Southern methods is something you’ll treasure forever. Art from the South typically combines vivid color with astonishingly creative design, which is a reflection of the region’s rich culture and geography.
Many argue that the myth of Southern hospitality is only a glorified interpretation of the past. However, those who have visited the South recently can attest that the region’s famed hospitality is no urban legend. Southern hospitality is alive and well.