The American South has a lot of different landscapes and adventures to explore, from the hot and humid rural fields of the Mississippi Delta and the heavily forested Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina to fun music and nightlife cities like Memphis.
The best way to see the South’s diversity is with a good old-fashioned American road trip, where you can find the most budget-friendly yet still cozy and comfortable hotels to stay at on your way. Get out of Atlanta, Charleston, and New Orleans, and explore the towns below to see another side of the South, all while staying well within budget.
Enjoy Coastal Biloxi, Mississippi
Biloxi is known for its traditional Southern history, white sand beaches, and, surprisingly, casinos. Several Biloxi hotels include casinos on the grounds, such as Harrah’s Gold Coast and Golden Nugget, but you can also find more boutique family-friendly options throughout town. Have fun here during the night, but be sure to take your family out during the day to explore Ship Island, where you will find a historical fort and ruins as well as friendly dolphins greeting you. Then head to Biloxi Beach and lounge on the sand or explore Biloxi Lighthouse before making your way to Beauvoir, a grand house that gives a glimpse into historic Southern living.
Explore Nature and History in Greensboro, North Carolina
Travelers will love the fascinating museums and historical preserves of Greensboro, including the Greensboro Science Center, the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, the Greensboro Children’s Museum, and the outdoor Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. Relax with a stroll through the Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden, and then retire to one of the many budget-friendly hotels in Greensboro, like the Wingate by Wyndham – Greensboro, for real Southern hospitality.
Culture and Trails in Raleigh, North Carolina
Visitors rave about the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, which displays amazing exhibits year-round, as well as the local North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. For a more leisurely activity, go to Pullen Park for some outdoor fun or marvel at gorgeous flowers at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Book one of the hotels in Raleigh near the downtown area, like the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel, but don’t forget to explore the surrounding nature at Neuse River Trail and Umstead State Park.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles in Charlotte, North Carolina
Exploring Charlotte is easy with the light-rail system that takes you around the city and the Gold Rush Trolley that runs down the major thoroughfare of Trade Street. Study the planes in the Carolinas Aviation Museum, and check out winning cars at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. There are plenty of affordable Charlotte hotels, such as the Charlotte Marriott Southpark, that you can book to save your money for sightseeing and dining.
Rock Legends in Memphis, Tennessee
You can’t go through the South and skip Memphis, the birthplace of rock and roll. Get to know Elvis Presley as you learn about the King’s life and history at Graceland, go through famous Sun Studio, and check out the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. Rest up at one of the many budget-friendly Memphis hotels, like the Days Inn Memphis at Graceland, and then head to Beale Street for some of the greatest live music and nightlife in the entire USA!
Photo by Ryan Hardy.