9 Summer Vacations You Definitely Took if You Grew Up in the South

9 Summer Vacations You Definitely Took if You Grew Up in the South

Raise your hand if you still have the airbrushed T-shirts.

By Lindsay Tigar
If you were raised anywhere from Virginia to Florida, let us guess that you're the proud owner of the following souvenirs from summer vacations growing up: airbrushed T-shirts, seashells from the shore, and sepia-toned photos from those old-timey photoshoots.
Being a kid in the South is a special experience in the summer no matter what — going barefoot on the wet green grass or playing with a sprinkler in your front yard with the neighborhood kids were as normal as eating biscuits and gravy for breakfast. But when your family hit the road for a seasonal getaway? Well, that's when the extra magic happened. 
Y'all let us know if these getaways ring a bell.

1. Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Dollywood

When you wanted to go away for a long weekend in high school with your family — or maybe for a honeymoon on the cheap — Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge were great options, all year round. In summer, these popular neighboring towns offer high-to-low end shopping, local crafts, and more for you and your Maw Maw or Granddaddy to spoil you. Or if you visited with your honey, those old-timey photoshoots were must-do’s — you know, with the faux guns and fans — for your mantel at home. Y'all never forgot to stop by Dollywood — Dolly Parton’s theme park — for some good old-fashioned fun.

2. Charleston

It may be called the lowcountry but this Southern destination is about as high class as your family vacay could get. You probably strolled down King Street for some shopping at both local and chain stores, and even ventured down East Battery Road, ogling the historic homes and imagining Scarlett O’Hara standing on the front porch. As a kid, you likely splashed in the local beaches — from Folly to Isle of Palms.

3. Savannah/Tybee Island

You didn’t care that part of Forrest Gump was filmed in downtown Savannah (or maybe you did): For you, Savannah, Georgia was more about super-hot, sticky temperatures in the summer and a (gorgeous) pitstop on your way to Tybee Island. It’s Georgia’s northernmost point and has a famous lighthouse that you probably visited — and snapped a photo standing in front. And if you ventured to this peach of a state in college, you probably came for Orange Crush Weekend, which is really just a big drunken time with music and drinking. (You might get a little nauseous even thinking about it, if you can remember anything, that is!)

4. Redneck Riviera

You might need to be from the South to get this reference, but don’t worry yourself, hun: The Redneck Riviera isn’t quite as exclusive — or expensive — as the French destination. Also known as the Emerald Coast, the Redneck Riviera is a 100-mile span of beaches on the Florida side of the Gulf of Mexico. As a kid, you probably visited some of these five beaches, including Pensacola or Panama City, which are popular for Spring Break or bachelorette parties. You might even have found yourself flirting with a Southern gentleman in military, considering the Riviera of the South also hosts a naval base.

5. Outerbanks/Kitty Hawk

If you were raised in North Carolina and you didn’t visit the Outer Banks, we question your parents’ vacation-planning skills. Named some of the best beaches in the country, you likely enjoyed the white, clean sand and clear blue waters overlooking the lighthouses. Kitty Hawk, especially, was a place your mama and daddy took you to learn some history while on summer break: It's where the Wright brothers successfully flew an airplane for the first time.

6. Myrtle Beach

There’s no judgin’ over here (though we’ll try not to remind you of too many dirty details). But if you went to college in the South, chances are pretty solid that you visited Myrtle Beach. Nicknamed "Dirty Myrtle," it’s not exactly a fancy destination spot, but it does the trick if you’re looking for a boozy, cheap week away from finals and classes. And hey, if winning that wet T-shirt contest or bull-riding competition is still the highlight of your college career, have no shame, honey.

7. New Orleans

It’s not just called the Big Easy because so many musicians land gigs in New Orleans — the city welcomes artists warmly — but for Southerners, it’s an easy, no brainer as a travel destination. Regardless if you went during Jazz Fest or Mardi Gras, you probably enjoyed some mighty spicy gumbo and jambalaya and finished it off with (three servings of) beignets. As an adult, you might have been invited to at least three bachelorette or bachelor parties in New Orleans, and found yourself too tempted turn down an invitation to this gem of a city.

8. Daytona Beach

Right in between Jacksonville and Miami, Daytona Beach, Florida is a cheaper alternative for families on a budget. Not only are the beaches hard packed (meaning that four wheeler of yours was more than welcome to go speedin’ through the dunes), but if motorsports were part of your family’s tradition, there’s no better spot to pick for the annual getaway. You likely have many memories watching the Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway, and if your folks were real fans, you probably have a T-shirt from the many NASCAR shops paying tribute to the headquarters.

9. Hilton Head

If your fam is from South Carolina, Hilton Head was likely your childhood jam. Not only is there a Disney Hilton Head Resort — complete with activities like swimming with dolphins! — but the Coastal Discovery Museum was probably a place your parents took you to learn a thing or two about the ocean. Apart from the infamous Harbour Town Light (which you might have considered getting married in view of), the many golf courses, resorts, and white beaches make Hilton Head a place you’ll want to bring your family back one day.
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