No country in the world does road trips quite like the United States, and Southern USA is where you’ll find some of the best of them.
A Deep South USA road trip is an experience like no other. Thanks to its humongous size and the plethora of states it contains, the southern region of the USA provides some of the best roads and highways out there, each one with a very different cultural flavor and scenery than the last!
From overseas highways above turquoise waters to endless deserts and towns that brim with history, each and every single southern states road trip has something interesting on offer.
Below, we share some of the best southern road trips every single traveler needs to do at least once in their life!
12 Sensational Southern USA Road Trips
1. Miami to Key West Overseas Highway (Highway 1), Florida
Taking you all the way from Miami to Key West through over-the-ocean bridges that connect the Keys, this mesmerizing highway is one of the most classic southern states road trips and a favorite for those who love sunny days and endless beaches.
It goes without saying that the scenery along its 113 miles is as spectacular as it gets. Each and every mile, you’ll be treated to beautiful ocean views and white sand beaches as you make your way to Key West.
While the trip can be completed in less than a day, it’s recommended to spend several days on this trip as there are plenty of incredible destinations worth making a stop at to explore. Top highlights include Key Largo, Islamorada, Bahia Honda State Park, and the underwater John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
The best time of the year to do this southern states road trip is between March and May when hurricane season is over and the winter crowds have tapered off.
2. Skyline Drive, Virginia
Starting in Richmond, the Skyline Drive will have you seeing some of the best the state of Virginia has to offer as you make your way to the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.
Even though this road is only 105 miles long, it can very well be turned into a multi-day southern road trip as there are plenty of stops worth making along the way for hiking aficionados.
The drive will take you along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains inside Shenandoah National Park. All along the highway, you’ll find plenty of trailheads to park your car and go for a hike, as well as several campsites for those who want to spend the night inside the park.
The best time to do the Skyline Drive is September through November, when the park gets wrapped up in gorgeous fall foliage.
3. Chipley to Rainbow Springs State Park, Florida
If you’re up for a few days spent chasing waterfalls, this southern states road trip through Florida is guaranteed to please.
Starting in Chipley Falling Waters State Park, you’ll make your way all the way to Rainbow Springs State Park. Along the route, you’ll get to see the highest waterfalls in Florida, gaze at plenty of natural sinkholes, and spend a few hours exploring Torreya State Park.
Moreover, you’ll also get the option to stop at plenty of other parks such as the Big Shoals State Park and Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, where you’ll be able to see a series of waterfalls crashing down into a sinkhole that contains an actual mini rainforest!
This road trip can be done any time of the year but keep in mind that the summer months are usually the warmest and wettest. With that said, summers are when the waterfalls look the most impressive due to the rain, so take your pick!
4. Pineywoods Autumn Trail, Texas
Vineyards, fairytale-like forests, and autumn colors are the staples of the Pineywood Autumn Trail in Texas.
While it’s much lesser known than other southern states road trip routes, this 145-mile loop between Palestine and Athens will have you passing plenty of forests and parks worth making a stop at to take a walk and truly take in the golden and crimson tones. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also fly above the fall foliage at Texas ZipLine Adventures!
As if that weren’t enough, Pineywood is also dotted by tons of idyllic lakes and vineyards. This route includes the Tara Vineyard & Winery for those keen to get a taste of Texas’s hidden wine country, but if you still haven’t gotten your fill of grapes, you can continue the road trip onwards over the Piney Woods Wine Trail, which is dotted by over 20 wineries.
Autumn is definitely the best time to do this road trip, especially considering it’s a mecca for fall hues. If you’re unable to do it at this time of the year, spring is another great choice for mild weather and colorful blooms.
5. Tuscaloosa to Eutaw, Alabama
If you love all things vintage, artsy vibes, places that feel as local as they get, and historical architecture, this Alabama scenic road trip is everything you’ve been looking for.
As you make your way from Tuscaloosa to Eutaw in West Alameda, you’ll pass plenty of antique shops, art galleries galore, and a plethora of antebellum mansions, not to mention you’ll also get the chance to make a few detours.
A few highlights of this road trip include the Courthouse Square in Eutaw, the lakes that surround the town of Livingston, and getting to drive over the Alamuchee-Bellamy Covered Bridge, a wooden bridge that is said to be haunted by an outlaw who was hanged there!
Spring and fall are the best time of the year to do this road trip as the weather is mild and comfortable. Summers are also pleasant for warm-weather lovers, although this is the high season in Alabama and cities like Tuscaloosa can get pretty crowded.
6. Haunted Oklahoma, Oklahoma
Love all things haunted? If you consider yourself a bit of a daredevil, this deep south road trip is definitely one to remember!
This sensational road trip travels through some of Oklahoma’s most haunted cities, including Tulsa, Ponca City, Alva, and El Reno before looping its way back to Oklahoma City.
All of these spots are great to spend the night in, but the main reason to visit them is to check out a few of its most haunted buildings. Highlights in Tulsa include the Gandini’s Circus in Edmond, an abandoned carnival, the Hex House, and Cain’s Ballroom.
In Ponca City, visit the Constantine Theater & Poncan Theater, which are said to be incredibly haunted and don’t forget to check out the Cherokee Strip Museum in Alva, which is believed to be extremely ghost-ridden.
The best time to do this road trip is from late March to early June and September to November when the weather is temperate. Bonus points if you do it in late October for Halloween!
7. Outer Banks Scenic Byway, North Carolina
Starting in Nags Head, this scenic byway runs all the way to Ocracoke Island and back to the mainland (yes, a ferry journey is included here!).
As one of the most iconic routes in North Carolina, this road trip in the southern US is a great addition to your bucket list.
Along the way, you’ll get to visit Bodie Island, Cape Hatteras, and if you like hiking, you can also spend a few hours exploring the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Ocracoke Island is another must-do stop for beautiful beaches, and if you’re feeling up for a day trip, you can hire a boat to the alluring Portsmouth Island.
The best time of the year to do this road trip is between April to mid-June and early September to late October.
8. Haunted Louisiana, Louisiana
Another of the best southern USA road trips for those who love all things spooky, this incredible route will have you checking out some of the most beautiful (and haunted) sites in a state that is already infamous for its paranormal activity.
The route begins in Keachi and ends in Fort Proctor, following mostly the I-49. Along the way, you’ll get to make stops at deserted schools, sugar plantations, and plenty of mills. There’s even an abandoned Six Flax on the way – it’s illegal to enter the premises, but even the sight from the road is enough to send chills down your spine!
Must-do stops include Laurel Valley Sugar Plantation, Fort Proctor, Elise Reuss Memorial School, Charles Boldt Paper Mill, Kisatchie High School, and Keachi Women’s College.
Louisiana is best visited between mid-February to early May and from October to December for mild weather. This road trip is a great idea for a Halloween adventure, or you can combine it with a Mardi Gras trip in February instead!
9. Tennessee Waterfalls Road Trip, Tennessee
If you love nature and all things waterfalls, the Tennessee Waterfalls route is one of the best southern road trips to take for outdoor adventures.
This gorgeous drive will have you see some of the best the Great Smoky Mountains offer. The drive starts at Cumming Falls on the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River, where you can freshen up and swim before continuing to Burgess Falls to check out four different waterfalls.
Next, you can make a stop at Falls Creek Falls and finish up the trip at Twin Falls to end the trip with a bang!
This road trip is a summer favorite, but fall is also a great time to do it for fall foliage.
10. Hilton Head to Charleston, South Carolina
Starting on Hilton Head, an island just off the coast of South Carolina, this epic road trip will have you seeing the absolute best the Palmetto State has to offer.
The drive is technically only 90 miles long, but there are plenty of wonderful spots to overnight in if you have the time. As you make your way to Charleston, you’ll get the chance to enjoy plenty of coastal scenery and small-town charm.
Stops worth making include Hunting Island State Park for secluded beaches, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge for wildlife spotting, and Beaufort for antebellum mansions.
Summer is the best time to do this road trip for perfect beach weather.
11. Midland Trail, West Virginia
Gorgeous nature, charming historical towns, local art, pioneer history, pretty waterfalls, and plenty of mystery are just a few of the aspects that make this deep south USA road trip a true gem.
Covering over 100 miles between Charleston and Sam Black Church in West Virginia, this scenic byway crosses some of the most rugged areas of the Mountain State. The road is believed to have been originally carved out into the mountains by buffalo and native tribes of the area.
Some of the top highlights to check out for nature include Hawks Nest State Park and New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, while historical sites that are musts include The Ruffner Log Cabin, Salt Village, Old Stone House, and the colonial town of Lewisburg.
Fall is a great time to do this road trip for beautiful autumn colors, but spring and late summer are perfect for comfortable weather.
12. The Blues Highway, Tennessee and Mississippi
Along this epic road trip, you’ll get to visit some of the places where rock and roll, rhythm and blues, jazz, and country music were born, inspired by the melodies of the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta.
The Blues Highway follows Route 61 between Memphis and Vicksburg, taking you right into the heart of American Music.
Must-do stops include the Gateway to the Blues Museum in Tunica, the Delta Blues Museum and Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, and the Back in the Day Museum in Greenwood, where you can also visit the grave of Robert Johnson.
Memphis is full of kid-friendly attractions including the acclaimed Children’s Museum and Shelby Farms Park, one of the largest urban parks in America. Ride the trolley and stroll historic Beale Street during the day.
Further on, make a stop at Yazoo County for authentic Bentonia Blues at the Blue Front Café before heading to Indianola to check out the B.B. King Museum. The Mississippi Grammy Museum in Cleveland is also a treat, and a can’t-miss stop is the Dockery Plantation, where the genre was born!
More Great US Road Trips
If you’re looking for more great US road trip inspiration, you may want to check out next:
- The Best American Road Trips To Take With Your Kids
- The Best of the Midwest – Unmissable Family Road Trips
- Taking on the US East Coast National Parks in One Epic Road Trip
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