50 Reasons We Love Summer in the South

Beach Party
Photo: Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Kathleen Varner; Hair, Makeup, and Wardrobe: Celine Russell/Zenobia

Our editors' must list—from secret swimming holes to new barbecue joints to off-the-beaten-path beach dives.

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Here Are a Few of Our Favorite Ways to Spend a Southern Summer

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1. Hotel Pools

Parrot Key Hotel & Villas in Key West, Florida
Robbie Caponetto; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Location: Parrot Key Hotel and Villas
  • The Carpenter Hotel
  • Austin, TX
  • Stretch out with a michelada on one of the cerulean blue poolside chaises to take in the geometric architecture.

Parrot Key Hotel & Villas (pictured above)

Key West, FL

What's behind door number one? Or four? Parrot Key has four sequestered pools, each wreathed by palms, banana plants, and hibiscus.

  • Bobby Hotel
  • Nashville, TN
  • Lined with cushioned cabanas, the pool looks onto a luxe lounge area, fittingly inside a circa-1956 tour bus.
  • Perry Lane Hotel
  • Savannah, GA
  • Level with the city's steeples and downtown rooftops, this penthouse pool is the best new vantage point to see Savannah's historic district.
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2. River Tubing

People Tubing Down the James River in Richmond, VA
WHL/Getty Images

In view of the Richmond, Virginia, skyline, folks float down the James River that meanders through the middle of downtown to Belle Isle, a 54-acre city park where smooth, flat rocks make the ideal pit stop.

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3. Bayou Paddling

Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana’s Acadian
Art Meripol

From pink-feathered roseate spoonbills to mustard-colored warblers and leggy blue herons, over 270 species of birds call the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana's Acadian region home. Locals weave through the cypress-studded swamps in kayaks to catch the most breathtaking views.

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4. Beach Dives

Surf Bar in Folly Beach, SC
Peter Frank Edwards

What do Pirates Cove(Elberta, Alabama), Gerald's Pig & Shrimp(Tybee Island, Georgia), Indian Pass Raw Bar(Port St. Joe, Florida), and the Surf Bar(Folly Beach, South Carolina) all have in common? These laid-back coastal canteens guarantee the best finale for any summer weekend. And the oyster happy hours can't be beat.

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5. Hammock Hangouts

Kammok Hammock
Andrew Glenn

Nylon hammocks may be marketed to rock climbers, hikers, and other outdoor adventurers, but homebodies use them to turn their backyards into personal retreats, no reservations or plane tickets required. When it came to naming the best recliner for lazy lounging, our editors had a hands-down favorite: The ultra-durable ones from Austin, Texas-basedKammok, made with a special waterproof fabric that stays cool even in the sunlight. FYI: Kid-size versions are available, too, in case you haven't built that tree house yet.

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6. Perfecting the Porch

Whitney McGregor's Porch in Greenville, SC
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Lizzie Cullen Cox

Party-ready tips from Senior Editor Zoë Gowen

Do a thorough clean.

Spend a Saturday sweeping away any pollen or leaves and hosing down everything (screens included) so the space is spotless.

Decorate from top to bottom.

The most laid-back outdoor experiences happen when you're comfortable being barefoot, so slip an outdoor rug onto the floor. This also creates a cozy interior atmosphere. Remember, it's not a Southern porch without a "haint blue" painted ceiling. Zoë's favorite hue: Rainwashed (SW 6211) by Sherwin-Williams.

Pick furniture for long sitting sessions.

It doesn't matter where you find it or whether it all matches. (Our advice: Pull from inside your house too.) Seek out sturdy and plush pieces where you and your friends can gather and relax for hours.

Mix up containers and cocktails.

Run to your garden store, and buy something hard to kill and very green (a potted palm tree will last all summer long) to complete the connection to the lush outdoors. Serve plenty of drinks (including water) to beat the heat.

Designer Whitney McGregor's porch in her Greenville, South Carolina, home

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7. Lake Martin Weekends

Lake Martin, Alabama Dock Party
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Lindsey Ellis Beatty

SpringHouse executive chef Rob McDaniel shares an Alabama secret

"We have over 700 miles of shoreline along one of the biggest lakes in the Southeast, filled with beautiful clear blue water. But one of the best parts—to me—is how we have people from all walks of life, those who visit once or twice a year and others who come to their summer cabin every weekend. I love going to Ocie & Belle's, a cool cocktail bar. There's also a golf course (Willow Point Golf & Country Club) and Catherine's Market (a great little shop), and both of them are accessible by water. Taking a vacation out here is different from the beach or anywhere else. The schedule is more relaxed, and you can really spend time with folks. People say that once they hit the road coming to Lake Martin, their blood pressure drops, and I feel that whenever I go back out on the water."

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8. A Beach Trapped in Time

Gulf Shores Area of Florida Old Beach Shack
Hannah Hayes

Squeezed between the developed Florida shores of Panama City Beach and Rosemary Beach, a small stretch of sherbet-hued cottages serves as a reminder of quieter, quainter getaways to the Gulf Coast. Sunnyside, Santa Monica, and Laguna Beach hold on to their open water views, pastel-colored motels, and seafood shacks. Pink conchs, dried starfish, and sand dollars line the windows of a seashell shop. Locals and vacationers still sit on picnic benches and watch the waves at Thomas Donut & Snack Shop, nearly 50 years old. And inside the azalea pink Sunnyside Grill, regulars write their names and messages on dollar bills to pin on the plywood paneling.

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9. The Lodge at Gulf State Park

The Lodge at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, AL
Courtesy of Hilton Hotels and Resorts

It's rare to hear beach town residents cheer on the arrival of yet another hotel, but The Lodge at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama, has turned the tide. With a commitment to sustainable tourism, The Lodge goes far beyond letting guests keep their used towels and considers factors like dune restoration, native-plant landscaping, light pollution, and nesting sea turtles. The property is also seeking both LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certifications. The interiors beat expectations, too, with mid-century modern-inspired fixtures and panoramic ocean views in the lounge-worthy lobby (no nautical-themed wallpaper here).

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10. Swimming Holes

Balmorhea State Park Swimming Hole
Bryan Chan/Getty Images

The world's largest spring-fed swimming pool, located in Balmorhea State Park, closed last summer due to erosion, but a new $2 million investment will open the aquamarine anomaly back up to Texans who have been diving in here for generations.

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11. Blackberry Mountain

Blackberry Mountain Resort of Blackberry Farm in Tennessee
Ingalls Photography

If Blackberry Farm is the sister who always knows which bottle of wine to choose and brings her dog truffle hunting, then Blackberry Mountain is the one who goes to a yoga retreat and always takes a moment for self-care. Nestled within 5,200 acres 7 miles northeast of Blackberry Farm, the newly opened resort has 36 freestanding guest cabins that look out to the lavender Great Smoky Mountains. The staff encourages visitors to explore the scenery up close—from trail running and rock climbing to creekside meditation and herb-foraging excursions. Don't worry; they emphasize relaxation, too, especially over cocktails in Firetower, a restored 1940s lookout post turned on-site restaurant.

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12. Really Cold Beer

Craft Brewery Cold Beers with Sean Lilly Wilson
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Kathleen Varner; Portrait: Joey Seawell

Fullsteam Brewing founder Sean Lilly Wilson packs our dream cooler

Creature Comforts Brewing Co. Tritonia

"Brewed with coriander, salt, and lemon, this twangy gose complements summer salads."

Birds Fly South Ale Project Noodles

"In this smooth lager, rice lends sweetness and Crystal hops add a citrus edge."

Champion Brewing Company Shower Beer

"This cold, crisp pilsner makes the ideal reset for the hot Southern summer day."

TrimTab Brewing 205 Southern Pale

"Citra hops punch up this quaffable and dry pale ale with a Champagne-like finish."

Live Oak Brewing Company Hefeweizen

"It's a classic wheat beer that embodies Texas' German influence."

Prairie Artisan Ales Standard

"Glass bottles allowed? Then pack this straw-colored farmhouse ale."

Wilmington Brewing Company Tropical Lightning

"An IPA for non-IPA drinkers, this hazy juice bomb delivers on its tropical moniker with pineapple and mango and no lingering bitterness."

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13. Graceful Vacation Day Drinking

Beach Party
Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Kathleen Varner; Hair, Makeup, and Wardrobe: Celine Russell/Zenobia

South Carolina food writer Anne Wolfe Postic shares her strategy for imbibing during beach weekends without overdoing it.

8 a.m. Get out of bed. Cut a watermelon into cubes. Drop a few into your favorite insulated tumbler, and add a splash of vodka. Stick the cup in the freezer, and forget about it.

2 p.m. After eating lunch, remove the cup from the freezer. Add more fresh fruit. Pour in a splash of Prosecco, and then top with seltzer water. Take a big enough gulp to make room for two more large ice cubes.

2:30 p.m. Open a book, and enjoy your drink. You may find that the first one (the book and the beverage) goes down pretty easily and you want more. Indulge in all the reading you desire, but pace yourself on the libations.

3:30 p.m. Carry your cup back into the house. Add more ice and maybe some extra fruit. Feeling tipsy? Even a bit? Pour in more seltzer—at least a little. Whatever you do, just don't add vodka. Trust me on this.

6:30 p.m. Repeat with pimiento cheese and potato chips.

8:30 p.m. Repeat with dinner.

9 p.m. Sit on the porch, listen to the waves, and talk softly with your friends so as not to disturb the nesting loggerhead turtles. Finally, eat the vodka-infused watermelon.

10 p.m. Fall asleep watching Law & Order reruns.

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14. Local Bubbles

Sparkling Water Rambler and Montane
Southern Living

You'll find far fewer Technicolor cans by a certain brand in our fridges now that the South is home to some of the best new sparkling waters, including Austin's limestone-filtered Rambler and Atlanta's Montane, which comes in flavors like Lemon Honeysuckle and Cucumber Lime.

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15. Fruterías

Fruiterias Fruit Snack
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Kellie Gerber Kelley

Mango and papaya layered with lime juice and chili powder and frosty pink guava paletas—the menus at fruterías are made for sweet relief from sticky days. In Mexico, fruit stands like these are commonplace, but you can find great Southern variations on them, too, including El Maná Taqueria y Frutería (Austin), The Frutería (San Antonio), and LottaFrutta (Atlanta).

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16. Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Vietnamese Iced Coffee
Tatiana_Sushchenia/Getty Images

This bittersweet combo of iced coffee and condensed milk has crept onto menus inland from the Southern coasts, which are home to some of the country's largest Vietnamese communities. "Vietnam is actually the second-biggest producer of coffee in the world," says Dan Q. Dao, a Houston-born food writer. "Vietnam's robusta beans have a nutty, chocolaty flavor, and the condensed milk adds a vanilla note. It's almost like dessert."

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17. Kudzu Lemonade

Kudzu Lemonade from Home.made in Athens, GA
Savanna Sturkie

At Home.made(her Athens, Georgia, restaurant), chef Mimi Maumus lets guests replicate the experiment that sold her on kudzu lemonade. When they pour some lemon juice into a gray simple syrup made from kudzu blossoms, a refreshing, bright fuchsia-flushed concoction appears.

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18. Souped-Up Soft Serve

Hello, Sailor Soft Serve from Cornelius, NC
Elizabeth Cecil

Three spots whipping up delicious and daring treats

Hello, Sailor (pictured above)

Cornelius, NC

A sky-high, Dreamsicle-inspired citrus-vanilla bean swirl

  • Twisted Love
  • Houston, TX
  • Filipino-style, made with ube sweet potatoes that produce a beautiful deep purple hue
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19. The Pink Rosé of Texas

Rose Wine Being Poured
MarkSwallow/Getty Images

Like just about everything else in the Lone Star State, rosé is big. Stock up on these three bottles:

The Grower Project 2018 Rosato, $20

The Austin Winery Rosé Texas High Plains, $24

Rancho Loma Vineyards 2017 Cinsault Rosé, $24

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20. Gin and Tonics

Little Jumbo Bar in Asheville, NC
Lynne Harty

At Asheville, North Carolina, bar Little Jumbo, patrons build their own "G&T" from a checklist menu featuring brands along with garnishes. "To me, the G&T is the quintessential afternoon cocktail," says cofounder Chall Gray. "But there can be vast differences in flavor." Gray recommends these.

Aviation American Gin & Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Classic Tonic Syrup: The tonic's lemongrass notes complement Aviation's floral quality. (Lemon twist garnish)

Plymouth Gin & Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic Water: A classic English gin and modern tonic. (Grapefruit twist garnish)

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21. Key Lime Pie on a Stick

Key Lime Pie on a Stick
Robbie Caponetto

The Florida Keys know how to keep cool: a thick slice of tart Key lime pie dipped in chocolate, frozen, and served on a stick. It's synonymous with a southernmost summer, and while boxes of this sweet treat are now shipped far and wide, they're best enjoyed alongside an authentic Key West breeze.

Caroline Rogers, Assistant Editor

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22. Bigger Scoops

Small-Batch Creameries Ice Cream Scoops
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Kellie Gerber Kelley

Small-batch creameries on the rise

Big Spoon Creamery

Birmingham, AL

Soda fountain vibe meets fine-dining technique at Big Spoon. Order a scoop of the Sweet Basil.

  • Melt Ice Creams
  • Fort Worth, TX
  • Melt owner Keri Crowe-Seher suggests Peachy Keen: Texas peaches with buttery oat streusel.
  • Icecream Walla
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Reza and Rehan Bhiwandiwalla make Indian-inspired flavors such as Heartbeet Rose Petal.
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23. Prodigious Produce

Hope, Arkansas Watermelon Festival
Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce

The lightweight town of Hope, Arkansas, knows how to grow scale-tipping watermelons. At the annual Hope Watermelon Festival, farmers gather to show off their prized 200-pounders and revelers compete to see who can spit seeds or toss a melon farthest. Those who would rather not exert themselves in the August heat can sit back and enjoy chilled, sweet slices.

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24. The Year's Haute Hydrangea

White Wedding Hydrangea from the SL Plant Collection
Courtesy of Southern Living Plant Collection

"A seasonal stunner, the new 'White Wedding' hydrangea from the Southern Living Plant Collection flaunts huge, pillowy white blooms that won't flop in our region's stifling summer heat," says Assistant Editor Grace Haynes. The shrub's branches are sturdy enough to support the conical heads and continue to keep them upright when scorching temperatures set in. "You can enhance this selection's wow factor by planting a grouping of them in your yard," says Grace. "Because it's drought tolerant and deer resistant, this particular hydrangea is a low-maintenance, high-reward choice for any gardener

in any setting." You can find this flower at your local garden center.

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25. Fun Food Festival

Chow Chow Festival in Asheville, NC
Connie Matisse

Chow Chow

Asheville, NC

Named after a distinctively Appalachian pickle relish, the new Chow Chow festival aims to gather North Carolina talent to present a more multidimensional portrait of the region's culinary scene. Led by chef Katie Button of Cúrate, the directors of the event include chefs John Fleer and Meherwan Irani, French Broad Chocolates owner Jael Rattigan, and Burial Beer cofounder Jess Reiser.

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26. Hot-Off-the-Press Cookbooks

2019 Summer Cookbooks
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Senior Editor Lisa Cericola shares the new cookbooks she most excited about.

Thank You for Smoking

By Paula Disbrowe

From bean dip to steak tacos, this collection will inspire you to fire up your smoker or grill on weeknights too.

Whole Hog BBQ

By Sam Jones and Daniel Vaughn

Delve into the world of Carolina-style 'cue through recipes and stories from one of North Carolina's most legendary pitmaster families.

In Pursuit of Flavor

By Edna Lewis

You may already have this timeless title, but a beautiful new edition includes charming illustrations and a foreword by Savannah chef Mashama Bailey, who helms The Grey.

Just Peachy

By Belinda Smith-Sullivan

A love letter to peaches, this pick not only offers a bounty of sweet and savory recipes but also breaks down the different selections.

Perfect Homemade Ice Cream

By Jeni Britton Bauer

If you haven't tasted Jeni Britton Bauer's ice cream at one of her many shops or picked up a pint at the supermarket, now you can experience total bliss by making these treats at home.

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27. Cultural Cooldowns

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, LA
Richard Cummins/Getty Images

Museums and air-conditioning make for a winning hot-weather combo. Assistant Editor Caroline Rogers shares her favorites.

"Hand to Hand: Southern Craft of the 19th Century"

High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA

This Atlanta exhibit explores rural Southern artwork, including quilts, furniture, and ceramics produced in the region during the 19th century.

(On view through August 4, 2019)

"Piercing the Inner Wall: The Work of Dusti Bongé"

Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA

Stop by the Ogden this summer for a retrospective of Mississippi artist Dusti Bongé, whose career spans half a century and includes an array of stunning Modernist paintings.

(On view April 11 through September 8, 2019)

"Nature's Nation: American Art and Environment"

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR

This exhibit traces American art over the course of three centuries while examining the country's relationship with ideas of sustainability and environmental awareness.

(On view May 25 through September 9, 2019)

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28. Summer Blooms

Bougainvillea Blooming Along White Fence
Jessica Glynn for Pineapple, Palms, ETC.

Who needs that $25 bouquet when a walk around your garden costs nothing? Confetti-paper bougainvillea blossoms arch over a fence, musky magnolias glow against glossy green leaves, crepe myrtles explode like firecrackers in fuchsia and flamingo pink, and the sweet scents of honeysuckle and jasmine blooms hang in the humidity. "A small investment now will pay off big if you want to start your own flowering vine," says Assistant Editor Grace Haynes. "Plant iconic climbers like jasmine or trumpet creeper after the last frost, and watch as they ascend each summer." To celebrate bougainvillea, tie stems along a wall or trellis to train the plant. Pinch off spent flowers for more blooms.

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29. New Wave of Summer Reads

Summer Beach Reads
Robbie Caponetto; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Hair, Makeup, and Wardrobe: Celine Russell/Zenobia

Assistant Editor Caroline Rogers' top titles for downtime

Orange World and Other Stories

by Karen Russell

Florida-born writer Karen Russell returns with a collection of imaginative short fiction—and a heaping dose of magic.

To buy: $25.95, amazon.com, indiebound.org

At Briarwood School for Girls

by Michael Knight

The latest book from Knoxville, Tennessee-based writer Michael Knight is an inventive coming-of-age tale set in Prince William County, Virginia.

To buy: $26, amazon.com, indiebound.org

I Miss You When I Blink: Essays

by Mary Laura Philpott

From the host of the Nashville Public Television series A Word on Words comes a charming memoir-in-essays that'll make you laugh and think and laugh again.

To buy: $26, amazon.com, indiebound.org

The Gulf

by Belle Boggs

The latest novel from North Carolina writer Belle Boggs is a strikingly original satire that's set on Florida's Gulf Coast and tells a story about what separates us—and what brings us together.

To buy: $16, amazon.com, indiebound.org

In West Mills

by De'Shawn Charles Winslow

Writer De'Shawn Charles Winslow makes his outstanding debut with this novel about love, community, and friendship that's set in his home state of North Carolina.

To buy: $26, amazon.com, indiebound.org

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30. Minor League Baseball

Montgomery Biscuits Mascot
Courtesy of Montgomery Biscuits

Of course, Southerners also compete for the most colorful team name

El Paso Chihuahuas

Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp

Montgomery Biscuits

New Orleans Baby Cakes

Richmond Flying Squirrels

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31. Road Trip-Worthy Podcasts

Two Women Riding in Car for Road Trip
RichLegg/Getty Images

Assistant Editor Caroline Rogers shares her summer podcast picks

From the Front Porch

Tune in to this great podcast for conversations about books, small business ownership, and the adventures of life in the South. It's hosted by Annie B. Jones (owner of The Bookshelf in Thomasville, Georgia) and shop staffer Chris Jensen.

Start with: Any of Jones' and Jensen's monthly book recaps—they both read widely and offer recommendations that are as thoughtful as they are fun to listen to.

The Splendid Table

This food-centric podcast explores a variety of cuisines—and their creators—across the country, including fantastic episodes with some of today's most recognizable names in Southern cooking, including Carla Hall, Edward Lee, and John T. Edge.

Start with: "Episode 668: Edna Lewis, An American Original," a reflection on the life of the great Southern chef and food writer.

Sean of the South

Hosted by novelist and humorist Sean Dietrich, this entertaining podcast combines homespun regional stories with an assortment of live music performances.

Start with: "Bless Their Hearts," an episode about Dietrich's storytelling beginnings, which features music by Raleigh, North Carolina's Hank, Pattie & the Current.

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32. Flip-Flops Forever

Woman and Daughter Wearing Colorful Flip Flops
Shestock/Getty Images

"Nobody has ever praised them for their elegance. But, oh, they're practical. They shake off sand, survive a splash, and score you entry into those pesky few 'no shoes, no service' beach dives. And if you attend Sunday services at the Flora-Bama Lounge, well, you can wear them to church too." —Betsy Cribb, Editor

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33. The New Rules of Denim Shorts

Hanging Denim Shorts
Poramate Pilay / EyeEm/Getty Images

Go high: High-rise cuts promise a more flattering fit, plus they'll make your legs look longer.

Strike a balance: For a cooling contrast, pair your favorite tailored shorts with a floaty blouse.

Stay grounded: Denim shorts + heels = a total no-go. Try lace-up sandals or espadrilles instead. —Betsy Cribb, Editor

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34. Ode to the Caftan

Susan Dumas Caftans
Courtesy of Susan Dumas

Vintage seller Susan Dumas came by her company's name honestly. I Wish I Could Keep It All started when her personal eBay habit became a business. In addition to her online listings, Dumas opens her Birmingham home for summer sales where customers meander through every room, perusing racks of her boldly hued collection, much of it devoted to her favorite style, the caftan. (She even transforms her children's bedrooms into lovely little changing areas.) We asked Dumas to tell us about the caftan that started it all. "My sister gave me my first one, and it was a red-and-white swirl graphic print with ruffles," she says. "I went to a Widespread Panic concert on Halloween in it, and I fell in love. I felt just like Cindy Crawford. I was floating." Caftans have been around for thousands of years, but they're such a natural look for the American Southeast. They're colorful and comfortable, two things we love here. They're made to be one size fits all and perfect for sitting on a dock to watch the sunset and then heading straight to dinner. The main thing, though, is ventilation. I'm sorry, but if you're in Alabama in the summer, you need that, you know? Plus, people just notice you're happy when you're wearing them. I've never met a caftan I didn't like."

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35. Beautiful Bags

Summer Bags
Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Kathleen Varner

Editor Betsy Cribb zips up all the season's looks

For Daytime

Trade your work purse for its cooler cousin: a raffia bucket bag you'll want to take everywhere.

June Bag in Pink, $85; indegoafrica.org

For Evening

Put a feather in your nighttime ensemble. (Go hands-free with its removable chain.)

Parrot Clutch, $128; tnuck.com

For the Beach

Schlep your boat-day essentials up and down the dock in a sturdy canvas carryall.

Cabana 88 Sand Tote in Drift, $64; ameandlulu.com

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36. The Easy, Breezy Uniform

Midi Dress Summer Outfit
Robbie Caponetto; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Hair, Makeup, and Wardrobe: Celine Russell/Zenobia

Flutter through the season's busy social calendar in a light and airy caftan that's universally flattering. Dress it down for your poolside picnics, or pile on accessories for an elegant sunset soiree. —Betsy Cribb, Editor

Sedona Midi Dress, $120; paxphilomena.com

Tyla Earrings in Turquoise, $95; deepagurnani.com

Garten Embellished Sandal in Molten Gold Leather, $90; nordstrom.com

Natural City Bag with Chain, $30; zara.com

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37. Fresh Entertaining Staples

Entertaining Essentials
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Kathleen Varner

East Fork Pottery's Everyday Bowl ($34 each; eastfork.com) This wide but shallow dish serves anything from salads to saucy mains.

Sun Splatter Enamel Serving Set ($28; leifshop.com) Splatter enamelware is back, whether you use your grandmother's vintage pieces or new ones like this cheery serving-spoon set.

Blue Water Pitcher ($98; thesheltercollection.com) Charleston-based designer Erin Reitz created her glassware collection with Starworks, which employs rural artisans in Star, North Carolina.

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38. An On-the-Go Grill

PKGO portable Grill
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Here's a great gift to give Dad this June 16. Pitmasters like Aaron Franklin use Arkansas brand PK Grills in their own backyards, and this lightweight, portable PKGO version of its classic aluminum grill is made to move from weekends at the beach to tailgate season.

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39. Better Ways to Keep Bugs at Bay

Thistle Farms Natural Bug Spray
Southern Living

We'll always have a bottle of Avon Skin So Soft on hand, but Southern-based companies have found a more modern approach to insect control. Try Thistle Farms Natural Bug Spray ($8) as well as the Great Bear Wax Co. Insect Repellent Candle ($22).

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40. Boutique Bandanas

Boutique Bandanas
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Kathleen Varner

From scarf to sweat dabber, the versatile, practical, and iconic bandanna is also one of warm weather's most stylish accessories (not to mention the most affordable). These Southern labels carry on that legacy with their own prints, techniques, and fabrics.

Club Duquette, Birmingham, AL

Garner Blue, Jackson, TN

Mary Claret, Austin, TX

Cote Squares, Atlanta, GA

Jenni Earle, Winston-Salem, NC

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41. In Praise of Coral Lipsticks

Coral Lipsticks
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Kathleen Varner

Senior Editor Lisa Cericola celebrates this sunny shade

Some grandmothers pass down the family biscuit recipe or a full set of classic Spode Christmas Tree china plates. My Nanny instilled within me the importance of a good coral lipstick. When I was a young girl, I thought that lively pop of color on her lips was the epitome of beauty, and I still do. Peek inside my purse, and you will find at least five different shades—and that's not even counting the dozen tubes ranging from bold orange to soft peach in my makeup bag. (They truly do spark joy!) That punchy mix of pink and tangerine is more fun than your basic berry or nude shade but not as heavy and dramatic as red. A little swipe adds instant polish to any summer outfit, whether you're wearing a sundress or cutoffs. If a bold lip isn't usually your thing, choose a sheer version and start with a small amount. You'll be amazed by how it brightens your face—and your mood.

Flesh Beauty Fleshy Lips in Moist, $18; ulta.com

Lipstick Queen in Jungle Queen, $24; dermstore.com

Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet in First Light, $38; nordstrom.com

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42. Tomato Dishes Worth Reservations

Tomato Salad
Robbie Caponetto

Restaurants that make this seasonal star really shine

Heirloom Tomato Salad at Highlands Bar & Grill (pictured above)

Birmingham, AL

What of the summer solstice? To Magic City residents, the season is officially signaled by the appearance of chef Frank Stitt's perfect jumble of fresh heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and basil.

Johns Island Tomato Tarte Tatin at FIG

Charleston, SC

Locals anticipate the arrival of this tomato-topped puff pastry with a quenelle of whipped chèvre and olive coulis. This dish deserves its own fan club–and we'll happily join it.

Tomato Tartare at Preserved

St. Augustine, FL

In chef Brian Whittington's take on the classic, crostini topped with meaty, fresh tomatoes can convincingly carry traditional steak tartare ingredients: capers, red onion, chives, arugula, and Parmesan.

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43. Slaw Dogs

Slaw Dog
cislander/Getty Images

They sure aren't pretty—but the beauty of slaw dogs isn't in their looks. Where the color scheme clashes, the taste of a coleslaw-dressed hot dog floating in a cloud of enriched white flour is the edible equivalent of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt singing in harmony.

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44. Peach Rivalries

South Carolina Peaches
Meryl Russo/Getty Images

Three chefs from the South's most peach-proud states face off


Ramon G. Jacobsen, sous chef at Odette

Florence, Al

Testimony: "When I came to Alabama from Peru years ago, the fruits were one of the things I missed the most. But then I had Alabama peaches—sweet and juicy with tender skin and soft flesh—and I fell in love."

Try this: "I like to follow a peach soufflé recipe from my father, who owns a catering business in Lima. He combines sponge cake with layers of peaches, dulce de leche, and crème chantilly. It has been one of my favorites ever since childhood."


Greg McPhee, executive chef at The Anchorage

Greenville, SC

Testimony: "Even though Georgia goes by the nickname 'Peach State,' South Carolina produces more of that fruit each year. In Upstate South Carolina, our peaches benefit from hot days and much cooler nights that help concentrate the sugars and create tastier and juicier fruit."

Try this: "At the restaurant, we like to pickle them with star anise and cinnamon for use in later months in both sweet and savory dishes."


Steven Satterfield, executive chef at Miller Union

Atlanta, GA

Testimony: "I understand that there is a perceived 'rivalry,' but I'd just like to set the record straight. Georgia's nickname is due to its reputation for producing the highest-quality fruit, period. So what's the issue here? Just take one bite of a ripe, tangy, sweet midsummer Georgia peach, and let those juices run down your chin. You can decide for yourself if our state is worthy of keeping its title."

Try this: "Toss sliced cucumber, sliced peach, mint leaves, and shaved fennel together, and simply spoon it over a serving of Greek yogurt mixed with garlic, salt, and fresh lemon. Serve with seared fish."

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45. Tupelo Honey

Tupelo Honey
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Bees have only a fleeting two-week springtime window to make this rosewater-tasting liquid gold from tupelo tree blossoms ready by summer. Increased development has made the trees rarer and the honey more expensive, but heightened buzz has Southerners doing more to preserve this vernacular nectar.

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46. Outdoor Seating

Spoonbill Watering Hole and Restaurant in Lafayette, LA
Denny Culbert

Spoonbill Watering Hole & Restaurant (pictured above)

Lafayette, LA

Neon lights encircle this former 1950s gas station, now a neo-Cajun cafe.

  • Railgarten
  • Memphis, TN
  • A diner, ice-cream shop, and table tennis parlor complete the game yard, which is walled in with shipping containers.
  • Pitchfork Pretty
  • Austin, TX
  • The secluded porch with string-light accents offers a romantic setting for a menu inspired by the owner's nearby garden.
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47. Spontaneous Salads

Cutting Lettuce
istetiana/Getty Images

Emily Blount of Saint Leo

Oxford, MS

Little Gem lettuce + shaved carrots or radishes + hemp hearts + nutritional yeast + creamy herb dressing

Kevin Johnson of The Grocery

Charleston, SC

Roasted beets + summer berries + hazelnuts + aged goat cheese + red wine vinaigrette

Ashleigh Shanti of Benne on Eagle

Asheville, NC

Cantaloupe + cucumber + sumac + mint + olive oil + flaky salt

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48. Food Halls To Plan Around

Cultivation Food Hall in Jackson, MS
Paul Costello
  • Cultivation Food Hall
  • Jackson, MS
  • You can have a happy hour Aperol spritz, Ghanaian red rice with tomato-okra gumbo, Neapolitan pizza, and a berry coulis crepe all in one spot in the LeFleur East neighborhood.
  • The Holler
  • Bentonville, AR
  • From freelancers to families, anyone can find their place in this 100,000-square-foot, skylighted hub that's home to a cocktail, coffee, and burger bar; shuffleboard court; and conference areas too.
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49. Brand-New Barbecue

War Mouth BBQ in Columbia, SC
Hector Manuel Sanchez
  • The War Mouth
  • Columbia, SC
  • A camp mess hall for grown folks, The War Mouth brings whole-hog barbecue, bistro-style plates, and craft cocktails together in a design-minded garage space found in Columbia's Cottontown neighborhood. Co-owner Porter Barron was formerly a journalist and learned how to cook his first whole hog while working as a reporter at a newspaper in Cambodia.
  • Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ
  • Birmingham, AL
  • James Beard Award-winning pitmaster Rodney Scott's first outpost outside Charleston, South Carolina, has locals moving their beloved Alabama white sauce aside for the Carolina style.

All the King's Men

Bryan, TX

Bourbon is as much a cause to visit as the barbecue at this spot, where bartenders will gladly pick a bourbon or beer to pair with your candied pork belly burnt ends.

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50. Produce Stands

Produce Stands
Ashleigh Coleman

Southerners know that a hand-painted piece of plywood, a repurposed yard sale sign, or an unheralded truck bed cornucopia is plenty of reason to pull over. And there's no better time than now. Below, Mississippi-based photographer Ashleigh Coleman captures the signs and spirit of why we brake for every summer produce stand.

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