Time for a family road trip. Who’s in? 

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Nothing brings up nostalgia during the summertime like a Southern road trip, complete with pimiento cheese and deviled eggs packed in the cooler. How about venturing to the Great Outdoors? The South has been blessed with a backyard of remarkable National Parks that run the ecological gamut, from the marshy waterways of the Everglades National Park in Florida (with over a million acres that dub it America's largest subtropical wilderness) to the rustic desert mountains of Big Bend National Park in Texas (perfect for a mother-daughter trip).

If you're looking to grab the family and head on vacation, we've got four awesome reasons why hitting one of the South's National Parks is a splendid option. Here's to making memories, catching some awe-inspiring views, and banking more time together this summer. 

The Everglades (Florida)
This 1.5 million-acre "river of grass" covers the southern tip of Florida in a mix of fresh and brackish water, hosting the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere and the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie in North America. It's also home to an incredible diversity of wildlife, including rare, endangered, and threatened species, such as the alligator, crocodile, manatee, and panther. 40001 State Road 9336; nps.gov/ever 
| Credit: Getty Images

The Diverse Options

Like we said above, there is no shortage of biological diversity throughout the South, and its 10 National Parks are the best example. You can quite literally pick your perfect park. While we might not necessarily recommend meandering deep into West Texas' desert during a hot, sweaty summer, you can climb (or drive) to peak vista views of the Great Smoky Mountains or Virginia's Shenandoah range, or head to the coastal-hugging parks in South Carolina and Florida. Explore the South's Best Parks 2021 to get inspired—there are many State Parks on the list that are worth visiting, too.  

The New Adventures

You can kayak amongst manatees in the mangroves in Florida's Everglades National Park. You can go fly-fishing in the Great Smokies. You can seek out the synchronous fireflies that perform only during summertime inside South Carolina's Congaree National Park. You can rent a convertible and drive Shenandoah National Park's 105-mile Skyline Drive in Virginia. You can stay in a glamping tent under the stars with Under Canvas. This summer is the perfect time to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. 

Under Canvas Great Smoky Mountains
Credit: Andy Anderson

The Road Trip Snacks 

Southerners notoriously love a roadside store, and you're going to want to get much more than a bag of Doritos. While the pecan log is the most classic sweet snack coming to mind, you're bound to find all sorts of goodies like gooey pralines, ranch pickles, and freshly baked biscuits. Check out the South's Best Gas Station Restaurants to plan your stops. Bucee's—originally from Texas, but quickly dispersing throughout the South—has its own array of quirky Southern road trip essentials, including their famous Beaver Nuggets. 

Green Mountain Tops of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Thank mountain rains for nourishing thousands of species and carving out a wonderland of waterways among the slopes.
| Credit: Andy Anderson

The Quality Time 

At the end of the day, it's hard to have your nose buried in your phone when you're on top of a mountain and there's no cell tower for a hundred miles. If anything, heading to a Southern National Park is a fleeting opportunity to spend time with loved ones and make plenty of memories that live on through snapshots and belly-laugh stories. Not to mention, in a totally budget-friendly way. Before you head out on your adventure, grab a card game to get the group through the rare boring bits of the drive. It's almost guaranteed to keep everyone in good spirits. (We said almost.) 

Embarking on a great Southern road trip? Let us know where you're headed. We might meet you there.