I was raised in, and now live with, a family of road warriors. Whether we’re headed to Knoxville, down to the Carolina coast, over to the Florida panhandle, or all the way up to Maine, my husband, two kids, and I are happy to pack up the car (with road snacks!), map out our dining detours, and hit the road. There’s a palpable energy as we set out, ready to tackle miles of endless highway with the help of a few audiobooks and podcasts—we’re in it for the adventure.
Getting around the South right now is a tricky game. Yes, we’re still talking about Covid-19, which is unfortunately rearing its ugly head across our region yet again as we pull this issue together. But as I’ve mentioned in previous letters, our aim with this travel-themed issue is not to push or prod those unwilling to venture far from home just yet, but rather (we hope) to provide a collection of articles to hold onto for when you are inspired to get behind the wheel.
And we do want you back behind the wheel when you’re ready. After all, it’s the journey and (I would argue) the destination that make for an unforgettable experience. That mouth-numbing gas station taco you happened across on the road to New Orleans? The Instagramming gaggle of teens encountered on the bridge to Key West? The break-down and subsequent overnight camp-out outside of Bentonville? Those, I posit, are as essential to the memory bank as the vista you catch over the Blue Ridge, or your first bite of fried catfish in Taylor, Mississippi.
This issue breaks down the South by region and offers up a few key road maps for discovery—from a barbecue trail in Eastern North Carolina to the essential stops to make between Austin and Dallas, our road trip features are meant to guide you with must-visit stops and bites along the way. We also uncover our top hotel retreats in each region, as well as a few weekend-warrior itineraries (as in, all the bathhouses to hit in Hot Springs, Arkansas). Need a new road trip playlist, or a few pieces of gear to get you there? We’ve got those for you, too.
So, the next time you pile yourself, the kids, suitcases, hot coffee, sweet and salty snacks, and maybe a pet or two into the car, we hope you turn to these pages for a little expert advice—especially if you’re looking for a place to eat along your route.
Erin Byers Murray
Editor in Chief