We asked our editors, Facebook fans, and Twitter followers for their favorite trips across America. Here are the best places to visit in the first 10 states (Alabama through Georgia).
Author: Caitlin Mortonwww.cntraveler.com
We could smell Dreamland before we saw it. As we pulled off I-20 at Tuscaloosa, in search of the Alabama chain’s original BBQ shack, the sweet smell of hickory-smoked pork spare ribs wafted through our open car windows. Inside the darkened one-room cafe, we barely had to say a word before plates of tangy ribs and teetering stacks of white bread—a relic from the 1950s—were plunked down in front of us. Two tables away, football coaches from the University of Alabama broke bread and ribs with the visiting coaches. It truly was a dreamland. —Laura Dannen Redman
Photography: Dreamland Bar-B-Que
Cruises to Alaska offer many of the same sights as other cold-weather northern tours—icebergs, whales, snow-capped peaks—but with slightly more forgiving temperatures (highs can reach the 60s on a good day). Popular ports of call include Skagway, Ketchikan, and Juneau. Choose one that travels through Glacier Bay National Park and be sure to keep an eye out for Margerie Glacier. It’s the most popular in Glacier Bay, and one of the toughest: While other glaciers in the park are starting to recede, Margerie remains unchecked by climate change. —Jayna Maleri
Photography: Don Mennig / Alamy
Not to discount the grandest of canyons, but just look at the colors of Antelope Canyon in northeastern Arizona, pictured—it's a painter’s palette of rust red, ochre, and orange. A trip to this corner of Navajo Nation delivers the kind of up-close discovery of the state’s slot canyons that isn’t as easily experienced at the Grand Canyon (short of hiking miles into the GC to the Colorado River below). Take a 4x4 tour of Antelope Canyon, where you can photograph patterns as the sunlight filters through the striated stone; follow it up with a boat tour of nearby Lake Powell. —L.D.R.
Bentonville probably isn’t the next Chelsea, but art lovers have had new reason to visit Northwest Arkansas since the 2011 opening of the blockbuster Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, bankrolled by billionaire Alice Walton and stocked with works from names like Thomas Hart Benton, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol. One of the most impressive pieces in the collection is from contemporary artist Tom Uttech, whose large-scale Enassamishhinjijweian is a riot of color filled with figures of birds. —Paul Brady
Photography: Crystal Bridges Museum
A drive along the PCH feels a Springsteen song come to life—you’ll see weekenders at the wheel of rented Ford Mustangs, accelerating out of hairpin curves like a runaway American dream. For the nearly 500 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles (the preferred route, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), the views rarely disappoint. There’s the 17-Mile Drive detour at Carmel, Bixby Bridge and Big Sur, the wonderfully weird Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. And then there are the zebras. On the side of the highway. You may swerve, you may not even notice, but there they are: a bit of the Serengeti in California. Turns out the Hearst Castle still has a small herd, a remnant of what was once the world’s largest private zoo. That, somehow, is also uniquely American. —L.D.R.
We all know that Colorado is ideal for skiing and hiking, but for a true adventure, head for the Great Sand Dunes, about four hours south of Denver. Resembling a sci-fi movie backdrop, the dunes are the largest of their kind in all of North America with an elevation of at least 750 feet. The climb up is hard and hot (in the summer, sands can reach 150°F), but if it's safe to do so, it's worth putting in the couple hours it takes to reach the very top. Standing at the peak and looking out over the Rockies and thousands of acres of sand is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And the sand is so soft, you can run down the steep slopes at a virtual 90° angle and feel like you’re landing on clouds. —Caitlin Morton
Though Pepe’s receives heaps of (well-deserved) praise, locals know to skip the epic lines and head to Modern Apizza on State Street instead. There, Connecticut-style pies (thin, with a perfectly blistered crust courtesy of a well-seasoned brick oven) are topped with everything from classic pepperoni to clams casino and served to hungry Yale students, families, and pizza die-hards who even leave NYC for a neighboring pie. Bonus tip: Wash your meal down with a birch beer— it’s a New Haven tradition. —J.M.
Craft beer is more popular than ever, and you don’t have to go far to find an excellent brewery in most parts of the U.S. But it’s worth a trip to tiny Milton, Delaware to visit the headquarters of Dogfish Head, one of the country’s top breweries. In addition to crafting a delicious and varied slate of beers—from a refreshing, light witbier (Namaste) to the heavy-hitting 90 Minute IPA—Dogfish has given visitors plenty of reasons to visit the First State. There’s the brewery itself, which offers regular tours; a brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, often serving beers you won’t find elsewhere; and the Dogfish Inn in Lewes, a cozy hotel that’s within biking distance of the beach and the brewpub. —Amy Plitt
Photography: Dogfish Inn
When you type in directions from Miami to Key West on Google Maps, it looks like the route sends you straight into the ocean. In reality, the 127-mile drive though the Florida Keys occurs on the Overseas Highway, with the Gulf of Mexico on one side, and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. It's a great way to pay a visit to all of the Keys in one day, stopping periodically for some memorable meals. Try the key lime pie at Blond Giraffe in Key Largo and the yellowtail snapper at Key West's Blue Heaven. —C.M.
Photography: M. Timothy O'Keefe / Alamy
Savannah is one of the most beautiful cities in the South, with Spanish moss and porched houses around every turn. Yet there's no denying the town's eeriness—even daytime tours point out the deaths that allegedly occurred at mansions as you pass by. Take one of the many available ghost tours at night to see some of the creepier spots, like Colonial Park Cemetery, Bonaventure Cemetery (a setting for the book and film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), and the Mercer Williams house. Bonus: Your inevitable goosebumps will be a welcome respite from Georgia's heat and humidity. —C.M.
Photography: Ellen McKnight / Alamy