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Top 12 Unusual Destinations to Visit in the South
The Southern United States is truly one of the most incredible parts of the country. The coastal states of Louisiana and Mississippi are known for their delicious seafood cuisine and rich musical history. The city of New Orleans is one of the most desired places to visit in the country due to its vibrant nightlife and rich history. The three inland states each offer something unique, from historical battlefields to incredible natural wonders. There is no doubt that a trip through the Southern United States is sure to be a memorable one, so pack your bags and hit the road. Here are the top 12 unusual destinations to visit along the way.
1.) Snake World-Most reptile enthusiasts in Arkansas choose to visit the Little Rock Zoo to see the cold blooded animals up close, but for a more adventurous (and a little scarier) experience, head to Snake World in Berryville, northern Arkansas. Snake World is owned and operated by Dale Ertel, a reptile lover with over 70 snakes on display. Visitors here are given a tour of the facility and are taught about the various serpents.
2.) Hot Springs City- Hot Springs is undoubtedly one of the most interesting cities to visit in Arkansas. From the unusual attractions like alligator farms and wax museums, to the beautiful scenery of Lake Ouachita and Lake Catherine State Park, it is no surprise that Hot Springs is at the top of many peoples list of places to see in Arkansas. The city is located in central Arkansas, about an hour drive west of Little Rock.
(Hot Springs City, https://www.flickr.com/photos/betchel/)
3.) Louisiana State Penitentiary House- While slightly off the beaten path, the Louisiana State Penitentiary House is worth a visit for its fascinating history. The prison is still used to hold inmates today, but the museum in front is the best place to learn about how the prison has functioned since 1901. Numerous exhibits are on display, revealing how prisoners made weapons out of everyday utensils, and how the prison has changed since its violent beginnings. The prison is located in Angola, next to the Mississippi River and directly adjacent to the Mississippi State Line.
4.) Musee Conti, Wax Museum of New Orleans- The history of New Orleans is uniquely presented through wax sculptures here at the Musee Conti Wax Museum. Unlike most wax museums, the Musee Conti has remained virtually the same as it was when it first opened, displaying sculptures of many important people responsible for the founding of New Orleans, and the normal citizens that helped make the city what it is today. The Museum is located in the French Quarter of New Orleans, southern Louisiana.
(French Quarter, New Orleans. https://www.flickr.com/photos/romtomtom/)
5.) Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History- Kentucky and Whiskey are synonymous with each other. The state has a long and proud history of creating some of the best whiskey in the country. One of the best places to learn about this history is at the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. This museum, located in Bardstown, central Kentucky, explains how whiskey was created since the founding of the United States, and the impact it had on the country. Many historical artifacts are on display, including a still owned by George Washington.
6.) Lousiville Mega Cavern- For a cave tour unlike any other in the country, head to Kentucky's largest city, Louisville. This man made cavern attracts visitors from all over the country due to its convenient location and distinction of having the world's only fully underground zip-line course. If zip-lining through this massive cave isn't enticing enough, they also offer a full obstacle course, jeep tours, a BMX course, and the occasional music concert.
7.) Kentucky Derby Museum- The Kentucky Derby is described by some as "the most exciting two minutes in sports." Whether or not you agree with that statement, the famous horse race never fails to attract millions of spectators to watch the some of the fastest horses in the world compete. The best place to learn about the history and significance of this race is at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville.
(Kentucky Derby Race. https://www.flickr.com/photos/8099556@N08/)
8.) X-10 Nuclear Reactor- There are currently 99 active nuclear reactors throughout the United States. To see the oldest reactor built in the U.S., head to Oak Ridge, eastern Tennessee. The X-10 Reactor went into operation in 1943 to convert uranium into plutonium for nuclear weapons. After World War Two ended, the X-10 was used to create radioactive isotopes until it was shut down in 1963. Today the reactor is a historical landmark, offering tours to visitors that educate about the nuclear weapons that were created and their effects.
9.) Graceland- Elvis Presley moved to Memphis in 1948. It was here that he began his career as a musician, and quickly ascended to superstar status. When Presley was 22 he bought a mansion called Graceland, a home that signified his journey from a poor boy to a global icon. After his death in 1977, the home was turned into a tourist attraction where Elvis fans can pay homage and learn more about how he lived.
10.) American Museum of Science and Energy- Once known as the "American Museum of Atomic Energy," the AMSE has gradually shifted to displaying America's advancements in renewable energy. The various exhibits on display include information on Earth's energy resources, activities and games to explore light and color, and a model of a nuclear reactor. The museum has gained high reviews from visitors and was rated the number one thing to see in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
(Inside the Graceland Mansion. https://www.flickr.com/photos/pedaal/)
11.) The Windsor Ruins- What appears to be the remains of an ancient Greek temple is actually the last remaining pillars of the Windsor Mansion. Completion of the mansion was finished in April of 1861 by Smith Daniell, who died just a few weeks later. After Daniell's death, the home served as a hospital for Union soldiers during the Civil War. In 1890 the mansion was destroyed when a party guest left a cigar on the balcony, leaving only the supporting pillars behind. The Windsor Ruins have since become a tourist attraction, drawing visitors from around the country to take photos and gain knowledge about the mansions fascinating history.
12.) Vicksburg National Military Park- One of the most extensive Civil War tours in the United States is at the Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, western Mississippi. The park contains 1,325 historic monuments, 20 miles of war trenches, and a large collection of Civil War weapons. Visitors here can drive the 16 mile road and walk the 12.5 mile trail to see first hand the location of one of the most important battles in the Civil War.
(Vicksburg National Military Park. https://www.flickr.com/photos/44534236@N00/)