11 travel inspo ideas in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi & Tennessee

Get inspired to for your next trip: Highlights from news, new offerings, and eye-opening destinations and experiences

We could definitely use some travel inspo ideas right now! As you might’ve seen on our Instagram, we recently had to stay put in Miami for three weeks while our motorhome was being repaired… from rodent damage. Fortunately, the rodents didn’t get inside our RV’s living space, but they did turn some of our driving systems into their personal gnawfest and toilet.

That delay scrapped a bunch of plans we had for America’s Southeastern states. Fortunately, we are back on the road (and even better, our insurance covered just about all the repairs). The Southeast is still on our minds though. We have yet to visit much of the region. So as we make future plans to travel in their area again, here are some travel news that really caught our attention.

Coastal Mississippi

62 miles of Mississippi Gulf Coast

We’d been looking hard at visiting Coastal Mississippi and checking out the incredible waters, islands, and beaches along this part of the Gulf of Mexico. Here are some things that stood out to us from some Coastal Mississippi updates about spring travel:

  • ”Family Fun: Families visiting the Mississippi Gulf Coast this spring can create lasting memories across the 62-mile destination. With an abundance of multigenerational family-friendly attractions and activities, blending education with thrilling experiences and more, crafting a fun-filled itinerary for families is effortless. Imagine building sandcastles on the beautiful, pristine beaches, watching dolphin shows at Ocean Adventures Marine Park, learning how to catch shrimp like a pro on the Biloxi Shrimping Trip, and enjoying the expansive 55,000 sq. ft. arcade at Margaritaville Resort & Family Entertainment Center. For fun in the sun, families can visit the Buccaneer Bay Waterpark or find thrilling rides at Paradise Pier Fun Park. Each activity promises to make for an engaging, memory-filled experience.”
  • ”Outdoor Adventure: Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will find themselves in paradise amidst the landscapes of Coastal Mississippi. Adventurers can hike along the coast at the Gulf Island National Seashore – Davis Bayou Area trails and kayak through the largest free-flowing river in the lower 48 at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.”

What stands out to us: They had us at bayous. We travel with our own inflatable tandem kayaks. The idea of kayaking along Gulf Island National Seashore sounds enthralling.


Coffee and donuts in Jacksonville with the new Jax Coffee & Donuts Trail…

“Home to the last remaining Maxwell House plant in the United States, those who live and work in Jacksonville are familiar with the regular fresh brewed coffee smell Downtown. It should come as no surprise then, that Jacksonville’s cup is overflowing with local coffee shops and fresh baked donuts for everyone, especially visitors, to enjoy. That’s why Visit Jacksonville is excited to announce the new Jax Coffee & Donuts Trail!”

Devotees can follow the trail and choose places via the free and downloadable Visit Jax app. Look for the Coffee & Donuts Trail icon inside the app. The trail helps you follow, explore, and enjoy more than 30 shops across the city, including local donut favorites Mini Bar, The Donut Shoppe and Old Soul Donuts, and quaint coffee shops like Sippers Coffeehouse, Show Pigeon Coffee and Tiki Java Jax.

Plus, as you visit locations you can also become eligible for free coffee and donut-themed prizes from Visit Jacksonville.

What stands out to us: In 2023, we got to visit Jacksonville, Florida, during a project with the area’s tourism board. Exploring beaches, walking lovely streets and dining at delicious restaurants, and above all, seeing an alligator while kayaking were big standouts for us. And now it turns out that we can also more easily indulge our love of coffee and donuts, thanks to this new themed trail, plus we can use the website to select places we want to check out.

…Then, Cabbage, Potato and Bacon Festival in Hastings

“The annual Hastings Cabbage, Potato and Bacon Festival is back and better than ever! Embark on an exploration of cabbage, potato and bacon from a culinary perspective with host Chef Hari Pulapaka. Chef is a four-time James Beard Best Chef semi-finalist, co-founder of award-winning Deland restaurant, Cress, and owner of the Global Cooking School. He is an international authority on sustainable and zero-waste food waste practices, serving on numerous groups and coalitions.”

Hastings is in the Historic Coast area between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville

What stands out to us: Cabbage, potato, and bacon? An entire festival devoted to three such glorious things? The timing didn’t work out for us in 2024, but this is very much on our radar so some of this yummy food can be on our plates and in our bellies.


New attractions in Chattanooga

  • The Creative Discovery Museum opened new and renovated permanent exhibits, including the STEM Zone gallery, Little FarmHouse, and TreeHouse Adventure. “Currently, the museum is captivating visitors with the temporary exhibit Argentina’s Ninos, seamlessly blending culture and curiosity.”
  • A 34-mile trail system called the River to Clouds Route (RCR) has opened. Designed for biking, trail running, and hiking, the RCR connects Cloudland Canyon State Park to the Tennessee Riverpark in St. Elmo.

What stands out to us: Tennessee has absolutely stunning natural areas, and installing more trail systems is a great way to encourage people to enjoy more of their state’s natural beauty. Anytime we can also get the kids hands-on with interactive museums, we find it fuels not only a day of family fun, but lots of discoveries, questions, and discussions.

Historic Collinsville Opens Weakley House Museum

“Historic Collinsville Pioneer Settlement was established to give children a hands-on experience outside of the classroom about life from the 1840s through the turn of the century. It has been open to the public since 1997, recreating the past with restored historical structures, each filled with authentic period furnishings that show a glimpse of life before and after the Civil War. The property is located at 4711 Weakley Road in Southside, 20 minutes south of downtown Clarksville.

“Visiting Collinsville gives guests the opportunity for a self-paced, self-guided stroll through a re-creation of the past with an audio tour, along with guided tours of the Weakley House Museum, opened in 2024. The 40-acre, open-air property showcases pioneer life from 1840-1900 with 16 authentically furnished buildings. See the earliest “first home” to the expansive Dogtrot House, a tobacco-drying house, smokehouse, church/schoolhouse, wildlife center, loom house, cobbler’s shop, teacher’s home and more. Picnic tables are located throughout the property, and a covered pavilion with tables and restrooms is also on site. A visitor center greets guests and offers period souvenirs.”

What stands out to us: Anytime we can get insights into life in other times and cultures, we learn so much. What especially stands out about Pioneer Settlement is the inclusion of things like the smokehouse and the wildlife center, for additional insight into trades and crafts plied at the time.


Year of Alabama Food

Alabama isn’t just spending 2024 highlighting their food, but also how food intersects with civil rights, history, and other parts of culture:

BBQ trail on Sweet Home Alabama’s smartphone app, “which features everything from the Original Alabama White Sauce invented at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur to the special house slaw at Brooks Barbeque in Muscle Shoals.”

Also noteworthy:

Brenda’s Bar-B-Q Pit, west Montgomery: “Brenda’s namesake and founder secretly tutored neighborhood residents to pass the literacy test, which was required for them to register to vote. Ask about the photo of her on the front lines of the Selma to Montgomery March.”

I’m also a sucker for restaurants who have photos of famous people who have dined there. Growing up in Roanoke, Virginia, I always enjoyed going to the Roanoke Weiner Stand for their hot dogs and fries, along with looking at photos of governors, presidents, and other celebrities who have stopped by for a dog and a snapshot.

That’s probably why Chris’ Famous Hotdogs in Montgomery caught my eye. Famous customers have included Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Clark Gable, and even President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Freedom Monument Sculpture Park

“Overlooking the Alabama River, Freedom Monument Sculpture Park honors the lives and memories of 10 million Black people who were enslaved in America and celebrates their courage and resilience. The 17-acre site opened March 26, 2024, to the public.”

The Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival celebrates 20 years of flight

When we visited Angkor in Cambodia in 2023, one of the highlights of our trip was a tethered hot air balloon ride over the jungle, where we could look down at the ruins and Angkor Wat. Plus, Jodie grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, home to an annual hot balloon fest (she loves telling a story of how the Pepsi can balloon had to land at her elementary school when she was in first grade). It’s no wonder this got our attention too:

“Spot hot-air balloons shaped as everything from a unicorn to the sun at the Gulf Coast Air Balloon Festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary from May 2-4 at OWA Parks & Resort in Foley. Take a tethered balloon ride 35 feet into the sky for a birds-eye view of the proceedings, then try the theme parks’ AeroZoom ride, which replicates a hang glider, and the Air Racer, which simulates the dives and loops pilots take in an air show. The park features coasters and carousels among its 23 rides, as well as Tropic Falls, an impressively large indoor water park beneath a glass roof. 

Visiting “Space City,” Huntsville, Alabama, home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center

The world’s largest space museum is in Huntsville. After visiting Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 2023 (and seeing a rocket launch), a trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center would only be natural!

“Families can take stimulated missions to the International Space Station when NASA launches the first crewed flight test of Starliner, which will carry astronauts to and from the space station. Visitors today can try the flight simulator, take part in underwater astronaut adventures, relive man’s landing on the moon in a virtual reality experience or run the gauntlet of the multi-axis trainer. Popular space camps are also held here, including three-day family visits and week-long stays for children, who undergo the basics of astronaut training.” There are also specific space camps for people who have visual or hearing impairments.

What stands out to us: Honestly, we could’ve done an even bigger list about what’s new in Alabama this year! As much as we appreciate space exploration and tasty food, above all we are so glad to see how many more attractions Alabama is offering to highlight different parts of the Civil Rights Movement.

Where to next?

Even though our motorhome repairs scuppered our original travel plans for spring 2024, we are still making our way through some of the Southeast, just not quite what we thought. Still, there’s plenty of spring left, not to mention summer to come. These attractions are definitely on our list for a future trip.

You can travel more, your way

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About the author
Anthony St. Clair
We are the St. Clair Family: Anthony, Jodie, Connor, and Aster. As Learners and Makers, our family of four slows down, connects, and enjoys the world and each other's company. We have been traveling full time since 2022.

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