Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ten Favorite Spring Destinations in the South

Muskogee Azalea Festival
Today is the first day of Spring, so I thought I would share with you ten of my favorite Southern spring destinations. Some of these are well known and some are off the beaten path, but all are well worth a visit.
Maclay Gardens
  1. 2011 Muskogee Azalea Festival in Muskogee, Oklahoma. One of the finest events of its kind in the South, the annual festival draws in tens of thousands of visitors from around the world. Held Show alleach April at Honor Heights Park in Muskogee, the festival gives visitors the chance to roam through an amazing setting that features more than 30,000 blooming trees and plants representing more than 625 varieties. To learn more and see a schedule of this year's event, please visit
  2. Maclay Gardens State Park in Tallahassee, Florida. Now in bloom, Maclay Gardens is one of the most beautiful Spring settings in the Sunshine State. Located in Florida's historic capital city, the park features a magnificent garden of azaleas, dogwoods, redbuds and other blooming trees and plants that was developed over decades beginning in 1923. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the gardens are open daily. To learn more, please visit
  3. Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. One of the South's premier attractions, Callaway Gardens covers 16,000 acres on the slopes and valleys adjoining Georgia's historic Pine Mountain. Established to revitalize overworked fields where its founders discovered a rare native azalea plant growing, the gardens are simply magnificent. To learn more, please visit
  4. Eufaula, Alabama. A beautiful, historic city on the Chattahoochee River in southeastern Alabama, Eufaula is known for its stunning spring blossoms and magnificent historic homes. Its Annual Spring Pilgrimage is one of the finest such events in the South and will take place on April 1st through 3rd this year. To learn more, please visit
  5. Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas. A world class botanical garden covering 210 acres on a peninsula that extends into Lake Hamilton, Garvan Gardens are magnificent year round, but take on amazing beauty during the spring. The gardens feature winding paths that lead through stunning arrays of flowering trees and plants and past waterfalls and many other unique features. Much like Callaway Gardens in Georgia, Garvan Gardens were begun to restore a setting to its natural beauty. To learn more, please visit
  6. Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. A winding national park area that extends from Natchez on the Mississippi River to the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, the Natchez Trace is another "must see" Southern destination. It takes drivers through 444 miles of beautiful scenery, rich in the natural spring color of dogwoods, redbuds, wild plum and other native varieties. The parkway also passes scores of historic sites and points of interest. To learn more, please visit
  7. Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site in St. Francisville, Louisiana. The National Park Service describes Rosedown as one of the best preserved antebellum plantation complexes in the United States. In addition to the magnificent main house and other historic structures, the historic site preserves one of the largest private gardens of the 19th century. Covering 28 acres, the gardens feature winding paths, summer houses, fountains and an amazing array of blooming plants. To learn more, please visit
  8. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park near Branson, Missouri. Covering 10,000 acres of Ozark mountain country on the border of Missouri and Arkansas, Dogwood Canyon is offers spring beauty of the wilder variety. The trams and bike paths take visitors through a beautiful valley rich in redbuds, dogwoods and other blooming trees. The park also features trout streams, historic sites, magnificent waterfalls and even herds of American bison (buffalo) and elk. To learn more, please visit
  9. Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon, Florida. Once a privately-owned amusement park enjoyed by untold millions of visitors over the years, Rainbow Springs is now the focal point of a state park not far off Interstate 75 in the charming town of Dunnellon, Florida. In addition to the magnificent main spring, the park preserves some of the original gardens with their azaleas, waterfalls and other points of interest. It is also one of the state's most affordable destinations, with an entrance fee of only $2 per person or $5 per vehicle of up to 8 people. To learn more, please visit
  10. Waterfalls of Alabama. Although it has been a bit dry so far this spring, many of Alabama's beautiful waterfalls are running well. The state features some of the prettiest falls in the South, a number of which are easily accessible. The premier ones include Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, DeSoto Falls at Mentone and Little River Falls near Fort Payne. To learn more, please visit
You can also learn about hundreds of other unique Southern historic sites, natural wonders and points of interest at

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