5 Fun Southern U.S. Travel Ideas for Families

By: Jessika Toothman

The South has a travel destination to please every member of the family.
The South has a travel destination to please every member of the family.

If you're looking to plan a vacation that takes you and your family to sunny (and conceivably warm) vistas, try out some of these destination locations in the southern portion of the United States.

Nature lovers, country music fans, amusement park aficionados, history buffs or anyone with a penchant for white water rafting or canoeing might choose one of these 5 destinations highlighted by HowStuffWorks.com and TLC.


5: Nashville Area

The Nashville Area can be a great destination for all kinds of vacationers, but especially for country music lovers, who can take in a show at the Grand Ole Opry House and even get an insider's look with a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility and museum. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is another not-to-be missed activity and the Musician's Hall of Fame and Museum is located just down the street.

A paddlewheel showboat river cruise on the Cumberland River can be a great way to soak up the city while being entertained in style. The Nashville Zoo is full of interesting animals, and the city's Centennial Park features a full-scale replica of the Parthenon that's a striking sight -- especially if a trip to Greece isn't exactly in your family's budget.


The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Adventure Science Center, Nashville Shores Waterpark and Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art are among the other cool local venues that can round out a trip of great family fun.

4: Charleston Area

The Charleston area is steeped in history, and there are numerous tours available that highlight different aspects of the city. Whether families are into pirates and buccaneers, ghosts, pivotal Civil War and Revolutionary War sites, historic architectural districts, or the Underground Railroad, Charleston's got a tour ready to show off the sights. By boat, by carriage or by foot, there are plenty of options available.

The South Carolina Aquarium features a wide variety of aquatic life, and although visitors won't see any dolphins or whales in captivity, there's a good chance families can spot a glimpse of some dolphins in their natural habitat if they look out from the aquarium's Riverside Terrace or take a stroll together along the Charleston Harbor.


A drive to the nearby beaches in Georgetown, S.C., leads through the Francis Marion National Forest, where a family can get their nature groove on: whitewater rafting, hiking, canoeing, fishing and camping all make for good family bonding.

3: Atlanta Area

There's a lot to appeal to vacationers planning a family trip in the Atlanta area, both in the city itself and in the surrounding metro area. The Georgia Aquarium, one of the largest in the world, is right next door to other family favorites, such as the World of Coca-Cola, the Children's Museum of Atlanta and Centennial Olympic Park - the site of the 1988 U.S. Olympics. The nearby CNN Center offers studio tours where young, aspiring newscasters might be interested to see how the TV network assembles its news and puts it on the air.

For tourists looking for a challenging hike, the 1.3 mile trek up Stone Mountain elevates visitors for a panoramic view of the city. If anyone in the family isn't in the mood for such a vertical trek, there's also the Summit Skyride that shuttles guests to and from the peak. The park features other attractions, too, such as a nightly laser light show and other children's activities.


Culture vultures will want to hit the High Museum of Art, and if animals are what you're after, Zoo Atlanta features one of the few panda bear exhibits in the nation. History buffs might opt for a trip to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site or the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. The city is also home to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, which is adjacent to Piedmont Park (a great place for a picnic lunch!). The amusement parks Six Flags Over Georgia and Six Flags White Water are located quite close to Atlanta as well.

2: Miami Area

The Miami area offers lots in the way of family attractions. Beaches, golf courses and shopping opportunities abound -- you can even swim with the dolphins at the Miami Seaquarium, which is full of exotic marine life.

The Historical Museum of Southern Florida and the Gold Coast Railroad Museum highlight the rich history of the area, and the tropical bounty in the Miami Beach Botanical Garden is quite a sight. Get your culture fix at Casa Bacardi (which details elements of Cuban history and living) or the Jewish Museum of Florida and Holocaust Memorial.


The nearby Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve are unforgettable natural wonders; just a trip south of Miami are the Florida Keys, where families can bond while experiencing incredible ecotourism activities such as diving and snorkeling amidst an awesome coral reef.

1: Orlando Area

The Orlando area's reputation as being replete with attractions sure to please kids of all ages is well-earned. Among the Walt Disney World Resort's entertainment offerings are the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Typhoon Lagoon and Animal Kingdom.

It can be hard to decide what to do in Orlando with so many no-to-be-missed attractions. Other exciting opportunities nearby include Sea World, Discovery Cove, Busch Gardens, Cirque du Soleil, Universal Studios Florida, Daytona Beach, Kennedy Space Center and Bok Tower Gardens.


If all that's not enough, the Orlando Museum of Art and the Orlando Science Center are two of the city's cultural attractions. Families can also take a spin on an airboat tour, ride in a hot air balloon or sit back and enjoy some dinner theatre. Plus, there are tons of malls and golf courses to fill in any spare time you might have left.