Page 1

SOUTHEAST S U M M E R 201 9

NORTH CAROLINA Enjoy Raleigh’s food scene

GEORGIA Take a scenic hike in Savannah

TENNESSEE See wall-to-wall art in Nashville

SOUTH CAROLINA Tour Charleston on the run

Southern Getaways Wormsloe State Historic Site in Savannah, Ga.


2

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

CONTENTS

3

SOUTHEAST

20 SOUTHERN SOPHISTICATION Regional art scene rivals major metropolises Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, Asheville, N.C. JARED KAY


4

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

CONTENTS FEATURES

14

SURPRISE PARTY

28

DOWN STREAM

This is a product of

Mysterious Diner En Blanc expands worldwide reach

Combine river running, fishing and camping

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jeanette Barrett-Stokes jbstokes@usatoday.com

MANAGING EDITOR Michelle Washington

THE REGION

36 40

GEORGIA Explore Savannah’s past on these paths

See horses, historic homes and more on tranquil Cumberland Island

mjwashington@usatoday.com

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jerald Council jcouncil@usatoday.com

ISSUE EDITOR Tracy Scott Forson EDITORS Amy Sinatra Ayres Sara Schwartz Debbie Williams ISSUE DESIGNER Amira Martin

Diner En Blanc performer

44

SOUTH CAROLINA

50

Hilton Head is home to America’s most African region

Tour Charleston while on the run

JEFFERY MARKS PHOTOGRAPHY

UP FRONT

54

NORTH CAROLINA

58

KENTUCKY

There’s more than just beer and barbecue in Raleigh

Welcome center marks starting point for popular Bourbon Trail

GETTY IMAGES

6 8 ON THE COVER Oak trees line a road at Wormsloe State Historic Site in Savannah, Ga. GETTY IMAGES

AIRPORT ALES Taste what’s on tap at the terminal

INTERN Katherine Gardner CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kirby Adams, Matt Alderton, Rosalind Cummings-Yeates, Ashley Day, Bruce Ingram, Brenna McDermott, Shameika Rhymes, Anne Roderique-Jones, Cheryl Rodewig, Sarah Sekula, Jennifer Streaks

ADVERTISING VP, ADVERTISING Patrick Burke | (703) 854-5914 pburke@usatoday.com

ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Justine Madden | (703) 854-5444 jmadden@usatoday.com

60

TENNESSEE New resort offers plenty of relaxation and recreation

FINANCE Billing Coordinator Julie Marco

SMOKIN’ HOT These barbecue fests are the best

DESIGNERS Hayleigh Corkey Debra Moore Gina Toole Saunders Lisa M. Zilka

64

Walls can’t contain Nashville’s burgeoning art scene

ISSN#0734-7456 A USA TODAY Network publication, Gannett Co. Inc.

10

NICHE NOSTALGIA Themed museums provide peeks into past

70

LAST LOOK Catch stunning views at Rock City’s Lover’s Leap

USA TODAY, its logo and associated graphics are the trademarks of Gannett Co. Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Copyright 2018, USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. Editorial and publication headquarters are at 7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22108, and at (703) 854-3400. For accuracy questions, call or send an email to accuracy@usatoday.com.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @USATODAYMAGS

FACEBOOK: Facebook.com/usatodaymags

PRINTED IN THE USA


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

5


6

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

UP FRONT | TRAVEL

Beer Flights Five high-flying airport bars in the Southeast By Katherine Gardner

W

HEN YOU’RE TRAVELING, YOU

might find yourself stuck at an airport for an hour — or five — on a layover or waiting for a delayed flight, and you might want a drink to quench your thirst. Here are a few of the best places to order a local brew and bites while killing time in an airport:

PROVIDED BY JACKMONT HOSPITALITY

CHICKEN+BEER: HARTSFIELD-JACKSON ATLANTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, GEORGIA Named for the fourth album produced by rapper and restaurateur Ludacris, this bar is located in Concourse D near Gate D5. Don’t let the name fool you; Chicken+Beer also serves inspired spins on classic Southern favorites and 14 distinctly Georgia drinks, such as Pog Basement IPA from Atlanta’s Scofflaw Brewing Co. or Copperhead Amber Ale by Gate City Brewing in Roswell.

CHARLESTON BEER WORKS: CHARLESTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, SOUTH CAROLINA Located past security in Concourse A, the Beer Works menu features tastes from 14 South Carolina breweries plus pub food like wings, burgers and sandwiches in a relaxed atmosphere. And large TVs ensure travelers don’t miss a thing on game days.

HOP AND CASK: CINCINNATI/NORTHERN KENTUCKY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, KENTUCKY

NASHVILLE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

FAT BOTTOM BREWING CO.: NASHVILLE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, TENNESSEE If you find yourself near Concourse C, stop by and get a taste from a legendary Nashville brewery. Seasonal brews and all-time favorites, including Ruby Red Ale, Knockout IPA and Two Piece Summer Wheat, are available on draft.

If you’re looking to grab a cold one before hopping on your plane from Gate B17, head over to Hop and Cask. The craft beer and cocktails venue offers local drinks sure to please one’s palate. For those looking for more than a drink, table and bar seating is available, and the menu includes traditional pub favorites like pretzels with beer cheese and flatbread pizza.

PROVIDED BY SB&J ENTERPRISES

UPTOWN BAR & LOUNGE: CHARLOTTE DOUGLAS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, NORTH CAROLINA This upscale bar and restaurant located in Concourse A has a luxurious lounge area and more than 15 TVs. In addition to expansive menu options, travelers can enjoy mixed drinks and offerings from Charlotte-based food truck Wingzza. Local beers include Jalapeño Pale Ale from Charlotte’s Birdsong Brewing Co. and Bold Rock Hard Cider out of Mills River, N.C.


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

7


8

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

UP FRONT | RECREATION

Barbecue for You DON BUTTO/STUDIOARTLAB.COM

These smokin’ events offer food and fun By Ashley Day

Sun, sand, sea and sauce! The 7th annual Port City RibFest heads to the Boardwalk at Carolina Beach, N.C., Sept. 13-15. The threeday festival features national rib teams from four different states. The fun includes a full lineup of music acts and a marketplace. ▶ portcityribfest.net

CHAD PERRY

SOUTHERN WING SHOWDOWN

INTERNATIONAL BAR-B-Q FESTIVAL

Owensboro, Ky., hosts the International Bar-B-Q Festival on May 10-11. Expect a Mutton Glutton sandwich-eating competition, live music, a beer, wine and bourbon bar, and children’s entertainment. ▶ bbqfest.com

The 15th annual Bloomin’ Barbeque and Bluegrass festival takes place in Sevierville, Tenn., May 1718. Experience a barbecue cook-off, a kids zone, bluegrass music and more. ▶ bloominbbq.com

PROVIDED BY SEVIERVILLE CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU

Held May 18 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, the 13th annual Masonic Carolina Pig Jig is nothing to oink at. Guests can vote for the most flavorful fare, helping decide the winner of the coveted People’s Choice Award. ▶ carolinapigjig.com

The 35th annual Barbecue Festival cooks up something special in Lexington, N.C., on Oct. 26. Find barbecue tents offering your favorite smoked and smothered meats, plus a wine garden, family activities and live music. ▶ barbecuefestival.com

Head to the Fairmont in Atlanta on Aug. 25 for the 4th annual Southern Wing Showdown. Springer Mountain Farms and Taste of Atlanta will host more than 30 chefs from the Southeast for wing tastings, games and beverage pairings. ▶ southernwingshowdown. com

DONNIE ROBERTS

TOMAS ESPINOZA

Pick your town or hit all the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ stops. This event traveled to Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; and Wilmington, N.C., in March. South Carolinians get a taste May 18 in Columbia. After the fest in Knoxville, Tenn., on July 27, a twoday event is held Aug. 2-3 in Cary, N.C. Bourbon and beer samplings accompany the vittles. ▶ beerandbourbon.com


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

9


10

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

UP FRONT | RECREATION

Niche Nostalgia Themed museums offer a wide range of fun By Tracy Scott Forson

J

UST AS THERE’S AN app for almost everything, there are museums sprinkled

across the nation dedicated to myriad topics from animation to zippers. The Southeast has its own impressive offerings that cater to specific passions in ways that offer broad appeal. Ascend a replica of the Titanic grand staircase, pose next to the world’s largest baseball bat and more at these regional attractions.

LUNCH BOX MUSEUM THE SOUTH CAROLINA RAILROAD MUSEUM

THE SOUTH CAROLINA RAILROAD MUSEUM Winnsboro, S.C. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The South Carolina Railroad Museum takes visitors for a ride — on trains, that is. Passengers ride the rails through some of Fairfield County’s most scenic countryside. Guests can enjoy snacks while riding on a 1924 dining car, spend time in a 1940s caboose or go for a narrated tour in a 1950s passenger car. ▶ scrm.org

GIGI WOODALL ANDERSON/LUNCH BOX MUSEUM

Columbus, Ga. Scooby-Doo, Mickey Mouse, X-Men and King Kong can all be found at this Georgia attraction. The Lunch Box Museum, which shares space with an antiques store, pays homage to those metal and plastic keepsakes of American pop culture. ▶ therivermarketantiques.com


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

11


12

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

UP FRONT | RECREATION

SLUGGER MUSEUM

LOUISVILLE SLUGGER MUSEUM & FACTORY Louisville, Ky. Get a glimpse of how the Louisville Slugger company, founded in 1884, makes its legendary equipment. Visitors watch craftsman shape the baseball bats from wood. It’s also home to the world’s largest baseball bat, weighing 68,000 pounds and standing 120 feet tall. ▶ sluggermuseum.com

TITANIC MUSEUM

TIM BARNWELL

TITANIC MUSEUM

ANTIQUE CAR MUSEUM

Pigeon Forge, Tenn. This museum, which boasts a replica of the famed ship at about half the size, pays homage to those who lost their lives during that 1912 shipwreck by telling their stories. The museum includes nearly 400 authentic artifacts from the actual vessel. Visitors can sit in a lifeboat and step onto the $1 million exact reproduction of the ship’s grand staircase. ▶ titanicpigeonforge.com

Asheville, N.C. Chrome, metal and leather are main attractions at the Antique Car Museum at Grovewood Village. For more than 50 years, vintage car enthusiasts have visited to appreciate vehicles that date as far back as the 1920s. The collection includes a 1915 Ford Model T Touring Car and a rare 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. ▶ grovewood.com/antique-car-museum


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

13


14

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

perience up a special dining ex Diner en Blanc serves By Shameika Rhymes he sun fades, and the moonlight illuminates thousands of sse people dre d in all white for a chic pop-up dinner that has become one of the world’s most mysterious soirees. Diner en Blanc, (Dinner in White) is an exclusive posh picnic, meant to bring the elegance and glamour of Paris to more than 70 cities around the world. Since its inception more than 30 years ago, the events have been held on

five continents and in more than 30 U.S. cities, popping up in metropolitan areas , such as Atlanta, Charleston S.C., Memphis, Tenn., and Charlotte, N.C. This year, Raleigh, N.C., revelers will get a chance to join the party for the first time. The concept was created in 1988 when Francois Pasquier, a retired French entrepreneur, wanted to host a dinner party for friends but didn’t have

Francois Pasquier and wife Francoise

CO NT INU ED

FABRICE MALARD/SIPA VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS; GETTY IMAGES


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

15


16

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

preparation According to Diner en Blanc, the rules of engagement for the event include: ▶ Register online and

pay for a ticket and a $9 membership fee that totals anywhere from $40 to $43. ▶ Buy the required white

square folding table, white chairs, white plates and white tablecloth. ▶ Each state has its JEFFERY MARKS PHOTOGRAPHY (3); GETTY IMAGES

enough en space. He instructed each ea person to bring someone new, w, and with 200 people on the final guest list, he turned the th meal into a picnic and held he it in Paris’ famous Bois de Boulogne. Bo og White clothes were specified specifie so participants could recognize reco re cogniz co gn each other, and they were re told ttol to bring their own food, food od cr creating the foundation for what at would later be known an While it as Diner een Bl Blanc. started st offf as a simple dinner of party part pa rt am among ong g friends, fr nd it has bloomed bloo bl into to a p prestigious pre restig igio event even en of w who’s ho’s ho ’s who who in i all white. Ah Labor abor or D Day ay be befo fore fo re Ahead of Lab Day, before most mo Southerners th implement imp mpleme mp ment the the “n “no o white” ite” clothing it loth lo thing thin ing ru ing rule, le, guests gu vie v ie for for the t chance ha to participate particip ic e in the he large-scale picn pi cnic cn ic bu but everything ythi yt hing is a hi picnic, secr until se nt the t last as minute mi te. secret minute.

Guests, who provide their own food, tables, decorations and dinnerware, are asked to meet at an assigned location and are then escorted by volunteers to their dining venue. “We try to keep it as secret as possible, as long as possible. The guests didn’t know where it was being held until they got to the location,” says Tara Robertson, Diner en Blanc Charlotte co-organizer. How do you get invited to the top-secret event? Robertson says it’s all about who you know. Organizers tap into their network first, sending invitations to friends, family members, classmates, colleagues and acquaintances. From there, it’s all about word From of m outh th b mouth before the remainder of tthe he tic ickets a ic are re made ade availad ailtickets

able to the public. “This is exclusive and that’s what makes it a buzz,” Robertson says. Diner en Blanc Charlotte co-organizer Leo Bennett adds, “People want to be invited to something and to feel special and privileged to have the opportunity to attend.” Guests who have attended the event find the elusive elegance appealing. Melissa Graves, an executive talent recruiter, was introduced to Diner en Blanc in August 2018 when the party was first held in Charlotte. “The history of the event was alluring along with the unique opportunity to take part in such an elegant affair. The concept is everything that I love: beautiful attire, excepcepce pCONTINUED

own laws about alcohol consumption. Do your research and ask the host. ▶ Wear an all-white

elegant outfit; no ivory, off-white, beige or other colors allowed. ▶ Bring your own gourmet

meal or order ahead from Diner en Blanc for an additional fee. ▶ Attendees must

transport everything to and from the secret dinner location.


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

17


18

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

information tional food, friends and music,” Graves says. Nichelle Sublett, a former Mrs. North Carolina, was able to snag one of the 1,100 Charlotte spots last year despite a wait list of 5,000. “One of the reasons I wanted to attend so badly is due to the demand. It was as if you had the golden ticket to go to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory,” she says. “All the cool kids were doing it, and I didn’t want to miss out.” After the attendees have set up their tables, chairs and food, the ceremonial white napkin is waved and dinner commences. Diner en Blanc Charlotte organizers wanted to create a specific ambiance as guests dined under the stars in Romare Bearden Park in uptown Charlotte. “We had a live band playing some soft R&B and jazz while attendants had dinner. After dinner, the DJ came on,

Waving of the ceremonial white napkin

JEFFERY MARKS PHOTOGRAPHY (2); GETTY IMAGES

and it became an afterparty,” says Robertson. Patrick Graham, a doctor of philosophy and entrepreneur who attended the Charlotte dinner, says the event is reminiscent of a family reunion with an emphasis on fashion. “It was like an upscale reunion with music that combined the nostalgia of old school R&B

with today’s party themes. Everyone had a festive vibe that felt like a block party with clothes from the runway,” he says. Most dress in their Sunday Best with women wearing lace, pearls, fascinators, gloves and even costume masks. The party is the payoff, but that comes after purchasing tickets, packing and bringing

For locations, dates, lod ging options or to voluntee r, visit dinerenblanc.com

your own necessities, setting up your area and putting together the perfect outfit. Does the reward outweigh the work? Graham says men seem to feel more inconvenienced by the prep. “The women were so organized about getting everything together,” he says. “I thought I just had to put on a white outfit and that was it. I didn’t sign up for this extra, but once everything was settled, it became fun.” At the end of the feast, guests pack up and fade into the night as orderly as they arrived, leaving the site of the dinner empty again as though nothing ever happened: a secret that remains until the next year.


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

19


20

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

Unexpected

Asheville, N.C., skyline

EXPLORE ASHEVILLE

By Matt Alderton ANY OF THE WORLD’S famous and beloved works of art live in a handful of big cities, most of which lie in northern latitudes. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, for instance, adorns a wall in Paris. Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus lives in Florence, Italy. Grant Wood’s American Gothic calls Chicago home, while Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night resides in New York City. For art history buffs, traditional art cities can’t be beat. But if you’re as interested in the future of art as you are its past, you might find it somewhere you never thought to look: the American South.

“The South is such a vibrant region for the arts,” says Teresa Hollingsworth, director of film and traditional arts for South Arts, an Atlanta-based organization with the mission of supporting and promoting arts across the South. “Southerners are very proud of our artistic heritage, but we’re especially excited about the new work that’s being developed in our region. It’s incredibly entertaining and impactful.” But can Athens, Ga., hold its own next to New York City? The only way to find out is to experience Southern art for oneself. Here are some of the region’s best places to indulge your inner critic: CONTINUED


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

21


22

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

Speed Art Museum MICHAEL CLEVENGER/THE (LOUISVILLE, KY.) COURIER-JOURNAL

Kentucky is best known for bourbon, bluegrass and thoroughbreds. So when art curator Alice Gray Stites moved to Louisville from New York City, she didn’t expect much from the local art scene. What she quickly discovered, however, was a city with an appetite for art that easily matched its thirst for whiskey. “I think, maybe, there’s something to being a river city; it’s a little more fertile by the waterside,” says Stites, chief curator and museum director for 21c Museum Hotels, a Louisville-based developer with eight art-themed properties in seven states. Its on-site museum offers guided docent tours and art-infused accommodations, making the original 21c Museum Hotel (21cmuseumhotels.com/louisville) on historic West Main Street — Museum Row — a good home base for art-themed getaways. Outside, pause for a photo with a 30-foot-tall golden replica of Michelangelo’s David by conceptual artist Serkan Özkaya. Across the street is the KMAC Museum (kmacmuseum.org) for contemporary art; a mile down the road is Market Street, which is plump with galleries; and a short drive away is

Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum, the recently renovated Speed Art Museum (speedmuseum.org). But Kentucky’s art offerings aren’t limited to Louisville. For a smaller-town take on the state’s creativity, check out Berea, a college town south of Lexington. Along with Berea College — a liberal arts school known for offering debt-free education to all students and being the South’s first interracial and coeducational college — Berea is home to an eclectic community of artists and artisans. Stay at the historic Boone Tavern (boonetavernhotel. com), visit the Kentucky Artisan Center (kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov), then browse the offerings in the College Square and Artisan Village Districts. “There are a number of galleries and workshops where there are hands-on demonstrations, so you can actually see art being created,” Hollingsworth says. “Also, there are opportunities for visitors to participate. If you want to take a weekend course in woodworking, for example, you can do that. … It’s an incredibly unique community.” CONTINUED

21c Museum Hotel

GETTY IMAGES; GLINT STUDIOS

21c Museum Hotel lobby

GETTY IMAGES; 21C MUSEUM HOTEL


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

23


24

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

River Arts District, glass blowing

GETTY IMAGES; JARED KAY/EXPLORE ASHEVILLE

River Arts District, pottery Firebird at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art GEORGE LAINIS

Although Lake City, S.C., has a population of fewer than 7,000, it hosts one of the region’s largest annual art events: the ArtFields (artfieldssc.org) competition, a nine-day exhibition that awards more than $140,000 in cash prizes to artists from 12 Southern states. “The community turns into a gallery space,” Hollingsworth says. “Art is displayed literally everywhere in town.” Among the states represented at ArtFields, North Carolina is particularly prolific. Charlotte, for example, has one of its largest art scenes, the highlight of which is the Levine Center for the Arts (levinecenterarts.org), home to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

(bechtler.org), which houses works by Picasso and Degas, among others; the Harvey B. Gantt Center for AfricanAmerican Arts + Culture (ganttcenter. org), which celebrates black artists; and the Mint Museum Uptown (mintmuseum.org), an offshoot of the Mint Museum Randolph, which opened in 1936 as North Carolina’s first art museum. If you tire of museums, take the LYNX Blue Line light rail from South Charlotte to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, suggests Katherine Mooring, senior vice president of community investment for the Arts & Science Council, a nonprofit that supports and encourages local culture. “As you travel on the light rail,

GETTY IMAGES; CHRIS COUNCIL AND EMILY CHAPLIN

you’re treated to a revolving exhibition of public artworks,” Mooring says, referring to artistic design, murals and sculptures at stations along the route. “You’re not going to find that in a lot of places.” Another one of those places with distinct offerings is Asheville, where “folk meets funk,” says Landis Taylor, spokesperson for the Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau. Along with the expanded Asheville Art Museum (ashevilleart. org), check out the North Carolina Glass Center (ncglasscenter.org) for glassblowing workshops; the Folk Art Center (southernhighlandguild. org) for galleries and demonstrations showcasing traditional Appalachian crafts; and East Fork (eastfork.com),

a pottery studio founded by Alex Matisse, great-grandson of French painter Henri Matisse. “Asheville’s art scene is very accessible,” explains Taylor, who says visitors can explore on their own or take a guided tour from Asheville Art Studio Tours (ashevilleartstudiotours.com) or Art Connections (arttoursasheville.com). “The River Arts District, in particular, offers access to more than 200 artists in a couple dozen buildings. At any given time on any given day, multiple galleries and studios are open with artists working and welcoming guests to learn more about their craft.” CONTI NUED


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

25


26

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

SCAD Sidewalk Arts Festival

VISIT SAVANNAH

GETTY IMAGES; CARSON SAUNDERS

GETTY IMAGES; VISITATHENSGA.COM

Because it’s often called “the capital of the South,” Atlanta is an obvious draw for artists and their patrons. From conventional attractions like the High Museum of Art (high.org) to novel ones like Art on the Atlanta BeltLine (art. beltline.org) — a year-round public art exhibition staged along pedestrian trails — options abound. Some of Georgia’s best art, however, lies beyond its capital. Seventy miles away, for instance, is Athens. Although it’s home to Georgia’s official state art museum, the Georgia Museum of Art (georgiamuseum.org), the city’s most exciting works reside outdoors. “The Athens art community is … robust and edgy,” says Alvieann Chandler, communications specialist at the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau. “When a visitor comes to Athens, they can expect to find many of the gates, statues, interior of buildings, signs and various other items designed and/or painted by a local Athens artist.” Among the public assets transformed by local artists are bus shelters, fire hydrants and building facades. “Twenty-one murals decorate the sides of buildings and restaurants in downtown Athens,” continues Chandler, for whom another highlight is Athens’ tribute to the University of Georgia’s mascot: more than 40 bulldog statues custom-decorated by local artists. Savannah is another city that

effuses art. Along with remarkable art museums — including the Telfair Academy (telfair.org/telfair-academy), the contemporary Jepson Center (telfair.org/jepson-center) and the worldly Savannah African Art Museum (savannahafricanartmuseum.org) — it owes its artistic eminence to the Savannah College of Art and Design, or SCAD (scad.edu), which consistently ranks among the world’s top universities for art and design. “SCAD is really the impetus and the inspiration for the art scene here,” explains Visit Savannah president Joseph Marinelli, who says SCAD students and alumni are revitalizing neighborhoods like the Starland District, home to spades of homegrown studios, galleries and shops, including Starlandia Art Supply (swvtarlandiasupply.com) for reclaimed art materials, coffee shop-gallery Foxy Loxy Café (foxyloxycafe.com) and the kid-friendly Henny Penny Art Space & Café (hennypennycafe.com), where coffee comes with a side of arts and crafts. Street art is a common sight, and so are artists, many of whom spend hours behind easels in Savannah’s shaded squares. Watching them is a vivid reminder: What makes the South such a promising art destination isn’t famous paintings in monolithic museums, it’s the energy of artists raising their voices on behalf of the region that made them.


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

27


28

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

TREAM CAMPING CAN BE a

wonderful experience or a miserable failure. On my fourth date with Elaine, I took her on a combination fishing and camping expedition to gauge her general interest in the outdoors. But I did just about everything wrong. The

burgers I grilled over the campfire were overcooked; the roasted potatoes undercooked. I brought along unnecessary things, such as a heavy frying pan when a simple mess kit would’ve sufficed. CONTI NUED


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

29


30

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

RIVER RUNNERS

And I left important things at home — such as the first-aid kit — so when Elaine developed a migraine, I had no aspirin. Nevertheless, on our fifth date, I proposed. She said, “yes,” and 40 years later, she still teases me about that streamside debacle. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make stream camping adventures memorable instead of miserable. PLAN AHEAD

Kayakers, anglers, campers and outdoor cooks can all indulge their interests while stream camping.

A quality stream camping excursion happens because of smart planning. Tommy Cundiff, who operates the River Monster Guide Service in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Bluefield, Va., certainly believes so. “Start the planning process by reading any books (about) the river, contacting a state fisheries biologist and obtaining maps on the sections you want to fish,” he says. “Make sure you know where the access points are and how far apart they are. Eight miles is about as far as you’ll want to paddle in a day and have time to fish leisurely and set up camp before dark. And you’d better make sure that the section of the river you’re on has public land for camping.” Some rivers offer plentiful public camping. Camp on the Kentucky in Versailles offers 7 acres of river frontage and free boat parking. In North Carolina’s Croatan National Forest, visitors can head to Fisher’s Landing where tents can be set up right along the bank of the Neuse River. Most national forests allow camping along waterways. Research the presence or absence of rapids, Cundiff advises. “I guide in a raft, so a Class II rapid is no big deal. For someone who is a beginning paddler in a canoe or kayak filled with camping gear, a Class II drop with rocks around could be a trip ender. You should also research the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Information System for the state you’re planning to float in. From that, you can learn what the unsafe water levels are and cancel a trip if a river will be too high. And by all means, check the weather forecast.” FIND A CAMPSITE

If they are publicly owned, midriver islands make superb campsites. “An island campsite should be on a small rise that is far enough from the river that if the water comes up overnight, you won’t wake up in a panic,” Cundiff says. “A small rise catches the night winds more and helps keep down insects. And pebble beaches are better than sandy ones because sand retains moisture more.” CONTI NUED


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

31


32

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

RIVER RUNNERS

CHOOSE YOUR KAYAK OR CANOE

Herschel Finch, a pro staffer for Jackson Kayak in Sparta, Tenn., has paddled rivers across the Mid-Atlantic in kayaks. “With the internal storage now available in kayaks, a two- or three-day jaunt down a river is quite doable,” he says. “Sit-on-tops have grown considerably in size and capacity the last six or seven years, making this possible.” Finch says Jackson Kayak’s Big Rig and MayFly are good examples of these larger kayaks, with the former being 13 feet, 2 inches long, and the latter 12 feet, 8 inches. Both feature compartments that offer plenty of storage. However, Finch maintains that the canoe is still king for a four-day-plus river camping trip because of its capacity. “But if you approach (stream camping) like you would backpacking, these boats work great,” he says. “Your gear needs to be lightweight, easily packable and high quality. Freeze-dried foods are ideal for this kind of trip. Pack your potable water in hydration bags; they pack easier than bottles because they lay flat.” Leave the glass or cans at home. MAXIMIZE SPACE

Especially if you’re paddling a kayak, Finch says that gear needs to easily fit into dry bags that will, in turn, also fit into storage spaces. “Check your (packed) bag sizes fully before you try to load up the night before the trip,” he says. “There is no such thing as dry-storage inside a sit-on-top kayak. If nothing else, your gear is going to get wet from simple condensation inside the hull. Good, dry bags from (brands such as) SealLine or NRS are a must.” Finch suggests you “weigh all the gear you’re going to take with you and then make sure it all fits in your boat. Distribute the weight, including yourself, in the boat for proper handling and performance. Then, on a short day trip, go paddle that much weight and make sure your boat — and you — can handle the load properly and safely. Planning ahead is the key to a great adventure.” And always be prepared for adverse weather, or a trip could be miserable. Cundiff adds that he uses a combination of dry bags and hard plastic Pelican brand cases to keep his gear dry. I recommend using a Pelican 1400 Protector Case for your camera, cellphone and wallet, and dry bags for everything else. Fortunately, my future wife forgave the outdoor miscues early in our relationship. Follow the experts’ advice and make favorable stream camping memories to last a lifetime.


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

33


34

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

35

THE REGION 36

GEORGIA

Hike through Savannah; watch wild horses run free on Cumberland Island

44

SOUTH CAROLINA

Enjoy Charleston on the run; immerse yourself in Hilton Head’s Gullah culture

54

NORTH CAROLINA

Get a real taste of the Tar Heel State through Raleigh’s diverse eateries

58

KENTUCKY

The state’s popular bourbon trail finds a starting point in Louisville

60

TENNESSEE

Visit Blackberry Mountain resort; discover wall-to-wall Nashville art

GRAND GETAWAY Built in 1900, Grayfield Inn is the only lodging option on Georgia’s tranquil Cumberland Island where WiFi is wanting, wild horses roam and white sand beaches await.

GABRIEL HANWAY


36

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION GEORGIA | SAVANNAH

Wormsloe State Historic Site CASEY JONES/VISIT SAVANNAH

Historic Hikes Walk or bike through some of Savannah’s most beautiful scenery By Jennifer Streaks

A

S ONE OF THE nation’s most historic cities, Savannah, Ga., draws travelers with its stunning architecture, charming cobblestone streets, diverse art scene and historical landmarks, but some of the most beautiful sites are tucked away along paths full of scenic surprises. “The trails in and around Savannah are especially popular because of the scenery

and mostly sunny days,” says Joseph Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah. “From the unique kinds of birds and wildlife, to the varying colors on display with the live oaks and Spanish moss, to the reeds and tall grasses that make up the marshes, our landscapes are perfect for picture-taking and storytelling,” he notes. “Hikers can enjoy a trail experience that is unmatched.” Here are four perfect hiking paths: CONTINUED


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

37


38

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

GEORGIA | SAVANNAH

VISIT SAVANNAH

CASEY JONES/VISIT SAVANNAH

RAILS TO TRAILS

SETTLERS’ SCENE

The 6-mile McQueen’s Island Trail is built on a section of the Savannah and Atlantic railroad line that connected the city to Tybee Island in the 1800s. The popularity of the automobile deemed the railway obsolete, and it was eventually converted to a bike and hiking trail in the 1990s. The route hugs the Savannah River and is lined with palmettos, offering a scenic escape to be enjoyed at your own pace. ▶ traillink.com/trail/mcqueens-island-trail

See colonial-era structures as you hike a nature trail that begins under live oak trees and leads you to tabby ruins and through marsh areas. Wormsloe State Historic Site was once the estate to Noble Jones, a carpenter who immigrated to Georgia in 1733 with the first group of settlers from England and later served the colony as a doctor, constable, surveyor and military leader. The site also hosts special events featuring colonial demonstrators who transport visitors to a bygone time. ▶ gastateparks.org/wormsloe

AMY HEGY/RAILS-TO-TRAILS CONSERVANCY

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

WARTIME WALK Not only does the Fort Pulaski National Monument area offer great views near the scenic Savannah River, it also gives visitors a history lesson. The Civil War fort’s cannons and battle scars are visible from several area trails of various lengths, including one that takes you as close as you can get (without a bathing suit or boat) to the Cockspur Island Lighthouse, built in 1856. ▶ nps.gov/fopu

PAST PATH The Savannah and Ogeechee Canal, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was constructed in 1831 to connect the Savannah and Ogeechee rivers. There are several paths to choose, but locals suggest starting with the trail that begins at the Savannah Ogeechee Museum and Nature Center. “There is a lot to do here, and the history really intrigues visitors,” says Connie Shreve, master naturalist and acting director for the museum. ▶ socanalmuseum.com


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

39


40

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

GEORGIA | CUMBERLAND ISLAND

GETTY IMAGES

Wild Isle Escape from it all on Georgia’s untamed Cumberland Island By Cheryl Rodewig

W

ILD HORSES GRAZE IN open fields. Vines

curl and climb over the moldering ruins of a bygone summer estate. In the distance, white sand dunes mellow on a pristine beach. If this sounds like the storybook setting for a romance, it is. It only takes one look at Cumberland Island to fall in love with the frank, natural beauty of the

place. Unlike other coastal destinations, though, this undeveloped barrier island has no high-rises, no cars, no Wi-Fi and certainly none of the spas and golf courses that proliferate elsewhere along the Golden Isles. Instead, the 36,000 acres of this protected national seashore are lush with maritime forest, wetlands and salt marshes teeming with wildlife. Sharp-eyed birders can spot more than 300 species from egrets and herons to pelicans and bald eagles, says Nick Roll,

a park ranger at Cumberland. Inland, you might glimpse deer, turkey and even a bobcat. More than 100 feral horses, descendants from breeds brought to the island and abandoned, roam the grassy meadows and beaches. “It’s the solitude,” says Patsy Scott, trying to pinpoint what makes Cumberland unusual. The Camden County native has been visiting the island for years, even before it became part of the National Park Service in 1972. “On the east side of the island, there is the expanse of

the Atlantic Ocean with an incredible, unspoiled beach. Massive oak trees make an umbrella over the trails. The beauty of this island is something you must see for yourself to truly appreciate.” Bring a camera and take time to relax on the empty shoreline, basking in the sun or hunting for treasures in the sand. “Visitors are able to collect and take just two things with them off the island,” Roll cautions. “Seashells that are not CONTI NUED


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

41


42

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

GEORGIA | CUMBERLAND ISLAND

WHERE TO STAY Cumberland Island’s wild horses run free, but you may prefer to have a roof over your head at night. Try Greyfield Inn, a Carnegie mansion still run by the family’s descendants and the only hotel on the island. It’s all-inclusive, from tours to bike rentals to three chef-made meals daily, but a getaway here doesn’t come cheap. Here’s what makes it worth the splurge:

The history: Most of the furnishings in this home, built in 1900, are original family heirlooms. Rich details and romantic guest suites take you back to the Gilded Age.

Dungeness Ruins

The food: Ingredients are sourced from their organic backyard garden and off the coast. Enjoy a picnic basket lunch and more than three courses at the formal dinner.

BRIAN LASENBY/GETTY IMAGES; GABRIEL HANWAY (2); LUCY CUNEO; NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

First African Baptist Church

occupied — so have a look inside them — and sharks’ teeth.” Most day trippers focus their visit around the island’s southern end, which includes the picturesque remains of Dungeness, an 1880s Italianate villa built by the Carnegies. To the north, a better preserved relic of Carnegie wealth, Plum Orchard shows off its sumptuous interior with free guided tours. Still farther north is the historic First African Baptist Church, now famous as the secret wedding site of John F. Kennedy, Jr., and Carolyn Bessette.

To reach these last two landmarks or more remote escapes like scenic Terrapin Point, camp overnight. If you do, don’t miss an evening stroll at Dungeness. “The ruins are bathed in the light from the setting sun, and the place comes to life as all the animals come out,” says Roll, who’s backpacked much of the island’s wilderness. Campers can “walk along the beach to return to their site as the moon rises. It’s incredible. There are a lot of great islands up and down the coast … but there’s nothing quite like Cumberland.”

The setting: On 200 private acres, you have your own quiet corner of the island. It’s a short jaunt to the beach and surrounded by marshes, live oaks and wide horizons.


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

43


44

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

SOUTH CAROLINA | CHARLESTON

History on the Run Get to know Charleston while burning calories By Sarah Sekula

I

T’S 9:30 A.M. WHEN

I spot Shaun Garrison in the lobby of the French Quarter Inn (fqicharleston. com), a popular hotel in the cultural heart of downtown Charleston, S.C. He’s sporting a bright yellow T-shirt and running shorts, so he stands out among dapper guests sipping peach iced teas and noshing on gourmet pastries. We’re about to embark on a whirlwind tour of the city, but at a faster pace than usual. Garrison, a lifelong soccer player who studied history at Clemson University, combined his interests in athleticism and the past to launch Charleston Steeplechase (charlestonsteeplechase.com), a sight-running tour — part guided excursion, part exercise. Without wasting any time, we make our way down the hotel’s hardwood staircase and jog along Church Street. As I suspected, it’s mere minutes before we encounter a piece of history. To our left is St. Philip’s Church, founded in 1680. With a neoclassical interior and an iconic steeple, it’s quite the sight. As church bells sound, our jog picks back up. St. Philip’s Church CONTINUED KIM GRAHAM


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

45


46

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

SOUTH CAROLINA | CHARLESTON

Circular Congregational Church and Parish House EXPLORE CHARLESTON

Nathaniel Russell House museum RICK RHODES

“The biggest thing I love about the city is the people.” South Carolina Historical Society Museum EXPLORE CHARLESTON

We head south on Meeting Street, and I’m wowed again. The Circular Congregational Church and Parish House, a National Historic Landmark built in a Romanesque style, is a stunner with an arched entrance and ribbons of windows.

GO BACK IN TIME And as I glance at the South Carolina Historical Society Museum (once known as the Fireproof Building), I imagine its

cupola and cantilevered stone staircase being constructed. This building, which is also a National Historic Landmark, was created by the same architect who designed the Washington Monument. It’s easy to see why locals hold this city dear to their hearts. The appeal, though, goes beyond its secret gardens, craft eateries and cobblestoned alleyways. “The biggest thing I love about the city is the people,” says Charleston native

— MARVIN COAXUM, concierge supervisor, French Quarter Inn

Nathaniel Russell House staircase RICK MCKEE

Marvin Coaxum, concierge supervisor at the French Quarter Inn. “While the city has evolved over the years, it hasn’t lost its charm, and in my opinion that is because of the friendly people.” Next up: the Nathaniel Russell House museum. As we take a breather, Garrison chats about his favorite feature, a free-flying, three-story spiral staircase; I make a mental note to return. Minutes later, we jog to the Calhoun

Mansion (calhounmansion.net), which Nicholas Sparks fans might recognize from the 2004 romantic drama The Notebook. Scenes from the movie were filmed there. We jog to White Point Garden (charlestonparksconservancy.org) next and trot up the stairs to the seawall for a view of James Island, the former site of Fort Johnson, where the first shots of the CONTI NUED


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

47


48

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

SOUTH CAROLINA | CHARLESTON

WHEN YOU’RE NOT RUNNING Take a breather at these relaxing locations

BOLT TREE HOUSE

Rainbow Row GETTY IMAGES

D I S TA N

C

T

E

O

UR

FORGET SELFIES Hire a Flytographer to snap photos of you by the Pineapple Fountain, on Folly Beach or in front of Dock Street Theatre. Five days later, the photos arrive in your inbox. ▶ flytographer.com

3-4 MILES GETTY IMAGES

Calhoun Mansion EXPLORE CHARLESTON

White Point Garden GETTY IMAGES

TREE TIME Bolt Farm Treehouse, with locations in Charleston and Walhalla, is the ultimate way to act like a kid. Located on a 30-acre farm, the luxe treehouses are perfect for wildlife spotting, and you can roast marshmallows by the fire pit or listen to records. ▶ boltfarmtreehouse.com

Civil War were fired on Fort Sumter. “Charleston’s impact on our nation’s history, for better or worse, it’s extraordinary,” Garrison says. Last, but not least, we pass 13 Colonialera buildings known as Rainbow Row on East Bay Street. Then, it’s back to where we started: the French Quarter Inn. After a quick outfit change, I bike to the Charleston City Market where specialty bowties and stoneground grits abound. The hotel provides complimentary bikes complete with a basket in front, perfect for shopping. A few blocks over is King Street where I order an acai bowl at Beech, a trendy eatery among the string of high-end shops. Then, it hits me: I’ve managed to squeeze a whole lot into the day, and it’s only early afternoon. From here on out, I vow to move as slow as molasses.

ME-WOW Score cat cuddles at Pounce Cat Cafe + Wine Bar, then belly up to the bar for a glass of vino. ▶ pouncecatcafe.com SERIOUS R&R Enjoy a salt-therapy session at Salt Oasis Spa and Wellness Center, where guests are surrounded by Himalayan salt crystals. Or opt for hypnosis, the infrared sauna or a salt-room yoga session. ▶ saltoasischarleston.com MUSCLE THERAPY Charleston’s newest hotel, Hotel Bennett, is a great place to recover after your sight-running tour. Consider tea time at Camellias Champagne Bar, a cocktail at the rooftop bar or a muscle relief massage at the spa to loosen up your calves, feet and hips. ▶ hotelbennett.com


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

49


50

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

SOUTH CAROLINA | HILTON HEAD

Gullah Glory

Gullah scholar Anita Prather Singleton dons a traditional West African print.

Discover a vibrant cultural community in Hilton Head, S.C. By Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

W

ITH 12 MILES OF pristine beaches kissed by the Atlantic Ocean and framed by luxury resorts, the laid-back beauty of Hilton Head Island, S.C., draws crowds of travelers. The scenic landscape and world-class golf courses are Hilton Head’s calling cards, but this low country paradise offers other cultural treasures that are just as significant. Long before the island was transformed into a resort mecca, Hilton Head was home to the Gullah people, descendants of enslaved Africans who were transported from the continent’s West Coast to grow rice in the lowlands of the Carolinas and Georgia. After the Civil War, they claimed land from abandoned plantations, opened businesses during Reconstruction and, as Jim Crow laws took hold, increasingly isolated themselves in communities along the coastal corridor, especially on sea islands. They became known as Gullah Geechee — the name’s origin is unknown — and the area where they live is now widely acknowledged as the most African place in America. The isolation allowed them to preserve West African traditions and dialects that can be traced directly to that area today. “This region has a long history of Africans who maintain the African way of life,” explains Emory Campbell, author, consultant and tour guide for Gullah Heritage Trail Tours. For more than three centuries, the Gullah community has preserved its

CONTINUED

PROVIDED BY FORESIGHT COMMUNICATIONS


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

51


52

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

SOUTH CAROLINA | HILTON HEAD

GETTY IMAGES

Handmade baskets made of sweetgrass can be found all along the South Carolina coast and are as much a part of Gullah Geechee culture as red, or Jollof rice, a traditional West African dish.

Louise Miller Cohen runs the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head. NATHANIEL CARY/THE GREENVILLE (S.C.) NEWS

ancestors’ history and culture on Hilton Head, and visitors can experience this living history firsthand.

THE BINYAH WAY OF LIFE On Hilton Head, the Gullah identify themselves as “Binyahs” — or been here a long time — drawing a distinction between the town’s natives and more recent arrivals. The Gullah culture is a blend of American and African traditions, which is evident in the dialect, and you will hear these melded words and phrases all over the island. Head to the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island to listen to Gullah language, songs and stories supplied by the museum’s founder, historian and storyteller, Louise Miller Cohen. View Gullah artifacts from Cohen’s family, passed down from her great-grandfather, who bought the museum’s land right after the Civil War. From there, visit the

historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, site of the first self-governed town of freedmen in the U.S. “Mitchelville is a unique story, a one-of-a-kind story,” says Ahmad Ward, executive director of the Mitchelville Preservation Project. “This is the history of people who went from nothing, to owning property and citizenship.” Located under a scenic oak canopy, Mitchelville Freedom Park displays markers, photos and replicas of the original buildings that tell the town’s story. Founded in 1862, at the height of the Civil War, Mitchelville’s early residents were Gullah ancestors who built roads, schools, houses, churches and a local government so impressive that legendary freedom fighter Harriet Tubman visited the town so that she could spread the message of success for future freedmen towns. Just miles from the park sits the

Gullah Museum of Hilton Head PROVIDED BY THE MUSEUM

historic First African Baptist Church, which was established in 1862 and is the oldest church on Hilton Head. Services include traditional Gullah music, prayers and food.

A TASTE OF GULLAH Food serves as a hallmark of Gullah culture, and dishes like shrimp and grits and low country boil are familiar fare. “Gullah food isn’t defined by the technique. It’s all in the sharing that’s the beauty of it,” says Thomas Baker, owner of Gullah Geechee Catering. “I could never let you visit my home without serving something to eat or drink. Humanity opens up over a good meal.” Many area eateries serve shrimp and grits, and Hoppin’ John — made with beans, rice and your choice of meat — but you can only find red rice at Hudson’s, a homegrown Hilton Head restaurant, ac-

GETTY IMAGES

cording to Campbell. “There’s a real art to cooking red rice. We don’t like soggy rice. You have to know the right rice to water ratio and then let it simmer in tomato sauce. It’s called Jollof rice in West Africa.” For a more complete overview, take Gullah Heritage Trail Tours’ two-hour bus tour, where you’ll learn about Gullah neighborhoods, folktales, language, food and social customs from a fourth generation Hilton Head Gullah family. “Everybody should take the Gullah Heritage Trail Tour to see the real history of Hilton Head,” says Ward.

GULLAH GATHERING In June, the Native Island Business & Community Affairs Association in Hilton Head joins Mitchelville Preservation Project to commemorate Juneteenth – a celebration of the day in 1865 when Union soldiers, after the surrender of Confederate leader General Robert E. Lee, were able to begin enforcing President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in the South. This year’s celebration, scheduled for June 15 at the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, marks the fifth year of the annual event that includes familyfriendly activities, musical performances and historical reenactments. — Nathaniel Cary at The Greenville (S.C.) News, contributed to this article.

MORE ON GULLAH ▶ For more on Gullah events and

celebrations in Hilton Head Island, visit gullahcelebration.com.


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

53


54

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

NORTH CAROLINA | RALEIGH HUMMINGBIRD

Delicious Destination There’s more than just beer and barbecue in Raleigh, N.C. By Anne Roderique-Jones

JEN NOBLE KELLY

A

LOT OF FOLKS lump Raleigh, N.C., in with other Tar Heel State cities — Durham and Chapel Hill to be specific. And rightfully so, as the three feed off one another and comprise North Carolina’s famed Research Triangle. But these cities deserve their own stories. Each one has its own art museum, science museum, an impressive downtown and green space to explore for days. However, Raleigh has something extra to offer, according to Ashley Christensen, chef and proprietor of AC Restaurants, which includes Poole’s Diner, a city institution: The growth of the restaurant community is happening with a collective conscience. “There’s an openness and a generosity of spirit and resources and creativity that is shared among all those of us in this community,” she says. “It’s a great environment that fosters independent restaurants and supports creativity, which has led to a dynamic food scene.” Here are some can’t-miss Raleigh restaurants:

This much-anticipated first restaurant of PoshNosh caterer Coleen Speaks (who got her start with Emeril Lagasse), opened in November 2017 and is living up to the hype. Here, Speaks serves up pastries, lunch sandwiches, dinner and weekend brunch. Cocktails, like the Someone to Watch Ovary made with cardamaro, brandy, lemon and egg white, offer flavors as memorable as the clever names. ▶ hummingbirdraleigh.com

ROYALE

ROYALE

Royale feels like a Parisian bistro — only hipper, a bit more playful and located in the city’s downtown area. Royale offers a menu featuring steak frites, mussels and even duck leg confit. For lighter fare, the North Carolina trout is served with arugula, green beans and toasted almond vinaigrette. ▶ royaleraleigh.com

CRAWFORD AND SON

CRAWFORD AND SON

In Raleigh’s historic Oakwood neighborhood, this casual restaurant serves what can best be described as very fancy comfort food. The beef cheeks are served with a mushroom ragout. Desserts are decadent and can include a buttermilk custard pie with ginger snap crumbs and ice cream or a blondie sundae with toasted meringue. ▶ crawfordandson restaurant.com

PROVIDED BY LOCAL ICON HOSPITALITY

LITTLE CITY BREWING + PROVISIONS CO. In Raleigh’s Glenwood South neighborhood, Little City Brewing + Provisions Co. combines a boutique fresh foods market and brewery. Serving only local beers, Little City boasts picnic tables, bar seating and an outdoor area. ▶ thelocalicon.com/little-city


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

55


56

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

NORTH CAROLINA | RALEIGH BIDA MANDA Va Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha, a brother-sister duo, named this restaurant Bida Manda, the ceremonial term for “father and mother” in Sanskrit, in honor of their parents, who live in Laos. The interior offers a comfortable space with warm lighting, wood fixtures and simply decorated dishes. Try exotic entrees that are deeply rooted in Laotian culture. The crispy rice lettuce wrap combines crunchy coconut rice, herbs, toasted peanuts, eggs, lettuce and sweet chili sauce. ▶ bidamanda.com

PETER TAYLOR

THE UMSTEAD HOTEL AND SPA

HERONS Tucked away inside The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, N.C., about 9 miles from Raleigh, Herons sources vegetables and herbs from a nearby farm to create multicourse meals. Here, each dish is as beautiful as it is tasteful. Courses that surprise and delight might include a take on shrimp and grits prepared with ham and egg; or rabbit with potato croissant, pickled ramps and spring truffles. ▶ theumstead.com/dining/restaurants-raleigh-nc

LUCETTEGRACE

LUCETTEGRACE Lucettegrace bills itself as a “contemporary patisserie,” serving sweets, including croissants, cookies and cakes. Pastry chef and owner Daniel Benjamin creates his traditional pastries with a spin that is distinctly Raleigh. Benjamin’s signature cakes are as tasty as they are Instagram-worthy. ▶ lucettegrace.com

ANNE RODERIQUE-JONES

42 & LAWRENCE On a charming downtown corner, 42 & Lawrence is mixing up espresso, cold-brew coffee and draft lattes in its lab. The shop was created by the beloved local brand Larry’s Coffee, and sells its exclusive micro-lots and experimental blends. Teas and ciders are also on the menu. ▶ 42lawrence.com

POOLE’S DINER A Raleigh institution, Poole’s Diner began as a pie shop in 1945. Today, the sleek, retro interior has been reincarnated, but still maintains the snazzy double horseshoe bar and red leather banquettes. Owner and James Beard Award-winning chef Ashley Christensen has transformed this restaurant, showcasing a chalkboard menu that changes with the seasons, as she works with local growers. The bar opens at 5 p.m., and brunch starts at 11 a.m. on weekends. ▶ ac-restaurants.com/pooles

PROVIDED BY AC RESTAURANTS

THE HAYMAKER ANNE RODERIQUE-JONES

WATTS WA & WARD Here, cocktails are the biggest draw, offering both classics and original creations infused with fresh juices and herbs. Tasty mocktails are available for those who want ambiance but not alcohol. Enjoy a drink in the spacious study, mudroom or parlor. ▶ wattsandward.com

Tucked behind an alley off Fayetteville Street lies The Haymaker, a cocktail bar that’s named for the boxing term and inspired by “fighters and ‘90s rappers alike.” Try original cocktails and classics — along with punch bowls in three flavors that serve three to five people. The Sing Like a Bee cocktail is made with Earl Grey tea-infused gin, orange, lemon and honey, served in a proper tea cup. ▶ thehaymakerraleigh.com

THE HAYMAKER


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

57


58

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

KENTUCKY | LOUISVILLE

Frazier History Museum, Louisville, Ky.

SAM UPSHAW JR./THE (LOUISVILLE, KY.) COURIER JOURNAL (3); GETTY IMAGES

Welcome to Whiskey New museum marks start of Kentucky Bourbon Trail By Kirby Adams

S

INCE THE KENTUCKY BOURBON Trail

launched in 1999, countless visitors have planned trips by logging onto the Kentucky Distillers’ Associations website and scrolling through the list of the 16 distilleries on the historic Kentucky Bourbon Trail Tour and the 16 micro-distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, picking the ones they’d like to visit. But it wasn’t simple to identify an actual starting point. That all changed with the August opening of The Frazier History Museum’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center, which aims to become the epicenter of all things bourbon in Louisville and Kentucky. So where does the Kentucky Bourbon Trail start? “It starts here,” says Andy

Treinen, Frazier History Museum’s tion, and one of the first things vice president, pointing to a they want to know is where does large map of Kentucky located in the Kentucky Bourbon Trail start.” the new welcome center, which Inside the welcome center, houses a permanent Spirit of touchscreen monitors make it Kentucky exhibit. easy to preview “When we started distillery locations, the self-guided tour plot a course for almost 20 years ago, your bourbon road we had far fewer trip and test your visitors than we have knowledge of alcohol today, and back then, and responsible most of their quesdrinking. ON TAP tions were about the Visitors can also For more on bourbon distilleries’ addresses rely on professional tours, visit kybourbon and visiting hours,” concierges who trail.com; for Frazier says Eric Gregory, help them plan the Museum information, president at the perfect journey Kentucky Distillers’ visit fraziermuseum.org. through “Bourbon Association, which Country” and logged 1.2 million offer free advice on visitors to the trail in 2018. “Today Louisville’s bourbon, culinary and we’re attracting people from all nightlife scenes. over the world. In fact, 70 percent “Not only will this help tell Louare from out of state, and they isville’s unique story and spirits need a lot more detailed informaheritage, but it will open the eyes

of visitors from around the world to the whole of ‘Bourbon Country’ and the adventure that awaits in exploring the beauty of Kentucky,” says Stacey Yates, vice president of marketing communications for Louisville Tourism. Because there was no designated starting point, distilleries never knew if guests had a good understanding of Kentucky bourbon history, so a visitor might hear the same information at several distilleries. The exhibit at the Frazier now covers that information, allowing the distilleries more time to focus on what makes their particular whiskey-making process and history special. “The Kentucky Bourbon Trail gets a 99 percent approval rating from the visitors who come to the Bluegrass State,” says Gregory, “but we knew there was a way to make the experience even better.”


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

59


60

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

TENNESSEE | WALLAND

View from Firetower restaurant, Blackberry Mountain PROVIDED BY BLACKBERRY MOUNTAIN RESORT

Stay. Play. Get Away. New Blackberry Mountain resort offers recreation and relaxation By Brenna McDermott

S

OME PEOPLE CRAVE REST and relaxation when vacation time rolls around. Others want to explore and try new experiences. The newly opened Blackberry

Mountain resort in Walland, Tenn., accommodates both travel tastes. Blackberry Mountain offers activities you might expect, such as mountain biking, Pilates, rock climbing and outdoor meditation, and some that you might not, including aerial yoga, sound bathing, inspiration hikes

and cardio drumming. Trail access is integrated into the resort, so guests are never far from one of the many hiking and biking trails, and are even encouraged to hike to the peak of the mountain for breakfast at one of CONTI NUED


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

61


62

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

TENNESSEE | WALLAND the on-site restaurants. “I want guests to leave the Mountain (resort) feeling inspired. I hope they’re invigorated by something they saw, did or learned,” proprietor Mary Celeste Beall says. “I want our guests to feel like they discovered a new place where they can feel at home, a place that is nurturing, exciting and impossible to forget.” After three years of development, the completed resort, which opened in February, spans 5,200 acres, more than half of which is conservation land. “There was so much behind the vision of this property. We wanted to protect the land, to preserve the beauty of the viewscape and to create even more opportunity for guests to experience this area that we love and cherish so much,” Beall says. There are many memorable details at the resort, including the massive windows revealing every possible view, and the outdoor board meeting area that can be accessed via hike. The interiors are inviting and modern, with hardwood and sleek metallic touches, warm jewel tones, massive windows, countless fireplaces and eye-popping light fixtures. Crafted using local stone, the 18 cottages, located halfway up the mountain, come in various sizes, some with a private courtyard and hot tub. If you prefer more remote accommodations, atop the mountain are six rustic cabins, as well as larger properties to rent, such as the Azalea Gap home, which offers a private setting, multiple bedrooms and a full-size kitchen. The property’s Nest spa is a naturopathic treatment center that includes a sauna, steam showers and a heated

Firetower restaurant PROVIDED BY BLACKBERRY MOUNTAIN RESORT

infinity pool with a view of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It offers a long list of self-care and wellness treatments from the traditional to herbal remedies, tuning forks and chakra balancing. There’s also Camp Blackberry for kids, available Memorial Day through Labor Day and at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It features a gym, rock climbing wall and art studio to appeal to

Firetower restaurant INGALLS PHOTOGRAPHY

families. “We want them to connect, whether that’s with the land or with the people that they came with or themselves,” says Sarah Elder Chabot, director of marketing. “To try something new and to push themselves.” The cuisine at Three Sisters is intended as fuel for adventure, Chabot says, with an opportunity to try new flavors and spices and a vegetable-forward menu. The underground cellar features more than 10,000 bottles of wine. Executive chef Josh Feathers has been with sister resort Blackberry Farm since 2000. “There’s a lot of opportunity to try some new things. There’s very worldinspired flavors and spices that you’ll find on the menu,” Chabot says. The Firetower restaurant was built around a restored watchtower, which guests can climb. The casual, mountaintop restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and cocktails with dishes like mussels, flatbreads and harvest bowls. “Whether it’s a physical activity or a reflective, meditative moment, we want guests to feel inspired to relax and soak up the 360-degree vistas,” says Beall. “As well as step out of their comfort zone and enjoy an experience they can’t find anywhere else.”

PROVIDED BY BLACKBERRY MOUNTAIN RESORT


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

63


64

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

TENNESSEE | NASHVILLE

Wallflowers Nashville’s spectacular murals are boosting the city’s art scene

By Sarah Sekula and Sara Schwartz

S

TROLLING THROUGH NASHVILLE, TENN., is like going on an

Easter egg hunt — you never know what you’re gonna find, but you know it’s gonna be good. Nashville-based freelance journalist Kristin Luna seeks out the eye-catching murals scattered around the city. “My husband and I tend to go mural chasing early on Sunday mornings when businesses are closed,” says Luna. “Not only are the crowds fewer, but you don’t have cars obstructing your view or getting in the way of that money shot!”

R!VIVE! This mural, painted by Brooklyn artist Beau Stanton, is part of Rivive! Nashville, a stream and river stewardship campaign created by five nonprofits that comprise the Nashville Waterways Consortium to revitalize the waterways of Middle Tennessee. ▶ 5th Ave. N. and Commerce St.

PHOTOS BY SARAH SEKULA


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

65


66

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

TENNESSEE | NASHVILLE

DOWNTOWN DOG Herakut, the German street artist duo of Jasmin Siddiqui and Falk Lehmann, depicts a giant dog hugging a girl. “One day I will rescue your brother, too” is painted near the top. ▶ Corner of 6th Avenue and Church Street (on side of Cornerstone Square Building)

CANCEL THE CANVAS

GEOMETRIC MURAL Jason Woodside’s eye-popping geometric murals can be seen across the country, but art lovers in Nashville need only visit the Gulch District to take a long look at his work, a kaleidoscope of colors. ▶ 299 11th Ave. S.

The Nashville Mural Arts Project chronicles and supports the creation of murals painted by street artists. ▶ nashvillewallsproject.com

GETTY IMAGES

INSTAGRAM’S RAINBOW WALL In 2017, Instagram sponsored rainbow murals in many cities to celebrate LGBT Pride Month. The brightly colored wall, which asks viewers to use the #KindComments hashtag, was created by artist Adrien Saporiti, who also created the I Believe in Nashville mural. ▶ 221 2nd Ave. N.

BEAUTIFUL DECAY Artist Tavar Zawacki says his mural “represents peeling away the older layers and starting fresh.” ▶ 148 5th Ave. N.


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

67


68

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

TENNESSEE | NASHVILLE

FROM ME TO YOU For this Gulch District favorite, artists Chris Zidek (who signs his work as Zidekahedron) and Nathan Brown each painted very distinct murals that connect on one wall. Above is Brown’s colorful geometric design. ▶ 601 Overton St., facing Mansion Street

GOOGLE FIBER MURAL IN THE GULCH

WHAT LIFTS YOU Kelsey Montague’s 20-foot-high mural allows passersby to be photographed with angel wings. Plan to get there early, however, or prepare to wait in line. ▶ 302 11th Ave. S.

GUITARS AND AUTOMOBILES Nashville artists Herb Williams, Sam Dunson, Emily Miller, Brian Donahue and Chris Zidek worked together to create five distinct guitars for this mural. It’s also across the street from Instagram’s rainbow wall. ▶ 213 3rd Ave. N., between Church and Union streets

Sponsored by the local office of Google Fiber, the blue geometric mural was also created by Zidek. Bonus: This mural is on the side of Whiskey Kitchen, so after admiring the art, grab a drink and a bite to eat. ▶ 118 12th Ave. S.

GREEN AND BLUE ABSTRACT MURAL On the building next to Jason Woodside’s colorful mural, emerging San Francisco-based artist Ian Ross painted this green and blue abstract piece, drawing inspiration from Northern California’s forests and beaches. ▶ 251 11th Ave. S.


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

69


70

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

LAST LOOK | LOVER’S LEAP

ROCKIN’ VIEWS Just 6 miles from Chattanooga, Tenn., Lookout Mountain’s Rock City is known for its sweeping vistas. On a clear day, visitors can see seven states from the Lover’s Leap cliff, where a 100foot waterfall cascades down the mountain. Take in the Rock City Raptors Birds of Prey show while you’re there and grab a bite to eat at Café 7, 1,700 feet above sea level. ▶ lookoutmountain.com/ rock-city

GETTY IMAGES


USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

71


72

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

Profile for STUDIO Gannett

GoEscape SouthEast  

GoEscape SouthEast