At this time of year until about September, us Southerners see a lot of tourists making their way through our sweet Dixie. But I see a lot of things that either people don’t realize, don’t understand, or knowingly disregard about the South. I also see a lot people flooding different cities while disregarding other small town charm towns that are often overlooked. And don’t even get me started on the lack of manners. So I am here to help y’all out. Welcome to your guidebook to visiting the South.
Let’s start with things people don’t realize about the South:
1) Yes, everyone is overly friendly.
It’s true. We love meeting new people, we enjoy hosting all kinds of tourists, and we enjoy showing them around. Don’t be shocked if you hear about our Memaw’s famous home cooking or learning about our papaw’s old home catty corner from the Baptist Church. Don’t mistake our kindness for naivety. If there is one thing we’re born with here in the South, it’s common sense. You won’t fool us or talk the wallet out of our britches.
2) Our food is unlike anything you’ll ever have.
From barbecue, fried chicken, chicken fried steak, country ham, and red hot dogs to our slaw, cornbread, greens, biscuits, hush-puppies, sweet potato casserole, and pimento cheese. Don’t even get us started on our amazing desserts. Here is my favorite tip: if it looks run down and dirty, it probably has the best food. Don’t judge a menu by the lack of curb appeal, especially when you see a bunch of cars parked outside.
3) Sports mean a lot to southern culture.
We live for football, baseball, basketball, and NASCAR, but don’t be alarmed by the absolute love of golf. Everyone and their uncle plays golf down here with plenty of courses to pick from. From putt putt to Pinehurst, we’ve got it all. It’s also worth a mention that southern people love their hockey. We may not grow up playing the sport, but I’ve never seen a rowdier crowd than the Carolina Hurricanes; there is a reason they’re the loudest house in the NHL. I mean, these people tailgate hours and hours before the game and even bring their livestock to join in the fun.
4) It’s not all farmland.
People often assume that the South is a bunch of farmland. While we have a lot of that, expect a ton of trees. Seriously. Y’all wonder why we talk so much and so fast. It’s because we have unlimited oxygen.
5) Our last names mean a lot to us.
Southerners love their family ancestry and as women, we have hard time letting go of that name. That’s why when we get married, a lot of women choose to ditch their middle name and put their middle name in its place.
6) When we say it’s hotter in the South, we aren’t lying.
While the West might have us beat on the thermometer, we have the humidity which just adds to the heat. It also brings all the mosquitoes out to the yard, and don’t even get me started on the gnats, ants, and other creepy crawlies, especially the snakes.
7) When you ask for tea, it’s safe to assume that it’s going to be sweet.
If you want the commie water, make sure you specify “unsweet and unhappy.”
We know when you aren’t from here so let me teach you a thing about manners.
1) Yes ma’am/sir and no ma’am/sir are essential.
It’s not because we think you’re old; it’s nothing more than us having respect for you. We pretty much refuse to call our elders by their first names so now many how many times someone says “Oh please just call _______”, it ain’t going to happen. The only exception is if you’re super close to someone and you can call them “Miss/Mr. *first name here*”.
2) Always RSVP whether it is a yes or no.
Do not show up unannounced or Lord help you if you show up with an uninvited guest. That is a big no no.
3) We love a good thank you note.
Make them personalized and express your gratitude, even if it was just a dinner that you were invited to.
4) If you’re coming to church on Sunday, dress up like Jesus himself is about to walk down that center aisle.
Jeans might slide in some areas, but for the most part, you need to be in nicer clothes: women in business casual or dress, and men in sports coats.
5) When you’re shaking someone’s hand, look them in the eye.
A lot of a Southerner’s trust stems from the ability to communicate. Firm handshake and eye contact that could spark a staring contest.
6) Our accents.
Feel free to mock the accents, but we don’t find nearly as much humor as y’all do in it.
The best places to visit depending on what you want.
If you are looking for towns with the complete southern charm experience:
Charleston, South Carolina
New Orleans, Louisiana
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If you’re looking for a southern charm getaway that seems less touristy:
Asheville, North Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina
Wilmington, North Carolina
If you want to have a good old time and want to hit the town:
Charlotte, North Carolina
If you want to find the hidden gems:
Boone, North Carolina
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Complete tourist traps that we still love:
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Orlando, Florida (Specifically, Disney)
For the history buff:
Charleston, South Carolina
New Orleans, Louisiana