November’s been crazy. I drove a whole bunch, checked out about 10 cities, experienced a bunch of emotions, and ate a lot of food. Let’s do a quick recap!
Pictures for each city will be below its corresponding text.
This city is for: if you want to make a random stop in America. There’s not much here – a weekend would be good enough.
What it’s like: The city seems to be quite empty. I struggled filling up an entire weekend with stuff to do. Heck, even an entire evening. There are several tourist attractions that you can check out, like Elvis Presley’s Graceland and National Civil Rights Museum. There are also many small neighborhoods – think 1 x 4 blocks big. One thing that I wanted to do but didn’t get to was check out Shelby Farms Park, which is in the top 20 largest urban parks in United States.
Memphis is best known for its BBQ – I tried two, and my favorite one is One & Only BBQ. The other one I tried was in downtown, and it was good but not amazing. One & Only BBQ has both wet and dry rubs, and has a bunch of local beers to pair them with. That place was delicious with meat falling off the bones.
Saint Louis, Missouri
This city is for: almost everybody! Beer fan? Check. Museum nerd? Check. Outdoor lover? Check. Foodie? Check.
What it’s like: You get a little bit of everything here because there are 70+ neighborhoods in Saint Louis. Some of the things I loved about Saint Louis:
- Food is delicious! I would recommend 90% of the restaurants I went to. There’s a huge variety: American, Mexican, Japanese-Mexican, ramen, and more.
- So many well-curated museums: museums usually do not impact me because I don’t get it, but these museums left an impression because they were well-explained. And free, too!
- Lots of other culture: I went to the Saint Louis International Film Festival and watched a show on Broadway last minute!
There will be an upcoming blog post about my favorite things about Saint Louis – be sure to check that out, and I’ll also link it here.
Asheville, North Carolina
This city is for: nature lovers. Asheville is surrounded by Great Smokey Mountains to the west and other national forests to the east. It is so gorgeous out here. There are only a couple of trails that are marked on the map. For other hidden trails, you either need more time to explore the forests or a guide to bring you to them. The second option is probably the smarter choice.
What it’s like: I didn’t get to do much because it rained most of the time that I was there, so I didn’t see as much of the city as I would like. Some recommendations from my hiking guide: Pinball Museum, music venues, and some Mexican food.
There is easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville. It is called “America’s Favorite Drive” with over 450 miles of road that traverse from Virginia to North Carolina. It is managed by the federal government, but they do not maintain it during winter months because black ice forms easily and it is dangerous when snow falls. I’m definitely checking it out during the transition from summer to fall.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
This city is for: if you need a break and want to stop at a cute city. Not much to do, but enough to have a chill time.
What it’s like: This was one of the smallest cities I visited this month. There isn’t much to do besides downtown and Old Salem. People are super friendly here, places have happy hours… it’s just a great city to relax in.
Juliet’s tip: If you are dying to do something, look at Facebook Events and Eventbrite.
The Triangle in North Carolina: Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill
These cities are for: people who need lots of options of stuff to do, but at a cheaper price and a lot more parking.
What it’s like: It’s called the Triangle because Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill forms a scalene triangle.
Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina, and it is HUGE. You have to drive around the neighborhoods because it’s so dispersed. Durham has a couple of museums that are free (not as good as the ones in Saint Louis, in my opinion). The city also transformed old warehouses near downtown to retail spaces.
Durham was the leading city that produced tobacco during the 1870s. Now the American Tobacco Campus is transforming into an entertainment district, with shopping, office space, restaurants, theaters, and gyms. Durham is also home to Duke University, which is a gorgeous campus.
Chapel Hill is about 20 minutes away from Durham. It’s a gorgeous town, and is home of University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Fun fact: that’s where Michael Jordan went to school!
Greenville, South Carolina
This city is for: if you want a breather from your travels and want to visit a small city.
What it’s like: I only had an afternoon in Greenville, so I explored Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 22-mile trail that goes throughout the middle of the city. It’s a nice oasis in a small urban city, and leads you through gardens and by rivers to the zoo and other points of interest. I grabbed lunch at Sully’s Steamers, which makes steamed bagel sandwiches. Then drove to the border of the Carolinas to watch the sunset. It was chill.
Charleston, South Carolina
This city is for: everybody. If you love seafood, if you love water, if you love architecture, if you love history… Charleston is a good place to visit.
What it’s like: Charleston is an assembly of several different islands and beaches. People are so friendly here, my friend and I found ourselves in many conversations just with people sitting next to us at restaurants. Even if somebody looks like a hard shell, once you say hi, their exterior melts away and they just treat you like a friend.
- For a great workout: Grit Box Fitness
- For sunset views: Folly Beach, the 2nd longest pier on the Atlantic
- Don’t miss: Waterfront – Charleston has it’s own version of the Painted Ladies and a Pineapple Fountain!
- Must eat: FIG. Make a reservation at least 1-2 weeks in advance, or try your luck getting a seat at the communal table or bar.
That’s it for now! I’ll have some upcoming posts diving into more specifics for some of these cities, so stay tuned for that.