Warm weather means long sunny weekends and the sudden itch to explore someplace new, so why not start with your own backyard? If you need a break from the big cities and major sights, hop in the car and take a day trip close to home. No matter where you live in the US, there are tucked-away corners near you just begging to be explored. We explored the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest, and the Southwest, now let’s wind our way through the Southeast…

Historic Triangle, Virginia

Source: Theresa’s Reviews

These three colonial communities – Jamestown, Yorktown, and the famed Colonial Williamsburg – offer a peek into how early American settlers lived. Travel info here and here. (1 hour from Norfolk, 1 hour from Richmond)

Coral Castle Museum, Homestead, Florida

Source: Historic Mysteries

This incredible stone structure was mysteriously and singledhandedly built by Latvian American Edward Leedskalnin in the first half of the twentieth century. All these years later, it’s still unclear just how he did it. Travel info here(1 hour from Miami, 2 hours from West Palm Beach, 2.5 hours from Fort Myers)

Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina

Source: Earth Trekkers

The former house of George Vanderbilt and largest privately owned home in the US is now a massive tourist destination, complete with a winery, gardens, concerts and a resort. Travel info here. (2 hours from Charlotte, 2 hours from Knoxville, 3.5 hours from Atlanta)

Charleston, South Carolina

Source: Pinterest

This beautiful coastal city has been around since 1670, and has the historical sites to prove it. Charleston also offers a thriving arts scene, great food, and beaches. Travel info here. (2 hours from Savannah, 3 hours from Augusta, 3 hours from Charlotte)

Oxford, Mississippi

Source: Travel Media Press Room

Home to Ole Miss, a treasure trove of literary history, and William Faulkner’s greatest inspiration! Travel info here. (1.5 hours from Memphis, 3 hours from Hunstville)

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Cypress Gardens, Moncks Corner, South Carolina

Source: Pinterest

This swamp garden is one of the country’s most famous, and yes, that’s the swamp you saw in “The Notebook”! Travel info here. (45 min from Charleston, 2 hours from Columbia, 2 hours from Myrtle Beach)

Luray Caverns, Virginia

Source: Virginia.org

This Shenandoah Valley cave is home to the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the largest instrument in the world. It plays music using the cave itself by tapping stalactites to create xylophone-like sounds. Travel info here. (2 hours from Washington, DC, 2 hours from Richmond, 2.5 hours from Baltimore)

Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Source: YouTube

Take in stunning views of vibrant Chattanooga, then head back into town to enjoy all the adventure the city has to offer! Travel info here and here. (2 hours from Atlanta, 2 hours from Nashville)

Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

Source: interludetours.com

This charming historic district of Alexandria features great food, culture and lots of 17th-century architecture. Travel info here and here. (30 min from Washington, DC, 1 hour from Baltimore)

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South Of The Border, South Carolina

Source: Post and Courier

This quirky roadside theme park greets travelers as they reach the North Carolina-South Carolina border (see what they did there?). “America’s favorite gateway to the Southeast” insists its visitors “take it easy on the road of life,” and well, it’s hard not to love a destination with that philosophy. Travel info here. (1.5 hours from Myrtle Beach, 1.5 hours from Wilmington, 2.5 hours from Charlotte)

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Franklin, Tennessee

Source: Visit Franklin

A storybook southern town! Travel info here. (30 min from Nashville, 2 hours from Chattanooga)

Paducah, Kentucky

Source: paducahky.gov

A charming town with a lovely Main street and a thriving crafting and arts community. Travel info here(2 hours from Nasvhille, 3 hours from Louisville, 3 hours from St. Louis)

Blue Ridge Parkway

Source: Blue Ridge Parkway Daily

This scenic road provides stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains and is perfect for leisurely weekend road trips. It’s also the country’s longest linear park! Travel info here and here. (Runs through Virginia and North Carolina)

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Source: getmelisted.net

The beach may be Fort Walton’s claim to fame, but it also boasts a quaint downtown full of antiques, culture, great coffee and historical sites. Travel info here. (1 hour from Pensacola, 2 hours from Mobile, 3 hours from Panama City)

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Currituck, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Source: The Horse

Roamed by those beautiful wild horses you’ve seen in every Nicholas Sparks movie ever, Currituck is home to peaceful beaches, an iconic lightouse, and beautiful houses. Travel info here. (45 min from Norfolk, 2 hours from Richmond, 3 hours from Raleigh)

Dollywood & Sevierville, Tennessee

Source: TripSavvy

Dolly Parton’s theme park is an adventure on its own, but visitors also have the chance to enjoy beautiful nearby Gatlinburg and Dolly’s hometown of Sevierville. Replicas of Dolly’s childhood home and those of other locals are featured in Dollywood. Travel info here and here. (1 hour from Knoxville, 3.5 hours from Nashville, 3.5 hours from Charlotte)

Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key, Florida

Source: YouTube

One of South Florida’s most beautiful beaches. Travel info here and here. (45 min from Key West, 3 hours from Miami)

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Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Source: Southern Living

Eureka Springs is surrounded by the gorgeous Ozark Mountains and offers rich history, natural beauty, and access to the nearby Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, a home for formerly abused and neglected Big Cats. Travel info here and here. (1 hour from Fayetteville, 2 hours from Fort Smith, 2 hours from Springfield)

Ave Maria Grotto, Cullman, Alabama

Source: Pinterest

This mindblowing four-acre park is home to 125 miniature recreations of some of the world’s most famous buildings and shrines, built by a Benedictine monk. It includes reproductions of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Alamo. Travel info here and here. (1 hour from Hunstville, 1 hour from Birmingham, 2 hours from Chattanooga)

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Orange Beach, Alabama

Source: Orange Beach

This beautiful beach town offers access to warm Gulf of Mexico waters, a massive ferris wheel, and summer fun! (45 min from Pensacola, 1 hour from Mobile, 3.5 hours from Tallahassee)

Carolina Heritage Outfitters Treehouses, Edisto River, South Carolina

Source: PicBon

You can sleep in a treehouse! On the river! Travel info here and here. (1 hours from Charleston, 2 hours from Augusta)

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Tybee Island, Georgia

Source: tybeeisland.com

A relaxing beach escape with easy access to the historical heaven that is Savannah. (30 min from Savannah, 2.5 hours from Jacksonville, 3 hours from Macon)

Poverty Point World Heritage Site, Pioneer, Louisiana

Source: Louisiana Travel

These 3,000-year-old ruins were created by the prehistoric Poverty Point culture. It’s still unclear at the site’s specific purpose was, though it’s thought to have been ceremonial. The mystery makes it that much more fascinating to visit. Travel info here. (3.5 hours from Shreveport, 4 hours from New Orleans)

 [Photo Credit]

Original by Claire Hannum

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