Our Favorite Places to Eat and Visit When Traveling Through America's South
From Houston to Charlottesville, these are the spots we always make time to visit.
Taking a road trip across America's South? You've come to the right place. Here, you'll find a curated list of the Martha Stewart Living editors' favorite places in the region, from eateries that can't be missed to must-visit museums and gardens. And don't worry—we nailed down the best place to pluck some peaches, of course.
Tuck into some Texas BBQ as you make your way through the Lone Star State. "When I visit Houston, our Sunday ritual is church and Killen's," says photo editor Joanna Garcia. "Their brisket is so rich, you don't need sauce." Assistant food editor Riley Wofford gets her fix in Austin: "Everyone goes for brisket at Lamberts, but I crave chicken-fried oysters and fried pie."
"Fried catfish is one of the things I love most about Oklahoma, and Libby's Cafe in Goldsby does it best. Round it out with okra, hush puppies, baked beans, and cornbread," says food editor at large Shira Bocar. And despite what you've heard about peaches, they're delicious well beyond Georgia lines—so be sure to visit Pullen Peaches, a family-owned farm in Stratford with a stand full of these sweet Southern delicacies.
There are many places to eat in New Orleans—but you'd be remiss to pass up "Mother's for po'boys, Willie Mae's Scotch House for fried chicken, and Felix's for oysters," says features and garden editor Melissa Ozawa.
Passing through Alabama? Bookmark Toomer's Drugs in Auburn. "This has been the heart of my college town since 1896," says associate editor Claire Sullivan. "Their lemonade—squeezed on the spot and lightly sweetened—is the ultimate antidote to the heat."
"I want to live on the front porch of the Greyfield Inn, on Cumberland Island," says senior editor Elyse Moody of her favorite place to visit in Georgia. "You reach it by ferry. You'll see wild horses, run down a totally empty beach, fill up on coastal seafood, and sleep the best sleep of your life." Then head on over to Paradise Gardens, in Summerville—it's true to its name. "Visionary folk artist Howard Finster's home is covered in the paintings that landed his work on Talking Heads and R.E.M. album covers," says Elyse.
When in Florida, forget the oranges and pick up papayas. Or mangoes, lychees, or guavas—and fresh sugarcane juice—while at the Pine Island Tropical Fruit Market, in Bokeelia. Our 2015 American Made winner is a global destination for exotic varieties. Then grab something green at Amelia's Smarty Plants in Lake Worth, which is both a nursery and a store. "The plants are hearty and long-lived, and the entire place, inside and out, is beautiful," says garden writer Monica Michael Willis.
"I've lived in New York City—city of great restaurants—for decades, but I still love going to the Outer Banks, where I spent many summers, and eating at The Blue Point in Duck, North Carolina," says editor in chief Elizabeth Graves. "The food, the Currituck Sound view, everything." Don't overlook the art scene during your trip; for an indoor-outdoor experience, check out the Reynolda House Museum of American Art in in Winston-Salem. "See rotating collections of contemporary works, or walk through vegetable and rose gardens meticulously maintained for over a century," says Claire.
And when you head to the southern-most Carolina? "At Columbia lunch institution Spotted Salamander, order the pimiento cheese on cornmeal bites or melted into fondue, and save room for oatmeal cream pie," says assistant editor Erica Sloane. "At Johnny D's Waffles and Benedicts, in Myrtle Beach, it's all about the salty-sweet breakfast burger."
Fuel up in Virginia before heading home. When in Charlottesville, grab lunch at The Market at Bellair. "Yes, it's inside a gas station, but the sub sandwiches have a cult following," says executive editor Jennie Tung. Then order antipasti and fresh pasta for dinner at Tavola, a farm-to-table trattoria in the lively Belmon neighborhood. Last but certainly not least? Take home a can of divinely salty and crunchy Virginia peanuts from Plow & Hearth.
Martha Stewart Living, July/August 2020