The Southern States are like nowhere else in the USA. This area is renowned for its Southern hospitality, deep musical roots, soul food and of course, plenty of historical moments. Read on for five places to visit where history has been made in the Southern States of the USA.
1. Lexington, Kentucky
Historically, early frontiersmen arrived on horseback to Kentucky who then began to breed and race horses…fast forward to today, and Lexington is now known as the ‘Horse Capital of the World’. It was the first city outside of Europe to host the World Equestrian Games, stamping its mark in history. Lexington is home to the Kentucky Horse Park (1,200 acres of working farmland for horses of all breeds) and the International Museum of the Horse (the largest museum in the world dedicated to horses). The state of Kentucky has plentiful grass fields so is ideal for horses. Water passes through a limestone shelf that lies below the ground which gives the soil (and therefore grass) nutrients to grow greater durability and stronger bones in horses. More money changes hands over the sale of horses in Lexington than anywhere else in the world!
2. Grand Ole Opry, Nashville
We couldn’t not include the legendary Grand Ole Opry in this list, known as ‘the show that made country music famous’. Starting as a radio show in 1925, it was first televised live in 1978 and is the longest-running radio broadcast in America’s history. It had several locations before its current one in Nashville, with many past and present country musicians having played there. The Grand Ole Opry even continued its live broadcasts during the COVID-19 pandemic for seven months (without an audience)! To become a member of the Grand Ole Opry is considered the pinnacle of all country music achievements. Members include music icons from Johnny Cash to Blake Shelton.
3. National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis
Not only does the National Civil Rights Museum have some of the best history on civil rights inside it, but it is also built on history. The former Lorraine Motel is where the museum first began, now deemed a historic site by the Tennessee Historical Commission and where Dr Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. The museum has since expanded to include interactive exhibits, short films and fascinating collections. April 4th, 2023 marks the 55th anniversary of his death.
4. Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
It all began with just thirteen balloons in a field in Albuquerque in 1972. The following year, Albuquerque made headlines by hosting the inaugural World Hot Air Balloon Championship with thirteen countries participating. Nowadays, the number of balloons is capped due to limited land space but is a spectacle to see. It’s no wonder that it’s the world’s most photographed event at almost an estimated 25 million photos taken each year!
5. Ryman Auditorium, Nashville
The Ryman Auditorium has always had music roots since its inception in 1892 as the Union Gospel Tabernacle church. It has seen so much of Nashville, and America’s, history through its hallowed doors as the ‘Mother Church’. At the time, it was the largest building in Nashville so has even held performances outside of music like Harry Houdini. The Grand Ole Opry was held here from 1943 – 1974 before moving to its current location. It then fell into disrepair and was almost demolished if not for Nashville’s citizens who protested. It was restored in the 1990’s and still retains some of its church roots like its stained-glass windows and wooden pews; and above everything else, its incredible acoustics that have always been part and parcel of the Ryman Auditorium.