“Stop the Car!” 7 Southern Spots Worth Your Stop
If you find your travels taking you through north Mississippi, north Alabama, and eastern Tennessee, some pretty special treasure spots may appear on your route. Some of them, you could drive right past and never know it, and others you might catch a glimpse from a billboard as you pass by. For each one, however, the same question comes to mind: Is it worth the stop or not? The good news is that personal experience or a collection of voices can help with that decision. So based on both, here are a few spots that would truly be worth your stop.
White Trolley Cafe:
Situated on a hill alongside highway 72 sits the White Trolley Cafe, a fixture in the historic southern town of Corinth since 1947. The White Trolley specializes in a delicacy called the slugburger. It’s a mixture of beef, pork, and soy grits used as an extender. Local legend says the name came from the slang term for a nickel, because that’s how much they cost. The stools at the long counter are usually occupied by regulars, but just wait a few minutes, and a spot will open up. A couple of small tables are tucked into a corner, so count yourself lucky to get one. They serve regular beef burgers and breakfast, too, but you have to sample one of these unique southern sandwiches for yourself. It’s best to order at least two with fries for a proper slugburger meal.
Alabama Music Hall of Fame:
This small northwestern Alabama town is home to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. From the highway the building looks somewhat like a small convention center. A large sign by the highway beckons your arrival. One would never suspect this is a museum featuring outstanding exhibits and boasting an impressive slate of inductees. You’ll see tributes to the likes of Lionel Richie, Bobby Goldsboro, Hank Williams, Sr., Tommy Shaw of Styx, Emmylou Harris, and of course, the group Alabama. You can even record your own single in their onsite recording studio before you leave. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame is definitely worth stopping by.
U.S. Space & Rocket Center:
Into all things NASA and space exploration? The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is your ticket to ride, then. The center boasts one of the largest collections of space memorabilia and rockets in the country. Breathtaking films are shown in their impressive IMAX theater dome and the National Geographic Theater runs some amazing 3D films. The center is also the place where the annual Space Camp is held. You’ll need all day to explore this fascinating tribute to space and those who venture into it. Just look for the giant Saturn V rocket standing proudly against the Alabama sky. You can’t miss it!
Unclaimed Baggage Center:
Where does all that lost luggage go? Well, it winds up in the small town of Scottsboro, Alabama, at the Unclaimed Baggage Center. Talk about a shopper’s paradise, this place is the mecca for deals on…well, you name it! You never know what you’ll find in this sprawling complex, and the inventory changes all the time. It’s just an adventure looking at all the things people lose, leave behind, or abandon. From clothing to iPads, to suits of armor, you didn’t know you needed it till you find it at Unclaimed Baggage. Located near old downtown Scottsboro, just follow the signs to get you there. This shopping destination has been featured on the Today Show and Travel Channel among other media.
Tucked away in downtown Chattanooga a few blocks from the Tennessee River is the MoonPie General Store. Across the river is the Chattanooga Bakery, where this tasty southern treat is made. MoonPies were created for local miners who wanted a more substantial snack to keep them going between meals. A marshmallow center is squeezed between two round graham cracker cookies and dipped in a flavored coating. It makes for the perfect hand-held delicacy. The bakery does not offer tours, but the General Store has plenty to offer. The store stocks a variety of flavors of MoonPies plus lots of novelty items and collectibles. Be sure to have an RC Cola with your MoonPie. It’s a combination that’s quintessential Southern.
Just off Interstate 75 lies the McMinn County seat town of Athens. This town of around 13,500 is headquarters to Mayfield Dairy, a major regional supplier of dairy products for ten southeastern states. Take exit 52 on I-75 and drive into town, then turn left into the main entrance. A gift shop in the Visitor Center offers souvenirs, ice cream scoops and dishes, and company collectibles. You can’t leave without a stop in the ice cream parlor for a scoop or two. Sample the variety of creamy flavors and make your choice. Or maybe you’d prefer one of their many signature ice cream novelties. Tours of the creamery are offered from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday every hour. Saturday tours are available as well.