America is full of exciting places to visit, from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the rainy peaks of the Pacific Northwest. However, if you’re looking for a diverse region with some top-notch food and a variety of activities, you can’t beat the South. States like Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi all have their own unique offerings for every type of traveler. If you’re thinking of heading down this year, follow these five tips for a lively, unforgettable experience.

1. Visit more than one Southern city.

You may be tempted to stick to just one city or region while on your trip, but the Southern United States is so diverse that you won’t want to miss out on what other areas have to offer. Instead, consider building an itinerary that covers a few different states – connected by some delightful scenic routes and fascinating roadside stands.

Spend a few days enjoying sweet beignets followed by smooth Jazz in New Orleans. Then, stop off in Vicksburg, Mississippi, a city of history and hospitality, the ultimate key to the south. Finally, you can end your trip to the metropolis city of Atlanta or Nashville, the country music capital of the world.

2. Take time to connect with nature.

The South is a lot more rural and less compact than the North. States sprawl for hundreds of miles with nothing but small towns in between. Along with seeing the key cities that the South has to offer, why not spend a few days in nature. You can go camping or rent a cabin in the woods for a cozy getaway experience. During the day, you can enjoy hiking, kayaking, fishing, and multiple other sports that are more accessible when you have a lot of land to play around with.

3. Dress to impress.

The South has some of the most beautiful sceneries for taking photos and capturing memories with your loved ones. With Spanish moss hanging from old oaks and historic homes that are staples in cities like Savannah and Charleston, you’ll be spoiled for choice. As you pack, look for cute outfits that will also keep you cool if you’re visiting in the summer. Pick up a few petite dresses, light jackets, and a pair of cowboy boots for a complete outfit. Turn some heads dressed like a Southern belle and prepare to take a bunch of stunning pictures on your trip.

4. You will likely need a car.

While it’s possible to travel around the South by public transport or rely on rideshare apps like Lyft, you will most likely want your own car to get around. Renting a car, or driving your own vehicle, can give you the flexibility to enjoy day trips out of the cities that you’re staying in. You can visit a small town that is a few hours away or connect with nature in areas where the busses don’t go.

While many Southern cities like Savannah or New Orleans are pedestrian-friendly, others require the use of a car to get most places. It’s better to have a car than to wish you had rented one.

5. Always save room for dessert.

It’s important to remember that southern food is not known for being light! As you eat your way across the South, you will notice a lot of restaurants competing for the best fried chicken, delicious smoked barbecue, and the creamiest macaroni and cheese. Even the collard greens are made with bacon fat! As you enjoy these local classics, don’t fill up on hush puppies and other side dishes – you need to save room for dessert.

The South is known for its impeccable hospitality, and your hosts will be more than happy to recommend a perfect place for banana pudding, homemade peach cobbler, or classic apple pie with ice cream melted on top – a Southern staple. Remember, these portions aren’t small, but they are delicious.

There are countless activities to enjoy when you visit the South. Make sure your itinerary is packed with all the essential Southern hot spots and enjoy as many as possible, while still leaving room to sip some sweet tea on the porch.