The Quick 10: 10 of My Possible Road Trip Destinations

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So, I was supposed to fly to Florida in April (Easter weekend, actually) for the wedding of one of my best friends, but for multiple reasons, a few of us have decided to drive. If you were around last year at about this time, you might remember that road trips and the prospect of visiting offbeat little spots make me positively giddy. Plus, with 24 hours of driving to do (twice!), we're going to need some distractions to keep us going.

This is where you come in, dear mental_floss readers. I'm looking for quirky stops, greasy spoons and weird photo opportunities between Des Moines, Iowa, and Sarasota, Florida.

Here are the routes: Des Moines-St. Louis-Nashville-Chattanooga-Atlanta-Macon-Ocala-Sarasota on the way there.

The way home: Sarasota-Ocala-Columbus-Birmingham-Tupelo-Memphis-St. Louis-Des Moines.

I mean, we're not stopping at all of those places. It's just some of the bigger cities on our routes so you can see what we'll be near.

A few oddities that are on my radar right now:

williams1. Tennessee Williams' grave in St. Louis, Missouri.
2. The Bell Witch Cave in Adams, Tennessee, not too far outside of Nashville. The evil Bell Witch has reportedly been haunting the Adams area since at least 1817 and has inspired many movies and stories.
3. Johnny Cash's grave in Hendersonville, Tennessee, just outside Nashville. I have a feeling I'm going to have to pick between the Bell Witch and Johnny Cash, because my travel companions will probably be eager to keep going instead of hitting up 18 spots in the Nashville area. Poo.
4. The Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. I understand that it's a dry county, though, so I can't expect any free samples. Sad.

coke5. The World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. I am a hardcore Diet Coke addict. I just had a brilliant idea"¦ I'll get a bottle of Jack from Lynchburg and then mix it with Diet Coke from The World of Coca-Cola. It'll be like the purest version of my favorite alcoholic drink. (I know it won't actually taste any different, but I got a little excited nonetheless.)
6. The Whistle-Stop Café in Juliette, Georgia, between Atlanta and Florida border. This is where the café scenes for Fried Green Tomatoes were filmed. And, word is, if you visit the cemetery you'll find gravestones for the fictional Buddy Theadgood, Ruth Jamison and Frank Bennett. The latter's grave bears the inscription, "The secret was in the sauce!"
7. The Ringling Museum of the American Circus in Sarasota. It's also an art museum. Interestingly, the nearby town of Gibsonton is apparently where circus performers go for the winter and a wide variety of interesting characters can be found throughout town. There's even a short counter at the post office because the population of little people is so high.
8. The Mystery Spot in Fort Gaines, Georgia. Mystery Spots (also called Spook Hills and Gravity Spots) are a dime a dozen, but I've never been to one. In case you're not familiar, they're spots where your car will appear to roll uphill. In reality, it's an optical illusion "“ the landscape manages to make a down slope appear to be an upslope, so when you leave your car out of gear or drop a ball on the ground, they appear to roll uphill.
9. William Faulkner's grave in Oxford, Mississippi.
graceland10. Graceland in Memphis. The ultimate tacky tourist spot. This is the only spot I've gotten my road trip buddies to agree to so far, although if I'm the one driving, they aren't really going to be able to stop me from pulling over when I see one of those "places of interest" signs"¦ hmm. Something to think about.

I seem to be lacking in things to do in that long stretch of Florida between Sarasota and the border, and I just have one stop in all of Mississippi and Alabama. We're going right through Tupelo, which is where Elvis was born, but I'm not sure I can really take more than one Elvis stop per road trip.

Let me know what your suggestions are in the comments! I'll definitely be writing up an Armchair Fieldtrip or two based on this little jaunt.

February 20, 2009 - 10:32am
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