There are thousands of wonderful places to visit in the Southern USA and these ten popular attractions are some of the most popular, largest, tallest or otherwise highly ranked in the region, the nation and, in a few cases, the world.
Most Visited National Park in the United States
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Tennessee and North Carolina
Welcoming about ten million annual visitors, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited U.S. national park. Located in the North Carolina and Tennessee border, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open 24 hours every day of the year, although some roads and facilities close during the winter. The three main park entrances are in Gatlinburg and Townsend, Tennessee and Cherokee, North Carolina.
Largest Living History Museum in the United States
Portraying 18th-century Williamsburg from 1774 to 1781, Colonial Williamsburg encompasses 301 acres of living history including 88 original buildings, 225-period rooms, 500 reconstructed buildings (many on the original foundations,) a vast archaeological collection, thousands of American and English antiques and more. Part of America's Historic Triangle, Colonial Williamsburg is one of the premier destinations in the United States.
Largest Known Cave System in the World
Mammoth Cave - Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
Located in Mammoth Cave National Park, Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in the world. To date, more than 365 miles of passages have been explored, surveyed and mapped at Mammoth Cave. Subterranean geologic features include stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, travertine dams, and several types of gypsum formations. Mammoth Cave National Park attracts over 2 million annual visitors.
Tallest Brick Lighthouse in the United States
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Village of Buxton on the Outer Banks of North Carolina
Usually listed as having a height of 208 feet, recent measurements have been revised to 210.01 feet above Mean Sea Level and 198.49 feet above the separation from its old foundation to the top of the spire. The focal height of the light is 192.20 feet and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse continues to stand as the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States.
Highest Point East of the Mississippi
Mount Mitchell in Mount Mitchell State Park
At more than a mile high (6,684 feet), Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in the eastern United States. Mount Mitchell State Park, North Carolina's first state park, is located in the Black Mountains, about 33 miles north of Asheville off of the Blue Ridge Parkway mile marker #335. The 1946-acre park offers breathtaking vistas, rigorous hiking trails, limited camping, picnic areas, a summit observation platform, interpretive center, concession stand and more.
Largest House in America
Biltmore House on Biltmore Estate
Asheville, North Carolina
With approximately four acres of floor space or roughly 174,240 square feet, Biltmore House of Biltmore Estate is the largest house in America. This magnificent French Renaissance chateau contains 250 rooms complete with 65 fireplaces, 34 bedrooms, an indoor pool, a bowling alley and more. Biltmore Estate is also home to the most visited winery in the U.S.
World's Largest Piece of Exposed Granite Rock
Stone Mountain Park
Stone Mountain, Georgia
The mountain at Stone Mountain Park, at 825 feet tall and reaching 1,683 feet above sea level, is the world's largest known free-standing piece of exposed granite. Drawing more than 4-million annual visitors, Stone Mountain Park is Georgia's most popular attraction. With over 3,200 acres of park, lake, and woodlands plus more than a dozen attractions and many recreational activities, Stone Mountain offers plenty of fun for all ages.
Tallest Active Sand Dune System in the Eastern United States
Jockey's Ridge at Jockey's Ridge State Park
Nags Head, North Carolina - Outer Banks
Jockey's Ridge State Park is a fascinating 420-acre park and a recreational area where Outer Banks visitors are able to explore the highest sand dunes on the entire Atlantic coast. Consisting of three sand peaks, amounting to about 6,000,000 dump truck loads, this constantly shifting ridge is often called The Living Dune. In addition to the dunes, Jockey's Ridge includes two other ecological environments: a Maritime Thicket and the Roanoke Sound Estuary. Among other things, hang-gliding is a popular activity at Jockey's Ridge.
World's Largest Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium, located in Atlanta, opened to the public in November 2005. With more than eight million gallons of water and more aquatic life than any other aquarium, it is the largest aquarium in the world. Instantly becoming one of Atlanta's top attractions, the Georgia Aquarium was visited by more than 3.6 million people during its first year.
World's Most Popular Theme Park
The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, The Magic Kingdom at Florida's Walt Disney World continues to hold the record of the most popular theme park in the world. Find a wealth of information for Magic Kingdom visitors from the About.com Travel Guides to Florida Travel, Theme Parks, and Family Vacations.