The Best Road Stops Along Dixie Overland Highway
Drive the former auto trail from Savannah, to Jackson, and to El Paso
The Dixie Overland Highway, which is essentially U.S. Route 80 or U.S. Highway 80, actually predates the official U.S. Numbered Highway Association! The Dixie Overland Highway, meant to be a route between Savannah and San Diego as an ocean-to-ocean drive that could be done year-round, was incorporated in 1914, and U.S. Route 80 was established in the 1920s. Today, only the portion between Savannah and El Paso is truly intact, but driving the bit that remains is still a great trip: you get to see Selma, Montgomery, Jackson, and large portions of Texas. Besides, the idea of a coast-to-coast road trip through America’s lovely Southern half is still an incredibly appealing adventure!
Tybee Island, Georgia, United States
Ahh, the beach! Exploring the quiet little vacation town of Tybee Island, Georgia can be incredibly relaxing. There’s the historic lighthouse (don’t bother asking the docent if you can see Sandra Bullock’s house from up here, they won’t tell you), seafood and dining options (stop by The Breakfast Club for a bowl of grits to start your day!) and, of course, the ocean!
A stroll through Savannah’s Forsyth Park, with its regal fountains, vintage gaslights, and trees dripping Spanish moss, will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The park itself has also played roles in movies like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and, of course, Forrest Gump. No, the bench that Forrest sits on isn’t here anymore, but you can still enjoy a box of chocolates once you’re done walking around!
Joe’s Handmade Cafe
The food at Joe’s Homemade Cafe isn’t too fancy, but it’s all done right. The sandwiches, paninis and salads are all outstanding, but you really must save room for dessert – the croissant bread pudding and lemon cheesecake are irresistible. It’ll put you in a good mood, and fill you up for your drive down U.S. 80, and that’s what matters!
Brisket, ribs, sweet potato soufflé, fried green tomatoes, okra… do you need any more convincing to stop off the highway here at Jomax BBQ for dinner?
The Dublin Farm
Eventually, you’ll need a place to tuck in for the night. The Dublin Farm is a romantic retreat located on a working horse farm in the tiny town of Dublin, so you know it’s the real deal. The quaint but bright rooms offer views of the fields, and since one of the owners is from Italy, you can relax and enjoy a home-cooked meal.
Route 80 will take you through the quaint town of Macon, GA. The Rookery is a local gem that has a friendly atmosphere, good milkshakes (try the peach shake), better burgers (any place with a hamburger named after an Outkast album is alright in my book), and the best brunch in town – they have an omelet with bacon and pimento cheese in it!
The Allman Brothers Band Museum
The Big House Museum (also known as the Allman Brothers Band Museum) truly is a museum in a big house. Seriously, with 18 rooms, it’s no wonder people often call it “The Big House Museum.” It was where the members of the Allman Brothers Band and their families lived between 1970 and 1973. It’s been turned into a loving tribute to the band, and houses the largest collection of Allman Brothers Band memorabilia in the world! Pick up an album – their music is great for road tripping!
Grave of the Georgia Werewolf
U.S. 80 is basically a tour through the South, and the South is a place filled with fascinating legends and mysterious lore. Get a sample of one of Georgia’s mysterious tall tales at the Owen Holmes Cemetery, home of the Georgia Werewolf. As the story goes, a werewolf woman named Isabella Burt may or may not be buried here. Don’t worry – she only killed a few sheep before she was sent to a lycanthropy expert in Paris who cured her!
National Civil War Naval Museum
As you make your way through Georgia, you’ll no doubt encounter tons of Civil War history. Between huge battles like Gettysburg and Vicksburg, it can be easy to forget that a lot of the Civil War was fought on the water – and with brand-new ironclad ships and other technological developments, it was a super interesting time for naval warships. Here at the National Civil War Naval Museum, you can see the CSS Jackson, the largest remaining Confederate warship, plus the remains of some other boats and great replicas of more notable ships. Ahoy!
Keep the 19th century vibes going with a trip to Toomer’s Drugs. This old-school drugstore has been open since 1896! This place is a favorite with Auburn students, and it’s not hard to see why – they sell all kinds of souvenirs, plus tasty sandwiches and ice cream. They’re most famous for their fresh-squeezed lemonade! Nothing beats fresh-squeezed lemonade while exploring a quaint little Southern town!
Crenshaw Guest House
Staying in a cottage at Crenshaw Guest House, a quaint downtown B&B, makes it super easy to explore the adorable college town of Auburn! Relax on the porch with a drink and soak up the Southern comfort of this lovely getaway.
Montgomery, Alabama, United States
After you leave Auburn, Route 80 will take you to Montgomery, AL. There’s tons of great attractions and activities to choose from in Montgomery! From the Civil Rights Memorial Center and the Rosa Parks Museum to the Hank Williams Museum and the Alabama State Capitol, the city is rich with history. And if you find yourself working up an appetite while visiting, you can’t go wrong with Chris’s Hot Dogs, which has been serving up diner staples to locals and celebs like FDR, Truman, MLK, Jr., Rosa Parks, Elvis, and Whoopi Goldberg for almost 100 years!
Old Cahawba Archaeological Park
It’s hard to believe that the rickety ghost town of Cahawba was once the capital of Alabama! It used to boast 3,000 citizens… but massive floods in the mid-19th century forced the state government to finally move their operations to a city that was a little safer, and eventually the town was simply abandoned. It’s pretty well preserved and is an archaeological and historical site, so take some time to wander amongst the ruins.
Selma, Alabama, United States
Highway 80 then rolls into Selma, AL. Another city rich with history, it’s most famous for the role it played in the Civil Rights Movement. Check out the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where the famous marches from Selma to Montgomery were led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There’s also a great Voting Rights Museum, and the Selma Interpretive Center can shed even more light on the role this little town played during the Civil Rights Movement. And Side Porch Sandwiches is located in their cute little downtown area near the bridge for when you need to grab a bite to eat!
Gaineswood Plantation, a former cotton plantation, is one of the grandest in all of Alabama, and it’s been restored and opened to visitors.
Causeyville General Store
The stores and mills in the historic district of Meridian, MS aren’t always open, but it’s neat to walk around. Entering the Causeyville General Store is like stepping back in time! You’ll find a little museum and stone grist mill here… and the old buildings make for great picture-taking!
Next stop on U.S. 80: Jackson, MS! It’s home to the seriously-cool Walker’s Drive-In; the vintage diner vibes and the bistro-style menu (think, veal and white truffle risotto) mean you can enjoy the old-school atmosphere with modern cuisine. It’s the best of both worlds!
Jackson, Mississippi, United States
Besides awesome food, there are plenty of sights to see in Jackson, too. The Medgar Evers Home Historic Site, the Eudora Welty House, and the Mississippi Museum of Art are all unique spots to check out while in town.
Vicksburg National Military Park
The Confederate loss during the crucial Civil War battle at Vicksburg was brutal on both armies, but it was also a turning point in the war. Check out the USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum, stroll through the solemn cemetery, and explore the exhibits at the visitor center to learn even more about this important battlefield.
The Duff Green Mansion
Once again, there are no shortage of adorable places to spend the night along Route 80. The Duff Green Mansion, a gorgeous bed and breakfast, is dripping with history – as they put it, “A visit to the Duff Green Mansion reveals bloodstained floors, the site of the family’s Civil War cave and the details of a rich history of Vicksburg before, during, and after the siege. A few visitors have even seen and experienced the ghosts of a Confederate soldier and Little Annie Green who died at age six.” History buffs will definitely want to book a stay here!
Haskells Donuts is a local chain that’s super popular for a reason! Hot, fresh donuts and other delectable pastries, as well as coffee and great service make this place a must-visit. Perfect for refueling before hitting the road again!
Bonnie & Clyde Ambush/Death Site Memorial
There’s no denying the romance of Bonnie and Clyde, America’s most notorious outlaw couple – leaving your tough life behind to become a glamorous bank robber with your lover is pretty exciting, but let’s not forget what ultimately happened to the pair: they were killed in a shootout with police on this backroad in the middle of nowhere, Louisiana. Route 80 passes near where they made their final stand, and you can pay tribute to the notorious, doomed lovers at the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush/Death Site Memorial.
Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum
The Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum is classic roadside kitsch, but they have an awesome display of artifacts from Bonnie and Clyde’s life, and do a good job of explaining the outlaw couple’s real life story to visitors.
Shreveport, Louisiana, United States
Highway 80 then heads into Shreveport, LA. From Sci-Port to the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, there are plenty of attractions to explore here, but if you have the time, get a little lost exploring the small towns and winding backroads of the Boom or Bust Scenic Byway!
Strawn’s Eat Shop
Strawn’s Eat Shop has been serving up classic diner fare to the people of Shreveport since the 1940’s. Not much has changed… which is a good thing! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as they say. They make a particularly great breakfast, and they’re famous for their strawberry pie.
If you’re more in the mood for seafood than breakfast, then you should check out Herby K’s. Gumbo, po’ boys and catfish are all standouts at this old-school, family-run joint.
Even though Dudley’s Cafe is in Texas, this place knows how to cook some exceptionally good Cajun food. From the fried rolls to the etouffee to the banana pudding, it’s like Mardi Gras in your mouth!
The Salt Palace
The little town of Grand Saline, Texas is best known for their massive salt dome that’s been providing people with seasoning since the Civil War – and there’s still tons left to mine from the lode. So, of course they’ve used some of the salt to build a museum entirely from blocks of the mineral! You can learn all about salt mining throughout history at The Salt Palace… and take home a sample crystal. Just… don’t lick the walls, as tempting as it might be.
Celebrate your arrival in Dallas at the Truck Yard. This adult playground has treehouses, picnic tables illuminated by whimsical strands of lights, bars built into vintage Airstreams, and a rotating roster of food trucks serving up all kinds of tasty food. This is a perfect little slice of Texas-style heaven.
Dallas, Texas, United States
Take a break from cruising Highway 80 in Dallas! Eat some BBQ at Pecan Lodge, explore the Dallas Heritage Village, check out the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, or just enjoy the Texan vibes of this Lone Star City.
The Joule Hotel
The Joule is a sexy boutique hotel that was built into a stunning 1927 building. It has a collection of totally rad artwork, features luxuriously-appointed rooms and the dining options include several chic restaurants, but the real reason to stay here is the rooftop pool that extends out over the top of the building, letting you swim over the edge of the roof!
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
One of the most important events in recent world history – the assassination of JFK – happened right here in Dallas…and the sixth floor of this old warehouse, from where Lee Harvey Oswald fatally shot the President, has been turned into a museum dedicated to the day and the aftermath. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza gives you a rare view of the world-history-changing event. Bonus points if you visit the nearby Grassy Knoll as well!
Fort Worth, Texas
Not too far from Dallas is the city of Forth Worth. Explore the Stockyards Station for a cool blend of Fort Worth’s past as a place where cattle ranchers brought their goods to be shipped across the country, and its present as a bustling Texas metropolis. It’s got shopping, dining, historic walking tours, and, yes… live steer.
Historic Sinclair Gas Station
Don’t count on getting any gas here at this Historic Sinclair Gas Station, but this old-school relic of the days of road trips past has been lovingly restored and maintained. Pull up your ride for a picture in front!
Natty Flat Smokehouse and Gift Shop
Some of the country’s best hidden gems are seemingly located in the middle of nowhere, like Natty Flat Smokehouse, but it’s worth stopping by for a bite to eat. Ribs, sausage and brisket are their specialties here, and they make ridiculously good pies and banana pudding, too!
Roaring Ranger Oil Boom Museum
One of the first oil fields in Texas was in the little town of Ranger. Their vintage train station has been converted into the Roaring Ranger Oil Boom Museum, all about the brief oil boom and Texas’s fascinating history with searching for black gold.
Buffalo Gap Historic Village
There are roughly 15 original buildings that were built between the 1880’s and 1920’s which have been moved to Buffalo Gap Historic Village. There’s a schoolhouse, a gas station, a blacksmith shop, a courthouse, a chapel, and tons more. Stroll around and take the audio tour to learn all about small town Texas back in the day!
National Wasp WWII Museum
We love that the National Wasp WWII Museum is dedicated to the unsung heroes of World War II: women aviators, also known as WASPs. You’ll get a sense of the unique experience of being a female pilot during the 1940s… and you probably will want to spend a ton of time reading each and every historical display and plaque here!
George W. Bush Childhood Home
A visit to George W. Bush’s childhood home will teach you all about not just one US President, but two! George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush. It’s been recreated to look as though it did when ‘Dubyah’ was a kid, back in the 1950’s, before his dad became President.
The Legendary Barn Door Steakhouse
Any restaurant that gives you a giant block of cheddar cheese to go with your pre-meal bread basket is alright by me, and you’ll get just that at the Legendary Barn Door Steakhouse. Order the garlic crusted steak bits, made with perfectly seasoned sirloin tips!
Barr Ranch Retreat
Barr Ranch Retreat is a massive, working cattle ranch that has been around since 1906, and you can stay in the cozy guesthouse! There’s a fire pit for barbecuing, a screened-in porch with a view of the pond, and a rustic Texas atmosphere.
Balmorhea State Park
Welcome to the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool, at Balmorhea State Park! Everything really is bigger in Texas: the pool is nearly 2 acres big and can hold over 3 million gallons of fresh, spring water. Bring your scuba gear, or practice your flips off the diving board!
Wyler Aerial Tramway
You’ve experienced tons of different landscapes along the Dixie Overland Highway: beaches, swamps, forests, small towns, big cities… and so you should take a moment to enjoy the gorgeous desert scenery outside El Paso from the Wyler Aerial Tramway!
Crave Kitchen & Bar
Crave Kitchen and Bar serves up classic American fare… with an El Paso twist! Think green chile mac and cheese, sweet potato waffle fries, and chicken biscuits.
El Paso, Texas, United States
El Paso is a town rich with culture and history, and since U.S. Route 80 proper ends here, take some time to explore. There’s the El Paso Museum of Art, the El Paso Zoo, the El Paso Museum of History, as well as interesting attractions like the outsider art mecca Casa De Azucar, and the lovely Chihuahuan Desert Gardens.
Since the basic idea of the Dixie Overland Highway was to be able to drive from one coast to another any time of the year, there’s no bad time to take a road trip along the route. Of course, summers in Texas can be brutal, and the spring often brings rain, but really, it’s a fabulous drive any time of the year!
Did we miss skip over any must-see attractions along the Dixie Overland Highway? Share your favorite U.S. 80 pit stop with us on Twitter.
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