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The 50 Best Things to Do this Summer in All 50 States: The Southeast

Summer is coming, and with it comes tons of great summer events. Every state has more than enough to do, but what can you absolutely not miss? We’ve collected iconic, quirky, and just plain fun things to do this summer from every state. Here, the best of the best in every state in the Southeast.

Where? Tupelo, Mississippi
What? Tupelo Elvis Festival
When? June 4th-7th
Why Go? Tupelo is proud to be the birthplace of The King, Elvis Presley. To show it, they host an annual festival in his honor, with musicians from around the nation competing in the ultimate Elvis tribute artist contest and an extensive movie poster exhibit. From $15. tupeloelvisfestival.com.

Where? Danville, Kentucky
What? Great American Brass Band Festival
When? June 4th-7th
Why Go? This year’s theme of the Great American Brass Band Festival is “Brass Greats in American Jazz”—brass with a jazzy twist. The event is held downtown, on the lawn of local Centre College. Expect parades, picnics—and a lot of high-quality jazz, of course. Free to attend. gabbf.org.

Tallassee Now! Awards Photo courtesy of Tallassee Now!

Tallassee Now! Awards
Photo courtesy of Tallassee Now!

Where? Tallassee, Alabama
What? Tallassee Now! BBQ Festival
When? June 5th-6th
Why Go? This barbecue festival includes a cook-off, car show, live music, a 5k run, local artists showcasing art, and tours of the Confederate Armory. Come for the killer food, the rides, the tunes, the exercise, the history, and the culture—no matter what your reason, you’re sure to find something to latch onto. Free to attend. tallasseechamber.com.

Where? Chattanooga, Tennessee
What? Riverbend Festival
When? June 5th-13th
Why Go? This top-tier country and rock festival is never-ending fun. Seriously: at 9 nights, Riverbend—named for the bend in the Tennessee River it lays in—goes for broke. With headliners like 3 Doors Down, Hunter Hayes, and Gregg Allman, Riverbend doesn’t skimp on talent. What do they keep cheap? Ticket prices. From $39 for all 9 days. riverbendfestival.com.

New Orleans_Stephen Kennedy

New Orleans’s International Beer Fest
Photo by flickr/Stephen Kennedy

Where? New Orleans, Louisiana
What? International Beer Festival
When? June 6th
Why Go? Kick back in the new cider garden, listen to a beer seminar, and eat great food at the International Beer Fest. Most importantly, take advantage of the unlimited samples of craft beers from around the world. $40 per person. neworleansinternationalbeerfest.com.

Where? Durham, North Carolina
What? American Dance Festival
When? June 11th-July 25th
Why Go? The New York Post called this month-long festival the “world’s greatest.” With performances of all types all around Durham, as well as dance education and summer camps, it’s certainly got a lot to offer. The variety of acts ranges from small performance pieces (“Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host”) to bigger shows (“Ballet Folklórico Cutumba”). Ticket prices vary by event. americandancefestival.org.

Where? Ozark, Arkansas
What? Thunder on the Mountain Music Festival
When? June 26th-28th
Why Go? Only in it’s second year, Thunder on the Mountain is a three-day country music event to be reckoned with. It lives on 600 acres of hills and national forest, and has a killer lineup of musical acts, which includes favorites like Carrie Underwood and Zac Brown Band. There’s also an abundance of outdoor activities, like fishing. From $79 per day. thunderonthemountain.com.

Where? Ripley, West Virginia
What? Mountain State Arts & Craft Fair
When? July 2nd-4th
Why Go? The Mountain State Arts & Craft Fair is West Virginia’s oldest heritage fair. Hundreds of artists showcase their work to the tune of Appalachian music, and traditional Appalachian foods and heritage exhibits are available and on display. $7 to attend. msacf.com.

Where? Clarkesville, Virginia
What? Virginia Lake Festival
When? July 16th-18th
Why Go? This lake festival has a little of everything, like sand sculptures, live music, food samples, antique cars, and even hot-air balloons. For those who dare, you can also hop into a helicopter and see the action from above. Free to attend. clarksvilleva.com.

Where? Macon, Georgia
What? Macon Film Festival
When? July 16th-19th
Why Go? This festival celebrates independent films against the iconic backdrop of the historic heartland. It showcases filmmakers from all around the world, with screenings held in Macon’s historic theaters. From $25 per day. maconfilmfestival.com.

Watermelon Photo by Lori Bee (flickr.com/photos/beerealty

Photo by flickr/Lori Bee

Where? Pageland, South Carolina
What? Pageland Watermelon Festival
When? July 17th-18th
Why Go? This melon-centric fest will quench your thirst on these hot July days. Join in on watermelon eating and seed spitting contests, and savor all sorts of watermelon-themed foods and beverages. Special activities are available for the kids, and older festivalgoers can take in rodeo shows, live music, and strolls around the old-fashioned styled grounds. There’s a reason Pageland is known as the watermelon capital of the world. Free to attend. pagelandwatermelonfestival.com.

Anime cosplay Photo by Ricardo 清介 八木 (flickr.com/photos/riyagi)

Anime cosplay
Photo by flickr/Ricardo 清介 八木

Where? Orlando, Florida
What? Anime Festival Orlando
When? August 15th-16th
Why Go? This weekend celebration of Japanese anime is a must-see for the cosplay costumes, which will net one crafty winner a $1000 prize. From $55. animefestivalorlando.com.

Check out our picks for the best things to do in the Northeast, Southwest, Midwest, and West

Top photo by Photo by flickr/Don Gunn