I’m excited to begin a series of posts about our first true 50 in 5 road trip! It’s difficult to define a theme for this trip, because we went all over the map, driving nearly 3,000 miles in one week. This post covers the first two days of the trip—in October 2019—as we explored Alabama and Mississippi, and made a second 50 in 5 stop in Tennessee.
Road trip prep
Planning our trips is a huge part of the fun for me. This trip went through many iterations, and ultimately we landed on a weeklong drive as far south as Birmingham, AL, and as far north as Madison, WI.
We rented a Chevy Cruze, and Brandon picked it up the day before the trip. I packed in one large rolling suitcase, a duffel bag, and a backpack to make switching accommodations every night a little bit easier. We packed layers of clothing, knowing that temperatures would swing more than 40 degrees during the trip.
Last, but not least, we brought along a case of water bottles and I filled a banker box with snacks to cut down on unnecessary stops along the way. I had this idea for our trip to Washington, D.C., and carried it over to the road trip a week later.
Day 1: Home to Birmingham
We left home and drove four hours straight to Duluth, GA, for our first stop to grab lunch at Tin Lizzy’s. From there, it was another two and a half hours to Birmingham. We checked into the downtown Fairfield Inn & Suites and debated what to do with the rest of our afternoon for far too long. We decided to drive around town to check out some murals, and ended up at Vulcan Park—a gorgeous spot to watch the sun set.
My boss, who used to live in Birmingham, crowdsourced her local friends and found a great dinner recommendation for us: Automatic Seafood. We enjoyed drinks at the bar while we waited for our table (very out of character for me, hah!), then ate fresh Gulf seafood.
Day 2: Birmingham to Memphis
The Neon Pig’s famous smash burger ingredients: a ‘house grind’ mix of bacon, filet, ribeye, sirloin, and New York strip; bacon bits; cheddar cheese; quick pickles; pickled onion; hoisin sauce; comeback sauce; and a ciabatta bun. 😯 Brandon loved it. It was a little too messy for me! 😂
We arrived in Memphis late in the afternoon and headed straight for Sun Studio, “the Birthplace of Rock ‘N’ Roll.” I added this to our itinerary for Brandon, but we both loved the tour. It was fascinating to learn about the history of the recording studio, and to see where some amazing musicians—from Elvis to Johnny Cash—recorded their hit records. After tours end each day, you can reserve studio time to record your own music; something I’m pretty sure is now on Brandon’s bucket list. I didn’t make this Sun Studio Spotify playlist, but it’s a good one!
After checking into our hotel for the evening, we rented scooters and rode along the Mississippi River waterfront for a good half hour before a torrential downpour began. The rain was bad… the kind where you can barely inch along the road because the visibility is so poor. We slowly made our way over to Central BBQ for a Memphis-style barbecue feast, and by the time we were finished filling up on pulled pork, ribs, banana pudding, and more, the rain had lightened up and we were able to enjoy a stress-free drive back to our hotel.
We’ve now been to Tennessee several times during 50 in 5, but there’s still so much I’d love to see in that state! Brandon spent the first several years of his life in a small town near Memphis, and on a future trip I’d love to see his old home(s). We’ve been to east Tennessee and west Tennessee, but have somehow skipped over Nashville in the middle. I hope to take a full week to explore Music City someday.