It may be cliché to claim the South does everything big, but the maxim doesn’t just apply to hair or helpings of comfort food. If the spots on this list are any indication, Southerners just appreciate an experience that goes above and beyond what’s expected, whether it’s a dinner accompanied by singing swashbucklers or a peaceful afternoon nap that comes with its own simulated rain shower. With such grand products and services on offer, the South’s Best of Groupon bracket is tough—but we’ll find a way to deem one the greatest.
Round One Wrap-Up
Our insatiable desire to eat (or eat with) adorable animals trumped our love of fancy hats and leisurely riverboat cruises, while our hunger for adventure could be quieted by no less than a marathon four-hour spa outing. We got a little teary saying goodbye to our singing, swordfighting dinner companions, but a private island just seemed like the perfect place to stage our own South Pacific on Jet Skis-themed dinner. But will anything ever truly eclipse our love of naps? Stay tuned to find out.
Read about the most Groupon experiences in the South:
1. Attend a grown-up tea party in Buckner, KY
Sisters Tea Parlor & Boutique
Sure, kids come here to pretend to be royalty. But it’s not unusual to find grown-ups donning fancy hats, gloves, and other costume-like dress when they come for afternoon tea in this pink-hued parlor. Its whimsical mood is set by plates of finger sandwiches and tiny pastries.
2. Try salmon with a side of swashbuckling in Orlando, FL
The Three Musketeers
Dinner with jousting knights is so 1618. Dinner with singing, dancing swashbucklers, on the other hand, is a form of entertainment that apparently transcends time, if this dinner-theater production—which introduces ’80s pop tunes and aerial performers into the classic Three Musketeers story—is any indication.
3. Eat like a Brazilian cowboy in Houston, TX
Angus Grill Brazilian Churrascaria
Bring a big appetite (and maybe a cardiologist) with you to this steak house, where servers deliver a constant parade of grilled meats to your table and carve them right onto your plate. Should you have any room left, there’s also a complimentary buffet of sides.
4. Have a kangaroo for dinner in Raleigh, NC
The Butcher's Market
Kangaroo, rattlesnake, alligator, and elk are just a few of the exotic meats that might make an appearance on your plate after a shopping trip to this butcher (which is also prized for its high-quality beef and pork). If that’s not enough to make you feel secure with your position at the top of the food chain, the shop also takes requests for other hard-to-find meats.
5. Take the best bath of your life in Oklahoma City, OK
Twenty minutes of peace and quiet is pretty hard to come by in this world, but book one of this Scandinavian spa’s private baths and you’ll get all that and more. Soaking tubs are filled with herbs and other ingredients known for their soothing or beautifying properties, and there’s even an à la carte bar where you can purchase little luxuries like face masks or snacks.
6. Stop and smell the doshas in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Spa 66 at Hyatt Regency Pier 66
Spa rituals here strive to invigorate all five senses by incorporating aromatherapy, color therapy, and chakra sound meditation. Tailored to your specific dosha (energy type), the lavish four-hour Ayurvedic spa package begins with a fragrant footbath and ends with a gentle pouring of oil over the forehead.
7. Let your cares melt away in Atlanta, GA
Massages with hot stones are all well and good, but Spa Sydell truly brings the heat with its candle-wax massage. Liquid wax from a lit candle is drizzled onto your back and transforms into a hydrating soy-based massage lotion the therapist kneads into every tense nook and cranny.
8. Catch some Zs in New Orleans, LA
The Woodhouse Day Spa
The sound of snoring is music to the ears of the therapists here. Specialty massages are designed to help tired guests get some much-needed shut eye—one includes aromatherapy and Vichy rainfall that mimics the soothing sound of raindrops hitting a tin roof.
9. Walk underwater on South Padre Island, TX
Schlitterbahn Beach Resort and Waterpark
If you ever wondered what it would be like to be the tiny scuba diver at the bottom of a fish tank, dream no more! Folks who get tired of swooping down the slides at this massive indoor-outdoor water park can strap on an underwater helmet and swim in a giant tank filled with tropical fish while safely tethered from above.
10. Feel at home in Kissimmee, FL
Legacy Vacation Resorts
After a day at the happiest place on earth, you might be longing to put your feet up at home. But if home is hundreds of miles away, this resort’s condo-like accommodations are the next best thing. Two-bedroom deluxe suites feature full kitchens and dining rooms and washers and dryers.
11. Book a three—or four!—hour tour in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Jungle Queen Riverboat
You probably won’t get marooned with a millionaire and his wife on one of these dinner cruises, but you will get to peek in their living room. The riverboat powers past the homes of Millionaire’s Row on the way to its own tropical isle, where guests enjoy a barbecue dinner and variety show.
12. Eat lunch alongside a bear in Pilot Point, TX
Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch
This nonprofit exotic-animal rescue lets visitors get up close to critters such as lemurs, pot-bellied pigs, and zebras. But the real highlight is The Bear’s Den restaurant, where you can much on pizzas and salad in full view of bears eating at their very own tables in their enclosure.
13. Tour the city’s best treehouses in Birmingham, AL
Red Mountain Park
Sure, you can explore the 1,500-acre Red Mountain Park by foot, but why would you when you can take it all in from above? A canopy course travels between the park’s treehouses via ziplines, ropes courses, swaying balance bridges, rope swings, and more.
14. Ride your bike underground in Louisville, KY
Louisville Mega Cavern
Originally a limestone mine, this cavern is now home to guided tours, ziplines, ropes courses, and, most recently, an underground BMX park. Spanning 320,000 square feet and situated 100 feet below ground, the bike park has 45 trails and remains a comfortable 60 degrees year-round.
15. Save a horse, ride a camel in Lakeland, FL
Safari Wilderness Ranch
Home to zebras, water buffalo, blackbuck antelope, and many more species, this 260-acre ranch is probably the closest you’ll get to a real wildlife safari without buying a plane ticket. But perhaps even more exciting is the exotic animal you’ll be on: in addition to offering tours by truck, the ranch gives guests the option to traverse its grounds via guided camel ride.
16. Explore a private island in San Antonio, TX
Son's Island at Lake Placid
A 100-foot-long bridge is all that separates you from total tranquility at this 3.5-acre island filled with rentable cabanas and activities like jet skiing and kayaking. The entire island is even available for rent for those looking for a secluded setting for a wedding or a change of venue for their monthly book-club meeting.