Although long-haul trucking is all about making it to your road destination quickly and safely, you may as well take advantage of required breaks to see the USA from your big rig. Because Nashville is the center of our universe, we’ve put together a couple driver-friendly tour guides to help you make the most of your down time. There’s a lot more to the Southern Interstate than Pilot and Love’s. Stay healthy and happy on the road.
Nashville to Mobile via I-65 S
Alabama Welcome Center
In our book, Alabama boasts the best welcome center in the country. You can’t miss it: a gigantic rocket marks the spot. As you head south into Alabama from Tennessee, be sure to take a gander at a Saturn IB rocket, which powered orbital missions with the Apollo spacecraft. It’s a predecessor of the Saturn V rocket with took American astronauts to the moon. While you’re stretching your legs, be sure to visit the Korean and Vietnam Veterans Memorials.
Ave Maria Grotto
About 50 miles north of Birmingham lies one monk’s strange work of art, the Ave Maria Grotto. More popularly known as the “Jerusalem in Miniature,” the Ave Maria Grotto is right off the interstate on a meticulously landscaped 4-acre park that houses 125 miniature reproductions of world-famous religious sites, buildings, and shrines. These tiny masterpieces made of stone and concrete are the life’s work of Benedictine monk, Brother Joseph Zoettl. Born in 1878, Brother Joseph used found materials (such as marble crushed in a nearby train wreck) to painstakingly construct his creations over a period of more than 80 years.
Visit the Vulcan (and his Ladies Liberty and Electra)
When you hit Birmingham, take note of Vulcan as he overlooks the heart of downtown. The 56-foot-tall statue is the world’s largest cast iron statue and is the largest ever erected in the United States. Commissioned for the 1904 World’s Fair, Alabama’s Vulcan once had blue overalls painted on to cover his partial nudity and his spear was once replaced with a bottle of Coca-Cola. He now rests on Red Mountain, the site from which his body’s iron ore was once mined. Locals joke that Vulcan is dating Electra, who is proudly (and appropriately) perched atop the Alabama Power Building and gal pal Lady Liberty can be found in Liberty Park.
Mobile Medical Curiosities
If you’ve reached the end of your line and you have a little time on your hands, and medical oddities are your cup of tea, then the Mobile Medical Museum should be right up your creepy alley. The museum has an impressive collection of more than 5000 artifacts and documents from the past 300 years of medical history and paints a vivid picture of the history of modern medicine.
Nashville to Tampa via 75 S
See Rock City
You’ve seen the signs countless times, but have you ever really seen Rock City? Just over the Tennessee border, moments away from Chattanooga, you’ll find the majestic and fabled Lookout Mountains. Gigantic ancient rock outcroppings create amazing panoramic views of Tennessee and Georgia. You’re never getting your rig up the mountain, so rely on Lyft for this one.
Grab a Coke
If you find yourself in Atlanta, grab an ice-cold Coca-Cola and snap a picture of the city’s “spectacular.” (That’s what Coke calls those huge signs that proclaim the soft drink’s world dominance.) Here’s what the company has to say about Atlanta’s spectacular, “In May 2003, a Coca-Cola neon spectacular was added to the skyline of downtown Atlanta, GA. The retro sign replaced a series of Coke signs in Atlanta for nearly 50 years. The Atlanta sign features the Coca-Cola script, the time and temperature, and more than a mile of red neon. More than 25,000 feet of wiring keep the sign running — that’s longer than 80 football fields.”
Tip Your Hat to the “Big Daddy”
You’ve made it to the land of gators so pay homage one of America’s toughest and most iconic racing legends, “Big Daddy” Don Garlits. While you’re busy counting the miles, Garlits lives life quarter-mile at a time.The fearless Garlits, the father of modern drag racing, was the first racer to officially exceed the 170, 180, 200, 240, 250, and 270 miles per hour marks in the quarter mile. The Don Garlits Museum is in Ocala, right off of 75.
Speaking of Tough Guys…
Congratulations, you’ve made it to Tampa! While you’re in town, celebrate Babe’s Longest Homer. According to the historical marker, located at 401 W. JFK Boulevard, Babe hit a record-setting 587-fool home run while playing for the Boston Red Sox in a preseason game at Tampa’s Plant Field on April 4, 1919.
Check in soon for more great route stops! To apply for a truck driving job, visit the Beacon Transport website.