Southeast travel destinations sports fans should check out

Kentucky Derby 5 fast facts

If you love sports and are willing to travel a bit to see an event, you’ll have your choice of several coming up in the Southeast. The events, as well as the cities in which they take place, make the following well worth a trip.

Jessica Pegula, of the United States, hits a forehand to Ekaterina Alexandrova, of Russia, during the Miami Open tennis tournament Wednesday, March 27, 2024, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP

Credit One Charleston Open

To see some of the top players in women’s tennis, including Ons Jabeur, Jessica Pegula and Madison Keys, head to Charleston, South Carolina. Through April 7, the largest women’s-only professional tournament in North America, the annual Credit One Charleston Open, attracts nearly 90,000 fans for matches and events. In addition to the matches, you can also enjoy special events such as a gospel brunch that aims to combine tennis and spiritual harmony and a “Doubles, Bubbles and Bites” experience where you’ll be wining and dining among doubles stars.

CIVIL WAR ANNIVERSARY--Ernest Parks, a re-enactor from Company I, Massachusetts 54th Regiment, salutes after tossing a wreath into Charleston Harbor toward Fort Sumter, seen in background, during commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, Tuesday, April 12, 2011.

Credit: AP Photo/Post and Courier, Wade Spees

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Credit: AP Photo/Post and Courier, Wade Spees

More to see and do

Charleston is a coastal town with a vibrant cultural and foodie scene, so you won’t have any trouble finding more fun things to do on your trip. Start by visiting the Battery and Waterfront Park, which provide views of Charleston Harbor and stately pastel-colored antebellum homes.

And if you’re a history buff, take time to explore Fort Sumter, where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired. The fort lies in Charleston Harbor and is accessible by ferry.

Kentucky Derby

Billed as the greatest 2 minutes in sports, Lexington’s Kentucky Derby celebrates its 150th anniversary May 4. And although it’s certainly the premiere horse race, the event includes a lot more than the Derby itself. Starting April 27, Derby Week will feature the Kentucky Oaks, a race for 3-year-old fillies, as well as Thurby, a celebration of what Kentucky’s famous for — bourbon, bluegrass and thoroughbred racing. You’ll also have the chance, spread out over several days, to watch Derby and Oaks horses warm up as you hear expert commentary.

More to see and do

While you’re in Lexington for the horse racing, take time to visit the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. Once home to the third-largest Shaker population in the United States, the village spans 3,000 acres where you can stay overnight in restored Shaker buildings, enjoy farm-to-table dining, meet farm animals, take a horse-drawn carriage ride and more.

The city’s Distillery District, which is home to two distilleries, is also worth a visit. You’ll also find a live music venue, coffee house, arcade and other amusements, including golf, duck-pin bowling and more in the district.

Dutch Formula One driver Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing drives during the Formula One Miami Grand Prix at the Miami International Autodrome on Sunday, May 7, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

Miami Grand Prix

With a practice session, sprint qualifying session, sprint race, main race qualifying and the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix race, you’ll have plenty of chances to see drivers navigate the unique track at Hard Rock Stadium. F1 Academy races, as well as Porsche Carrera series races, will also be held over the May 3-5 weekend, along with art presentations by local artists and live music performances.

A group of students from Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi, dance and sing as they enjoy spring break on South Beach, Friday, March 15, 2024, in Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP

More to see and do

If you love the beach, you’ll have lots of options in Miami and Miami Beach. Head to South Beach if you’re looking for a trendy destination you might recognize from movies or TV shows, or head to Mid Beach or North Beach for a more quiet atmosphere.

And Miami is, of course, known for its nightlife, giving you the chance to go salsa dancing, hear music from popular DJs or even attend a club that’s open around the clock.

Johnny "Blue Moon" Odom pitches at Rickwood Field. Several members of the 1964 Birmingham Barons team, the club's first integrated team, gathered at Rickwood Field, Tuesday, May 14, 2013, in Birmingham, Ala., for a reunion tied in with the release of the book "Southern League," about that '64 season. (Tamika Moore | tmoore@al.com) ORG XMIT: ALBIN103

Credit: Tamika Moore

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Credit: Tamika Moore

MLB game at historic Rickwood Field

The Atlanta Braves might be the hometown favorites, but if you’d like to see a special MLB game in a historic location, head to Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. The nation’s oldest professional ballpark, which was the former home of the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro League, has been renovated by Major League Baseball and will host a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants on June 20. Both teams will wear period uniforms that highlight the Negro League. In addition to the game, other activities will honor the Negro Leagues and former Black Barons player Willie Mays.

More to see and do

Check out the Birmingham Zoo, especially if you have kids with you, and see more than 500 animals from 180 species. And for an amazing view of the city, go atop the pedestal of Vulcan, a 58-foot, 50-ton cast-iron statue on a hill.

To learn about Birmingham’s African American history and place in the Civil Rights Movement, spend time exploring the six-block Civil Rights District downtown.