Juiciest Festival: Hope Watermelon Festival
Located in: Hope, Arkansas
Why you should go: You could say that Hope, Arkansas, is hallowed ground for watermelon lovers. Local farmers have grown world-record melons in the past, the most recent being a 268.8-pounder that sprung up in 2005. So it makes sense that residents have honored the sweet fruit with a festival whose roots go back to the 1920s. This year the event takes place August 8 to 10 and promises to offer a real slice of summer fun: You can sample deep-fried alligator, go the distance in the seed-spitting event, or catch government officials—even Arkansas governor Mike Beebe—competing in the Politically Correct Watermelon Eating Contest. (No admission fee, but parking is $3; check the website for daily hours; hopemelonfest.com.)
Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express, in Hope (from $120 per night, including breakfast; hiexpress.com).