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It’s all about soul... smell the cornbread, hear the blues in Tennessee and the sound of jazz in Louisiana. Jazz and the blues bring the French Quarter in New Orleans to life along the famous Bourbon Street and oh that Creole and Cajun cuisine thrills the senses. Memphis and Nashville are at the heart of the US music scene. These cities ooze with music and amazing history and you can’t help but get absorbed by it. You won’t have trouble finding things to see and do in charming Georgia. There’s the buzzing state capital Atlanta for your big city fix. Then there’s scenic farmland and forests taking you to incredibly historic towns and villages.
New Orleans is a true melting pot of cultures and has an absolutely enchanting atmosphere. One of the best ways to explore the city is to stroll the streets of neighbourhoods like the French Quarter in the heart of New Orleans where you’ll find an architectural mix of Spanish, French, Creole and American influences; and the Garden District, filled with fountains and Greek-influenced architecture.
US Highway 61, known as the ‘Blues Highway,’ rivals Route 66 as one of the most famous road trips in America. Taking this journey through Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee will have you learning about some significant US history, experiencing amazing live music, feasting on superb local cuisine and retracing the steps of some of your musical heroes.
In Memphis, Beale Street throbs with music and you’ve got to visit B.B. King’s Blues Club, named after the beloved guitarist who started here. Tour Graceland, get stuck into the local delicacy (barbecue ribs!!) and be fascinated by the history. You can’t miss the National Civil Rights Museum, the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
Nashville, has a charming mix of musical, historical and cultural flavours. Known as the capital of country music, the city is bursting with live music venues and a must is a visit to a bar on Honky Tonk Row. Also check out Bicentennial Park’s 19 acres of cool features, like a 200 foot granite map of the state.
Famous for being the home of Martin Luther King Jr, Coca-Cola and CNN. Atlanta also has a thriving arts scene with museums, music venues, theatre and galleries – including the acclaimed High Museum of Art. Sport is also very popular so depending on the season you could catch a Braves baseball game, a Falcons NFL game or Hawkes basketball game.
Established in 1733, this is one of Georgia’s oldest and prettiest cities. There are antebellum mansions, intricate ironwork and of course plenty of Southern charm and hospitality. Wander down River Street, with its old cotton warehouses now housing antique shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants. If you’ve had your fill of history, then check out the vibrant City Market, a great place to head, in the evening for dinner and nightlife.
No city has played a greater role in the history of Alabama than Montgomery. From the Civil War to Civil Rights, it is steeped in fascinating history. The State Capitol is where, in 1861, the breakaway Confederate States of America were born, resulting in the American Civil War. It is also the city in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others began laying the foundation for much of the Civil Rights movement.
This is Alabama’s biggest city and also very famous for its role in the Civil Rights Movement. Check out Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of vintage motorcycles. In the evening hear live music in the many entertainment districts or visit any of the rooftop bars located in downtown.
Within an hour’s drive of the city you can see a number of beautiful plantation homes. Some of the most famous ones are Laura Plantation, a creole style home with a fascinating family history and Oak Alley Plantation, this stunning mansion is in a very picturesque location at the end of an oak lined drive.
This museum is consistently rated as the top thing to do in New Orleans and is an incredible interactive museum.
Head out to the nearby swampland (bayou) where you’ll go by boat into the bayou. Cruise along checking out the wildlife (including alligators) and flora and hear about the Cajun history.
This famous country music venue has concerts that are broadcast as a live radio show and is a must! The radio show has been going for 90 years and each show consists of an Opry member and guest artists performing – they play about three to four songs each. You can even do backstage tours.
You’ll know about this place if you’ve seen the TV show Nashville. It’s a venue in the suburbs where they have up and coming artists from all around the US perform their own songs. This is where Taylor Swift was discovered as a 15 year old. Check their website for tickets.
Tootsies Orchid Lounge and Layla’s are two great ones to try for live music. If you want to try some line dancing then Wild Horse Saloon is the place for you.
Jack Daniels Distillery – About 1.5 hours from Nashville is the Jack Daniels Distillery. Here you can do a guided tour and hear the complete story of their whiskey and their founder Mr Jack.
Step inside Graceland Mansion and follow in the steps of Elvis. See where he lived, relaxed and spent time with his friends and family. Wander around his impressive collection of classic cars and memorabilia.
Memphis has a very rich history in the civil rights movement and is where Dr Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The actual motel where this happened is now part of this excellent museum. It takes you on a historical journey through slavery, the civil war and into more modern history such as the Rosa Parks bus boycott, the freedom rides in 1961 and the student sit ins of the 1960s
As churches were the birthplace of soul the tour starts in a church that has been reassembled inside the museum. There’s a great video that gives insights into how things were when Stax Studios was formed and the huge impact Stax had on soul music.
Memphis is home to more than 100 BBQ restaurants so finding the local delicacy will not be an issue. The question is whether you like your BBQ wet or dry, slab or pulled, hot, mild, tangy or sweet? Charlie Vergos Restaurant has been making their BBQ since 1948 and are still going strong, it’s a great place to try.
Here's a taste of some of our favourite hotels and resort in The South.
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Are you planning your next trip to The South? Want to learn more about this destination? Or looking for ideas and inspiration for your next holiday? Here is where you can find our featured articles on The South.
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