The South so unique it could be a different country
14 Nights From €1519 (Per Person)
Fly Drive Holidays
Atlanta (Georgia) - Nashville (Tennessee) - Memphis (Tennessee) - Natchez (Mississippi) - Lafayette (Louisiana) - New Orleans (Louisiana) - Mobile (Alabama)- Montgomery(Alabama) - Atlanta (Georgia)
Ever tasted a praline? Yum. Pecans, caramel and chocolate. How about grits? With syrup or cheese, maybe? Fried chicken, hominy, barbeque, Brunswick stew, cornbread, these are all foods treasured by America’s most unique region. The South is so different from much of the United States that it could be its own country. And once thought it was. But that’s another whole story!
It’s not just the foodways that are so different here from the rest of America. The Southern “drawl” is unique to the region. Landscapes, lush gardens, art, architecture and the temperature are also distinct. The fact that there are regional differences between the states also makes the region more intriguing. Barbeque in North Carolina is different from barbeque in Louisiana. Catfish is different in Alabama than in Virginia. Even more interesting is that even though there is a “Southern” culture, the south is not a monolith. Each state has its own personality.
The perfect place to start your trip through the south is the vibrant New South city of Atlanta, punctuated with lots of public art and great gardens. You’ll be able to contrast it to the rural back roads of Mississippi and Louisiana, the Alabama coast, the palm trees of Florida and the Appalachian Mountains further north. Even though all your destinations were once Confederate States of America, there are regional differences. Natchez, Birmingham and Jackson are in the true heart of gentility. Memphis and Nashville are more renowned for their music than anything else. The Louisianians are “Cajun,” of French descent, originally from Acadian Canada. In Virginia, more people are of English decent than in New England. What’s most interesting is that in many places the Old South has blended seamlessly with the New South. Vibrant contemporary buildings stand proudly with antebellum mansions where you’d almost expect Scarlett O’Hara to glide down the steps between the white columns. Many are surrounded by lush flowering gardens that grow effortlessly in the warm sun. Few people know that combining African banjo with the fiddle pickin’ of the Southern Scots-Irish created the foundation for every form of popular music we know today: jazz, blues, rock, soul, rap, country, cajun and religious. Tap your feet and clap your hands and celebrate whenever you have the chance.
And that’s what you need to do everywhere. Plan to enjoy and plan for an adventure. Never be fooled by the pace. The region is full of life no matter what the temperature. You’ll find the hospitality rages as folks regale you with stories of their lives and history. You’ll be left wondering how they survived it all. Who knows what you could discover yourself!
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Day 1: Arrive Atlanta
Welcome to Atlanta, capital of the New South. The impressive gold dome of the Georgia state capital presides over the fastest growing center for hip young professionals and multicultural residents in the country. You can still find glimpses of the Old South, but here, they’re intertwined with sophisticated shopping, great museums, the CNN Center, the Olympic complex and major league sports. Take the Inside CNN Atlanta Studio Tour, explore a bit of Buckhead and try some of the great food the south is famous for.
Day 2: Explore Atlanta
The must sees for today include the High Museum of Art, Atlanta History Center and World of Coca-Cola. The High’s light-filled contemporary galleries make the building as spectacular as its contents. True to form, the Atlanta History Center is housed in an 1845 plantation. The Georgia Aquarium, shaped like a ship, features aquatic life particular to the state coupled with beluga whales and whale sharks. Centennial Olympic Park was created for the 1996 Olympic Games. For history buffs, there’s the Margaret Mitchell house where she wrote Gone with the Wind. Underground Atlanta still has great shopping and trendy restaurants.
Day 3: Atlanta to Nashville
Chattanooga is a must stop between Atlanta and Nashville. Bandleader Glenn Miller put the city on the map with Chattanooga Choo Choo, the first million-selling hit to be given a gold record. Other firsts in Chattanooga include the mile-long Incline, the world’s steepest passenger railway, 145 foot high Ruby Falls, the nation’s longest underground cascade and the Walnut Street Bridge, America’s longest pedestrian span. Moon Pies and Little Debbie cakes made their debut here too.
Day 4: Explore Nashville
Even though country music started in southwestern Virginia and Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings once tried to take it to Austin, Texas, Nashville has been the Capital of Country Music since 1925 when the Grand Old Opry began as a barn dance in the studios of WSM Radio. The must sees in Nashville include the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Historic RCA Studio B, Ryman Auditorium, (longtime home of the Opry) and the Second Avenue Historic District. Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is the only remaining honky tonk on Lower Broadway. Authentic Nashville sound can still be heard in Printer’s Alley.
Day 5: Nashville to Memphis
Plan to dash across the 200 miles that separate Nashville and Memphis and spend your time getting to know Tennessee’s largest city. Your first stop has to be Beale Street. The complete two block restoration coupled with the new baseball stadium has the area jumping. By early evening, live music and food are available all up and down the street. Hard core Elvis fans will want to visit Graceland, although the house itself is not historic. Get some great southern food before you retire for the evening.
Day 6: Explore Memphis
If there’s music in your blood, visit the Center for Southern Folklore and Cafe, a microcosm of music lore and exhibits related to music in Memphis and the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian. Sun Studio, where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and B. B. King recorded is “The Birthplace of Rock and Roll.” Memphis’ newest museum, Soulsville: Stax Museum of American Soul Music celebrates greats from the 1960s and 1970s, like Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MGs, Issac Hayes, Aretha Franklin, Earth, Wind and Fire and more. To explore beyond music, visit the Mississippi River Museum on Mud Island Park, the National Civil Rights Museum and the famous ducks at the Peabody Hotel that parade around the lobby everyday.
Day 7: Memphis to Natchez, Mississippi
Today, you’ll be passing through the serene, broad, rich landscapes of the Mississippi Delta, the vast, immensely fertile plains that produce a good part of the country’s cotton and rice. Most every afternoon you can watch the power of a summer storm forming in front of your very eyes. Vicksburg, located on a bluff high above the Mississippi River has a 15 mile driving tour. Natchez is everything you pictured in a true southern city: Moss dripping off the trees and the weather porch-sittin’, fan-waving hot. Here, the hospitality is delivered like honey rolling off the tongue.
Day 8: Natchez to Lafayette LA
It’s time to meet the Cajuns in Lafayette, LA. Cajuns swing to a different beat and as soon as you hear the music, you’ll be hooked. Enjoy these fun loving people who put aside the cares of the world to celebrate life every chance they get. The Acadian Cultural Center is a must see to learn the story of incredible hardships of the Acadians before reaching Louisiana. Right next door, Vermilionville is a living recreation of early Acadian life. Consider a boat tour on the Atchafalaya Swamp. Visit the top of the Louisiana State Capitol where the views are magnificent. The old State Capitol, which resembles a Moorish castle, also warrants a visit to learn more about the colorful history of this state. Enjoy yourself - this is a one of a kind place!
Day 9: Lafayette to New Orleans
Early one, New Orleans was considered the most northern port of the Caribbean. These strong trade routes account for the multitude of West Indian descendants who call New Orleans home. You’ll hear the terms Cajun and Creole and soon learn they describe very different cultures. Authentic Cajuns are always of French descent. Creoles are generally multi-cultural in descent. You can tour the French Quarter on a free ranger led walk that starts at the Visitor Center. It’s a great introduction to the city.
Day 10: Explore New Orleans
If you didn’t party too late in the Quarter last night, there’s a lot to see and do today. The Historic New Orleans Collection illustrates the story of the city. Commander’s Palace, considered by some to be one of the finest dining experiences in the world is back in business. Longue Vue House and Gardens in the Garden District has 20 rooms filled with a massive number of treasures, open for touring. This evening, try the Maison Bourbon Jazz Club or the House of Blues and check for performances at Preservation Hall. Get messy at the Cafe Beignet, eating those wonderful just-made powdered sugar covered doughnuts and dine at Antoine’s, Brennan’s or the Cafe Du Monde. Magazine Street is a great place for shopping, including antiques.
Day 11: Explore New Orleans
This morning, “laissez les bon temps rouler,” and enjoy another day in the Big Easy. Visit Tremé, the country’s oldest African American Neighborhood, explore the Arts or Warehouse District, take a historic walking or carriage tour, or wander through the Audubon Nature Institute, home of the Audubon Zoo, Aquarium of the Americas, and Insectarium. Magazine Street is a great place for shopping, including antiques. This evening, dine at Antoine’s or Brennan’s.
Day 12: New Orleans to Mobile
Mobile, Alabama was the original capital of the Louisiana Territory. Few cities boast such rich history. . Remember when you talk to the locals the city’s name is “Mo-beel” given the soft emphasis on the second syllable by its French founders. Having lived under six flags, culture, “cul-cha,” as they call it here, is a rich conglomeration of influences. The city’s main attraction is Bellingrath Gardens, one of the top public gardens in the United States. Fort Conde is also a must see. Other than that, just marvel at the sheer beauty of this place.
Day 13: Explore Mobile
The major attraction of Mobile is the food! Try the goodies of Tiny Diny, Pollman’s Bake Shop Brownies, or Bailey’s Restaurant. Treat yourself to the real deal barbeque at The Brick Pit and Creole soul food at Mary’s Place. Wintzell’s Oyster House has been serving them “fried, stewed or nude” since 1928. In between all that eating, travel out to Dauphin Island where you can consider a boat trip out into the ocean.
Day 14: Mobile to Montgomery
You’ll find Montgomery, Alabama, a bustling city of the New South with as much contradictory history as Atlanta. Visit the Alabama State Capitol where Jefferson Davis took the oath of office as President of the Confederacy and where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his stand at the end of the Selma-Montgomery March. Visit the Rosa Parks Library and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Old Alabama Town is one of the South’s premier history villages. And don’t forget the Hank Williams Museum. His sound and style still influences country music.
Day 15: To Atlanta
Travel a part of Georgia’s Antebellum Trail on your way to the airport in Atlanta. Head for home knowing you’re taking with you unique memories of a very special region of America.
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