February 22, 2016
If you find yourself in Austin and not quite ready to go home, why not head west and discover the charms of the Deep South? From culture and cuisine to music and majestic natural wonders, there’s enough fun for one epic trip you’ll never forget. “¨
Before you step into the official South, we encourage a stop in Houston. Now the fourth largest city in America, it has become more than just a home to NASA and oil companies, and has developed into one of the top foodie cities in all of the United States. Boasting a range of influences, such as Vietnamese, Chinese, Texan barbecue, Mexican and Cajun, the city has given birth to a food scene that is eclectic and unique.”¨
Of course, there is more to this city than its cuisine, like the aforementioned NASA space centre, but if you need a good reason to stop, then the food is a sure bet. This destination gives other established foodie cities, like New Orleans, New York, San Francisco and Portland a real run for their money. Our top tip is Killen’s Barbecue in the Greater Houston city of Pearland: their smoked meats are to die for.
This is a city that comes to life on the streets. The jazz, the food and the people all spill out onto the buzzing pavements and it’s an experience not to be missed. From the infamous Bourbon Street and French Quarter to the hidden haunts dishing up Cajun cuisine, there’s live music and amazing eats waiting to be discovered on every corner, and it’s a truly unique sensory experience. “¨
Mardi Gras – a season of celebrations and carnivals held every February or March – is the most colourful time of year, but also the most tourist-filled, so be prepared for enormous crowds. The real New Orleans is best experienced without the throngs of visitors, and there are numerous other events and festivals throughout the year. “¨
After the hustle and bustle of New Orleans, head north through Jackson and get yourself to Memphis – home of the blues and Elvis Presley. Set beside the majestic Mississippi River, this city is famous for its southern barbeque, soul food, and bar shacks hosting some of the best live blues in the country. Other legends include BB King and Johnny Cash, who along with the “˜King’ recorded global hits from the modest Sun Studio; a musical mecca still open today. And if you pay a visit to Elvis’s Graceland mansion, you’ll find a great range of kitsch souvenirs – just don’t be surprised if you see one or two thousand look-a-likes during your stay.
Now it’s time to head west to complete your musical journey in Nashville, Tennessee, more commonly referred to as Music City. This is where country music lives and breathes. A stop here is all about visiting amazing venues such as the Ryman Auditorium, the Johnny Cash Museum and the Grand Ole Opry House; home of the famous Grand Ole Opry stage and radio show. Located in Music Valley, this is the longest-running radio broadcast in the USA and is best enjoyed as a live performance. Another must-see spot is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. And once you’re done there, you’ll find plenty of streets lined with honky-tonks, authentic dive bars and dance halls from bygone eras.”¨
After all that song and dance, it’s time to embrace some true southern roots and history, and there’s no better place to do this than Atlanta, Georgia. A city which grew rapidly after the American Civil War, it would go on to become an important epicentre for the Civil Rights Movement, which gripped the nation and changed the world forever. “¨
Atlanta now has many historical museums and sites, such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site – which houses his boyhood home – and the stunningly designed National Center for Civil and Human Rights, which opened to the public in 2014. These cultural and historical venues are a great way of immersing yourself in the struggles of the people and understanding a crucial part of southern history. “¨
Now it’s time to move on, with a scenic four-hour drive to Savannah; perhaps one of the most picturesque towns on the east coast. You’ve probably seen the streets of Savannah’s downtown area without realising it – including the Savannah Historic District and the Savannah Victorian Historic District – thanks to films like Forrest Gump or Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Enjoy visiting historic homes, such as Sorrel-Weed House and Green-Meldrim House, and if you get time, don’t miss out on cemeteries such as Colonial Park Cemetery, Laurel Grove Cemetery and Bonaventure Cemetery. They are a photographers dream. “¨
Visiting Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville and Savannah has never been easier, thanks to connecting flights through our partnership with Delta. You can also fly direct with Virgin Atlantic from London Heathrow to Atlanta – book your flights today.