Location: Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama
Distance: 2,176 kilometres
There are few places in the US that can rival the energy and distinct flavour of the south. Exotic cities combine with rich culture and sensational food to create a melting pot of travel experiences. Delve in head first with the American Rhythms driving tour that will have you feasting on rich Creole cuisine one day and skimming the bayou in search of 'gators the next. From the decadence of New Orleans to the larger than life spirit of Tennessee, this road trip showcases the best that the south has to offer.
- New Orleans is known for its Cajun cuisine. Sample many traditional flavours through the French Quarter, ranging from beignets to Haute Creole dishes.
- Nashville has a deep musical history, spanning from Hank Williams to The Black Keys. Be sure to check out such iconic music locations as the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
- Elvis fan or not, make time for Graceland in Memphis.
- The Natchez Trace Parkway is a historic section of road that developed from a Native American post road to a two-lane parkway that closely follows the original Natchez trail.
- Discover the birthplace of Tabasco Sauce on Avery Island, outside of Lafayette.
Day 1 & 2 – New Orleans
Arriving in New Orleans, your first two days are slated for discovering one of the most seductive cities in the world. Why not spend an afternoon exploring the architecture of the fabled French Quarter, or schedule a full day tour of the bayou for a little alligator spotting? Jackson Square, Royal Street, Bourbon Street and a selection of famous Cajun restaurants all beckon with the promise of good fun and good food.
Day 3 – New Orleans to Tuscaloosa to Birmingham
Kick things off with 350 miles (563kms) to Birmingham. Passing through the Alabama highlands, admire the dark, fertile fields bristling with cotton en route to Tuscaloosa. This historic town is known for the Antebellum homes of the Druid City Historic District, which are well worth exploring before proceeding to Birmingham.
Day 4 & 5 – Birmingham to Nashville
Birmingham to Nashville is a 193 mile (310km) drive, meaning there is time to spend the morning exploring Birmingham sights. This includes the iconic Vulcan statue. Designed by Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti, it stands approximately 56 feet tall (17m) and is considered to be one of the most memorable works of civic art in the US. Then, it’s on to Nashville, also as the ‘Country Music Capital’. Day five is yours to discover 'Music City USA', including the Country Music Hall of Fame, Grand Ole Opry and world-famous Printer's Alley.
Day 6 – Nashville to Memphis
Depart the capital of Country Western music for the 210 mile (340kms) journey to the Home of the Blues. Memphis combines the charm of the Old South with the exciting pace of a modern metropolis. Don't forget to check out famous Beale Street in downtown Memphis, followed by a visit to Elvis Presley's Graceland.
Day 7 – Memphis to Vicksburg
Head 240 miles (390kms) due south to see history come alive at Vicksburg National Military Park. This monumental park commemorates the campaign, siege and defense of Vicksburg in 1863, with over 1,300 monuments and plaques. There is also a 16-mile tour road, restored Union gunboat and the nation’s largest national cemetery for Civil War Union soldiers.
Day 8 – Vicksburg to Natchez
Heading further south, take the Natchez Trace Parkway 90 miles (150kms) to Natchez. As the oldest settlement in the state of Mississippi, Natchez is home to many significant plantations and homes. This includes Longwood, which is reportedly the largest octagonal house in the country. Construction began around 1858 but was never completed.
Day 9 – Natchez to Lafayette
Journey 150 miles (240kms) back into Louisiana via Alexandria, Ville Platte and Opelousas to reach Lafayette. Brimming with joie de vivre, this city is all about dancing, music and Cajun cuisine. A walking tour of the downtown area will reveal landmark buildings, or take a short drive to Acadian Village overlooking the bayou.
Day 10 & 11 – Lafayette to Cajun Country to New Orleans
Departing Lafayette, the next 160 miles (260kms) will take you through the heart of Cajun Country. Discover the home of Tabasco Sauce in New Iberia and Avery Island, or explore the lush reaches of Jungle Garden and Bird City. Heading slightly south-east, you'll hit Morgan City, which is fondly known as the 'Shrimp Capital of the World'. If a day on the bayou is what you seek, stop off at Houma where boat tours are readily available to see alligators and other wildlife. Continuing along this scenic route, Terre Bonne and the Southdown Plantation are worthy stopping points before arriving back in New Orleans.