On the road in the Deep South
Replies: 27 - Last Post: Jul 7, 2012 9:57 AM Last Post By: guitarmike74
Jul 2, 2012 4:01 AM
On the road in the Deep SouthI am 30 year old Australian guy, planning a Deep South road trip with a few mates, kicking off in mid-August.
We have about three weeks and (very) broadly, were planning to cover the following ground (in this order):
New Orleans, LS
Cajun Country, LS
Again, broadly speaking, we would love learn about Southern history, do a bit of time outdoors (a couple of day hikes etc), eat just about everything that's on offer, catch a few local sporting events (rodeo / college sports), take in live music, hit a few bars and spend plenty of time with locals.
We would really appreciate some help with the following:
1. We would love to do a couple of day hikes / spend some time in mountain cabins. Any thoughts on where to do this? We had considered the Smokies and would be grateful for any specific tips on trails, locations, cabins there. Anywhere else that we are not thinking about that would be great for this purpose?
2. Cajun country tips. Where do we go? Where do we stay? Where do we eat?
3. Best BBQ along the way?
4. Are there any great beaches down south in Louisiana / MS or TX that we could spend a couple of days on? Nothing in my reading has turned this up.
5. Rodeo or college sports on this time of year in these parts (huge area i know - a bit ridiculous, but grateful for any tips)?
Lastly, we are keen to get to and stay in some smaller towns -all along the way - so would be so grateful for any tips on great small places to spend a day or two in.
Thanks very much in advance for your help.
Jul 2, 2012 5:53 AM
1Montgomery has a very nice area of restored buildings including a cotton gin which works toe lain the process. Some have been moved there and some are staffed by docents.
Before you get there be sure to stop in Tuskegee and visit the museum to the Tuskegee Airman at the airport and the G.W. Carter museum on the Institute grounds.
Jul 2, 2012 5:56 AM
Jul 2, 2012 8:03 AM
3You should read the new and fairly comprehensive FAQ on The South by mrpenny, at the bottom of the FAQ thread. It doesn't, however, mention the beaches of the Florida Panhandle, which are beautiful.
College sports? Exact dates would matter, since U.S.-style (gridiron) football might be the thing to see, but generally doesn't get going until after Labor Day. Professional baseball, either in Atlanta or minor league, will give you more good options with your dates.
Jul 2, 2012 10:40 AM
4If you want sports in this part of the US it doesn't get any bigger than SEC Football (SEC=Southeastern Conference=one of the top college football conferences in the country). These folks are fanatic about the SEC even in cities with the NFL. Their season starts August 20. Here's a link to there schedule: http://www.secdigitalnetwork.com/NEWS/tabid/473/Article/230227/sec-releases-2012-conference-football-schedule.aspx
Some games are probably already sold out but there are always scalpers around.
Looking at your cities mentioned, I don't see alot of mountains nearby. There are lots of nice mountain cabins in TN and NC in the Smokies. If you're looking for something a little closer to your route try Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee, about 2 hours east of Nashville. They have "Fisherman Cabins" which are two story cabins build overtop the lake as well as traditional cabins. There are some great trails to huge waterfalls and old caves in the area. It's about 1/2 between the Smokies and Nashville.
It's still hot that time of year in the deep south so I would keep the hiking to a minimum unless you're on the Cumberland Plateau(where Fall Creek Falls is) or in the mountains.
Most of the Gulf Beaches in the Florida Panhandle, Alabama and Mississippi are called the "Redneck Riviera" and you'll find lots of folks in timeshares and hotels crowding the beaches-but-since you'll be going at the end of August most schools will be back in session so probably just the weekends will be crowded. If you're looking for something a little less crowded in this area try Gulf Islands National Seashore. (I'll let someone else speak for the Texas beaches)
Jul 2, 2012 12:32 PM
5The beaches in Texas are not nice, unless you head to the very southern tip of S. Padre (and even that is just a decent beach, not really a nice one).
If you end up doing the New Orleans to Austin drive on I-10, break your stay in Houston and enjoy some extremely good food (bbq and non-bbq alike). If you want to stay close to I-10, you might consider Beaver's (http://beavershouston.com/), which has tasty food and excellent cocktails. There is plenty of good bbq as well, but I would search chowhound for specific recommendations. The Indian and Vietnamese food is amazing, but that is further off I-10.
Keep in mind that may of the states on your itinerary will be extremely hot in mid-August. Austin could be well over 100 degrees F.
Jul 2, 2012 12:45 PM
6FYI, the abbreviation for xLouisiana is "LA."
1. While there may not be any mountains along your route, there are still plenty of parks. Congaree is particularly good if you go for a ranger-guided canoe tour.
2. xLafayette and xBaton Rouge. Eat Boudin, preferably in fried-ball format.
3. That question could cause fights. Best thing to do is stop when you see a sign and are hungry.
However, understand that xMississippi and xLouisiana are not known for barbecue, and xAlabama is known for "Alabama white" (a mayo-based sauce).
4. There are beaches around xBiloxi and xGulfport. Outside xFlorida, those are probably the best along that stretch.
5. Already well-covered, but read FAQ 260 as well.
Skip xJackson and go to xVicksburg and/or xNatchez instead.
You may also prefer Augusta to Macon.
The road between xNashville and xMemphis includes a somber spot known as Shiloh.
Jul 2, 2012 1:23 PM
7Stay in Oxford, Mississippi for one night at least and would skip Jackson. Very cool college town which will be swarming with a large number of newly arrived extremely attractive coeds. College football does not start until September 1 and if you can, plan to be in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to see a game at LSU. Best beaches close to your route are Alabama/Florida panhandle which is a bit out of the way (but if you decide to make that detour then head the extra hour to the Destin, Florida area - very developed but incredible white sugar sand beaches). For something closer Ship Island off the Mississippi coast (Biloxi/Gulfport also offers casinos) has a nice beach. For BBQ - Interstate BBQ in Memphis and Leatha's in Hattiesburg, MS are your best bets for pork or ribs. Texas is where you want to order beef brisket.
Jul 2, 2012 3:23 PM
Here is the link for that. I sort of skipped mentioning beaches altogether. (In addition to the other ideas people have mentioned (Gulfport, Biloxi, the Panhandle beaches (Pensacola, Panama City)), depending on your taste in beaches, you may also want to go to Hilton Head Island, about halfway in between Charleston and Savannah. Hilton Head is high-end, appealing to an older audience; Panama City attracts the college crowd; the others are sort of in between those two demographics.)
The best barbecue restaurant in town is usually the one with all the cars in front. Just sayin'. Of the areas you're visiting, I like the barbecue in the Carolinas best, personally.
He is correct.
Jul 2, 2012 4:09 PM
Except they are heading to xSouth Carolina, so maybe you mean mustard.
Btw, I was in xMemphis about a month ago, and pretty much only ate barbecue. I liked Tom's the best, though I could probably live on the banana pudding at Corky's.
Jul 2, 2012 4:16 PM
10I used to live in Destin Florida, some of the best beaches in the state and country, though a very family oriented place, you may want to stay a tad further down in Blue Mountain or the other side in Grayton Beach.
11 cites in 21 days is just 2 days per place, so you need to cut back to 5 places IMO.
End of August is high season as far as the national and state parks goes, as school tends to start after Labor Day in many states.
I would focus on Charleston, Nashville and New Orleans and throw in some parks along the way.
The Smokies and Blue Ridge Parkway are super pretty and nice drive. Maybe fly into Nashville and do a loop, then fly to New Orleans.
Jul 2, 2012 5:37 PM
11If you can make the LSU football game take a camera and plan to spend the day walking around the stadium (several hours before game starts). There will be thousands of fans set up all around the stadium in various groups eating and drinking all afternoon before the game. Let them hear your accents and you will be set up with some awesome food and drink in no time. The people like to share and have a good time so if you are social will have no problem interacting with the fans. That is about as real a Southern experience you can have and I bet it would wind up being one of the highlights of your trip. The number of hot girls you will see is also not to be discounted.
Jul 2, 2012 5:53 PM
12Good suggestion #11. Yes, attending any of the Big University games is a darn good time, the southern charm and formality actually comes out in full bloom. The girls get pretty dressed up, dresses and heals, the guys wear sport coats and ties and nice pants, the crowd will be pretty well lubricated before the game even starts, and nothing to say about the night that follows.
Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Tulane are all a darn good time, even if you dont go to the game... also other wonderful schools in the south have very old campuses and traditions, like Sawanee and Vanderbilt.
You also have whiskey/bourbon country in the Tennessee/Kentucky area. Many counties in the deep south are also very religious and conservative, and can by Dry Counties, meaning no liquor sales. The Bible belt is one of the last frontiers of old culture thats is left in America...
I also love "Low Country" cuisine, which is best enjoyed in the Charleston area eateries, as well as Georgia. One best new comers on the chefs scene there is at Husk in Charleston, not to mention Charleston is one nicest preserved Civil war cities in the country, from rum runners to plantations like Gone with the Wind, its steeped in history and culture, and a very enjoyable area well worth 3-4 nights.
This menu at Husk pretty much sums up the low country staples. Read the various tabs for the philosophy and foundation of this great award winning eatery.
Though North Carolina is also a new bastion of regional organic farmers, cafes and updated dining venues incorporating the traditional menus of yesteryear. Asheville in North Carolina is a good time too, for music (Bluegrass/Rockabilly) and food.
New Orleans is food orgasm on its own.
Jul 2, 2012 6:28 PM
13On your way to Austin, stop in Lockhart, Texas, for barbecue.
Jul 3, 2012 1:54 PM
14All of the above advice is good. I personally prefer the Alabama/West Florida beaches. It has the whitest sand you will ever see. Fall Creek Falls is a good dayhike area in Tennesee. Anywhere in the Smokies is good. I would skip Jackson Mississippi too. Eat the fried catfish while your down here too. The food in the South is great, which you will be able to observe by the multitude of obese Southerners. Skip the white mayo. Mustard based sauce is the best on BBQ, which shoud be pork.
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