As much defined by cultural and historical boundaries as geographical ones, the southern states are a fascinating place to travel.
There are multiple different definitions of The South: Old South, High South, Dixie and of course The Deep South are just a few. While it’s easy to generalize, the unique music, food, and culture you’ll encounter clearly set it apart from other regions of America. Southern hospitality is one of the lasting memories of a journey through the south and, while the overt politeness can take a while to get used to, the people you’ll encounter along the way will stay with you long after you leave.
For history buffs the south is a fascinating journey through some of this county’s most transformative events. New England often takes the spotlight in terms of the early colonies but Europeans settled on southern shores first and the struggle for independence was as much fought here as it was further north. The antebellum period saw huge prosperity and, with a reliance on slavery, many of the great plantation homes and grand town houses that you see today were built. The Civil War rift the country apart; southern cities were raised, a terrible death toll inflicted and by it’s end, slavery abolished.
No other part of the world can lay claim to such a rich musical heritage and you’ll never travel with a better soundtrack than you will here. Appalachian folk music, brought over by early settlers, trickled down from the Smoky Mountains to Nashville where it became country. On the other side of Tennessee, Memphis can lay claim to being the birthplace of rock n roll. Louisiana’s unique culture is in part a product of its Spanish and French settlers and has musical traditions like zydeco that are quite unlike anything else in America, and of course it has New Orleans, the cradle of jazz. The strange and magical Mississippi Delta was ground zero for the blues. And from the blues came rock n roll and everything after.
You’ll never go hungry in the south and at times it seems that food is the glue that holds everything else together. The classic dish of fried chicken, collard greens and cornbread is sometimes at its best in the most unassuming places and if you get the chance to eat at someone’s house, take it. Barbeque is all pervasive and there is a bewildering variety of techniques, rubs, and sauces, with each area swearing theirs is best. The Lowcountry coast of the Carolinas and Georgia produces some great seafood, with shrimp and oysters featuring heavily. Louisiana’s Cajun cuisine is distinct yet again, with jambalaya and gumbo leading the way.