Purple Pick: Great American Road Trips
The Deep South in the USA is known for its hospitality, big personalities and as the birthplace of Elvis, the most famous jazz clubs that side of the Atlantic and food that is out of this world. Join us as we go one of the Great American Road Trips through the Deep South.
Start in Atlanta, Georgia an energetic city that’s home to world class southern hospitality. Rent a car, hop in and get some travellin’ tunes to get you on your way. Visit the High Museum of Art, or hike the Infamous Appalachian Trail to kick-start your adventure. As you pass through you’ll probably recognise bits of it from movies like Driving Miss Daisy, Fried Green Tomatoes and, erm, Deliverance.
In Tennessee, you’ll find Graceland, where Elvis spent the last years of his life. It’s an intriguing and moving place to visit. Fans make the journey from all over the world to pay their respects to the man known as ‘The King’. Sun Studios is like taking a step back in time and blues, gospel, country and rock ‘n’ roll fill the air.
You couldn’t go on a Deep South road trip and not visit Sweet Home Alabama. If there’s time, dip across the border and head for FAME or Muscle Shoals sound studios. These hosted some of the best acts in the world like Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones and Otis Redding. If you go even further, just outside Birmingham a stop by the Talladega Superspeedway will leave your head reeling, in a good way. A stop in Scottsboro at the Unclaimed Baggage Center, where airline lost luggage is unpacked and sold could give you a couple of bargains or something totally weird, so don’t say we didn’t warn you. Don’t forget to order grits for breakfast and ice tea with lunch to fit in, in Alabama.
A stop at the Country Music Hall of Fame and discovering the Grand Ole Opry makes Nashville a great addition to the trip. There is excellent live music in bars throughout the city ‘til late and Biscuits at Loveless Cafe are something an institution. The Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis will have you tapping your foot in no time and the city is known for some of the best BBQ, with hundreds of places for a pitcher of beer and some broiled ribs or pulled shoulder pork.
Mississippi’s Highway 61 is called the cradle of the Blues. At the crossroads between 61 and 49 you’ll find the spot where Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for phenomenal guitar playing skills. Clarksdale is home to the Delta Blues Museum and the Ground Zero Blues Club juke joint is within touching distance. The Shack Up Inn is a real taste of southern hospitality.
Head for Jackson and eat at the infamous Two Sisters Kitchen, a buffet style in a traditional 1903 home. The all-you-can-eat price includes okra, cheese grits and skinless fried chicken. After a refuelling like that, the great outdoors might beckon; there are hiking trails, horse riding and activities in the gorgeous countryside around or you could visit your first ever rodeo at the Dixie National Livestock Show.
Continue your road trip to Louisiana to tickle your taste buds with a bowl of gumbo (everywhere has a difference recipe) or alligator sauce picante in Thibodaux. Then on to Lafayette, one of the best known music towns in the States, filled with Creole dancehalls, Cajun rhythms and zydeco music.
Finish up in New Orleans the legendary city of jazz on the Louisiana Delta. There are dozens of clubs to discover in the Big Easy, there are no closing times, so you can stay all night. And with jazz and blues, Latin, R&B, gospel, rock, cajun and everything in between you could stay for months without discovering it all. Go in February or March when you’ll find Mardi Gras, in April there’s jazz and international festivals, while in October there is the Angola Prison Rodeo and Art Festival.