Southern charm, country music, civil rights history and the finest fried chicken on Earth – find it all in the USA’s multifaceted southern states.
Enrich your soul on a journey through America’s southern states, where everything from honky-tonk tunes to neon cityscapes, mouthwatering eats, history-filled national parks and electrifying nightlife are just waiting to be explored. Whether you’re jamming to rock ‘n’ roll along Memphis’ Beale Street, tasting your way around the New Orleans culinary scene, exploring Vicksburg’s battlefields or toe-tapping to the blues in Cleveland, there’s a grand southern adventure that suits every traveller.
Boot scoot around the sights and delights with our guide to the most unmissable things to do in the USA's southern states.
Discover the USA's southern states onboard this American Queen Mississippi River Cruise.
Memphis: Home to legendary music icons
No trip to the southern slice of the USA is complete without a visit to Memphis, known for its blues, jazz and rock ‘n' roll music, best enjoyed from the numerous nightclubs, restaurants and bars that line the historic Beale Street. Explore the towering Memphis Pyramid arena or head to the world-famous Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum and expand your knowledge of musical history.
Then, discover the private home of the King of Rock’n’Roll with a tour of Graceland – a 1,630 sqm property with 23 rooms bought by a 22-year-old Elvis in 1957. Explore the palatial mansion, walk the gardens where he found peace and admire the legendary costumes, artefacts and personal mementoes of the family.
When it’s time to dig into some delicious southern soul food, taste Memphis's fantastic BBQ and renowned gumbo at B.B King’s Blues Club, or for the ultimate comfort food, try Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken.
Natchez & Vicksburg: Brimming with Civil War history
Jewels of the Mississippi Delta, Natchez and Vicksburg boast an abundance of Civil War history amid spellbinding natural beauty. While battles raged around it, Natchez surrendered quickly in the Civil War and remained largely unscathed. Beyond the over 300 historic homes dotted around the town, a visit to Natchez isn’t complete without a stop at the Old South Trading Post, a unique gift shop where you can sample muscadine juice, dips, salsas, jellies and more.
To truly understand the Civil War, a visit to Vicksburg National Military Park is a must. Learn about the historic conflicts and pay your respects to the 17,000 Union soldiers laid to rest in the national cemetery at Vicksburg — the battleground that determined the Civil War’s outcome. While you’re here, climb the 47 steps to the entrance of the marble and granite Illinois State Memorial, wander through the USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum or visit the Jesse Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum.
Cleveland: Birthplace of the blues
Brimming with history, Cleveland is a must-visit destination when exploring the southern states, if only to visit the famous birthplace of the blues – Dockery Farms – where the art created over 100 years ago still influences popular culture today.
Uncover more musical history at the GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi - a technologically advanced and interactive museum dedicated to exploring the past, present and future of music while casting a focused spotlight on the deep musical roots of Mississippi.
While in Cleveland discover the art of Mississippi mud pottery at Peter’s Pottery, enjoy local delicacies like fried catfish and tamales at Airport Grocery and visit the enchanting Little Italy neighbourhood, where you’ll find a historical stretch of quaint boutiques, art galleries and some of the southern state’s best Italian restaurants.
Baton Rouge & Nottoway: A living museum
As the capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge is at the heart and soul of the state’s vibrant culture. With over 300 years of history, the city has thousands of stories to tell. Discover why it’s called the ‘Red Stick’ at the Capitol Park Museum, visit the Louisiana State University Rural Life Museum – dedicated to preserving the culture of 18th- and 19th-century rural Louisianans – and step aboard the USS KIDD Veterans Museum.
Just outside the city, visit Nottoway Resort, a AAA Four-Diamond property and a member of Historic Hotels of America housed in a mansion dating back to 1859. Boasting 4,923 sqm of floorspace and 40 rooms, the colossal homestead features hand-carved Italian marble fireplaces, a palatial pure white ballroom and pristinely manicured gardens.
New Orleans: Vibrant nightlife & live music scene
A world of exciting activities awaits in New Orleans, a vibrant city where jazz is a constant soundtrack to everyday life. Explore the historic heart of the city – The French Quarter – celebrated for its energetic nightlife and colourful buildings. At treasured Jackson Square, admire the city’s lovingly preserved historic buildings and see the work of local artists displayed on the iron fence.
Visit the New Orleans Musical Legends Park located on the lively Bourbon Street and see the life-sized statues within before heading to Frenchmen Street for neon lights, trombone slides and excited crowds vibing to live music. End your New Orleans exploration with a mouthwatering beignet at Café du Monde and a signature New Orleans cocktail at Sazarac Bar, The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
See it all on a USA's southern states river cruise
Embark on the adventure of a lifetime and traverse the south in unparalleled luxury onboard the unforgettable American Queen, the largest paddlewheel steamboat ever built. Be treated to Broadway-worthy performances, gourmet culinary experiences, gracious hospitality and charming private staterooms and suites. Plus, forgo time in transit, unorganised suitcases and holiday stress with an effortless cruise along the Mississippi River. Reach destinations off the beaten path, indulge in resort-style facilities and relax knowing all the legwork is taken care of – all that’s left for you is to wake up in a new destination ready to explore.
Secure your southern states sailing here.
Want more USA escapes? From Arizona's Grand Canyon to Florida's Everglades, Alaska's frosty peaks to the sun-kissed California coast, discover the USA’s spellbinding landscapes and iconic sights.
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