The southern United States is unlike anywhere else you will ever go. Hot weather, warm smiles, and arguably some of the best grub in the country make up the foundation of this unique region. The best way to get to know the South is by hitting the road!
Follow me through my ultimate southern USA road trip!
Scrolling over the map will allow you to zoom in, and clicking “More Options” will take you to a stop by stop itinerary!
Start in Austin, Texas
Home to more than 250 live music venues, Austin prides itself on being the “Live Music Capital of the World.” With an eclectic art scene and countless festivals, Austin is breathing fresh air into Texas.
Top Things to See and Do in Austin
- Start your perfect Austin day with one of its famous breakfast tacos
- Take in local history at the oldest American state office, the Texas State Capitol
- Grab a selfie at the Baylor Street Art Wall
- Party the night away on Sixth Street and Rainey Street
San Antonio, Texas
Take I-35 South from Austin to San Antonio – 80 miles
Top Things to See and Do in San Antonio
- The heart and soul of the city, the River Walk, is packed with happening bars, amazing restaurants, and endless lines of shops
- Be sure to grab some amazing Mexican food
- Once you have taken in modern San Antonio, explore The Alamo and get a taste for the rich and complex history of Texas.
- Before you go, visit the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas for a panoramic view of this stunning city
DETOUR: Take a Bayou Tour in Louisiana
On my trip, I took a couple of hours to tour the Manchac swamp with Wild Louisiana Tours! It was such a cool experience, there was a moment where I felt like I was in The Notebook.
You’ll see the logging ghost town of Ruddock that served as a passageway for historic New Orleans explorers and well as Iberville, Biennville, Ponchartrain, and more!
New Orleans, Louisiana
Take I-10 East from San Antonio to New Orleans – 540 miles
Since this is a long stretch, you can break up the drive by spending a night along the way. It’s an awesome opportunity to get off the beaten track and explore more of Louisiana.
I fell in love with New Orleans when I went for Mardi Gras. While I’d love to go back for another Fat Tuesday, the city is equally impressive every day of the year. Just wandering the city, you’ll get a sense of New Orleans’ complex past and unique culture!
Top Things to See and Do in New Orleans
- The French Quarter never disappoints
- Get down and dirty on Bourbon Street or go for an upscale evening on Frenchmen Street
- Visit the oldest cathedral in the continent, St. Louis Cathedral, which was built in 1720
DETOUR: Stay at the Oak Alley Plantation
During my Southern USA Road Trip, I was completely awestruck by the fantasy-like setting the oaks created at the entrance to the Oak Alley Plantation. I’d seen plenty of photos of Oak Alley, but it was even grander in person.
The plantation has been featured in many movies and music videos including Interview with The Vampire, Django Unchained and Beyoncé’s “Déjà Vu” music video!
Take I-55 North from New Orleans to Jackson – 190 miles
Jackson is the capital of Mississippi and home to a funky arts scene, good bars and restaurants and A LOT of live music!
Top Things to See and Do in Jackson
- Spend the day exploring the Civil War sites and civil rights museums
- Once you have worked up an appetite, pig out on turnip greens, cornbread, and black-eyed peas
- Craving some spice? Go for the locally beloved Miss-Mex (that’s Mississippi-Mexican fusion) for a culinary adventure
- Top your day off by exploring the countless blues and jazz venues
Take I-55 North from Jackson to Memphis – 210 miles
Memphis is all about rock n’ roll and BBQ. You’ll never be able to eat at another BBQ joint after you try a proper Memphis-style BBQ platter.
Top things to See and Do in Memphis
Read More: Top 10 Things to Do in Memphis in Two Days
DETOUR: Visit Tennessee’s Wineries
Take I-40 East from Memphis to Nashville – 210 miles
For country music fans, singers and songwriters from all over the world, Nashville is the ultimate destination. But Nashville isn’t just country music, it is a lively city, breaking out with new businesses, a dynamic food and cocktail scene, and bright lights!
Top Things to See and Do in Nashville
- Home to the Grand Ole Opry radio show, Ryman Auditorium is an absolute must-see and, whether you are a country music fan or not, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a fascinating spot
- To wrap up your musical day, take a tour of Music Row and RCA Studio B
- One of the most stunning buildings in Nashville, The Parthenon is the world’s only full-size reproduction of the Greek Parthenon in Athens, Greece, so plan on some time to visit the museum and art gallery to complete your tour
Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Nashville in a Weekend
Charlotte, North Carolina
Take I-40 East from Nashville to Charlotte – 400 miles
Again, this is over a half day of driving, so leave early and make the most of your travel day!
Charlotte is mostly a business and banking town, but is made up of beautiful, historical neighborhoods, great museums, and awesome waterfront restaurants!
Top Things to See and Do in Charlotte
- Visit Levine Museum of the New South & the NASCAR Hall of Fame
- Cool down at the 29,000-square-foot Ray’s Splash Planet– this ultra-fun indoor water park is the perfect place to splash around on a steamy afternoon
- See Charlotte’s high-flying past at the Carolinas Aviation Museum
- Pan for a bit of gold at Reed Gold Mine
Charleston, South Carolina
Take I-77 South from Charlotte to Charleston – 211 miles
With its weather in the upper 70s in the dead of winter, Charleston is the perfect place for beach lovers! It’s a quaint city, but there are tons of things to do.
Top Things to See and Do in Charleston
- Bring your bikini and lounge in the Carolina sun on Folly Beach during the better part of the year
- Get moving and rent a bike to ride across the famous Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
- Don’t miss the Angel Oak Park—one of South Carolina’s most remarkable sites—you’ll find a massive 1,500-year-old oak tree, which is a true sight to behold