The Deep South, USA - January & February
Welcome to The Deep South, USA! The Deep South consists of five states, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi & Tennessee. Music fans will feel at home in Nashville’s Honky-tonks or in the blues bars on Beale Street in Memphis and the jazz filled streets of New Orleans. Join candlelit vigils in honour of Elvis, discover the roots of Bluegrass in Kentucky or visit the Dolly Parton theme park in Pigeon Forge.
Discover the natural beauty and fascinating culture of the Deep South, from beautiful national parks such as The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee or Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and scenic drives along byways such as the Natchez Trace Parkway to the swamps and bayous of Louisiana. This region has witnessed some of the pivotal moments in American history and you’ll find ample opportunities learn about the past from antebellum mansions and fascinating battlefield tours to uncover the secrets of the American Civil War, to the Civil Rights Movement sites and museums.
Reasons to visit the Deep South...
- If you want to experience the 'real' America, then it just has to be the Deep South USA.
- It's a fantastic Fly Drive destination, where you can visit vibrant cities, small American towns, experience history, hear great music and eat fantastic food... all topped off with a big dose of Southern hospitality!
- For lovers of the Great Outdoors we have the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee and Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.
- Great for Golfing too, if you're a golf fanatic - there are some amazing scenic courses on offer across the Deep South States.
- And if your holiday needs to feature a beach, we have that too - the Gulf Coast has beautiful beaches and amazing seafood restaurants!
'Sweet Home Alabama' is a state immortalised in the lyrics of the legendary song. Nestled in the heart of the American Deep South, Alabama has a flavour all of its own! Award winning cuisines, the best barbecue and fresh from the Gulf seafood is washed down with the traditional Alabama sweet tea and served with a generous helping of southern hospitality.
Alabama's largest city was named after Birmingham, UK and its known for its foodie scene, lively entertainment districts, arts and attractions, Barber Motorsports Museum showcasing the world's largest collection of motorcycles, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute which details the city's role in the movement which changed America and Red Mountain Park are just some of the must do attractions.
Montgomery, Alabama's capital city was home to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Rosa Parks museum tells this inspirational story. Here one can also follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr and visit his church and parsonage. For thrill seekers, the U.S. Space and Rocket Centre in Huntsville has simulators that allow visitors to experience a space shot, G-force and weightlessness.
Alabama is also known for its music history, International superstars including Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and The Rolling Stones all came to Muscle Shoals, the 'Hit Recording Capital of the World' to record songs in the 60s and 70s. These working studios still used by international artists welcome visitors for tours. Live music can be found in almost every town and city in sophisticated bars and clubs. Saturday night juke joints and gospel choir church services. Festivals across the state celebrate music, local specialities and a wide range of beverages including the legendary tea!
For lovers of the great outdoors, Alabama sweeps down from the foothills of the Appalachians to the 32 miles of white sand beaches on the Gulf Coast providing plenty of opportunity to hike, bike, kayak and swim.
The port city of Mobile by the Bay offers Delta Safaris, eco tours and to restaurants that allow visitors to enjoy the ambience and soak up the sun. It is also home of the very first Mardi Gras which took place in 1703 and is still celebrated today.
In Kentucky you will find the Horse Capital of the World (Lexington), makers of 95% of the world’s Bourbon, longest cave system in the world (Mammoth Cave National Park), the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, Muhammad Ali and Bill Monroe (Father of Bluegrass Music). Kentucky also host large music festivals like ROMP and Forecastle, and food festivals including the International BBQ Festival (Owensboro), Kentucky Bourbon Festival (Bardstown) and World Chicken Festival (London).
The Horse Capital of the World
Get up close and personal with over forty breeds of horses at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
Visit retired champions at Georgetown’s Old Friends Farm for Retired Thoroughbreds. Take in the Track Kitchen and watch the morning workouts at the Keeneland Race Track in Lexington. Explore the history and pageantry of the greatest two minutes in sports at the Kentucky Derby Museum and Churchill Downs, Louisville.
The Bourbon Experience
Follow the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® or visit stops along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Craft Tour. Explore another bourbon story with a visit to Buffalo Trace Distillery, the oldest continuously producing distillery located on the banks of the Kentucky River in Frankfort. Book a tour of Kentucky Cooperage, Lebanon, where new charred oak barrels are crafted for bourbon production.
Newport Ganster Tour
Explore the streets where the mob made their millions, gamblers lost their lives, and ladies of the night earned their reputations. Join our gangster guides for a raucous, high energy presentation inside an old casino to explain the historic significance of Newport, and discover how this little town gave birth to the modern day gaming industry.
Muhammad Ali Center
The Muhammad Ali Center is a multicultural centre with an award-winning museum dedicated to the life of Muhammad Ali. The Center captures the inspiration derived from the story of Muhammad Ali’s incredible life and the six core principles that have fuelled his journey.
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
Located just southwest of Corbin this park is contained entirely within the Daniel Boone National Forest. Here you will find Cumberland Falls, sometimes called the Little Niagara, or the Niagara of the South (the largest waterfall south of the Niagara). Many people visit the falls to witness a natural phenomenon called moonbow. The moonbow is a lunar rainbow that sometimes forms over the falls under a full moon on clear nights and an arch of white light is usually produced at the base of the falls. This phenomenon is not found anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere! The area is also a natural choice for water-sports enthusiasts, offering white-water rafting, canoeing, swimming, and fishing. Landlubbers will enjoy the hiking and horseback riding opportunities in this lovely area. The State Park offers great camping facilities and spots.
A half-hour from Lexington in the town of Harrodsburg, is the largest restored Shaker community in the United States and the first site in the country to be designated in its entirety as a National Historic Landmark.In 1805, a group of shakers came to rural Kentucky and established a Village named Pleasant Hill. The population peaked to almost 500 in the 1820s and the community acquired more than 4,000 acres of farmland. However, after the 1860s, changing social attitudes and the Industrial Revolution signalled the community’s decline. By 1923, sadly the last Pleasant Hill Shaker died and the buildings, property and belongings passed into private hands.
Paducah was first admired by William Clark as he made his way downriver in the early 1800s. Many others through the centuries, including famed humourist Irvin Cobb, would come to admire the river city as a beautiful place to linger. Creativity is the common thread that connects people from around the globe to Paducah, the world's 7th City of Crafts and Folk Art in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Anchored by the National Quilt Museum and a thriving fibre arts community, Paducah is a haven for creative thinkers and doers.At the heart of America's inland waterways, the river contributes to the constant flow of Paducah's engaging energy and fascinating history. From the colourful revitalization of the Lower Town Arts District to the vibrant streets of 19th Century architecture in Historic Downtown, Paducah invites visitors to immerse themselves in rich American heritage and a globally-celebrated creative culture.
Louisiana is a place where you can Feed Your Soul - a state with so much diversity that just a short drive takes you to another world within the state’s borders.
No place in America is better known for incredible indigenous food and music. Our cuisine is legendary no matter which part of the state you visit. Cajun and Creole delicacies – dishes with curious names like gumbo, jambalaya and étouffée and the best in Gulf of Mexico seafood – are at every turn, found alongside unique Louisiana spins on more traditional Southern fare.
Louisiana is the birthplace of jazz, the home of Cajun and zydeco music and a key player in the history of American blues, country and rock ‘n’ roll. Jazz, like its birthplace New Orleans, is an eclectic mix of European, African and Caribbean cultures and influences which spills into the streets of popular tourist districts such as the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny. To the west of the city are the swamps and prairies of “Acadiana,” where Cajun and zydeco still dot the landscape in venues ranging from dance halls and hole-in-the-wall clubs to festivals the porches of rural farmhouses. Other regional pockets, particularly in north and central Louisiana, were pivotal in the birth and evolution of country, blues, rockabilly and rock and roll.
Like the food and music, interesting history and memorable outdoor adventures are numerous statewide. Ornate antebellum plantation mansions dot the Mississippi River, showing and telling the story of the pre-Civil War south. Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole cultures remain prevalent generations later, and the range of experiences is as thorough as history exhibits at numerous museums, yet as simple as street signs in both English and French in many cities. And only in Louisiana can you find one of the oldest historical sites in America – the Native American earthworks and artifacts of Poverty Point, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, predates The Pyramids.
Adventure seekers find opportunities for fishing, hunting, biking, paddling, hiking, camping and bird- and wildlife-watching in thousands of acres of scenic swamps, coastal marshes and lowland pine and hardwood forests. And for adventure fused with Louisiana food and music, try a Louisiana festival – there are hundreds statewide each year, the biggest being Mardi Gras in New Orleans and several major Louisiana cities.
Nicknamed the “Festival Capital of America,” Louisiana hosts more than 400 festivals each year, including its famous Mardi Gras. Tap your feet in New Orleans dance halls to the sounds of live jazz. Indulge in Louisiana’s famous Cajun and Creole cuisine, as well as its libations (the state is home to the Sazerac, the U.S.’s first cocktail, after all). From boutiques to antiques, the shopping is also top-notch in Louisiana - and it’s tax-free for international travelers.
Mississippi is named for the Mississippi river which forms its western boundary and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The name roughly translated from Native American folklore means “Father of Waters.” The translation comes from the Chippewa words “mici zibi” meaning “great river” or “gathering in of all the waters” and the Algonquin word “Messipi”.
Mississippi was organized as a territory in 1798 and was admitted as the 20th state to join the Union on December 10, 1817. Jackson is the capital city and the largest metropolitan area.
Lush, rolling hills and flat cotton fields combine with white sandy beaches and the fabled Mississippi River to create horizons like no other in America.
Best known for the famous river that forms its western border, Mississippi is a state that runs deep. America’s music, be it blues, gospel, country or rock’n’roll, got its start here. Visit the BB King Museum or The Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum or the GRAMMY museum or the new Mississippi Arts Experience for an interactive experience found only in America.
Home of a King - The Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum in Tupelo is an attraction on every travel bucket list. Super fans to passers-by come to Tupelo and see where the King’s story began. You can visit the two-room house where Elvis was born, the church where he sang on Sundays and enjoy the beautiful grounds with walking paths and memorials.
Chasing the Blues - One of the most popular (and free) exhibits is the Mississippi Blues Trail. More than 200 markers across the state tell stories through words and images of bluesmen and women and how the places where they lived and the times in which they existed – and continue to exist – influenced their music. The sites range from city streets to cotton fields, train depots to cemeteries, and clubs to churches.
Home Sweet Home - A visit to Mississippi would not be complete without touring one of the state’s beautiful antebellum homes. Natchez, with its historic mansions, boasts the most of these grand estates, but they can also be found in Vicksburg, Meridian and Columbus as well. Stay overnight in one for an authentic and unforgettable night straight from Gone With the Wind.
Jackson - The new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is a powerful and moving testimony to the bravery and sacrifice of individuals from the 1800’s to the modern day. The next-door History Museum recounts 15,000 years of deep history from prehistoric times to the present day.
Clarksdale - Packed full of memorabilia from the 1920’s on, including Muddy Water’s homeplace, the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale recounts how the music that started in the Delta cotton fields migrated to Memphis and Chicago and eventually around the world spawning the likes of the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin.
Down on the Gulf Coast - If gaming, shopping and time in the sand is your preference, then the Mississippi Gulf Coast is where you will find plenty of options. Beyond gaming, the coast features A-list entertainers, relaxing spa experiences and activities for children. Dine on delicious freshly caught seafood dishes and then visit the artistic towns of Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs.
Oxford - From the picture perfect town square to William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak and the manicured campus of Ole Miss, Oxford is quintessentially Southern.
Vicksburg - President Lincoln described Vickburg as "The Key to the South” in the American Civil War and visitors can relive the history at the expansive National Military Park.
Try a Hot Tamale - Dating back more than 100 years, the Hot Tamale is a savoury snack local to the Mississippi Delta and is not to be missed!
Greenwood - Discover how to make the perfect fried chicken, shrimp grits or fried green tomatoes at the Viking Cookery School, adjacent to the luxury Alluvian Hotel.
Breweries - Mississippi’s craft brewing reputations is growing from Lucky Town in Jackson to Crooked Letter in Gulfport and Southern Prohibition in Hattiesburg.
BBQ - Barbecue may not have been invented in Mississippi, but it sure was perfected here. Whether you’re in the state’s Northern Hills region, on the Gulf Coast, or anywhere in between, delicious barbecue is never too far away. From places only the locals know about to nationally-recognized restaurants, Mississippi has it all. And don’t forget to ask for the Come Back sauce!
Tennessee is one of a kind. Experience the allure of our music, beauty, family adventure and history. Find it by losing yourself in the breath-taking beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains, where the fog's so thick you can’t tell where the world ends and heaven begins. A place, where you can conquer the Appalachian Trails in the morning, then plummet back down to earth in the afternoon with ride after ride at Dollywood. Discover the grandeur of the mighty Mississippi River rolling through the land of the blues, rock and soul in Memphis. Or, experience the relaxation of driving through the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee with the top down, stopping to soak in our storied history.
Listen closely. Our music is America’s soundtrack. It’s the foot-tapping, head-bobbing, soul-saving kind. You’ll hear it in the lyrics and melodies found in the home and birthplace of country, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, soul and everything in between. From the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville to Beale Street in Memphis to bluegrass jams on the porches of Bristol. Tennessee is where it all began and never stopped.
It’s that magic you can only taste in every sip of oak-barrel-aged Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, and each bite of “I’ve-died-and-gone-to-heaven” Southern cooking. It's that creative spirit America was built on, crafted by artists, visionaries and pioneers.
Close your eyes and feel it – it’s uniquely Tennessee. Come visit. Let it touch you. It’s a holiday that can only be Made in Tennessee.