The Best Tips and Ideas For Your Southern USA Road Trip

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Where do you start when planning a Deep South road trip itinerary? There’s so much to see and to do in the Southern States. That’s the problem I’ve been having because we are in the process of planning a Southern USA road trip. We have driven through some of the Southern USA like Florida and our recent Louisiana road trip post-Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Long before I met him, my husband did a Southern States road trip with his best friend. From what I gather, it involved a lot of beer and pizza. Our family-friendly Deep South USA road trip would be quite different! I’ve reached out to some travel blogger friends for other (better?) ideas on Deep South tours.

Map of South East USA Southern USA Road Trip | #Deep South Tour | #TheSouth #SouthernUSA
Tips and Ideas for a Roadtrip of the Southern States in the USA

I’m sure all the fabulous and diverse things to do on a Deep South Tour is why Lonely Planet has chosen the American southern states as one of their top regions to visit.  Other regions on the Lonely Planet Top 10 regions list  are Alaska, the Slovenian Alps, Languedoc-Roussillon in France, Bahia in Brazil, Los Haitises National Park in the Dominican Republic, the Kii Peninsula in Japan, the Aeolian Islands of the coast of Sicily, Northern Ireland and Lahaul and Spiti in India.

Ideas for A Southern USA Road Trip

Who better to ask for advice on creating a Deep South road trip itinerary than travel bloggers who have been there?  Below are the recommendations on places to visit on a Deep South tour and travel tips for a southern states road trip from 13 fellow travel bloggers.
Map of South East USA Southern USA Road Trip | #Deep South Tour | #TheSouth #SouthernUSA
Map South East USA

The Southastern USA on a Deep South Road Trip

 The southeastern USA has many great locations to make up a Deep South road trip itinerary to suit your interests. Whether your interest lies in history, food, music or simply beautiful beach resorts, the Deep South has so many options that you will be spoilt for choice. We can definitely vouch for the beauty of the Outer Banks with its wild horses and the fascinating Wright Brothers National Memorial where the Wright Brothers flew the first plane.

Birmingham, Alabama 

The Deep South is unlike any other part of the U.S. – and that’s exactly why we loved our Deep South road trip through it. One of our favorite stops along the way was Birmingham, Alabama, a surprisingly hip and hipster town that was the site of many important (and tragic) events in America’s past.
Street art in Birmingham Alabama | Southern USA Road Trip | #DeepSouth Tour | #TheSouth #SouthernUSA
Street art in Birmingham Alabama seen on a Southern USA road trip (photo credit: Jen Ambrose and Ryan Victor)

A Civil Rights Focus For a Southern USA Road Trip

Three things you will find in the Southern states of the USA — delicious southern cooking, destinations with a deep yet troubled history, and the birthplace of the many musical genres that have impacted American music.
One way to experience what makes the south unique is through a Civil Rights road trip.
On this Deep South Road Trip itinerary, start in Atlanta, the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and home to the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
From Atlanta, head down to Montgomery, Alabama and visit the Rosa Parks Museum and Freedom Rides Museum to learn about the monumental impact the bus boycott and Freedom Rides had on the Civil Rights movement in the U.S.
It is then a short one and one-half hour drive to Birmingham, Alabama, where you can learn about the civil rights struggle in Alabama at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, visit the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, and sample from Birmingham’s burgeoning food scene.
Finish off your road trip in Memphis, tracing the arc of MLK, Jr.’s life from beginning to tragic end with a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel, the site where he was assassinated.
Of course, the Memphis music scene is hopping with the blues clubs on famous Beale Street, Gibson guitar factory tours, Elvis’ Graceland, the Memphis Blues Hall of Fame, and historic STAX Museum of American Soul Music.
– by Tamara Gruber at We3Travel and 
Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta Georgia
Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta Georgia (Photo credit: Tamara Gruber)

Charleston, South Carolina 

– by Sierra Dehmler at and on social media at 

Georgian doors in Charleston South Carolina | Southern USA Road Trip | #DeepSouth Tour | #TheSouth #SouthernUSA
Charleston, South Carolina on a Deep South Road Trip (Photo credit: Sierra Dehmler)

Memphis, Tennessee 

The Southeastern United States

As someone who was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, the news that the Southeast had been chosen as one of the world’s emerging travel hotspots provoked one question from me: What took them so long?

In terms of natural beauty, the region has it in spades, from the mountains of Appalachia and national forests such as Chattahoochee and Pisgah to islands such as the Outer Banks (NC), Golden Isles (GA), and Hilton Head (SC).

If it’s culture you seek, the Southeast is the birthplace of the blues, country, jazz, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll. There’s fantastic food, from the low country cuisine of the coastal regions to the soul food that traces its roots back to Africa.

If it’s hip cities you’re into, the region has more than its fair share, from Asheville and Charleston to Nashville and Mobile. And then there’s my hometown, Atlanta, which has grown from the city Sherman burned to a bustling metropolis rich with international flavor.

Whether you’re into Civil War history or the Civil Rights movement, the Southeast has a uniquely diverse array of offerings that will appeal to travelers of every style. So much so that, in recent years, a significant portion of our visitors seem inclined to stay!

– Bret Love & Mary Gabbett at Green Global Travel and on social media at 

Sunset in Outer Banks, North Carolina | Southern States Road Trip | #DeepSouth #OBX
Sunset in Outer Banks, North Carolina (Photo credit: Bret Love)

Visit Florida for Sun and Fun on your Deep South Road Trip

There’s so much more to Florida than the ever popular Orlando theme parks. We have been to some of the more popular places like the Palm Beaches, Orlando, Miami and Key West, including a beautiful road trip from Miami to Key West.

Gainesville, Florida

Gainesville is an awesome place to visit for its diversity. As a college town where the University of Florida is located, there are a ton of very unique bars, and many that are cheap as dirt (the benefits of a college town!) Some even let you bring your dogs, which is fun whether you have a pup or not – I mean, who doesn’t love having a beer and petting a cute dog at the same time?
There are some cool walks to do as well, on one of which you can spot gators. Just don’t get too close, and they won’t attack. I swear, they’re tame! (Don’t bring your dogs for that walk, though, as they do want to eat your dog, just not you!)
Gainesville is filled with surprises, and awesome places to eat. Ever tried a falafel burger? You got it. As it’s a bit of a trendy place, there are loads of vegan and vegetarian restaurants, as well as something for the meat eaters out there – rest assured.
Overall, Gainesville is incredibly diverse, plus it’s a small city so it’s easy to walk around even if you don’t have a car. I highly recommend visiting!
– by Danielle Ditzian from Like Riding a Bicycle  and on social media at 
Up close and personal with Alligators in Gainesville, Florida
Up close and personal with Alligators in Gainesville, Florida (Photo credit: Danielle Ditzian)


Southwest Florida

Beautiful Southwest Florida is as much a geographic region as it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Florida. Located in the sub-tropical southwest “paradise coast” of Florida, the region lies at the edge of the Florida Everglades giving visitors unparalleled nature and eco tourism opportunities.

The main cities of Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, and Fort Myers all offer great shopping, dining, and cultural activities centered around the Arts, and are surrounded by the small, still quaint fishing towns that offer a glimpse into the slower pace of Floridays gone past.

Island towns like Sanibel and Captiva islands, Pine Island, and Matlacha, are easy day trips from wherever you stay and perfect for paddling the calm bays and backwaters, browsing art galleries and eating fresh shrimp tacos for lunch.

It’s just a short drive to Miami for those needing more action, and a fun 3-hour boat ride to check out Key West for the day. But the biggest draw for visitors to southwest Florida is some of the best beaches in the country, with Caribbean-style turquoise water, soft white sand, and some of the best shelling in the world.

– by Lori Sorrentino at and on social media at 
A live shell found on beach in Naples, Florida
A live shell found on the beach in Naples, Florida will go back to the sea.

Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida

My family loves visiting the islands of Sanibel and Captiva on the West coast of Florida. They offer some of the Sunshine State’s most sublime scenery. Miles of white sand beaches, acres of wildlife refuge, and a low-key vibe make this part of Florida a true island oasis.
Both Sanibel and Captiva have long been known as the best spots in the world to go shelling, but Sanibel in particular has a huge abundance of shells due to its unusual east-west orientation, allowing the shells to roll in and stay put. People come from far and wide to go shelling on Sanibel.
Sanibel is also the home to the “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, offering a ton of wildlife spotting, making the island a nature-lovers paradise. There is town life as well, but for the really funky part of the islands, head over the bridge to Captiva, where swirls of bright colours great you with quirky stores and bungalow-style restaurants and cafes.
Captiva is fun and unique, with places like the wacky Bubble Room, which celebrates Christmas all-year round, and known for their delicious cakes. Sunset Beach cocktails can be had at famed Mucky Duck, a Captiva institution. Best of all, though, is just hanging at one of the islands’ many beautiful beaches, and feeling completely removed from the hustle and bustle.
– by Corey Cook at Fifi and Hop and on social media at
A Captiva Island Florida sunset
A Captiva Florida sunset (Photo credit: Corey Cook)

Everglades, Florida

One of the most famous ecosystems in the southeast US is the Florida Everglades, as it contains the largest subtropical wetland in the country. Over 1.5 million acres has been designated as Everglades National Park, and is home to more than 70 threatened or endangered species.
The Everglades has such a unique ecology that it’s also received several international recognitions,  including International Biosphere Reserve, Wetland of International Importance, and World  Heritage Site (this place is special, y’all!).
Since the Everglades is so shallow, with sawgrass marsh as its primary feature, motorboats can’t operate in most areas. So the most novel – and fun! – way to explore it is by airboat. Airboating is a great eco-friendly option, since there’s no submerged propeller to damage underwater plants and wildlife (that gets extra points from this sustainability-minded traveler). It’s also loud, windy, and fast!
To get a little taste of what the Everglades has to offer, I recommend a tour with Everglades the  River of Grass Adventures. Just an hour’s drive from Fort Lauderdale and a cost of $50 for a  one-hour tour, it’s easily accessible and well-priced. The guides are super knowledgeable on ecology of the area, and there’s a good chance you’ll have some close encounters with local wildlife. Fingers crossed for an alligator sighting!
 – by Mary Beth Charles at and on social media at 
American Alligator Swimming through the Everglades (Image credit: Mary Beth Charles)

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge – Georgia and Florida

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is as much fun to visit as it is to say (oh-kuh’-fuh-noh’-kee). Residing along the Georgia and Florida border in the Southeast United States, this renowned swamp covers 438,000 acres. The look and feel of this swamp is almost prehistoric, as alligators inhabit the waterways and Spanish moss hangs from the trees.

If you are a wildlife lover, be sure to bring your binoculars and camera. Besides the thousands of alligators in the swamp you might also see black bears, otters water moccasins and a whole host of interesting birds, including the osprey, sandhill crane and anhinga.

You can explore Okefenokee Swamp at your leisure from your car or the wilderness walkways, or take one of the many tours offered by the Park Service. You can even take a train tour aboard “The Lady Suwanee” along the Okefenokee Railroad.

I very highly recommend getting out of your car and taking the Adventure Walk to the Observation Tower. This boardwalk sits low – nearly on top of the swamp so wildlife viewing is fantastic. The Observation Tower is 90 feet high and allows wonderful panoramic views of the swamp.

– by Cherri Megasko at Bucket List Travel Club and on social media at 

Twin alligators at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge on the Florida-Georgia border
Twin alligators at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge on the Florida-Georgia border (Photo credit: Cherri Megasko)

Florida For a Southern States Road Trip

When you think of Florida, you probably think of Disney and gators, but there is so much more to it than that.  It’s home to the oldest city in the US (St Augustine), one of the least visited national parks in the country, natural springs with crystal clear water, and some of the best cave diving in the world.  And if none of that interests you, it’s got the Kennedy Space Center, beaches galore, some of the best state parks, and one of the most stylish cities in the country. 
I love visiting Florida, because just driving three hours can feel like an entirely new place.  There’s something for everyone whether you’re a city slicker or a beach bum, there’s a place for you. 
I love the colorful shops in Cocoa Beach, boating around Port Orange, relaxing at the Anastasia Island State Park, and exploring the springs. 
In Gainesville check out The Flying Biscuit for brunch and CYM for a delicious coffee. 
If you’re in St. Augustine, head to Kookaburra for a unique coffee experience and an awesome dinner at The Floridian after wandering the old city. 
Florida is an awesome place to visit because it is such a diverse state. 
 – by Megan Johnson at and on social media at 
Florida Lighthouse
Florida Lighthouse (Photo credit: Megan Johnson)

Louisiana and Texas for a Deep South USA Road Trip

We have just returned from a Louisiana road trip that started in with Mardi Gras in New Orleans and ended in Houston. I’ve not yet had time to write the articles for this Louisiana road trip which included visiting plantation country and cajun country. In the meantime, here are two other perspectives on visiting Louisiana and Texas.

New Orleans, Louisiana 

United States is a huge country with plenty of diversity, amongst which the southern states holds its own. The weather is warm, the food is spicy, the people are known for their “southern” hospitality and there are some unique rituals and festivals that are not observed anywhere else in the country.
New Orleans, the major city of Louisiana, stands out on its own because of the French colonialism hangover. The creole-cajun food where African (much like other southern states, Louisiana too had African slaves employed on plantations and cotton fields) and French traditions meet, the strains of Jazz music and the crowd puller Mardi Gras are all nods to its checkered past.
There are so many reasons to visit New Orleans, be it to witness the frenzy of Mardi Gras or the liveliness of New Orleans Jazz fest or to taste the amazing diversity in southern food.
However, the one thing that you should not miss is the French quarter neighborhood or Vieux Carre, the oldest district of the city and built by the French in 1718. The architecture is distinctly European with slatted windows, beautiful courtyards and fountains. It is a bustling neighborhood with bars, pubs, restaurants and local boutique shops. Bourbon street is the liveliest street which becomes the epicenter of drunken revelry during Mardi Gras while Canal street is where you get to see some of the best parades at that time.
The French Quarter is home to the famous Jackson Square, formerly known as the Place d’Armes and later renamed after Andrew Jackson, the hero of the battle of New Orleans. Close by is the iconic Cafe du Monde serving beignets and coffee 24/7 (cash only please).
The French Quarter is a must visit if you are in NOLA and you can further enhance your experience by joining one of the many walking tours offered in the neighborhood.
– by Paroma Chakravarty at Year of the Monkey and on social media at
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana (Photo credit: Paroma Chakravarty)

Austin, Texas 

Austin, the state capital of Texas, is a great place to visit and rightly deserves to be included in the Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Regions to visit in 2018.

Known predominantly for it’s eclectic music scene and the University of Texas at Austin, Austin also has enough parks and lakes to keep every outdoor enthusiast happy and are great for hiking, biking, swimming and kayaking.

It also has a blossoming food scene and currently serves up some of the best BBQ and Taco’s in the whole of the South! Add in an outdoor gallery and 2 annual music festivals, and you’ve got a city with something for everyone.

If you are planning a weekend in Austin, this guide has everything you need to know from things to do, where to stay and what to eat!

– by Vicki Garside at Make Time To See The World and on social media at 

Austin Texas (photo credit: Vicki Garside)
It’s quite hard to plana Deep South road trip itinerary… there’s so much to see and to do in
the Southern States! If you’re overwhelmed with possibilities, check out these 13
destinations that shouldn’t miss in your South US road trip. You’ll find the beaches of Florida,
cities like Savannah and Atlanta, the crocodiles in Everglades and more. Plan your Southern
road trip with these ideas.
Top Tip! I still remember the time I took a wrong turn on a road trip in Ireland and went down some farm track. Getting the car out of that dirt road took some maneuvering.  So, gefore you embark on a road trip remember to make sure your car is in top condition or if you have a rental car, good rental car insurance for any mishaps along the way.


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5 thoughts on “The Best Tips and Ideas For Your Southern USA Road Trip”

  1. Atlanta’s my hometown, too! (well, mostly lol…I’ve been here for 20 years but still have yet to check out most of the tourist attractions here haha). I’m in love with a lot of the Florida places you mentioned on your guide, though. Florida’s one of my favorite states, and there’s still so much of it I haven’t explored!! <3

  2. Sounds like an amazing road trip. I’ve only been to Memphis and New Orleans and they were great cities but would love to explore more of the South. Reminds me I need to start planning a road trip for this summer!

  3. We learned so much about history and human rights during our road trip through the South – there are so many museums there that every American should see! We didn’t make it to Memphis or Charleston unfortunately, but those are at the top of our list for next time we’re in the South (although who knows when that will be!).

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