With more and more British holiday goers choosing the USA as their preferred destination, why not consider the southern states? Visit a region where food, music, history and soul blend together for an unforgettable experience – each just as unique as the last! Take a look at the best places to visit in Southern USA.

Southern USA, the Dixieland, the American South: This is one of the most diverse and distinct areas of the United States.  HolidayGuru has put together a list of the best places to visit in Southern USA that will excite your senses and soothe your soul.

This strange and beautiful region isn’t a defined geographical area – what states make up the idea of “Southern USA” changes depending on who you ask! It’s more of a cultural concept, with each state having a strong self of pride and attachment to their values. 

This is a region with a bloody and brutal history that is still being reckoned with today, and one that is worth being aware of when you visit the US. If you can accept the conservatism and strong religious beliefs, then these cities will open themselves to you. You’ll enjoy some truly fine cuisine, music and untouched landscapes, all dosed with Southern hospitality. 

 This list is by no means comprehensive – it’s just a starting point for your trip across the pond.

The Best Places to Visit in Southern USA

Georgia | Tennessee | South Carolina | Louisiana | Florida

 

Georgia

This is a state of many flavours: small towns and large cities abound, along with backwoods beauty and sandy beaches. A journey through this state will put you in a bustling metropolis, sandy beaches and the legends of haunted spots.

The Best Places to visit in Georgia

  • Atlanta: The capital of Georgia allows you to see the city from all angles. Here you have Southern old money, skyscrapers, hip-hop and the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. There are so many things to do in Atlanta: dive into the Deep South at the Atlanta History Centre and learn about every period in the state’s history from Native American to the Civil War-era. Take a tour of CNN Studios, walk through Piedmont Park or pay a visit to the MLK National Historic Site. 
  • Savannah: When many people think of the Peach State, they imagine oak tree-lined streets, cotton plantations and a slightly spooky, small-town feel. You’ll get all this and more in Savannah, which oozes Southern Gothic charm straight out of Gone with the Wind. Enjoy the walk through the historical district, take a trolley tour, and or wade through the swamps by boat in the city’s Wildlife Refuge. 
  • Cumberland Island: This island was made for family vacations. It’s got an uninhabited marshland, tree-lined paths and wild horses that trot on the sandy beach. Rent a bikechill out with a book or go for a hike – you won’t regret it.

Tennessee

Tennessee is the unofficial music capital in Southern USA. For music lovers, this is one of the best places to visit in Southern USA. Where else will you find an entire theme park dedicated to Dolly Parton or the home of Elvis Presley? This state has music in its soul and its set against the backdrop of rivers, waterfalls and mountain ranges.

The Best Places to Visit in Tennessee

  • The Smoky Mountains: You can take the ultimate road trip along this mountain range. The Smoky Mountains extend along the Tennessee – North Carolina border and is the perfect spot for outdoor enthusiasts. Make the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a priority – you’ll truly feel at one with nature with its hiking trails, logwood cabins and rivers.
  • Nashville: Tennessee’s capital Nashville has plenty of attractions. Be sure to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame or catch a show at the Bridgestone Arena. You’ll probably gain a few pounds from the food, too. This city is known for its barbecue meats and biscuits, with famed restaurants such as Hattie B’s Hot Chicken and Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack offering you a hearty meal.
  • Memphis: Memphis is one of the original exporters of soul and rock music. As the home of Stax Records, it’s a real cornerstone of African American history. Grab a drink on neon-lit Beale Street and sway to the blues in the city’s various clubs. As well, you should put Elvis Presley’s preserved mansion, Graceland, at the top of your list. 

South Carolina

This Southern State has a foothold in American history. The state was the first to succeed from the union, and the first shots of the Civil War were fired from Fort Sumter in Charleston. Its darker Colonial past is never forgotten, with several luscious, moss-covered former plantations open for tours. Here, you’ll find beaches that are second-to-none, fresh seafood and history at every corner.

  • Charleston: There are several things to do in this coastal city. Downtown Charleston is a visit to the past, with cobblestone streets and antebellum-era houses but you’ll find a lively nightlife scene, thanks to the local college. You can soothe your soul by taking a walk along the battery at sunset. If you’re a fan of The Notebook then be sure to go shopping in the historic King Street.
  • Myrtle Beach: Enjoy the ultimate beach holiday on Myrtle Beach. You’ll find surfers, a subtropical climate and endless entertainment. Walk the pier at sunset, check out the water parks and enjoy the best of the city’s seafood restaurants and steakhouses. Don’t forget to see the city at night from the top of SkyWheel.

Louisiana

This next Southern state is a true melting pot. Caribbean, African, Canadian and French influences inform this state’s culture. You’ll find experimental food, amazing music, incredible architecture and alligators. Despite suffering the disastrous effects of Hurricane Katrina for many years, this state’s spirit lives on.

The Best Things to do in Louisiana

  • Lafayette: It would be hard to find another state in the US that has such distinct food. Louisiana is famed for its spicy Cajun dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish and red beans and rice which are served in centuries-old restaurants. For foodies, this one of the best places to visit in Southern USA. Lafayette offers endless eateries, so be sure to book a food tour! The Acadian Village lets you wander through the preserved homes of the state’s 19-century settlers from Canada. 
  • New Orleans: Louisiana’s largest city is rambunctious and has music in its soul. As the birthplace of jazz and several cocktail recipes, this city is the perfect nightlife spot. Walk through the historic French Quarter or take a steamboat cruise. Be brave enough to try a Cajun dish in one of the city’s centuries-old restaurant. Check out the pastel-coloured houses in the historic Creole neighbourhood of Marigny & Bywater. Two words: Mardi Gras. 
  • Louisiana Wetlands: The wetlands or ‘bayous’ in Southern Louisiana are as vital to the state’s seafood industry as they are to its safety from flooding. Due to coastal erosion, they are sadly losing acres upon acres of land per day. Take a tour through these mysterious swamps by airboat. You’ll see some incredible wildlife like gators, snakes, pelicans and otters. 

Florida

You’ll find everything under the sun in this tropical Mosaic! Florida is one of the most popular tourist destinations for people in the UK and Ireland and it’s no surprise why. It’s family-friendly, multicultural and boasts incredible weather.

The Best Things to do in Florida

  • Orlando: Orlando is the perfect spot for a family holiday. Here you will find the state’s big-name theme parks like Universal Studios and Walt Disney World. There’s also the several beaches like Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach. You’ll find the best in shopping and nightlife and the stunning lakeside Eola Park in Downtown Orlando. 
  • Miami: It’s no wonder why the Magic City is such a sought-after destination: you’ll find a blend of cultural and architectural influences, eccentric inhabitants, a vibrant bar scene and glamorous beaches. Make sure to have dinner in the colourful Cuban neighbourhood of Little Havana and walk along Ocean Drive to see the 1930s art deco beauty of South Beach. Take a stroll around Tropical Park for a break from the madness.
  • Everglades: This 1.5m acre stretch of wetlands is one of Florida’s premier attractions. The Everglades National Park is home to hundreds of animal species including the endangered manatees, American crocodile and even panthers. Take a boat tour of this incredible natural habitat – you’ll never forget it!

Craving more inspiration? Check out these other destinations and plan your next adventure…