Last year, we did a great road trip in the Deep South of the United States, during which we crossed no less than 7 different states: Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It’s one of the most beautiful road trips I have ever done, mixing history, nature, culture, and of course gastronomy. We strolled through beautiful historic towns with Antebellum houses (before the Civil War), we sailed among alligators in swamps, we went in search of locations for cult films, we ate delicious barbecues and loads of soul food, and we even had a tête-à-tête with a bear in a national park! In short, it was really a very varied trip,
SOME TIPS TO PREPARE YOUR ROADTRIP IN THE SOUTH-EAST OF THE UNITED STATES
I hadn’t set foot in the United States since my trip to Florida, between Miami and Orlando, in 2015. To be honest with you, I originally wanted to do a “simple” road trip in Louisiana, but when I got Realized that there were much cheaper direct flights to Atlanta from Brussels, I thought it might be even nicer to do a long loop throughout the Old South or “Deep South” as the states are sometimes called the Southeastern United States, rather than visiting just the state of Louisiana. And it was a great idea!
Before returning to the detailed itinerary of this trip, here are some practical tips to best prepare your roadtrip in the Deep South.
WHEN TO GO?
I highly recommend that you plan your trip to the Deep South outside of the hurricane season, which can run from June to November in the southeastern states of the United States. Admittedly, the accommodation can be much cheaper during this period, but to be passed very close to a hurricane in Cuba, it is a risk that I have not taken since.
If you are leaving in early spring, also be careful as the Mississippi can be inundated during this time and cause road closures.
Finally, don’t forget to also take into account festivals and other big events which can be nice but lively but especially increase the price of accommodation and plane tickets at certain times of the year (for example, the week Mardi Gras in Louisiana or the Jazz Fest in New Orleans).
Driving in the Deep South is fairly easy, there are often long straight lines and the roads are wide (American style). I just advise you to take a look at the American Highway Code before you leave because there are some differences with ours (especially the priority system).
When it comes to car rental, pay close attention to the conditions of the company you choose !! Most allow free movement between states, but not all. In general, it is better to take a rental company that has branches in several places on your route, so that in case of concern it is easier. Also be careful if you are leaving or planning to cross Florida because many companies will force you on arrival to pay a drill for the toll, which can increase the rental price unnecessarily if you only plan to spend a few days there in a given day. journey of several weeks (this is the only state where there is any).
By booking well in advance it is possible to find tickets at a little over 300 € for Atlanta from Brussels (we quickly go up to 700-800 € for an arrival in Louisiana). However, the bulk of the budget remains car rental (I recommend more than strongly that you take out full insurance with reimbursement of the excess, you will congratulate yourself in the event of a problem …) and especially accommodation.
In large cities in the United States, you often have to choose between charmless motels on the outskirts at modest prices or more central boutique hotels but overpriced … For this trip, the best value for money we found were often Airbnbs. For example, we slept in an old Airstream in Atlanta, in a log cabin in the mountains, in a large historic house that we had to ourselves in New Orleans, in a music-themed apartment. on the Route du Blues, etc etc. If one of these experiences interests you (you will find the details in my detailed articles on each destination), you can benefit from a 30 € reduction on your first Airbnb reservation by booking via this link .
To be able to return to the United States, you must be in possession of an ESTA authorization. The process is simple, but the application must be made online before your trip as it may take a little while to be approved. The only official site to apply for your ESTA is that of the US government , don’t be fooled !!
Also pay attention to the time change between the different states! During this trip we traveled between two timezones, with a first change between Atlanta and Mobile, and a second between Nashville and the Great Smoky Mountains.
THE ITINERARY OF OUR 3-WEEK ROADTRIP IN THE DEEP SOUTH
Here is the general recap of the itinerary of our 3-week roadtrip in the Deep South of the United States. You will find there the links to my detailed articles devoted to each stage of this journey.
DAY 1: BRUSSELS – ATLANTA
Direct flight from Brussels to Atlanta, Georgia and pick up our rental car at the airport. We spent the end of the day in Atlanta in the hipster neighborhood of Little Five Points.
Accommodation: 2 nights in Atlanta in an original Airbnb (a refurbished old Airstream!)
DAY 2: ATLANTA
We spent a full day in Atlanta: walking the Beltline, visiting the Coca-Cola Museum, CNN studios, Marin Luther King Jr.’s grave,… And a great drive-in cinema experience to end the day in beauty!
DAY 3: ATLANTA – MOBILE
Road to Montgomery in Alabama (2h30). We visited the town of Specter (filming location of the movie Big Fish), then walked through downtown Montgomery. We also found the best BBQ of this trip, the K&J Rib Shack!
DAY 4: MOBILE – NEW ORLEANS (BYWATER)
In the afternoon, we took a boat ride to the Honey Island Swamp. Then drive (1 hour) to New Orleans in Louisiana with a stop at Bayou Sauvage.
DAY 5: NEW ORLEANS (FRENCH QUARTER + FAUBOURG MARIGNY)
Festive and gourmet day! We spent the day in the Vieux Carré (French Quarter) and attended the Easter Sunday parades. We then ended the day in one of the jazz clubs in Faubourg Marigny.
DAY 6: NEW ORLEANS (GARDEN DISTRICT)
We spent the day in one of the most beautiful areas of New Orleans, the Garden District, with a very good lunch in one of the most famous restaurants in the city, the Commander’s Palace. In the afternoon we also visited the impressive National WWII Museum.
DAY 7: NEW ORLEANS – LAFAYETTE
We left New Orleans early in the morning to spend the day on the Route des Plantations. We visited 3 old plantations: Oak Alley Plantation, Laura Plantation and Houmas House.
Then, road to Lafayette (2h) where we arrived exactly in time for the start of the festivities of the International Festival, a French-speaking music festival.
Accommodation : 3 nights in Lafayette. We tested two hotels, the Mouton Plantation and the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Lafayette South at River Ranch .
My complete article on Mouton Plantation: Mouton Plantation: sleeping in an old plantation in Louisiana
DAY 8: LAFAYETTE AND THE CAJUN COUNTRY, PART 1
We spent the day around Lafayette, in the Cajun Country. We notably visited the place where Tabasco is produced, Avery Island. Then evening at the International Festival.
DAY 9: LAFAYETTE AND THE CAJUN COUNTRY, PART 2
A new day of sightseeing around Lafayette. We notably did a great swamp tour (in French!) On Lake Martin.
DAY 10: LAFAYETTE – NATCHEZ
Road to Natchez (2h30), a historic city of Mississippi and one of my favorite stages of this road trip! We had a wonderful day there.
Hope you enjoy this trip to the United States! See you soon for a new road trip, maybe on the west coast this time?