As epic as the drama it inspired, America’s Deep South doesn’t disappoint for sprawling plantations, antebellum mansions, and civil war stories straight from the pages of Gone with the Wind. A true Southern Belle, Atlanta gives a behind-the-scenes look at places that inspired its most famous daughter, Margaret Mitchell. Rambling around Stately Oaks Plantation, which gave her the idea for Tara, and seeing the film’s costumes at Road to Tara Museum, it’s easy to see why Atlanta claimed her starring role. Stepping into Civil War settings, you’ll see Charleston and Augusta’s historic sights persevering in spite of the ravages of nature and wars. And you’ll witness the antebellum architecture which added to the novel’s romance in Savannah, home of the old cotton exchange; in Beaufort, also featured in Forrest Gump; and in Natchez, where you get to explore one of these gracious mansions. Picking picture-book routes, like Pensacola’s Panhandle-skirting roads and the 444 mile Natchez Trace Parkway, makes your journey as exciting as your destinations. Of course, you can’t visit without hearing the sounds of The South, as country music fills Nashville’s streets, the blues spill from Beale Street bars in Elvis’s heartland of Memphis; and jazz bands make music in New Orleans’ French Quarter and on its Mississippi steamboats.
Those after the full surround-sound experience of the South, can’t do better than this musical masterpiece. With its intro in Atlanta, often overlooked in favour of noisier neighbours Nashville and Memphis, you’ll discover a hotbed of musical talent, from hip- hop to gospel. It’s also lled with big-city attractions, like World of Coca Cola and Inside CNN tours. The pull of the musical maestros soon takes hold, and Nashville tempts you with its Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry – you could always crank up the radio for a detour to the Chatanooga Choo Choo or Jack Daniels distillery on your way. Moving to Memphis, country and western makes way for the birthplace of the blues. It may have sealed its fame in the Elvis years, and time at Graceland’s a must, but the blues still play proud in Beale Street’s bars. Tuning in to jazz stations instead puts you in the New Orleans spirit, as you drive through Natchez and Baton Rouge to The Big Easy and famously ornate Bourbon Street. But the sounds of the South aren’t all you’ll experience: there’s the taste of barbecue and gumbo; Vicksburg’s military connections; Pensacola’s Gulf beaches; Floridian capital, Tallahassee; and interludes among the antebellum homes of grandiose Savannah and Charleston.