Southern Road Trip


May 5th, 2015, 08:08 PM
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Southern Road Trip

Hello -
My wife and I are flying into Atlanta and renting a car for a week with a goal of exploring the south. We have both spent most of our lives on the west coast or in the Rocky Mountain region and have a real romantic fascination with this part of the country -- neither of us have ever visited anywhere in the south outside of Atlanta.

We would generally like to make a big loop, first heading west through Alabama and Mississippi to New Orleans. We would like to spend a few days in New Orleans and then possibly attempt to make it to Savannah on a southern line before heading back to Atlanta.

We would like to stay off any freeway as much as possible. We were thinking of taking US-80 across Alabama and Mississippi -allowing us to pass through Mobile, Vicksburgh and Natchez - before turning south to New Oreans. From New Orleans to Savannah we would likely take the quickest route available to be able to spend a day or two on the coast before zipping back to Atlanta. We are certainly trying to balance taking it slow and enjoying a nice, relaxing road trip with seeing as much of this region as possible in a week.

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated, including highways to use/avoid; towns to visit/avoid; attractions; etc.

Thank you!
MTCA57 is offline  
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May 6th, 2015, 03:35 AM
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I'd suggest Charleston over Savannah for your easternmost destination. A lot more bang for your buck.
You don't give a timeline.
I could offer a couple of ideas for sites--in Birmingham eat at one of Frank Stitt's restaurants, preferably Highland Grill. In Montgomery don't miss the Civil Rights Memorial by Maya Lin at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
If you really want to get to the southeast coast I'd probably just go to NOLA and then head east.
Starrs can give you some interesting places in Georgia en route. I would not "worry" about Atlanta too much! You might eat BBQ at The Varsity. And there is the Heard Museum.
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May 6th, 2015, 06:54 AM
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Thank you Gretchen, our entire trip will last one week in late May. We are flying into Atlanta on a Wednesday and flying out of Atlanta the following Wednesday.

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May 6th, 2015, 07:15 AM
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Then I think you need to seriously decide what you want to see and probably why.
NOLA is a no-brainer--nothing else like it in the US.
I haven't done the math on the mileage, but your desire to explore the highways and biways will have to be tempered, as you say.
Head to NOLA without Mississippi and then Charleston, with maybe a couple of little Georgia towns Starrs can add.
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May 6th, 2015, 07:17 AM
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I might add about NOLA--it is IN the South, but really a whole different kettle of fish--as is most of Louisiana with its creole/Cajun roots. That's what makes it so "exotic". Explore a little more of LA en route to NOLA, etc. Charleston IS the "south", almost epitomized.
You could have a great trip with just those two destinations, IMO.
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May 6th, 2015, 11:19 AM
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You don't have time to do both NOLA and the East Coast. Presuming you're not going in the summer, I'd go to NOLA. We live in Atlanta and have done this one a lot. The suggestions are alternates, as you probably can't do all of them in just one week.

Take I-85 south from Atlanta (yes I know it's an interstate, but wait til the end of this comment before giving up)

Stop at Tuskegee to see Tuskegee Institute. Interesting place.

Stop in Montgomery to see the Capitol, MLK's church during the bus boycott and perhaps drive over to Selma if you
are interested in civil rights.

Then follow I-65 down to Mobile (returning to Montgomery if you've gone to Selma.) Lots to see in Mobile. USS Alabama, Bellingrath Gardens west of Mobile for example.

Follow US 90 west along the Gulf. You could drop down to Gulf Islands National Seashore and take a look at Pass Christian, MS (wiped out by Camille and Katrina).

NOLA itself deserves at least three full days. Get a good guidebook, as what there is to do will depend a lot on what you like to do. Eat, drink and music for sure.

Then take the River Road west out of New Orleans (get there by taking I10 West to I310.) Destrehan Plantation is on the north bank of the River (never visited), then cross the river to LA 18 and head west along the south bank of the river. There are a number of plantations--we like Oak Alley. You can stay the nite there, but it may be too close to NOLA to spend the night.

At some point you'll be "plantationed out" so then recross the river and get on US 61 to head north toward Natchez. Stop at St. Francisville on the way.

Then see Natchez, and follow the Natchez Trace northeast to Port Gibson MS, where you'll get back on Highway 61 to Vicksburg. Battlefield National Park, the bluffs along the Mississippi are worth seeing. Then you can either follow US 80 back to Atlanta or (more likely given the dearth of interesting things to see along 80), follow I20 through Tuscaloosa and then Birmingham, then back to ATL.

That will certainly keep you busy for a week. If you rush through the above, then continue up to Memphis TN from Vicksburg and spend a couple of nites there--a must if either of you are interested in music.
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May 11th, 2016, 03:25 AM
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If you take the Mississippi route, Columbus is a nice place. it has some homes to visit and can eat downtown.

I enjoyed Savannah but there is more to see in Charleston.
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May 11th, 2016, 08:10 AM
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I would choose EITHER the southeast coast--Charleston and Savannah OR NOLA and the road suggested to get there above.
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