For a visitor to the United States, Southern culture as a concept would have limited meaning: the southern drawl, jazz music, or perhaps some of the area’s cuisine that pop culture, more particularly Hollywood, has spoken of over the years. The region’s long and unique history, its architecture, and its people’s pride in their local communities and heritage have created a unique culture and local customs distinct from other parts of the country. Here are some suggestions to enjoy an authentic experience of quintessential Southern U.S. culture.
New Orleans is famously the Birthplace of Jazz, of course, but there’s much more on offer. The distinctive Creole and French architecture, multilingual heritage, and the influence of various cultures make New Orleans a fascinating place to visit. Explore the Mississippi River, the French Quarter, Magazine Street, the city’s churches, and other fascinating landmarks. The city’s history tells some sobering stories about a great nation, while its cuisine delights and surprises. Then, of course, there is the music! Also spectacular are the festivals in New Orleans, including but not limited to Mardi Gras. They are something everyone should experience!
Image via Flickr by Clinton Steeds
Brunswick, Georgia, in the southeastern corner of the state, is one of the country’s busiest ports. It’s a place with great laid-back charm, and it’s a major center for Civil War history. Once known as the Shrimp Capital of the World, Brunswick has shrimp boats docked at the wharves and seafood dining options that show that the fishing trade is still important here. For history buffs, Old Town Brunswick, with its public squares and many historic architectural landmarks, will be riveting. A variety of hotel choices can be found for all budgets. Festivals throughout the year, great weather, nature rambles, and other outdoor activities mean that Brunswick has something for everyone.
Founded in 1690 by King Charles of England, Charleston, South Carolina, has a long colonial history that is seen in its well-preserved architecture and distinctive culture. The Charleston Historic District, with its museums, art exhibits, mansions, and cultural center, as well as landmark live theater, annual fairs, and jazz music traditions, are some reasons to visit Charleston. Variously ranked as America’s Most Friendly City, The Most Polite and Hospitable City in America, and even the World’s Best City by travel publications, Charleston is certainly a must-visit for anyone looking to experience authentic Southern culture.
Georgia Antebellum Trail
To offer an option other than the cultural riches of the South’s main urban centers, may we suggest a trekking option that perhaps offers the best possible experience of the historical old South? The 100-mile trek winds through some fascinating historic communities of Athens, Watkinsville, Madison, Eatonton, Milledgeville, Gray/Old Clinton, and Macon, offering glimpses not just of a rich past but also a lively, dynamic present with exciting dining and shopping options. Visit the “Town that Time Forgot,” a historic stagecoach stop, pre-Civil War sites, and museums. Witness legendary parades and opera performances. Sample fresh local produce as you proceed along the trail.
The South has so much to offer: urban nightlife, quaint rural experiences, adventure, monuments, cuisine, musical traditions, and a fascinating history. Create a truly memorable holiday by experiencing the authentic culture of the South.