Here are some of our favorite Southern states to explore to get a taste of the Deep South.
The Deep South in the southern United States is a region inextricably linked to the nation’s history. It was originally used to refer to the “cotton states” of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana – states that relied on plantation-style cotton farming for their local economy in the 18th century. Today, that term has expanded to include other neighboring states, like Tennessee, Texas and Florida, and the Deep South has developed its own signature cultural heritage that is totally unique to anywhere else in the world.
Choosing to study at one of the many excellent university campuses there, including the University of Mississippi, University of Alabama, and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, not only gives students a chance to study in a world-class facility, but also learn more about this enigmatic corner of the country. Here are some of our favourite Southern states to explore to get a taste of the Deep South.
Expect hot and humid weather, downhome hospitality, and a vibrant local arts scene in the ‘Sip! Music lovers have plenty to check out, from the Grammy Museum in Cleveland (fun fact: there are more Grammy winners from Mississippi than anywhere else in the US) to the museum of BB King, the legendary blues artist. As the home of the University of Mississippi, Oxford is often touted as the “cultural mecca of the South”, a big city with a small-town feel with an active community of musicians, artists and writers. Make sure you try some of the state’s namesakes, like Mississippi mud pie or a boat trip along the famed Mississippi River – the second longest in the country.
From country and rock’n’roll, to blues, soul and jazz, Tennessee has music in its blood. Capital city Nashville (nicknamed Music City) is home to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Johnny Cash Museum. It also houses 30 different universities, including Vanderbilt University, and has plenty of trendy shopping and restaurant districts to hang out in between live music shows. Get out of the city limits to check out the Great Smoky Mountains – the most visited national park in the US – and visit some of the state’s world-famous attractions that you can’t miss, like Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s theme park, and Graceland, the famous five-acre ranch where Elvis Presley lived until his death.
Sweet home Alabama! Renowned for its Southern hospitality, this underrated gem has everything, from gorgeous state parks, moving historical monuments, exquisite cuisine, and some of the country’s best beaches. The US Space & Rocket Centre is the state’s most popular attraction, showcasing the mind-boggling achievements of the US space program. Learn more about the American civil rights movement, which had many of its key events in Alabama, or head to Tuscaloosa for a tour of the state’s most famous university campus, University of Alabama. Above all, be sure to sample as many of the state’s trademark dishes as you can, including fried green tomatoes, banana pudding, okra, catfish, pecan pie, and Alabama-style BBQ.
A melting pot of French, African, and American cultural influences, Louisiana is a fascinating pocket of the Deep South that shouldn’t be missed. The state’s largest city, New Orleans, is famous for its French Quarter, a charismatic quartier made up of beautiful old buildings that have been around for centuries. It’s also home to Mardi Gras, a festive and flamboyant celebration that takes over the city with colorful parades, balls and street parties every year. Creole and cajun culture is king here, with distinctive dishes (gumbo, jambalaya, po’boys, and crawfish etouffee, to name just some), music, architecture and customs that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. No visit to the Bayou State would be complete without a tour of its murky backwaters; hop on a boat tour to explore their alligator-ridden swamps for a real adventure in the wild.