Deep Southern States to Fall in Love with
The Deep South in the southern United States is inextricably linked to the nation’s history. Originally the “cotton states” of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, these states relied on plantation-style cotton farming for their local economy in the 18th century. Today, that term has expanded to include neighboring states Tennessee, Texas, and Florida, and the Deep South has developed its own signature cultural heritage totally unique to anywhere else in the world.
Studying at one of the many excellent university campuses – the University of Mississippi, University of Alabama, and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee – takes you into a world-class facility where you can 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. If you love music, there's 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 very much the cultural mecca of the South, a big city with a small-town feel and 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 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) has the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Johnny Cash Museum. It also has 30 universities, including Vanderbilt University, and 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, 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 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 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 eat as many of the state’s trademark dishes as you can: fried green tomatoes, banana pudding, okra, catfish, pecan pie, and Alabama-style BBQ.
A melting pot of French, African, and American influences, Louisiana is a fascinating pocket of the Deep South. The state’s largest city, New Orleans, is famous for its French Quarter, a charismatic quartier of beautiful old buildings. 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), 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.