OF THE US SOUTH
The South is more than a place. It is an idea, a culture, a heritage, a fable, and a wound. Historically primarily rural and less industrial than the Northern United States, today’s South is vital and growing. The customs, musical stylings, architecture, and cuisine are at once recognizable and ever-changing.
St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States, founded in 1565. Its Spanish roots show at every opportunity, though with a decidedly southern twist. The National Historic Landmark District is a huge draw for travelers. Situated in the middle of the city, it contains St. Augustine’s most important sites.
St. Augustine, Florida
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine; the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the United States; and Gonzalez-Alvarez House, the oldest surviving house in the city (1723).
The capital of Georgia and once home to the indigenous Creek people, Atlanta has become a true metropolis. Not a lot of historic Atlanta exists in modern times, as the city was almost wholly destroyed by fire during the Civil War as a part of General William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea. Yet, the city was rebuilt and prospers to this day. Five Points neighborhood is a popular spot to visit, with the Atlanta Underground being
a vital part of this area, hosting shops and entertainment on what were once historic train tracks. It is now a center of media in the south, with multiple movie finance companies finding it appealing for movie and TV shoots.
A city that’s long been known for its country music scene, Nashville is different from its neighbors further south as its borders straddle Appalachian culture. Founded in 1779 as a river and railroad center, Nashville is the capital of the state of Tennessee. Soul food is found everywhere, with hot chicken being a famous dish. This is fried chicken with a hot sauce and cayenne kick — perfect for those that love spicy food.
For country music lovers, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville shows the best of the best. Known as “Music City,” Nashville is also home to three professional sports teams and six universities.
Known for Mardi Gras and excellent cajun food, New Orleans is the epitome of southern American culture, embracing the influences of arrivals in a port town since 1718. The mixture of French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean cultures all melted into the very fabric of the city. Festivals like the massive costume party that is Mardi Gras showcase the 24-hour/365 days a year nightlife. The food is just as diverse as the cultures integrated: Po’ boy sandwiches, jambalaya, and gumbo pop with fresh flavor at most restaurants.
New Orleans, Louisiana
The French Quarter is bursting with creativity at almost any hour. There’s a reason it’s called the Big Easy, the festive and accepting spirit of New Orleans is palpable on every street corner—especially with the mighty Mississippi River running right along the French Quarter. There are cemetery and ghost tours for the traveler to learn about history in an exciting way.
Austin is considered a live music capital with country, blues, and rock emanating from a multitude of bars and venues. Austin has been the fastest-growing large city in the United States since 2010. While still essentially a southern city with charm, it has become a tech giant during this growth, earning it the nickname “Silicon Hills.” While the downtown has a larger city feel, just outside the city, parks and forests offer excellent hiking and camping.
Austin is an eclectic city to explore culture-wise, and the sunsets are known to be a radiant experience of yellows and oranges above the hills to the east.
Founded in 1670, Charleston is a quintessential southern city of the United States. The city has over 2,500 historical buildings and a mix of architectural styles. The downtown area is stunning and extends onto a peninsula surrounded by water on three sides. A slow-paced walk among lines of classic southern houses and buildings, fountains, and plenty of green from the many trees throughout downtown Charleston is a
Charleston, South Carolina
worthwhile endeavor. With dishes like she-crab soup, fried green tomatoes, and the classic southern dish of shrimp and grits, Southern culture is prominent at every meal.
Richmond is the capital of Virginia and was founded in 1737. U.S. Founding Father Patrick Henry famously declared, “Give me liberty or give me death” at Richmond’s St. John’s Church in 1775. Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. The James River flows through the city and offers white water rafting and plenty of trails for the adventurous. The red-brick houses in rows remind one of the beautiful side of the city's southern history.
Savannah is the perfect representation of southern charm and beauty on the Atlantic Coast. Established in 1733, this city exudes the slowed-down culture of the South. Spanish moss hangs from ancient oak trees over cobblestone squares and parks, many with fountains in the middle, lit with an intimate ambiance from street lamps. The downtown area is a wonderland of sights to see. A walk down River Street, along the Savannah River, is a line of shops and great restaurants on cobblestone streets.
Southern food, including plenty of seafood, permeates the air throughout this area: low country boils with shrimp or crab and deliciously fried foods. Tours, including horse-drawn and ghost tours, will give the traveler a sense of this city’s extensive history — a history that is still evident in almost every detail of the architecture, culture, and atmosphere of Savannah.
The city of Birmingham sits in central Alabama. Founded as an iron mill town in 1871, it has remained one of the primary industrial centers of the South. During the 1950s and 1960s, Birmingham was the center of the Civil Rights Movement. One of the highlights to check out in the city is the history of the Civil Rights Movement at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. There’s also the award-winning cuisine, often based on soul food recipes.