How to best experience "The South" (USA) for Europeans?

  1. We've traveled a fair amount and I think Charleston, SC, is quintessential South. It's always voted the most polite city in the USA. Savannah isn't a long drive and is lovely and historical too.

    I haven't been to New Orleans so I can't comment on that.

    Last minute airfares are usually very expensive.
  2. Book in advance. Last minute airfares are usually very expensive.

    If you can fit in Memphis and Nashville, yes. Both very nice cities with a lot of culture. A bit touristy too. If I were to pick between the two, I'd go with Memphis.
  3. I would definitely recommend New Orleans! You can experience the culture in the French Quarter and take in some plantations on River Road. Some are "haunted," some you can spend the night in... Tons of history. I grew up going to NO and spent a lot of time there throughout college. You feel the history all around you whether you are partying or just taking in the scene. You can take in the street performers, eat at restaurants that have been an institution in NO long before I and even my parents were born and listen to true southern blues music all at once.

    You can also head to the Mississippi coast within an hour from NO. My sister lives over that way and since Hurricane Katrina, anything and everything is purely southern... Very few commercialized chains. I am always torn between being saddened and fascinated when driving along he coast. Many destroyed homes and businesses are still gone with the only things remaining being a few porch steps from time to time. I always wonder about the people's lives and how they feel, where they are now and about all the memories and warm cozy moments they shared in those homes that are no longer there.
  4. Thank you boxermom, AuntieMame und pixiegirl! :hugs: The atmosphere you described pixiegirl sounds wonderful (well apart from the Katrina tragedy of course).
  5. Jillybean's advice is very good. :tup: If you want to experience "the South" then Charleston should definitely be one of your stops. It's beautiful with TONS of history, although the glorification of the Confederacy is a bit weird. :rolleyes:
    I'm from Nashville, and while I think it's a nice city (especially if you like country music), you might find more to do in Memphis, with the blues scene and the Memphis Zoo, if you're interested in that. :smile:
  6. Thank you renza! :smile:

    So we booked flights in an out of Atlanta. Yay! Charleston, Memphis, New Orleans etc. are quite scattered on the map... Would you rent a car and drive everywhere, or stay a bit in Atlanta and then Fly to New Orleans? I would love to see Charleston and Memphis too, not sure if that's possible in 2 weeks. A day or two on the Mississippi would be nice too...

    Thanks again! :flowers:
  7. I would rent a car from Atlanta and drive to Savannah and Charleston. Return to Atlanta and fly to New Orleans (or possibly fly from Charleston, but the car rental would cost you extra being a one way rental). From New Orleans you can do the city. I want to say that the drive from New Orleans to Memphis is about 6 hours! It's a pretty boring drive too....but you could rent a car and drive there and stay for a few days and then either return to New Orleans or fly home from Memphis.

    If it were me, I wouldn't spend much time in Atlanta...just another big city.

    Arrival day - Atlanta
    Day 2 - Atlanta
    Day 3 - Drive Atlanta to Savannah (4 hours)
    Day 4 - Savannah
    Day 5 - Savannah to Charleston (2 hours)
    Day 6 - Charleston
    Day 7 - Travel to New Orleans (either from Charleston or drive the 5 hours back to Atlanta)
    Day 8 - New Orleans
    Day 9 - New Orleans and surroundings
    Day 10 - New Orleans and surroundings
    Day 11 - Drive to Memphis (6 hours)
    Day 12 - Memphis
    Day 13 - Memphis (could drive back to New Orleans here - or do a flight from Memphis to Atlanta)
    Day 14 - Return to Europe

    Memphis doesn't really need more than two days. You can see most of New Orleans proper within a day and then extra days to go out to plantations or do a Mississippi river cruise.

    In New Orleans, make sure you book a city tour! It is a great way to get a feel for New Orleans and they will also take you out to the areas affected by Katrina and you can see Brad Pitt's new houses, etc. It's quite moving....I saw it a year after Katrina and then last year, and the progress was amazing!
  8. Wow, thank you so much dr.twiggers, you are so kind!!! :hugs: :flowers: We will work with your itinerary this weekend! :smile:
  9. I've done several southern road trips. Charleston is a good starting point. Here are some ideas:

    Charleston --> Savannah --> Atlanta --> Mobile, Alabama --> Mississippi Gulf of Mexico coast (i.e. Biloxi) --> New Orleans

    Charleston --> Savannah --> Atlanta --> Chattanooga --> Nashville --> Memphis --> Jackson, Mississippi --> New Orleans

    My favorite southern cities are Charleston, Savannah, Atlanta, Nashville, and New Orleans.

  10. Glad to help!!!
  11. I lived in Nashville for 2 years. I think you'd have fun. It's a very weird place - kinda a party city with a very strong Christian vibe (it's the buckle of the bible belt). If you're into country music, it is an absolute must.
  12. Charleston, NOLA, Memphis. I've never really been to Memphis as an adult, but Charleston and NOLA are worth at least 2-3 days each.

    If you go to Charleston, you must stay in the historic district. charleston Place, French quarter inn, harbourview inn, market commons are all very nice and centrally located.

    I've only been to NOLA once, and stayed on Canal st at a large chain hotel. I would do a smaller boutique hotel next time.
  13. Thank you onesmallchimera and mcmahan706! :smile:

    We will rent a car. Which rental car agency routinely offers a navigational system and the best insurance policies? Which one has fair prices and would you choose? We're trying to decide whether to book in advance from here or just rent a car when we land in Atlanta (at the airport). TIA! :biggrin:
  14. I find that prices increase closer to the departure date so I always book in advance. I don't have a preference...whoever gives me the best deal! I would check out Expedia, they will list all the different car rental agencies. Usually they are all really close in price to one another.
  15. Most car rental agencies offer navigation systems but they are usually an additional cost. You can do research on the rental car agencies' websites on the amenities offered before you book.

    Definitely book your car in advance. You can find excellent rates on sites like,,,, etc. You can also book directly on the rental car agencies' websites. If you wait until you're at the airport you will find rates to be very high and sometimes all their fleet is already booked so no cars are available.

    Reputable US car rental companies include Hertz, National, Enterprise, Avis, Alamo, Budget, Dollar.

    Here is some information from Wiki on US car rentals and some of the rental terminology: and another site on renting cars in the US:

    Have a fun trip! :smile: