Journey in the Southern United States, from Louisiana to Mississippi

Nicknamed “Dixie”This part of the American territory has a heritage and a culture quite distinct from the other regions of the country. This does not make it one of the most touristic places, even if here and there many places deserve a small stop…

Where is the South ?

If you ask the question “what are the limits of the South of the United States” there is a good chance that opinions will differ. And everyone according to his memories, his knowledge, but also what has been called the South – Confederate States – during the Civil War will give you a different answer.

In short, even officially, the boundaries remain a bit fuzzy and the number of states considered “Southern” can vary from 8 to 16 depending on the source, including by the way places like Florida, Texas and even Delaware or Maryland which are yet beyond Washington.

Nevertheless, if we want to consider things through a certain historical and cultural homogeneity – if not even tourist homogeneity – the “real” South corresponds rather to eleven states.

Which American states form the South?

Eleven states form this part of the USA.
They are Alabama, Arkansas, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

What to see or do in each state?


Known for the weight of its religious traditions (here we are in the middle of the “Bible Belt”), its conservatism and the racial segregation that officially lasted until the 1960s, Alabama represents the “Deep South”.
Even if its few miles of beaches on the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf Shore and Orange Beach) are quite successful or the Sipsey Wilderness is locally appreciated for its discovery by foot or canoe, the state is not one of the most touristy.

More informations :


Little known, especially outside the borders, nor very touristic, Arkansas is a rural and quiet territory between Missouri and Louisiana. Its landscapes are diversified with a mixture of small reliefs, vast forests and agricultural lands.
The possibilities for outdoor activities such as canoeing, fishing, biking and especially hiking are so numerous that the Ozarks Mountains and the Ouachita National Forest have become their specialties.

More info:

North Carolina

See also :   The Faroes or the forgotten archipelago

As much as this state bordering the Atlantic Ocean is neglected by foreign tourists, the American public appreciates on the contrary to spend their vacations there. It is true that North Carolina does not lack interest, if only because of its coastline on the Atlantic Ocean with its Crystal Coast beaches and the Outer Banks islands.
But not everything here is limited to the seaside. The art deco city of Asheville and Winston-Salem with its historical evidence are also worth a visit. As well as the remarkable park of the Great Smoky Mountains, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Mecca for ecotourism and hiking in the region.

More info:

South Carolina

If Myrtle Beach doesn’t mean much to Europeans, for Americans it is THE seaside resort of this part of the Atlantic coast. Every summer, whether it is here or more widely along the “Grand Strand” which is this immense white sand beach of a hundred kilometers, millions of vacationers go there in search of beaches and water activities. Then, between two swims, some people go to visit the cities of Charleston, Beaufort or Georgetown, which have kept some of their charm of yesteryear.

More info:


It is the state of the South par excellence with its beautiful old plantations, the Stone Mountain and its immense sculpture, the old capital Milledgeville, and especially the superb city of Savannah known for its typical architecture of the Old South. This is quite a contrast to Atlanta and its economic dynamism turned towards the 21st century.
But Georgia is also nature with a pleasant coastline, the Sea Islands and their beaches, natural areas such as Okefenokee which is home to birds and alligators, plus one of the main hiking trails in the country, the Appalachian Trail 3,500 kilometers long.

More info:


Known by specialists for, according to, its horse farms, Bourbon, or bluegrass music, Kentucky is a pretty rural and country region with some reliefs and lakes to decorate the landscape.
Kentucky has two main tourist sites with the Daniel Boone National Forest known for its hiking trails, lakes, waterfalls and cliffs suitable for climbing, and especially the Mammoth Caves which is the largest network of caves in the world with 600 kilometers of galleries.

> More information :


“Fascinating”, “different”, “disturbing”, “wild”, “apart”… to each his own adjective to qualify this State with its history and culture, among others musical, so specific and where one hears still sometimes a certain French.
The Cajun country, the beautiful plantations of the “Old South” style, the particular architecture of cities like Baton Rouge, plus of course New Orleans with its unique atmosphere and its famous “French Quarter”, it’s all that Louisiana with of course also its unavoidable swamps and bayous populated with mosquitoes and alligators which are necessarily associated with it.

See also :   Vercors, Chartreuse, Écrins, Vanoise, a paradise for hikers

> More information :


For many people, Mississippi represents the “Deep South” of the time of the cotton plantations and the Civil War or the beginning of the 20th century. This is not wrong.
Crossed by the “Blues Route”, the state also offers its visitors casinos, the pleasant beaches of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, especially in Biloxi and Gulfport, or the beautiful plantations along the river near Natchez. As for the site of Vicksburg, it recalls the siege of the city during the Civil War in 1863.

More information :


Thanks to Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee is a Mecca of music in the United States with blues, rock’n’roll and Elvis Presley for the first one (plus Martin Luther King in another genre), and country music for the second one which is the world capital.
Outside the cities, you can also enjoy nature, especially in the east, in the Great Smoky Mountains which offer beautiful landscapes with a variety of fauna and flora, small “traditional” villages, a range of outdoor activities of all kinds and hundreds of kilometers of trails for hiking.

> More information :


Bordering on the capital city of Washington, Virginia is nonetheless historically a Southern state with many early American testimonies as well.
The “Jamestown, Yorktown, Williamsburg triangle”, the great sites of the Civil War such as Fredericksburg, as well as cities with historical interest such as Charlottesville or Richmond take us back in time. And then there is the ocean with the renowned resort of Virginia Beach, and nature with the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Chesapeake Bay, or the Shenandoah Park which offer beautiful landscapes and opportunities for outdoor activities.

More information:

West Virginia

Because of its geographic configuration and small population, this is a state that has long remained closed to itself. As a result, the region remains a paradise for nature and outdoor activities with forests, rivers, lakes and mountains galore. The New River and the Monongahela Forest are among the most popular sites in the state, as is the small, historic village of Harper Ferry, which receives about one million visitors each year.

See also :   What kind of tourism in the American Midwest?

More info:

What climate for the southern United States?

The South has a fairly varied sample of climate and microclimate that changes with latitude, relief, or elevation.

There are both temperate areas with a continental climate (northern regions or altitude among others) and especially tropical to subtropical. It is to this hot and humid climate that is generally associated this part of the United States with its long summers and its rather mild and short winters.
So, even if we will have to qualify a little, we can consider the South as a vast subtropical zone as a whole.

In fact, summer temperatures over a large part (south) of the region range from 25 to 32°C and 12 to 18°C the rest of the time, with the period from the end of May to the end of September being the hottest but also the most humid.

Given its location, the area is also subject to hurricanes that can be very devastating as Katrina which devastated Louisiana in 2005. It is between June and November, and more particularly August-October, that the risks are the strongest.

When to visit the Southern United States?

For the southern part of the region, to the strong humid summer heat or the hurricanes of early autumn, we will prefer the mild and pleasant spring or at the limit the period November-early December.
For the northern part, with a more continental climate, the most favourable period is from May to early October when temperatures are pleasant, despite a certain heat in July and August.