The Mississippi River meets the Southern states in the city of Memphis, winding its course all the way down to the shores off Louisiana State. For those taking USA holidays, a trip down South is the perfect way to explore more of America and discover that world famous Southern hospitality!
Jump in the passenger seat as we take a road trip down the Great River Road in a quest to experience Southern hospitality along the Mississippi.
As is the case with many destinations along the Mississippi, the city of Vicksburg offers both history and hospitality to anyone taking a pit stop in its proud community overlooking the great river. Just 40 miles west of the state capital Jackson, the way of life in Vicksburg takes a decisively slower pace, allowing time to enjoy all the city has to offer visitors.
Local tourist board Visit Vicksburg explains: “Visitors love coming to our city and experiencing the Southern charm and hospitality. From our friendly merchants to our soul food, people feel like they are a part of the family.
“Be ready to soak in the rich culture of the Mississippi Delta from the roots of the blues to the deep history and heritage.”
Notably, its Civil War roots have helped to form the Southern landscape and attitude of this place. Must-see sites include the Vicksburg National Military Park where the city’s significant role as the backdrop for the turning point during the campaign is well documented. The Park’s Illinois State Memorial marks this in particular, with 47 steps leading up the domed building – one for each day the city was under siege.
In recent years, Vicksburg has witnessed an emerging and exciting art scene and nowhere is this made more accessible than along the riverfront, where artist Robert Dafford’s murals illustrate the city’s climacteric past in giant panels on the floodwall.
Competing with these astonishing artworks, the view from Vicksburg’s rooftop bar restaurant 10 South provides the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the river view below. Visit Vicksburg agrees: “If you have time to do just one thing while here, catch a Mississippi River sunset from one of our overlooking haunts.”
Earning itself second place in the coveted Lonely Planet’s top destinations around the world in 2016, Natchez has long been a popular place to visit in Mississippi. With its excellent barge transport connecting the city to New Orleans, its position on the Mississippi River and wealth of old charm make it another attractive destination for travellers on the journey down South.
Natchez is perhaps best recognised for its abundance of antebellum mansions, a distinctive architectural influence that exudes Southern style. Of all the houses in the area, Natchez Pilgrimage Tours suggests visitors should make a point of visiting the Longwood mansion home:
“Longwood is the largest octagonal home in the United States. Its construction was halted during the Civil War and some of the original tools are still in the home. It’s rich in history and in southern culture.”
The unfinished home was the dream project of cotton planter Haller Nutt and his wife Julia in the 1860s. Today, this national landmark embodies the rise and fall of the Southern states. While there, visitors can also explore the impressive Greek-revival designed Stanton Hall nearby.
2016 also marks the city’s tricentennial year and what better way to celebrate 300 years of Southern hospitality than by celebrating with the locals at Natchez’s infamous watering hole!
“Natchez is the home of one of the oldest bars along the Mississippi River,” explains Visit Natchez.
“The Natchez Under the Hill Saloon holds so much energy and history. Truly a fabulous place to visit.”
Since its establishment in the late 1700s, the venue has taken on an assortment of purposes from a sordid bar and suspected brothel to a warehouse and general store. Today, the Under the Hill Saloon has found a respectable place amongst local’s hearts as a hub at the centre of the community in Natchez.
Natchez’s greatest contribution to the South’s reputation for geniality, however, is the friendly nature expressed by its inhabitants – a kindness that is sure to rub off on all those who travel through its beloved city.
“Natchez is a welcoming destination to all, respecting the beliefs and rights of all of its citizens and visitors. We have earned a reputation for the genuine warmth and openness of our people,” Visit Natchez concludes.
Find out what the city has in store for visitors in its anniversary year through their full events calendar.
Birthplace of jazz, home to America’s melting pot of African and French influence and the best place to celebrate Mardi Gras festival – New Orleans is a heady mix of vibrant sights, crafted sounds and eclectic tastes. Nicknamed the “Big Easy”, New Orleans, located in the state of Louisiana, is the last great city on our journey down the Mississippi River and it’s certainly a fun place to see out the final days of your trip.
Naturally, New Orleans will strike a chord with anyone who’s heard of the festival of Mardi Gras. Celebrated around Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras is an opportunity to let off steam and rejoice in the richness of life before the lent period begins. The city becomes one big party during this time, dressing up, holding colourful parades and inviting onlookers to join in. If you can’t make it to New Orleans over the festival week, however, Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World offers visitors a chance to see the incredible carnival floats throughout the year.
New Orleans today has been inspired by a long history of diversity. Bringing African, American and French influences together, the city reflects an eclectic fusion of all three in its buildings, art galleries, museums and streets.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Emitting European charm, fixtures such as the cast iron balconies on houses near Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral in the quarter attract those wanting to take in the blended culture for themselves. If you’re travelling with little ones, French Quartourkids offer interactive walking tours guaranteed to keep kids engaged as they learn about the history of this favourite area.
The city’s diversity has also given rise to another of its greatest appeals – Cajun cuisine. New Orleans is world renowned for its gourmet skills, lovingly cooking up food to feed the soul. It’s a tried and tested recipe that locals are only too happy to share with visiting guests.
As New Orleans School of Cooking suggests: “Come with an open mind, an empty stomach and be ready to have fun!
“If you’re in New Orleans…or in the South for that matter…you’ll feel welcome! We pride ourselves on our true Southern hospitality, but a few places not to miss in the city are Cafe du Monde and their famous beignets, Frenchman Street for some wonderful live music, and, of course, the New Orleans School of Cooking for fun, food & folklore.
“We have guests who have visited us every year for over 20 years! They love experiencing different chefs’ classes, and find they are always able to learn something new about New Orleans upon each visit.”
Boasting an accomplished set of 13 chefs – some of whom have carved out a career on TV, such as Kevin Belton acclaimed for his creole creations – the cookery school hosts regular cooking demonstrations as well as classes and can even be hired for private parties. They say food is the way to a person’s heart and if you’re travelling through New Orleans, why not learn from the best how to add that magic ingredient – Southern hospitality.
“Southern hospitality is a real thing, and we take pride in welcoming people from all over the world to share in our culture. We celebrate our unique culture through experiences in music, food and festivals. The authenticity of our welcoming spirit seems to really resonate with travellers from around the world,” they explain.