Discover These Fun Southern USA Road Trip Ideas
A road trip is a great way to experience new sights, sounds, and food. Plus, if you're not on a schedule, you can go at your pace. If you've wanted to do a Southern USA road trip, now is your chance. Below are several ideas to explore what the south has to offer.
We'll start in Houston and work our way east to Nashville. Feel free to choose your own adventure. Pick and choose whichever stops sound good to you. When you hit the open road, the world is yours to explore.
Make sure you're prepared before you head out. Pack plenty of road trip snacks, fill up on gas, and consider getting a complimentary trip check for your vehicle.
Southern USA Road Trip Idea 1: Houston, Texas to Port Aransas, Texas
Miles: About 2,002 miles.
Time: 4-5 hours if you do a straight shot, longer if you take stops.
The Best Time to Go: April-July or the late fall if you want cooler temps.
The Trip: If you love BBQ, you can start this trip off with some Rudy's Country Store and BBQ. You can get a spicy chop sandwich or baby back and pork ribs by the pound.
Are you into space exploration? Then you'll enjoy Houston's Space Center nearby. There you'll get to tour Rocket Park and see real rockets up close and personal. You'll also get to see the historical control room where they heard the famous phrase, "Houston we have a problem."
After a day of exploring the great beyond, you can head up I-45 to visit the Saint Arnold Brewing Company. There you can grab a bite and beer in their beer garden. Saint Arnold is a Houston favorite, with many types of beer from IPAs to ales and even Belgian-style wits. They also have classic bar food that's elevated with sauces infused with their brew!
From there you can take state highway 288 to the Aransas pass. There you can hop on the Port Aransas ferry to access the wonders of Mustang Island. What makes Port Aransas a fun stop is not just the ferry ride. There are plenty of great things to do once you hit land. You can head to the beach for some surfing and sun. Or, if you want to check out the local parks you can hop over to the Port Aransas Nature Preserve.
Of course like most items on our list, there are also plenty of places to grab a nice bite to eat.
Idea 2: Baton Rouge to New Orleans
Miles: About 82 miles.
Time: About two hours.
The Best Time to Go: April is a good time to go because it'll be warm but not too hot.
The Trip: There is a lot to do, like seeing historical sites, water parks, and great food.
Next stop on this southern USA road trip is Louisiana. For all the history buffs out there, you can visit Louisiana's Old State Capitol. There you'll get to see where history was made under stained-glass ceilings while standing on black and white marble floors. One exhibit honors the Louisiana ladies who fought valiantly for their right to vote.
From there you can head over to Blue Bayou Water Park in Baton Rouge, LA. You can slide down daring slides or relax on the Atchafalaya Run lazy river.
If water parks aren't your thing, you can take I-10 E and head over to New Orleans. Now, one warning about New Orleans. It is not friendly to those on diets. With all the glorious French Quarter food there is to experience you'll be lucky if you only gain a pound or two. But, this shouldn't stop you from tasting the greats, like Café Du Monde.
This café is famous for chicory coffee and beignets. For those that don't know, a beignet is a square piece of dough, fried, and covered in powdered sugar. These fancy donuts are something you should experience at least once in your life. Puffy and dusted with powdered sugar, they are sure to hit the spot.
If sandwiches are your thing, you are in luck. The French Quarter has loads of iconic sandwich selections. Take the Muffuletta. This behemoth of a sandwich can be had at Central Grocery and Deli. They claim to be the inventor of the dish, but that's disputed. Whatever the case, the Muffuletta is one dish you won't want to pass up. It's layered with olive salad, salami, ham, Swiss cheese, provolone, and mortadella. YUM!
Idea 3: Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee
Miles: About 600 miles.
Time: About 9 hours.
The Best Time to Go: Late spring.
The Trip: Music and BBQ lovers alike will find plenty to enjoy. You'll be able to feed your body and soul. But first, take some time to stretch your legs.
As we continue this deep south road trip, our drive takes us to Mississippi. Take advantage of sightseeing in Mississippi with a visit to De Soto National Forest for a change of scenery. You can go walking and biking, or stop at camp for a night or two. Along the way, stop off in Jackson, MS and do some shopping or grab a bite to eat in the Fondren District. If you hop on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Natchez, Mississippi it will take you all the way to Nashville, Tennessee.
As you keep following the Natchez Trace Parkway you'll eventually find yourself in Nashville, Tennessee. Explore the birthplace of rock music experiencing the sights and, of course, the sounds. For fans of the Man in Black, you can visit the Johnny Cash Museum. Explore how the great star walked the line between fame and family to write some of country's classic hits, like Ring of Fire.
When you're done seeing how Cash got rhythm, you can head on over to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Check out other greats of the genre, like Gene Autry, Deford Bailey, and Dolly Parton.
If after all that you're ready for some eats, check out Bolton's Spicy Chicken and Fish located right on Main Street. This place claims to have the hottest Nashville Hot Chicken in town. Exactly how hot is their chicken? JP and Julia from Healthy Junk Food gave it a try. Julia powered through but JP walked out in tears. Give this Nashville staple a try to end your Southern USA road trip with a bang!
Idea 4: Nashville, Tennessee to Charlotte, North Carolina
Miles: About 300 miles.
Time: About 5 hours.
The Best Time to Go: Early to late spring.
The Trip: This road trip path will take you through the Smoky Mountains and bring you to North Carolina for food and more fun.
Leave behind the bustling city life for the solace that you'll find in the Smoky Mountains of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and take in the 500,000 acres of wilderness. View waterfalls, cross over streams and take in the beauty of the famous Smoky Mountains. Don't forget to stop by Dollywood to pay your respects to the queen herself, Dolly Parton. With over 40 world-class rides, a water park, dinner shows, and even a spa, you won't be disappointed. Gatlinburg, TN is right next door for even more fun to be had. Explore the main drag of restaurants and shops to find a memento to take home.
The last stop on this Southern USA road trip lands you in Asheville, North Carolina. Of course, there are tons of places to hike, like Pigsah National Forest, or you can treat yourself to luxury. See how royalty lives with a stop at the Biltmore Estate which features 250 rooms and is the largest home in America. Afterward, round off the trip with some beer. Hop from brewery to brewery in the South Slope Brewing District of downtown Asheville. Sample some beverages from Ben's Tune-Up, Hi-Wire Brewing, Asheville Brewing, and many other local spots with a couple of blocks. Or, if drinking isn't your thing, Vortex has beer-glazed donuts that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.