As much as the world has come to adore the bustling metropolis cities scattered across the USA's East Coast and West Coast (we're looking at you, Los Angeles, San Fran, New York, and Boston), there is still so much of this vast nation that tends to be left out of the spotlight.
When it comes to great food, world-class music, pristine beaches, and art-centric locales, the Southern part of the country has got plenty - you just need a little point in the right direction. There's no better way to see it all in one trip than by car, so buckle up, queue up some Green Day and Avril Lavigne, grab the snacks, and let's get this road trip started!
Let’s kick things off in the Texan capital city, the Live Music Capital of the World, and the place that has a glowing reputation for quirkiness and thriving youth-oriented culture - Austin. As a relatively big city, flights into Austin-Bergstrom International Airport are relatively cheap and easy to come by. With an abundance of students, going out for a bite to eat or a thirst-quenching pint or two won’t break the bank either, thankfully.
Theoretically, we could have started our journey in Houston or Dallas as well, however, Austin’s hip arts and culture scene propped it up above its two larger neighbors.
Austin, you’ve been lovely, but it’s time to hit the road. We’re not leaving Texas quite just yet - making a quick stopover in its largest metropolis - Houston. For the sports fanatics, there’s almost too much to choose from; Houston offers a chance to catch the Astros (MLB), the Texans (NFL), the Rockets (NBA), and the Dynamo (MLS) in action.
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Outside of the sporting world, visitors are eager to check out the one-of-a-kind Space Center Houston, and for a breath of fresh air, the drive to Galveston sitting on the Gulf of Mexico isn’t too far away.
8 New Orleans
Make sure an A-grade road trip playlist is ready to rock because our next stop, the one and only New Orleans, is a 6-hour, close to 350-mile drive further East. There are no two ways about it - no adventure through the Deep South is complete with a couple of days partying the night away in the world-famous NoLa.
A stroll down Bourbon Street is sure to get you in the dancing mood, while a wander through the French Quarter offers up a glimpse into a culture rarely seen throughout the rest of the USA.
After popping a couple of headache-relievers, we’re jumping in the car again for another full day of driving. In case the vibes in NoLa didn’t quite quench that thirst for music, then Memphis is sure to do the trip.
About 6 hours and 400 miles straight up from New Orleans, there’s no shortage of intriguing places to see. From the Rock 'n' Soul Museum to the Blues Hall of Fame and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, plus the plethora of live music venues, you’ll be hard-pressed to find yourself bored in this toe-tappin’ town.
Just 3 hours and a couple of hundred miles northeast of Memphis sits Tennessee’s state capital, Nashville - and that’s exactly where we’re headed next. If you thought the music had stopped once we left Memphis, think again. Nashville is home to the famous Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame, the Johnny Cash museum and a truckload more.
The city is also famous for its food - mouthwatering BBQ, in particular. Whether its pulled pork, a fat, juicy steak or a rack of honey-glazed ribs, meat-lovers will have a day out in Nashville, guaranteed.
After a chain of big cities, we’re taking a swivel and driving in search of a breath of fresh air. Most people would have never even heard of Tennessee’s little, old Chattanooga but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked - as a gateway into to the Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga offers a much-needed slice of nature.
Not too far from the city itself lies the Incline Railway, which scales Lookout Mountain before dropping off passengers at the picturesque Ruby Falls waterfall and Rock City. Outside of the city, however, is where Mother Nature really outdoes herself - amongst the Appalachian Mountains the hiking trails, flora and fauna are plentiful.
Beer-lovers, rejoice! Our next stop, just a few hours east of Chattanooga is none other than Asheville, North Carolina - boasting the most breweries per capita, Asheville officially holds the illustrious title of the brewery capital of America. With plenty of independent breweries offering a range of craft beers, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to whetting your whistle after a long day’s exploring.
It’s not just about the brewskis though - Asheville is full of history and ancient architecture as well, such as the infamous 19th-century Biltmore estate and the dome-topped Basilica of Saint Lawrence.
It’s not often that South Carolina is associated with world-class cities, however, the friendly, vibrant, artistic Charleston is quickly staking its claim as just that. About four hours’ drive south-east from Asheville, it won’t take long to fall in love with Charleston after stepping out of the car.
With cobblestoned streets lining every corner, the shimmering Charleston Harbor, a colorful French quarter and some of the best restaurants in the region, year after year, Charleston is continuing to put itself on the global map. It’s easy to spend a few days camped out here, and it’s likely you won’t want to be leaving anytime soon.
Jot down a list of road trip games and make sure that the snack bags are full to the brim, because we’ve got another full day of driving ahead of us. From Charleston, it’s close to 400 miles straight down to none other than the theme park capital of the world, Orlando. Once you’ve hopped out of the car and grabbed a selfie with Mickey Mouse at Disney World, you’ll forget all about the long journey.
From the so-called ‘happiest place on Earth’, Disney World to Universal Studios (featuring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter), SeaWorld and Legoland, you could easily spend at least a week in Orlando.
1 Miami, Florida
Well done! We’ve finally made it to the end of the road - Miami. Granted, you’re probably exhausted from the jam-packed journey, and despite having the time of your life, you can imagine nothing better than lazily plonking down on a beach for a couple of days and simply relaxing. Well, with stunning, almost never-ending shorelines, Miami is just what you’re looking for.
Aside from the sandy beaches, Miami also dazzles visitors with its eccentric nightlife and party mindset. If its photo-ops that you’re after, a visit to Little Havana and/or the Wynwood Walls has you covered.