From Graceland to Beale Street, hot chicken to beignets, this road trip covers the best in music, history in food between Nashville and New Orleans.
As two of the South’s largest cultural centers, Nashville and New Orleans make the perfect start and finish to this appetizing cultural masterpiece.
This trip starts in Nashville, or Music City, USA. Walking through the center of America’s Country music industry, you’d be forgiven for thinking the city was full of singer-songwriters. On every street corner is a cafe, honky-tonk or other live-music venue. For rising stars and local talent, check out the Bluebird Cafe. For more established acts, Saturday evening’s Grand Ole Opry is always a show.
Nashville is more than just music though. There’s also Centennial Park, a downtown green space with a full-size replica of the Ancient Parthenon. To celebrate its nickname as the “Athens of the South”, the city created a true to size replica, complete with art gallery and museum.
And of course no visit to Nashville is complete without sampling the city’s famous hot chicken. Be warned though, the bird is hot, if you aren’t familiar with the dish work your way up from a flavor more mild than you expect.
Next, the trip winds its way to Memphis, Tennessee’s second city on the Mississippi. Memphis is another city steeped in music and history. Beale Street is universally known as a center of Blue’s music, and Graceland lies just outside the city. The former mansion of iconic Elvis Presley contains his former instruments as well as memorabilia and other accessories of the King’s life.
For those interested in American history, Memphis is the site of the Lorraine Motel. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated here, and the motel has been converted into a museum and memorial to the American Civil Right’s Movement.
The next leg of the trip will take you across state lines. Head down south until you reach Oxford, Mississippi. Oxford is home to the University of Mississippi and has a unique collegiate atmosphere. As a college town it’s no surprise that literature hold a special place in Oxford. Stop by Square Books, one of Publishers Weekly‘s Bookseller of the Year award winners. Finally, on your way out, visit Rowan Oak, the former home of Southern icon William Faulkner, winner of the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature.
From Oxford, head on to Jackson. The capitol of Mississippi, Jackson is one of the birthplaces of Soul music and has no shortage of live-music bars and clubs. Jackson is also awash in history, with the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Mississippi Museum of Natural History and the sobering Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
Finally, you’ve arrived in New Orleans. Fill up on Creole and Cajun cuisine after a long road trip. With gumbo, jamabalaya, beignets and shrimp po’boys, New Orleans has something for every palate. Walk the French Quarter to see the city’s distinct Franco-inspired architecture as well as to soak up the city’s most famous export, Jazz.
New Orleans has been called America’s most interesting city, and when you wander the unique mausoleums, cemeteries, street parades and cable cars you’ll soon see why.