I'm planning a trip this summer to go from NYC down to Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, then back up the East Coast. This is the one huge chunk of the country I've never been to before and I'm looking for recommendations about what places to see - even if it's some little country road that you remember being beautiful. I'd also love any restaurant recommendations that will allow us to stay healthy while travelling (part of me looks forward to eating lots of heavy food, but I also know that I won't be able to deal with it the entire time).
I would also love to hear about places to enjoy music, art and any B&B's that people have enjoyed.
Alex, I have a recommendation for lodging, if you get into the appropriate area. Last year, I stayed at the Ocracoke Harbor Inn, in Ocracoke, NC (on the Outer Banks). It's a very nice place, friendly helpful staff, reasonably priced, although not a B&B (You can find them on the Internet very easily). The drive up the Outer Banks is also worth the time, in my opinion. Ocracoke was the locale of Blackbeard's (Edward Teach) final battle, and the Cape Hatteras Light is not too far up the road. Very fun place!
thanks Bob - I'm gonna check it out!
I did one road trip from St. Louis to New Orleans on the "Great River Road (GRR)" - then bounced back and forth from 1 to 61 throughout MS. In Clarksdale you should stay at the Shack Up Inn and eat at Abe's BBQ, and go see Rat at the Riverside Hotel - where Bessie Smith died.
After you leave Clarksdale you can detour and drive thru Parchman Farm (@ Shelby)...it's been 3 years - i hope i'm remembering all this accurately.
In Vicksburg, of course stop by Margaret's Grocery to see the Rev. Dennis (Preacher) - he'll say a prayer for you. Somewhere near Port Gibson - i think- are the Ruins of Windsor. once you get to Woodville you can take a detour to Pond, MS.
After you cross over into LA you might as well drive the 6 miles out of the way to see Angola (there's a museum). We crossed the river at St. Francisville, to New Roads, nice drive along False River. ran out of daylight and hopped the Interstate to New Orleans. if not, we would have taken River Road from Baton Rouge to NOLA (plantation and chemical alley).
The trip after that i took the Amtrak from NOLA to ATL - if you go on the Amtrak site and look at the Cresent line you'll see the route. it was nice and but it killed me to not be able to jump off. but it did lead me to another trip.
I saw an interesting town called Bessemer from the train - got home, IM'd some AOL people from there to ask what the town was all about - turned out to be from an old mining town called Dora - wrote a self published (seriously - Kinko's, spiral bound) book about the town during the Great Depression), etc.
After that i did a trip from ATL - really beginning in Madison, GA and went diagonally across GA, thru SC and into NC by car and took Amtrak back to NYC from Rocky Mount. this leg doesn't really apply to what you're doing - nothing coastal.
About a year ago i started in Birmingham - went to (old) Dora, AL, then blue (now pink) roads to Cullman (thru Sipsey), then to Natural Bridge, and Hamilton- to Jerry Brown pottery (he has pieces in the Smithsonian and letters from both Presidents Bush), dinner at Patricia's around the corner (all middle of nowhere back country no lights roads). i would have stayed in Hamilton but we needed to press on.
Back into MS - thru Tupelo and stayed in Pontotoc - in around that area (Hill Country, as opposed to the Delta this time). Lunch at Moore's in Houston, MS. then back track to the Natchez Trace entrance near Tupelo to take the Trace all the way to Nashville. ran out of daylight so jumped on 72 to Decatur. Dinner at Simp McGhee's.
Next day - 65 to Nashville and on home.
believe it or not, this is the very short version. if you need more info on any of this stuff, pls let me know. i can send you full trip reports.
Driving the Natchez Trace Parkway (part of the National Park Service) is definitely a scenic drive. Particularly the stretch from Jackson down to Natchez. I recommend several stops: Rocky Mount, Port Gibson (off the Trace),
Emerald Mound (ceremonial mound built and used from 1200 – 1650 by ancestors of the Natchez people) and Lorman General Store (now a local crafts shop and Down Home Southern Cooking restaurant). Once in Natchez, there are many great B&B's. One we enjoyed was Dunleith, an antebellum home.
When your in Georgia, check out Savannah and Tybee Island. The beach there is great and historic Savannah is a must-see.
In SC, Downtown Charleston an the USS Yorktown are great.