Probably one of the more interesting regions in the United States is the so-called old south. Here, you will find much history as well as delicious food served in various types of restaurants.
There are really two areas that are known as the old south. One is that which is in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and the other is the southern part of the East Coast beginning with Baltimore down to Jacksonville, Fla. We’ll talk about that section which begins in New Orleans first.
I would suggest you fly into New Orleans and rent a car to begin your tour. The scenery between the far west and Louisiana is not the most interesting in my opinion.
New Orleans holds a lot of history. I would also suggest that you put your car in a garage and join a tour that will take you to the most interesting locales after touring New Orleans or turn it in.
You want to visit the famed French Quarter, including Jackson Square and Pirate’s Alley. You will also see a typical New Orleans cemetery with the unique above ground crypts. You can also drive down some very interesting streets with the old mansions.
Do some research on the Web before you depart and learn about some of the better restaurants in the city: Arnauds, the Court of Two Sisters and more. The food is distinct and delicious. Seafood is great all over the city and is prepared in various ways typical of the old south. You will also find you are being served food you would never consider eating before your trip to New Orleans. It’s all good, believe me.
It is also fun to take a walk through the French Quarter and drop into the many shops. You won’t be able to pass up at least one candy store – make sure you try some authentic New Orleans pralines. Delicious!
Next, I suggest touring Lafayette, La. as well as Baton Rouge and Natchez, Miss. Turn-in your rented car and join an organized tour for sightseeing. You can arrange this in advance of your arrival in New Orleans or purchase that which is of interest to you from the concierge at your New Orleans hotel.
You would travel along the Great River Road to Oak Alley Plantation, which you will recognize from motion pictures set here or still photos in magazines. You will probably be treated to a guided tour of the plantation. Another stop later will be in Vermilioinvills, a restored Acadian village in the bayou. Here, you will find costumed docents who will demonstrate traditional crafts and musical styles. This evening you can enjoy Cajun accordions and a Cajun dinner with all the fixings or an elegant dinner in an antebellum mansion.
Natchez is the oldest settlement on the entire Mississippi River. Your tour here will include the beautiful homes and hear about some of the history of the town and area. You will have time here to explore the town and river front.
Next, it is on to Vicksburg, Jackson to Biloxi. This is the historical old south where the Civil War was fought and many people suffered and died for their beliefs. You will hear many tails from your tour guide during this tour.
Biloxi is on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and you will ride many miles along this beautiful part of America.
On now to Mobile, Ala. and see the Mobile Carnival Museum which highlights the history of Mardi Gras with many costumes and artifax of the celebration.
From Mobile it’s back to New Orleans with perhaps more sightseeing before you wing your way home.
My choice to sightsee this area would be by a paddle wheel steamboat. There are now two in the Mississippi River. The steamboat era is back for all of us to enjoy after a three-year absence. You may choose from the American Queen which has been completely re-built or the new Queen of the Mississippi. Both vessels offer an “old south” feeling with large rooms and excellent public areas. And, there is plenty of space to view the scenery as the boat passes many interesting points along the river. Most of the cabins on both vessels have private balconies so you may enjoy privacy and still be outside. Since these boats are American owned and registered with American crews they are rather expensive, but offer a wonderful experience. If you have never taken a river cruise, try one of these. You will never forget the experience.
Both boats ply the Mississippi River year around. My favorite itinerary would be to sail out of New Orleans and head north stopping at Houmas House, Oak Alley, St. Francisville, Natchez, Vicksburg and Helena to Memphis. This cruise takes about eight days and loaded with history, beautiful scenery and sightseeing. These paddle wheel boats take you right into the middle of most towns and cities and all you have to do is walk off the boat and be in the middle of action. The boats cruise all the way north to as far as St. Paul, Minn. in summer. At night there is entertainment in the main lounge that will offer jazz and tunes from the old south to enhance your enjoyment.
You may phone the Great American Steamboat Company by dialing 1-888-749-5280 and American Cruise Lines at 1-203-458-5700.
The other old south itinerary is going down the Atlantic Coast from Baltimore to Jacksonville, Fla. There is much history here as well, and you can cruise if you like on the so-called protected waters of the inland waterway between these points. American Cruise lines has small, luxury boats that will take you here in comfort and travel with less than 100 guests. Again, these are American owned and registered with American crews to serve your every need.
Your itinerary from Baltimore would include stops and sightseeing at Norfolk, Va., Oriental, N.C., Morehead City/Beaufort, N.C., Wilmington, N.C., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Charleston, S.C., Beaufort, S.C., Hilton Head, S.C., Savannah Ga., St. Simons Is., Ga., Jekyll Island, Ga. to Jacksonville, Fla.
This cruise operates in the spring, summer and fall of each year. The 15-day trip is priced from $6,980 per person. Not inexpensive, but a great experience. Phone 1-203-458-5700 for American Cruise Lines.
We have discussed two very different Old South destinations. Both are very interesting and scenic and worth the time and expense to explore. Enjoy!