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Southern sampler: Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee

Explore the rich history, engaging culture and delicious food of the southern United States on this trip through three Southern states.

Downtown Shreveport
Credit: Louisiana Office of Tourism

Travelers who explore the southern United States will discover experiences as vibrant and vast as the Mississippi River. Here, food, music and culture merge into a colorful confluence that has plenty of soul and just a bit of spice. On this trip, we’ll sample from the best of the Mississippi States, tasting, hiking and shopping our way through the Delta. We’ll enjoy a complete southern experience, while following the course of an iconic American river.

Day 1 – Shreveport, Louisiana

Morning: Arrive at Shreveport via Shreveport Regional Airport (airport has connecting flights to international airports in Atlanta, Dallas and Houston)

Afternoon: Explore Shreveport

Shreveport is a classic southern city located in the heart of the Ark-La-Tex region, where Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas meet. We’ll start our time in the south with a visit to the Southern University Museum of Art at Shreveport (SUMAS). Located on the campus of Southern University in downtown Shreveport, it houses an extensive collection of African and African-American art and artifacts.

Evening: Travel to Cypress Bend Resort, Many, Louisiana (85 miles/136km, 97 minutes)

Located on pristine Toledo Bend Lake, this resort is an oasis of tranquility. It will be the perfect place to rest and recharge before we continue our southern adventure.

Other options: Take in the exhibits and programs at Sci-Port Discovery Center. The center is a fascinating place for science lovers of all ages to learn about the world of science. It also houses an IMAX theater. Or, take a stroll along Shreveport’s pleasant waterfront.

Day 2 – Many, Louisiana, to Vicksburg, Mississippi

Morning: Enjoy a guided fishing trip at the resort

A guide at the resort will help you try your luck at bass fishing on beautiful Toledo Bend Lake. After some time on the water, enjoy a “shore lunch” of deliciously prepared local seafood.

Afternoon: Travel to Monroe, Louisiana (122 miles/196km, 2.5 hours)

Explore Poverty Point World Heritage Site

This impressive site was constructed by Native Americans more than 3,000 years ago. Archaeologists are still uncovering the site’s mysteries, but the series of earthen mounds are believed to have been part of an ancient residential, trade and ceremonial center. Poverty Point is one of a handful of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mississippi River Country.

Evening: Travel to Vicksburg, Mississippi (68 miles/110km, 75 minutes)

We’ll overnight in this historic community that played a pivotal role in the American Civil War. It’s home to numerous historic homes, some of which are open for tours. Before turning in for the night and dreaming about southern life, we’ll take a drive past some of these southern estates.

Other options: Explore the history of Coca-Cola at the home of the soda’s first bottler, located at Biedenharn Museum & Gardens. See herons take flight at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Day 3 – Vicksburg to Rolling Fork and Clarksdale, Mississippi

Morning: Travel to Rolling Fork, Mississippi (37 miles/60km, 45 minutes)

We’ll head to the charming community of Rolling Fork to learn about blues and bears. Rolling Fork is the birthplace of the father of modern Chicago Blues: McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield. You can learn his story at the Rolling Fork Visitor Center.

And what about those bears? In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt came to the Mississippi Delta to hunt black bears at the invitation of a plantation owner. When Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear that was tracked down by his fellow hunters, news spread and a cartoonist coined the term “Teddy Bear” out of his empathy for the animal. Today, you can find carved bears placed all over Rolling Fork. Go for your own “hunt” and see how many you can locate!

Afternoon: Travel to Clarksdale, Mississippi (100 miles/160km, 2 hours)

We’ll travel north to what’s considered the birthplace of the blues. Clarksdale, Mississippi is located in an area called “the crossroads” and is the epicenter of this rich musical genre. Learn about the blues and the history of the region at the Delta Blues Museum. The music is housed in a historic freight depot and features important permanent and traveling exhibits.

Evening: Overnight in Clarksdale, Mississippi

Dine at a local barbeque and relax in one of Clarksdale’s charming guest houses before continuing tomorrow’s travels north to Tennessee.

Other options: Search for some great deals on apparel and more at Tanger Outlets Southaven or learn about cotton production at Hopson Plantation, which houses some interesting farming memorabilia.

Day 4 – Clarksdale, Mississippi, to Memphis, Tennessee

Morning: Travel to Memphis, Tennessee (68 miles/110km, 90 minutes)

Our time in Tennessee begins royally–we’re heading to the home of the King! Graceland was the home of Elvis Presley, one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century. The mansion is a National Historic Landmark and is the final resting place of Elvis. More than 650,000 people pay their respects to the rock legend every year.

Afternoon: Go for a hike at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park

This beautiful park is a natural oasis just north of Memphis that draws nature lovers of all ages–it’s home to deer, turkey, otter, beaver, foxes and bobcats as well as 200 species of songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds and birds of prey, including the American Bald Eagle.

Evening: Stroll Beale Street

To see wildlife of a different sort, we’ll head to Beale Street, a hopping avenue that’s lit with neon and packed with bars, barbeque joints, souvenir shops and street performers. It draws some colorful characters and there’s a party every night–grab a beverage and some barbeque and join the festivities!

Other options: Visit the National Civil Rights Museum; tour Sun Studio, the “birthplace of rock and roll”; see the lions, tigers and cougars at the Memphis Zoo (allow plenty of time to stroll the zoo’s vast indoor and outdoor displays).

Day 5 – Memphis, Tennessee

Morning: We’ll spend our last day in the South hitting the stores. Memphis has some fantastic shopping malls packed with items you won’t find at home. The Oak Court Mall and Wolfchase Galleria are two good places to find a wide variety of American goods.

Afternoon: Depart for home from Memphis International Airport