17 Jan

Exploring the Southern States of America – New Orleans, North and South Carolina

Each year, we pick 12 'Destinations to Watch' for our Travel Trends report. In this blog series ABTA staff talk through their personal highlights and experiences of the destinations they've been to. This week, we're looking at the Southern States of the USA, whcih ABTA PR & Media Executive Sophie Marston visited in September 2015. 

Explore all our 12 ‘Destinations to watch’ here

New Orleans

Music is at the heart of the Southern States. Their rich history has produced virtually all of the USA’s great contributions to world music. The Blues, Jazz,  Rock and Roll, Country and Western, Cajun and Bluegrass - all have their roots here. In New Orleans Jazz and Cajun dominate and wherever you go you are sure to hear a band playing somewhere. No trip would be complete without a trip to Bourbon Street which is filled with Jazz clubs playing music throughout the day and if you’ll lucky catch younger versions of New Orleans greats such as Louis Armstrong, the Neville Brothers and Dr John.

New Orleans is surrounded by a lush, watery and exotic landscape. Take the historic Steamboat Natchez along the Mississippi or take a tour of the wetlands and marshes, which are filled with wild fowl and alligators. I flew in from New York, with stunning views over Lake Pontchartrain, which covers an area of 630 square miles.

Creole food is one of the big draws for tourists in the area, it’s a unique blend of French, Spanish and West African influences and originates in Louisiana. Gumbo, crawfish, Jambalaya are as delicious and evocative as they sound. I strongly recommend that you also Head to Brennans’ for a classic New Orleans breakfast - they have Grits (if you're brave enough to try it), seafood gumbo and turtle soup.

North and South Carolina

After New Orleans, I headed North up to the coast to the states of North and South Carolina. We started in Durham, NC and took a road trip down the coast to the Charleston, via Myrtle Beach.

Charleston, with its stunning architecture, beautiful beaches and laid back lifestyle is a must visit. To give you an idea of what to expect, I suggest revisiting Gone with Wind, Charleston really is like that, beautiful neo-Classical buildings and a great place to liberate your inner Scarlett O’Hara or Rhett Butler. History buffs should head out to Fort Sumter, where the first shot of the American Civil War was fired. Charleston is also surrounded by stunning beaches, which are just a short drive outside the main city.

I flew into New Orleans from New York with a change in Charlotte, but this year direct flights will let you fly straight from London and the nearby states of Kentucky and Tennessee are easily accessible and well worth visiting where you can get your fill of the beautiful harmonies and intricate banjo playing of Bluegrass.