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deep south road trip in late Jan - Feb

south west WA
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deep south road trip in late Jan - Feb

Hi Y'all (just getting into the spirit),

Taking my wife and younger daughter (22) on a 3 weeks road trip from NYC to LA and hope to see as much in between as possible. High on the list are the deep south states. I've visited some parts before, but many years ago (Kentucky, Tenn, LA) and have fond memories. This time, I'm hoping to see a little more and as we're coming during the winter months, I hope we won't have to contend with too many other tourists.

Really hoping to avoid most of the larger cities and visit the sleepy little towns on the less traveled roads. Still undecided as to whether we go via the Carolinas or through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, LA and Mississippi. Not bothered about driving long distances or snow. Will definitely spend some time in New Orleans, as I've not been there for over 25 years and want to see what it's like now (kinda apprehensive if truth be known). Morgan Freeman's blues bar is high on the list (Clarkesville I believe) and as many other blues bars as I can find (we all love the blues and a tipple or two).

Please suggest any not to be missed places, that would include diners (with excellent food and character), bars, historic sites and scenic areas. I must dedicate some of our all too short road trip to the 4 corners region of the south west, as there are bucket list areas to visit there too.

Suggestions, advice and recommendations all gratefully accepted!

Cheers from down-under.

Cleveland
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1. Re: deep south road trip in late Jan - Feb

If you have flexibility with your timing, definitely check out the NO 2014 Mardi Gras schedule. It's one of the great annual events in the U.S. The last two days are best. Use the above search option, read through the NO destination forum for the past year. Believe me, NO is one place that you want a lot of tourists around. That's when they bring in state police, etc., and the city is much safer despite all of the craziness.

Search for threads regarding the "blues trail."

What are your interests besides the blues? History, hiking, country music, zoos, etc.

Memphis is a good blues town and has other good attractions besides its music venues and history.

Here's are some trip reports that may be of help to you:

tripadvisor.com/…46470356

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60763-i5-k5082626…

The great national parks of southern Utah certainly would be a possibility:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k4332474…

Hazards of winter driving/an alternative winter road trip:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k6171002…

Even a couple of inches of snow in the likes of the Carolinas, Georgia, even Tennessee, will shut down entire regions. It's not likely, especially with global warming, but it's possible. The natives aren't used to it and they lack the snow/ice treatment/removal capabilities of northern states. January and early February are the coldest weeks in North America.

Actually, three weeks is a somewhat limited time for a cross-country trip, perhaps especially in winter if you encounter much winter weather. You'll have to make some tough choices to make re: attractions, lengths of stay.

Make certain your rental vehicle has electronic stability control. Drive slowly in winter road conditions, maintaining extended stopping distances. Going on snow and ice isn't the problem, but staying on the road and stopping are the challenges. Defensive driving is essential because some other drivers likely will take great risks, perhaps unknowingly.

Research and read about "black ice" (use the search option at the top of this forum for some good threads). It's a risk not only on roads, but especially when walking in the morning or otherwise when the temperatures are around freezing and freeze/thaw/freeze conditions are present.

Good planning!

Cleveland
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2. Re: deep south road trip in late Jan - Feb

You could spend three weeks pleasurably either east or west of the Mississippi River.

You likely will spend 7 days or more of your 3-week trip just driving the interstates, especially if you head south to the Carolinas before heading west.

You could spend a week in the greater Washington, DC, area, with attractions such as Gettysburg, Monticello, Mount Vernon, Norfolk and the U.S.S. Wisconsin, Williamsburg, and more. The museums in Washington are great and likely will not be crowded at the time of your visit.

Don't miss IMO the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum adjacent to Dulles Airport. If you take a train or bus (Bolt, Greyhound, Megabus) from NYC to Washington, it's best visited after you pick up your rental car for a road trip. You don't need a car in Washington proper and parking is expensive.

Wednesbury, UK
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3. Re: deep south road trip in late Jan - Feb

Hi.

Its a slighty missleading title if its a NYC to LA road trip in 3 weeks. That's a lot of ground to cover in that time, as TE mentions, especially if your heading South rather than just West.

What are your plans in the Western portion?

Edited: 19 August 2013, 08:23
Ohio
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4. Re: deep south road trip in late Jan - Feb

agreed-- 3 weeks is short if you're heading thru the south and southwest both.

Snow-- excellent point. If the south gets snow, everything shuts down. They are not equipped to deal with it. I'd stay away from any mountainous areas in the southern states.

If you choose the Carolinas- I LOVE Charleston. It's a great southern "town" with endless history and wonderful food :) The panhandle of Florida and that coastline is really beautiful! Could make your way across to New Orleans roughly following the coast from there.

Atlanta, Georgia
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5. Re: deep south road trip in late Jan - Feb

Some favorites and suggestions-

You could drive or fly internally and land in Atlanta and then do a circle tour-

Savannah

Charleston

Asheville

Great Smoky Mt. NP

Memphis

Clarksdale

Vicksburg

Alabama/Florida gulf coast

New Orleans

Check schedule for Clarksdale because think they are closed on Sunday and Monday nights.

Agree with south about snow and ice- we do not do well in those conditions!!!

Good luck and let us know if you have other questions.

south west WA
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6. Re: deep south road trip in late Jan - Feb

Thanks for all the helpful tips Transcendental Eye, Valaintsontour and Wings 1980. Agreed - 3 weeks is not enough time to do it all - impossible to do half of what I hope to, but alas, I have work commitments and our daughter has her university education, that forces us to return home (we'll have already been in the UK for 2 weeks prior and Thailand before that).

I grew up in Canada, so have a fair idea about driving in snow, black ice etc. Our dates are fixed now. We arrive in NYC Jan 26, and depart LA Feb 24. Since we're taking our eldest daughter to NYC with us too, as her first visit to the US (she lives in London), we're dedicating 5 days there as she must return to London for work. We'll commence our 'road trip' after that with our younger daughter.

Driving long distances is something I'm used to, so the travel aspect won't worry me too much. That said, I don't want to be a slave to the wheel, that's for sure. The plan (there's not one really) is to see as many places of significant interest along the way as we can. I'm leaning towards W Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, then west through the upper part of Texas, to NM, then the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Las Vegas and on to California. It's a big trip in only 3 weeks, but sadly that's all the time we can afford. We're hoping to avoid as many of the interstate highways as possible, and stick to the state highways, calling through smaller towns.

National parks are high on the agenda, but so are places of historical significance, such as Birmingham Alabama and the Baptist Church where MLK was a pastor. It's hard to put in a few simple paragraphs what we're hoping to see and do in such a vast and beautiful country with so many cultural, historical and natural sights. It's a bit overwhelming trying to plan something like this, thus my comment earlier - we don't really have a 'plan' as such. No doubt whatever we do, we'll enjoy thoroughly. That said, I'll continue doing my research and gain advice from Trip Advisor members like yourselves!

Atlanta, Georgia
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7. Re: deep south road trip in late Jan - Feb

You will want to stop in Atlanta and see MLK Ebenzer Baptist Church, boyhood home, museum and MLK center and tomb. All located near the national park service visitor center with parking and easy to access.

south west WA
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8. Re: deep south road trip in late Jan - Feb

Thanks so much Peach Belle for the tip. One thing we all agree we must do is attend a Baptist Church sermon and enjoy the lovely gospel singers. If we can include this in our itinerary and also learn something about the civil rights struggle at the same time, that would be great. Not sure where, or if this is even possible though...Needless to say, we don't want to offend anyone, by attending their church, when we're not members and only tourists.

Cleveland
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9. Re: deep south road trip in late Jan - Feb

I know gospel sermons are offered in NYC. Post/search on that forum as well as the Atlanta and NO forums.

Atlanta, Georgia
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10. Re: deep south road trip in late Jan - Feb

You can attend church services at the new Ebenezer Baptist church which is right across from the original building where MLK was the minister.