They say all roads lead to Rome, but when it comes to music, they take a detour through America's Deep South. The land of big bands, the blues, jazz, country, bluegrass, gospel choirs and more is a fascinating melting pot of cultures, history and musical milestones, all combinable in one toe-tapping road trip. We'd always recommend delving deeper into the Deep South. Here's how...
A King among Men
The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, and the fight for said rights, are as relevant today as when Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated on this spot in 1968. Take a tour of a museum (once a motel) that looks at movement through the prism of MLK's cultural contribution and its continuing impact, ending up on the very balcony where he was killed.
Built with slave-owners' ill gotten-gains Natchez was the richest town in the USA until the American Civil War. No surprise then that the antebellum houses that make up the town are some of the most extravagant and beautiful in America.
For a different perspective on the Deep South take a float plane trip from New Orleans, flying over the fabled French Quarter, the winding Mississippi River and Lousiana's sprawling bayou swamps. Swoop down to land in the waterways of the Barataria Preserve to spot alligators and dig into some good ol' plantation jambalaya (meat and rice stew).
Wake Up Call
For the best beignets (deep fried pastry and icing sugar, enough said) in the 'Big Easy', head away from the tourist joints to Morning Call Coffee Stand. Rules apply: be prepared to jostle, be ready to order when it's your turn, and don't expect to hang around afterwards - dilly-dallying is severely frowned upon.
To appreciate the Deep South beyond its cities, head to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, an outdoorsy-type's paradise with more 'sixers' (peaks above 6,000ft) than anywhere else in Tennessee and North Carolina, two pretty hilly states. Pull on your hiking boots and walk the four-mile circular Chimney Tops Trail, with its multiple stream crossings and rock scramble climax, for epic views.
Joseph is one of our favourite guides in New Orleans. A born and bred Creole resident, he is bubbling with tales about seemingly every corner of the city. Walk off some of your inevitable overindulgence with him, taking in everything from the New Orleans Museum of Art to the mausoleums of the city's early residents.