Howdy, y’all! We’re fixin’ to hop back in the saddle and set out for another adventure through the United States. This time, we’ll be exploring what treasures the South has to offer. The southern states we’ll be guiding you through have many bayous, shady veils of Spanish moss, cobblestone roads, and a rich history. Each destination we’ll discuss can be woven together to tell the tale of European settlers who arrived in the region’s coastal areas and gradually settled further inland.
Of course, American Indians were the first to call the American South their home. Tribes like the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Cherokee, and Seminole lived in villages throughout the region where they grew corn, beans, squash, sunflowers, tobacco, and other crops. They were also excellent gatherers who foraged for wild nuts, berries, and roots.
When European settlers arrived in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, eager to take advantage of the region’s fertile soil (which had been enriched by age-old American Indian farming practices), they pushed American Indian tribes off of their land so that Europeans could farm it.
Waves of settlers arrived to the British colonies to make a profit through growing cash crops like tobacco, cotton, rice, and indigo. The land was vast, and money was to be made, which unfortunately gave plantation owners incentive to get cheap labor to work the land. As many people know, large groups of African slaves were brought to the southern colonies, and thus, slavery became an institution in the South. It wasn’t abolished from the region until after the nation had gone to war with itself over that very issue. It was finally outlawed in 1865 when the 13th Amendment was adopted as part of the U.S. Constitution.
This history – drawing together American Indians, European colonization, the infusion of African culture from slaves who were forcibly relocated to the area, and the eventual legacy of the Civil War – has resulted in a rich, complex culture in the American South. From gumbo to blues music, to sweet tea and southern hospitality, there is so much to explore and learn about the South.
Ready to discover the deep cuts of the deep south states?
Head out to the Colonial South
You’ll begin your road trip through the south by visiting the Palmetto State. The Powder Magazine in Charleston is South Carolina’s oldest surviving public building with three centuries’ worth of stories. The magazine protected the former Province’s commerce and stood as a protective force against pirate attacks.
Then you’ll travel down to Georgia to find the next two locations. The first stop there will be Hilltop House in Waycross. Hilltop was the first home built in the town, in 1871. It’s been furnished with authentic pieces and artifacts from that year, giving you a close look at how folks lived in that era.
Next, you’ll make your way over to the Andrew Low House Museum in Savannah, Georgia. This is the former estate of premier cotton merchant Andrew Low, who was the richest man in pre-Civil War Savannah. Prepare to be amazed, because the home is furnished to the nines with the finest pieces of the time. Start your journey through the Colonial South!
Dive into the Deep South
The second leg of this adventure begins in Mobile, Alabama. There, you’ll visit the Condé-Charlotte Museum, a brick house that has served as everything from the city’s first jail to an officers’ club. You’ll get a glimpse of various eras in Mobile, AL, and the U.S. with the different designs of the Museum’s rooms.
Hop on over to Jackson, Mississippi, to see the Oaks House Museum, which has stood the test of time and fire of war. This is a modest Greek Revival-style house that was once where four-time Jackson Mayor James H. Boyd and his family resided. Three generations of the Boyds called this home for over a hundred years.
Now it’s time to venture further Southwest! You will find your way to the Kent Plantation House in Alexandria, Louisiana. This is an authentic Creole home that predates the Louisiana Purchase. The house was passed through a number of owners for decades until it was bought by the American Legion in 1949. They used the property as a meeting hall for almost 15 years.
Next stop, New Orleans. You’ll visit the Hermann-Grima House, a Federal-style mansion with Creole flair. With the traditional furnishings and house additions, you’ll get a step into life in the 1830s in this wealthy port city. Walking through the rooms and outbuilding, you’ll discover how both the upper class and enslaved population lived.
The itinerary will then lead you to St. Francisville, Louisiana, to a place that’s often visited by our lovely feathered friends. Oakley Plantation is a significant piece of architectural and general American history. In the Summer of 1812, renowned ornithologist and painter John James Audubon lived there and completed the illustrations for his book The Birds of America. This book is known as one of the most celebrated books of natural history.
Head over to Shreveport, Louisiana, to see the Spring Street Historical Museum, the oldest building in Shreveport. There you can learn how the building transitioned from serving as a bank to a business building and residence. And for all of the architecture lovers, the original ironwork and wooden floors of the building are still intact. Begin your travels through the Deep South!
Cruise down to the Coastal South
Time to make your way out to Saint Augustine, Florida. This is where you’ll visit the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum, the #1 Museum in St. Augustine. The Ximenez-Fatio House is an authentic Second Spanish Period residential building. Andres Ximenez built it in 1798 out of coquina (a native rock), allowing it to survive every hurricane since. But the building also has a strong foundation of history. You can see artifacts that predate when Columbus landed in America.
Then, you’ll take a trip through the Florida Panhandle to get to your next stop. In Pensacola, Florida, you will find the Dorr House, which is a gem of the Greek Revival architectural movement. This house was built in 1871 by Clara Dorr after her husband Eben Walker Dorr passed away. It is filled with authentic period pieces of the late 19th century, so you can truly feel what life was like for prosperous families in that era.
As your final destination of this journey through the Southern states, you’ll travel to Austin, Texas. Last but not least, is the Neill-Cochran House Museum, which paints a genuine image of Southern culture. The main house was once a rental property for the Federal Army under George Custer. The secondary building on the estate is where the enslaved and servants would live, and is the only intact slave work and dwelling place that remains standing in Austin. Set out on your adventure through the Coastal South!
Stay Tuned for More Itineraries
If this quest through the south doesn’t suit your interests, don’t worry! We’ll be rolling out more helpful guides for enjoying the Great American Treasures all year!
Don’t want to wait? Use our Create an Adventure tool to plan your own!