7 Things I Learned While Driving Through the American South

The American South includes a mixed reputation: it’s home to sweet tea, greasy but delicious food, country music, the blues, friendly and helpful people, and beautiful and diverse landscapes. However, it’s also connected with guns, racists, bigots, rednecks, and may be the subject of several other negative stereotypes.

The very first time I visited the South was in 2006 on a road trip over the USA.

As a liberal Yankee, I needed the negative stereotypes to be true and my beliefs to be validated. Instead, I came across an unbelievable region of helpful people, a countryside dotted with rolling hills, farms, and forests, and hearty food abundant with flavor. From Charleston to New Orleans and everything among, the South was extraordinary.

Now, nine years later, on another road trip through the South, I wondered if it could provoke the same warm feelings. America is a far more politically divided country and I was unsure what things to expect.

The South has drifted to the proper politically, and I wondered about heated debates about “that president,” gay rights, guns, and more.

Would Personally i think just like a stranger in a strange land?

After spending months exploring the spot, I realized that the Southern states, encompassing a big area of the USA, aren’t as culturally and politically monolithic because they once were. You will find a prodigious variety here, and the spot left me with many impressions.

1. THE MEALS can make You Happy

Food plays a central role in Southern life and is abundant with both flavor and diversity. Each region has its specialties – barbecue in Missouri, Memphis, and NEW YORK; Creole food and oysters in New Orleans; Cajun food on the Bayou; fried chicken in Nashville; the growing organic food scene in Atlanta; and upscale dining in Oxford, Mississippi.

I pictured Southern food as greasy, fried, and heavy fare. While a lot of it really is hearty, the richness in flavor and variety was outstanding. There is something for everybody, and in the event that you go hungry while visiting, it’s your own fault.

2. Music Makes the spot Go ’Round

Music is a means of life here. The sound of live music filled the air everywhere. Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans are famous music haunts, but even the littlest towns have robust live music scenes. From jazz to country to blues to bluegrass, there’s a music soul to the region. I danced, jammed, and sang, and it had been wonderful.

3. The People Are really Friendly

There’s a common belief that the South houses the friendliest people in the united states. I’m not sure I really believe that, but I’d concur that Southerners are certainly friendly. They are cheerful, talkative, and intensely helpful. Strangers waved hello, inquired about my day, were quick with invites for drinks, and generally made an attempt to create me feel welcome. The people here have hospitality right down to a skill.

Plus, they appear to have an endless way to obtain sweet tea and I can’t get enough of this stuff!

4. The Landscape is Stunning

The Southern landscape is beautiful and diverse. The Smoky Mountains certainly are a vast, dense forest filled up with inviting rivers, lakes, and trails. The Louisiana bayou is haunting with moss-covered trees and eerie calm. The hills of Appalachia stretch for wooded miles, and the complete Mississippi Delta, using its swamps, marshes, and biodiversity, is gorgeous. And the beaches of Florida are so white they sparkle.

I possibly could spend months hiking and exploring all of the parks and rivers in your community. ( Mental note to future self: Do this.)

5. TO COMPREHEND It, You will need to Understand Its Past

As a former senior high school history teacher (I taught right out of college), I was excited to explore the area’s colonial cities and Civil War sites. Cities like Natchez, Vicksburg, New Orleans, Savannah, Memphis, Richmond, and Charleston helped shape the united states, and their history and influence are essential to the story of America.

It had been in these cities that lots of American cultural and political leaders were born, the Civil War began, battles were won and lost, the rise and fall of slavery was sown, and several of the largest names in American cultural history were born.

These cities and their history help explain a whole lot about Southern pride, culture, and current feelings.

6. It’s Politically Conservative

Although Ashvilles, Nashvilles, Atlantas, Austins, and other big cities of the spot have grown to be more liberal (thanks partly to open-minded university students, Northern transplants, and hipsters), all of those other region has moved more to the proper recently.

Besides country music, radio options appear to consist only of Christian lectures and music or right-wing talk radio warning of immigrants attracting polio, evil Muslims, and Obama the antichrist. I overheard many conversations about “that guy” (the President) and “queers.” The big cities could be liberal, but in all of those other South, it’s as conservative as conservative could be.

7. It’s Racist (But It’s Not 1950s Violent Racist)

I came across the racism in the present day South to become more an “off-the-cuff racism” when compared to a deep-seated hatred. It had been predicated on stereotypes that lingered because they simply became a habit.

From the B&B owner who made an offhand comment about Jews to the people in Nashville who discussed blacks being workers because “that’s just how it really is,” to the people in Atlanta making fun of gays, to college kids in Mississippi telling me racist jokes (or singing racist songs on buses), most found simply as unthinking.

If asked if their remarks were prejudiced, they might probably say “No, it had been only a joke.” But it’s still very offensive.

No-one appears to question these ideas, which explains why these attitudes appear to linger. Does this mean I believe many people are a deep-seated racist? No, never. I believe the South has made incredible strides towards equality and racism can be an issue in lots of places. While much better than it used to be, it’s still very prevalent, and with the move toward the political right, I don’t view it going away any time in the future.

I had hoped this stereotype would grow to be outdated but sadly, it had been not.


Despite its flaws, I grow to love the region more with each visit. It’s just about the most culturally rich areas in the united states. There’s grounds why its cities are booming.

Go go to the region, escape the cities, travel through the mountains, and discover your way in to the small towns. You’ll discover friendly people, heavenly food, amazing music, and an appreciation for a slow pace of life.

Travel reduces barriers and misconceptions about people and places. The more you travel, the more you realize people (even though you don’t trust them).

The South and I might not agree on a whole lot of issues, but it’s not the spot the negative stereotypes make it out to be. It’s a captivating, lively, interesting, and friendly area of the USA.

And an area more people should become familiar with.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Guidelines

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