Stretching from tiny Delaware all the way to giant Texas, the landscapes of this vast area vary greatly, from the magnificent Great Smoky Mountains National Park, up to the alligator-filled bayous of Louisiana, via the Mississippi Valley.
Discover the Far West ambiance of Texas by visiting the saloons, enjoy dancing in the jazz and country bars of New Orleans, and get lost in the crowds at the Louisiana Carnival. Those who travel to Southern USA return home with the memories of a trip as vivid as a Hollywood movie.
Though vast, the southern states are worth exploring in your own time. To visit them, you have to be prepared for long drives across land and even across the Mississippi. Our advice? Land in Atlanta and rent a car to discover these American states at your own pace. And if you're not into driving, nothing prevents you from visiting these three states separately.
The scenery in the Great Smoky Mountains is magnificent in autumn, when the orange, yellow and red shades of the leaves line the cascades. In the southeast, it is best to avoid hurricane season, from the end of summer to the beginning of autumn, which could ruin your holiday. The best time to discover this region is in the spring, avoiding the searing temperatures of summer.
Pack light clothing if you are going in summer, especially for the regions along the Gulf of Mexico, where it can be very hot and humid. If you are going in winter, make sure you get more information on your exact destination, as the temperatures can be very harsh depending on the altitude.
For travel formalities, make sure your visa is perfectly up to date, as the American authorities will take the time to verify this. Brits do not need a visa if they are travelling in the US for less than 90 days. However, passports must correspond to a certain number of criteria depending on their issue date. You can find more information on the American Embassy in London website. If everything is in order, you will just have to fill out an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) form online to be admitted into the country.
Texas is known for its Tex-Mex cuisine, such as chilli con carne and fajitas. It is a cuisine with Mexican influences, introduced by immigrants to the country, but different in a few aspects, like the products used.
The cuisine in Mississippi is rather unique, with its fried catfish and its 'hush puppies', delicious doughnuts made with corn flour.
In Louisiana, you can try alligator meat and traditional dishes like the gumbo, a thick soup with sausages and vegetables. Jambalaya, a local version of paella, is also typical. It is made of rice, meat, shrimp and vegetables.
Fans of good whiskey will not be disappointed since the bourbon that can be found in Kentucky is renowned worldwide. Famous bourbons can be tested in multiple distilleries, such as Four Roses and Jim Beam.
To benefit from rebates, head to Louisiana, the only state with a tax rebate programme in the US. Moreover, the Louisiana Boardwalk in New Orleans, an open air outlet mall, has many different brands that offer duty free shopping.
In the big cities, the many shopping malls are a shopaholic's paradise. Go for a stroll in The Galleria in Houston to do some window shopping at the designer boutiques, or in the very lively West Village in Dallas. How about Macy's, the huge department store where you can find everything, just like you see in the American TV shows.
You can head to the River Market District in Little Rock, Arkansas, by taking the authentic yellow tramway. The Dallas Farmers Market is also very traditional, with its regional products and many events.
What should you bring back? Cowboy accessories purchased at Pinto Ranch in Houston, or a Mardi Gras necklace or mask that can be found in the many shops in New Orleans.