On the Road: a Music Lover's Guide to America's Deep South

Urban Cowboy
Urban Cowboy | Courtesy of Urban Cowboy / Expedia
Photo of Nick Dauk
14 September 2021

Tick off a trio of tuned-in cities, from Memphis to Nashville and New Orleans, on this musical road trip through the southern United States.

America’s Deep South is a melting pot of culture that has overflowed across the world. But perhaps no export is more renowned than its sound. Music in the South is more than noise: it’s a sonic history of the diverse people who’ve called these states home. Blast the radio, wind down the windows and cruise to the soundtrack of the Deep South with stops at these rocking destinations, from Graceland to the Country Music Hall of Fame via a few noted hotels in between, bookable on Culture Trip.

Make your way to Memphis

MOXY Memphis Downtown

Hotel
Map View
MOXY Memphis Downtown_31d9d436
Guitars are provided at the Memphis Downtown | Courtesy of MOXY Memphis Downtown / Expedia
MOXY is your entrance to downtown Memphis. Check into the Sound Studio Suite on the top floor and get ready to host your own private gig with the two guitars provided. Invite friends up for drinks at your minibar and simply play away. Feeling a little out of tune? Rock your way outside and get back in the groove with concerts at Orpheum Theatre and drinks in the Beale Street District.

Legends of Tennessee Music Museum

Museum
Map View
The Carnegie Featuring The Tennessee Legends of Music Museum. The Carnegie Center for Arts and History in the old Jackson Free Library in Jackson, Tennessee.
© Clarence Holmes Photography / Alamy
While Jackson, Tennessee might not ring a bell, its famous exports will strike a chord. The Hard Rock Cafe and House of Blues have their roots here, and the city’s contributions to the early days of rock’n’roll are celebrated at the Legends of Tennessee Music Museum. There you’ll find exhibits on Carl Perkins, Sonny Boy Williamson and Denise LaSalle, to name a few.

Graceland

Building
Map View
Interior of Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
© galit seligmann / Alamy Stock Photo
No rockin’ road trip is complete without a pilgrimage to the King’s home. Graceland showcases all things Elvis: his jeweled jumpsuits, classic cars and the gold records that prove he’s one of the greatest rock’n’rollers of all time. Interactive exhibits bring the King to life digitally, using augmented reality to put you front-and-center for a serenade. He may have left the building, but Graceland still features live performances from Elvis tribute acts.

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  • Call in for country music in Nashville

    Urban Cowboy Nashville

    Hotel
    4.5/5 (6 Reviews)
    Urban Cowboy
    Courtesy of Urban Cowboy / Expedia
    Price Drop
    Now from $377 per night
    Urban Cowboy was built for one reason: having a good time. Kick off your cowboy boots and settle into this historic Victorian mansion for an unforgettable night’s stay. High ceilings, clawfoot tubs and one-off decor await in every cowpoke suite. Their watering hole out back, the Public House Bar, is always stocked with toe-tapping tunes, ice-cold cocktails and good times you won’t stop telling your friends about. Expect to see local musicians gathering on the porch at this honeypot hangout for resident acts.
    More info

    Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

    Museum
    Map View
    Scenes from the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Celebrating the music and musicians of the State of Alabama
    © rabh images / Alamy
    Step into the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and you can’t help but stand in awe. Rod Stewart, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Paul Simon, the Rolling Stones and countless other legends rocked out in this lauded facility. Your reverence will play on as you visit Muscle Shoals’ other iconic studio: FAME. Here, performers such as Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding belted out their hits. The visit may add an hour to your drive between New Orleans and Nashville, but standing on these hallowed grounds is worth the extra gas.

    Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

    Museum
    Map View
    Tennessee, Nashville,  Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
    © Stephen Saks Photography / Alamy
    Johnny Cash. Patsy Cline. Willie Nelson. The greatest country musicians of all time are immortalized in Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame. This museum has thousands of pieces of memorabilia – from stage-strummed instruments and studio mics to rare photographs and pre-WWII recordings. Rotating exhibits highlight stars old and new, revealing hidden chapters of country music history and showcasing the diverse contemporary artists breaking its mold.

    A final encore in New Orleans

    Maison de la Luz, New Orleans

    Boutique Hotel, Luxury
    4.9/5 (68 Reviews)
    Maison de la Luz _206f1b96
    Maison de la Luz | Courtesy of Maison de la Luz / Expedia
    Maison de la Luz is a boutique stay from the hitmaker Ace Hotels brand in an exceptional location. Halfway between the French Quarter and Garden District, notes of jazz and scents of Creole are never far away. Still, the soaring ceiling and soaking tub in the Grand Suite, and the luminous bathroom and luxury linens in the King Suite are difficult to leave. Complimentary wine and cheese every evening in the Living Room are great primers for a night on the town.
    More info

    Tipitinas

    Music Venue
    Map View
    17 December 2005 - New Orleans, LA - Tipitina's, New Orleans, Louisiana. Arlo Guthrie and friends Ridin on the city of New Orleans tour benefiting Musicares Hurricane relief 2005 sponsored by Amtrak. (rt) Arlo Guthrie and Willie Nelson (2nd rt) wrap up th
    © Sipa US / Alamy
    Named in honor of a song by Professor Longhair, the rhythm and blues musician who deeply influenced New Orleans’ sound, Tipitinas is a NOLA institution that’s showcased burgeoning local acts and international artists for decades. Everyone from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Pearl Jam to hometown heroes like the Neville Brothers and Better Than Ezra has taken to the stage here. Live music fills the calendar on weekends and weekdays, with free Friday night shows a common occurrence.

    Randol's

    Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
    Map View
    Randol's | Seafood Restaurant, Lafayette
    © Jeffreyw
    As you drive through the Bayou State of Louisiana, you’d be tone deaf not to indulge in Cajun culture. Randol’s is a bar and restaurant in Lafayette that serves up the best local seafood with the two traditional musical staples of the region: live Cajun and zydeco music. Friendly regulars will welcome you to Acadiana (the French Louisiana region), inviting you to pick your own live crawfish to eat while mustering the rhythm to hit the dance floor.
    These recommendations were updated on September 14, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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