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  • The Arkansas River flows through downtown Little Rock, Arkansas
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    Starting Point: Little Rock, Arkansas

  • Ozark Bathhouse in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
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    Unwind in Hot Springs, Arkansas

  • The US-82 Greenville Bridge over the Mississippi River
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    Blues, Views and Delicious Eats in Greenville, Mississippi

  • The Mississippi State Capitol building in Jackson
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    Fresh Finds in Jackson, Mississippi

  • A boat zips under the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama
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    Follow the Route to Civil Rights In Selma, Alabama

  • Fort Conde and the neon-lit skyscrapers of Mobile, Alabama
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    History and Revelry Along Alabama’s Gulf Coast

  • Sunset at Pensacola Beach, Florida
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    Beach Time in Pensacola, Florida

  • Attempting the rope bridge at ZipLine Adventure Tallahassee
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    End Of The Road: Tallahassee, Florida

Live music at Bradfordville Blues Club in Tallahassee, Florida
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Southern States

  • Route distance:
    1695km
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

Sea, sun and Southern living across four American states

If you’re looking to get off the beaten path in the U.S., take a drive along the Gulf Coast, where local diners, notable historic sites and sprawling beaches vie for your attention. What to bring: Light layers to accommodate the Southern heat and coastal breezes; your appetite for home cooking and blues music; and a relaxed attitude.

01
The Arkansas River flows through downtown Little Rock, Arkansas
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Starting Point: Little Rock, Arkansas

Begin your journey in Little Rock, the quaint capital of Arkansas. You can fly into Little Rock’s Clinton National Airport (though you may also arrive through a nearby international airport like the one in Memphis, Tennessee) and rent a car before setting out to explore the city. Hop on the vintage Metro Streetcar, which runs through downtown’s charming River Market District. This part of town is home to plenty of local shops, bars and restaurants, as well as a seasonal farmer's market, which runs from May through October. If you’re not in town during the farmer's market season, visit the indoor Ottenheimer Market Hall where vendors serve delicious local treats like gourmet coffee, artisanal bread and pastries and regional souvenirs.

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89 km
1 hour by car
02
Ozark Bathhouse in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
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Unwind in Hot Springs, Arkansas

After stocking up on snacks, head about an hour south to Hot Springs, Arkansas, located east of the Ouachita National Forest. While here, spend a day discovering Hot Springs National Park, which surrounds the north part of the city and offers spectacular views of the Ouachita Mountains. Stroll through Bathhouse Row, where you can enjoy the thermal mineral waters at Buckstaff Bath House before hopping back in the car for the next leg of your journey.

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284 km
3 hours by car
03
The US-82 Greenville Bridge over the Mississippi River
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Blues, Views and Delicious Eats in Greenville, Mississippi

Driving southeast across wide stretches of farmland will lead you to Greenville, Mississippi. This town lies in the heart of the Mississippi Delta country and basks in views of the iconic Mississippi River. While there, check out live music performances in the Walnut Street Entertainment District or head out for a night of camping in Warfield Point Park. It’s also smack dab in the middle of blues country, so plan your visit around one of the many music festivals that take place throughout the summer and fall.

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478 km
5 hours by car
04
The Mississippi State Capitol building in Jackson
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Fresh Finds in Jackson, Mississippi

This route follows the Mississippi River, so you can enjoy the view almost all the way to your next stop: Jackson, Mississippi. This capital city is part of the Mississippi Blues Trail and has a rich musical history, which you can experience on Farish Street. Take a tour of the Beaux-Arts-style capitol building (constructed in 1901) and then stop in at Parlor Market for lunch, where you’ll find seasonal farm-to-table Southern fare, such as spicy pimento cheese and fried catfish.

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151 km
2 hours by car
05
A boat zips under the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama
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Follow the Route to Civil Rights In Selma, Alabama

The next few stops on your Gulf Coast road trip provide a fascinating look at U.S. history. Selma, Alabama is famous for being the starting point of the seminal Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march of 1965. At Selma’s National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, you can learn about the USA’s civil rights movement and the struggles black Americans faced in their pursuit of equality. On the drive to your next stop you’ll pass through Montgomery, where you can tour the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, which honors the famous civil rights pioneer.

283 km
3 hours by car
06
Fort Conde and the neon-lit skyscrapers of Mobile, Alabama
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History and Revelry Along Alabama’s Gulf Coast

Prepare yourself for a healthy dose of excitement upon arrival in Mobile, Alabama (pronounced MO-beel). Founded in 1702 on the shores of scenic Mobile Bay, this Gulf Coast city is the birthplace of the first Mardi Gras celebration in the U.S. Mobile hosts parades daily for the two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras in February, when the city comes alive with festive marching bands and colorful parties. Throughout the rest of the year, Mobile enchants with its Southern charm, boasting a variety of historic attractions (like U.S.S. Alabama Battleship Memorial Park), museums (like the Mobile Carnival Museum) and family-friendly sites (like the Gulf Coast Exploreum). Before leaving Alabama, stop in Orange Beach for white sand beaches, water sports and a relaxed vibe.

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94 km
1 hour by car
07
Sunset at Pensacola Beach, Florida
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Beach Time in Pensacola, Florida

Cruise along the Gulf Coast to Pensacola, Florida, where you’ll find the pristine beaches of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Unwind on the sugar-white beaches and then grab dinner in the historic brick downtown. Make sure to visit the historic halls of Fort Barrancas, reconstructed in the 1800s on the previous site of other forts that have guarded the entrance to Pensacola Bay since the 1700s and weathered many battles.

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316 km
3 hours by car
08
Attempting the rope bridge at ZipLine Adventure Tallahassee
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End Of The Road: Tallahassee, Florida

As you drive to capital city Tallahassee, you’ll notice a change in landscape as you wind along the Gulf Coast and through many peaceful beach towns that overlook the Gulf. On the way, stop in at The Red Bar in Grayton Beach, which offers live music every Tuesday through Saturday and a scrumptious fried shrimp po’boy. You will want to drive through one of Tallahassee’s nine official “canopy roads.” Oak and hickory trees create a picturesque canopy over these roads that began as paths once traveled by Native Americans.  Head to the Calhoun Street Historic District, nicknamed the “Gold Dust Street” for the high-end mansions that lined it in the 1800s. Afterwards, spend some time at the Downtown Marketplace, where you can pick up some local snacks and celebrate the end of your drive with live music. From here, you can drop off your rental car and hop on a flight home from Tallahassee Regional Airport or continue on your journey to discover other exciting Florida destinations, such as Orlando or Tampa Bay.

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