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  • Enjoying old-fashioned milkshakes and diner fare at Brent’s Drugs in Jackson, Mississippi
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    History and Culture in Jackson, Mississippi

  • Colorful buildings lining Royal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana
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    New Orleans, Louisiana: Immersed in Art, Food and Music

  • Touring the 1811/Kid Ory Historic House in LaPlace, Louisiana
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    Explore Nature and Historic Homes in Louisiana’s River Parishes

  • Touring Jungle Gardens on Avery Island in Louisiana
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    Local Icons in Baton Rouge and Avery Island

  • Kayaking on Lake Martin in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
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    Into the Great Outdoors on the Creole Nature Trail and a Swamp Tour

Dancing to live music in the streets in New Orleans, Louisiana
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Mississippi to Louisiana: 5 Days of Southern Culture and Cuisine

By Jason Macumber

  • Route distance:
    1,335 km
  • Suggested Time:
    5 days

Hit the road and immerse yourself in Mississippi’s and Louisiana’s rich cultural heritage, history and food.

Whether you’re a history buff seeking insights into the art and music that has shaped the USA’s culture or a food connoisseur ready to bite into flavorful Southern cuisine, this five-day trip will provide you with a wealth of exciting experiences. After flying into Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (JAN), you’ll experience Southern hospitality, history, lively jazz music and picturesque natural landscapes.

01
Enjoying old-fashioned milkshakes and diner fare at Brent’s Drugs in Jackson, Mississippi
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History and Culture in Jackson, Mississippi

Your adventure begins in Mississippi’s state capital of Jackson. Start your morning at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, home to eight galleries focused on the years 1945-1976. Visitors will learn about the struggle of Black Americans and their fight for equal rights and freedom through quotes from people who risked their lives, images of those impacted by slavery, exhibits honoring activists and a powerful sculpture that emanates light and music as more people interact with it.

Next, make your way to the Farish Street District, a historic neighborhood and headquarters for Black-owned businesses until the 1970s that is undergoing a renaissance. Keep an eye out for multiple markers on the Mississippi Blues Trail recognizing the many famous musicians, recording studios and venues that contributed to the birth of the blues. Refuel at one of the many dining options in the district. Johnny T’s Bistro & Blues, which serves up savory southern cuisine, or The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen, where tastes of the South are sprinkled with Mediterranean flair.

In the afternoon, explore the Fondren District’s shops, art galleries and architecture. Order a classic malt at Brent’s Drugs, a diner and soda fountain that has been a local hot spot since 1946. At the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, explore an indoor/outdoor living history museum chronicling 500 years of agricultural history. See a replica of a crossroads town including a General Store where you can grab a Coca-Cola in a glass bottle and some old-fashioned rock candy. For dinner, dine at BABALU to sample Southern favorites with a Latin spin. End the day at the Blue Front Café, a historic juke joint off Highway 49 where you can jam to live music. Get some rest at The Westin Jackson Hotel in the heart of downtown; you’re on to your next stop tomorrow.

300 km
3 hours by car
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Colorful buildings lining Royal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana
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New Orleans, Louisiana: Immersed in Art, Food and Music

Grab a coffee and hit the road for your next destination, vibrant New Orleans, Louisiana. Your route includes the Natchez Trace Parkway, featuring winding roads and scenic views of forests, lakes and wildlife. Once you’ve arrived, head to the Bywater neighborhood for a lunch of country classics at Elizabeth’s or Creole cuisine at The Country Club. Next, discover JAMNOLA (Joy Art Music New Orleans), a richly immersive experience featuring 12 fully decked out rooms celebrating the art, music, food and theatrical prowess of New Orleans. Be sure to book your tickets in advance as spaces fill up quickly.

Nestled in the heart of the French Quarter, Jackson Square is next on your list to explore. Marvel at the beauty of St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in continuous use in North America. Then, see art on display by local artists or grab coffee and beignets from the famous Café du Monde. As you stroll, appreciate the colorful architecture and characteristic balconies that distinguish New Orleans, stop to enjoy live street performers entertaining the crowds and listen for jazz music filtering out into the night from the bars and restaurants.

Dinner is served at Bar Marilou in the Warehouse District with a menu showcasing yellowfin tuna, seared scallops and panna cotta with blackberries. Wind down at Tipitina’s with a cocktail and a concert. Opened in 1977, the former juice bar now celebrates local musicians and is a popular hangout for locals and visitors alike. Back in the French Quarter, check in at the Ace Hotel New Orleans for a good night’s rest.

103 km
1.5 hours by car
03
Touring the 1811/Kid Ory Historic House in LaPlace, Louisiana
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Explore Nature and Historic Homes in Louisiana’s River Parishes

The next morning, drive a half hour west to Zip NOLA in LaPlace for an incredible experience exploring one of Louisiana’s legendary swamp ecosystems. You’ll climb a spiral staircase encircling an old growth cypress tree, soar along five ziplines and cross two sky bridges, all while enjoying the beautiful scenery and native wildlife of the Maurepas Swamp. You’ll also see views of historic Frenier, Lake Ponchartrain and the New Orleans skyline. After the tour, sample oysters and seafood gumbo at the waterfront Frenier Landing Restaurant & Oyster Bar, or drive in to the LaPlace Frostop for a juicy burger and frosty root beer. After you’ve recharged, head to the 1811/Kid Ory Historic House. One of the oldest structures in St. John the Baptist Parish, this museum features exhibits detailing the 1811 slave rebellion, which began here, and celebrates the story of pioneering jazz musician Kid Ory, who was born on the property in 1886.

Once you’ve explored Louisiana’s River Parishes, return to New Orleans and start the evening with a relaxing dinner overlooking Jackson Square at Tableau. The menu is a celebration of classic French-Creole dishes such as sauteed local fish or duck confit. Before returning to the Ace Hotel New Orleans, spend the rest of the evening in the Marigny neighborhood. Known for its vibrant art scene, the area is home to multiple galleries, live music venues and art markets. The local creative crowd flocks here to enjoy the many wine bars, jazz clubs and late-night dives.

438 km
4.75 days by car
04
Touring Jungle Gardens on Avery Island in Louisiana
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Local Icons in Baton Rouge and Avery Island

Begin the day with a drive to Baton Rouge and tour the Old State Capitol Museum, a national historic landmark featuring an incredible stained-glass dome. Take a guided tour of the grounds or explore a variety of rotating exhibits that celebrate Louisiana’s history. After the tour, eat lunch with the locals at Stroubes Seafood & Steaks (the lamb lollipops are delicious) or Cecelia Creole Bistro, known for Louisiana-inspired cuisine like skillet cornbread and jerk-glazed pork shank.

In the afternoon, drive to Avery Island to explore the Tabasco Brand Factory Tour & Museum and Jungle Gardens. Learn about the famous hot sauce and how it’s produced via a self-guided tour. Then, wander the adjacent botanical gardens and bird sanctuary that extends along Bayou Petite Anse.

End your day with a drive to Lake Charles, and check-in at the Golden Nugget Charles Hotel & Casino, where you can enjoy a variety of Las Vegas-style entertainment, including live shows featuring local musicians and comedians. Don’t miss out on mouthwatering good eats. The tender baby back ribs at Saltgrass Steak House are a must-order, while Blue Martini Lounge provides a chill atmosphere for sipping cocktails and nibbling on tapas.

372 km
4 hours by car
05
Kayaking on Lake Martin in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
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Into the Great Outdoors on the Creole Nature Trail and a Swamp Tour

From Lake Charles, drive along the Creole Nature Trail and experience the untamed wilds of Louisiana. Marvel at coastal wetlands, pass through wildlife refuges and snap photos of expansive marshes. Make sure to download the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road app for local insights – it’s like having a tour guide right in your car.

Head toward Lafayette, and take a mid-day lunch break at La Cuisine de Maman in the Vermilionville Historic Village for savory gumbo and fried catfish, or try a classic plate lunch featuring smothered okra and cabbage at Laura’s II in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Spend the afternoon cruising Lake Martin via airboat, swamp boat or kayak with Champagne's Cajun Swamp Tours in Breaux Bridge. Lake Martin is a wildlife watcher’s paradise, and you may catch glimpses of great blue herons, pelicans and alligators in their natural habitats under a canopy of ancient cypress trees.

As the day ends, enjoy a scenic drive back to New Orleans, where you’ll check back in at the Ace Hotel New Orleans, where can sip cocktails poolside at the rooftop bar and dine on wild-caught oysters as the sun sets over the city. Wake refreshed and fulfilled the next morning for your flight home from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).

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