Southern Road Trip – Favorite Stopovers

If John Hiatt’s song “Drive South” has inspired you to hit the road, you’re on your first step toward southern hospitality. Interstate 10 stretches from Los Angeles to Florida and can guide you the rest of the way. Whether you test your outdoor senses at national parks, listen to sweet jazz in New Orleans, or sip mint juleps on a front porch in Savannah, you’ll be filled with southern sunshine and charm.

National Parks

Grand Canyon by Paul Fundenburg/flick
Grand Canyon by Paul Fundenburg/flickr

If you’re driving through Arizona, your trip won’t be complete until you see the Grand Canyon. The mile-deep canyon is not only beautiful and awe-inspiring, it has a history that long precedes that of our nation. Watch your kids’ jaws drop open at the site of this wonder!Saguaro National Park is home to forests of cacti and unique wildlife. Short hikes take you through a desert landscape bordered by majestic mountains. Backcountry campers can take longer journeys through the park.
Monument Valley and its famous buttes are off I-10 are bit of a stretch, but they are worth a visit. The monolithic rock formations jut out from flat desert into a vast expanse of sky; it’s an otherworldly scene that should not be missed.


In Texas, you’ll pass 900 exits on 900 miles of highway. A drive through the state will alternate between large expanses of open land and populated cities. If you are entering Texas from its Western border, you’ll pass through the Chihuahuan Desert and its irregular landscape. Stop in Austin, the live music capital of the world, for a concert. Hundreds of venues offer indoor and outdoor music of any genre. Maybe you’ll hear an up-and-coming group before they go big.

Mission Control by Mike Renlud/Flickr
Mission Control by Mike Renlund/flickr

Houston is home to the Johnson Space Center, where visitors can board a “Living in Space” module that simulates life at zero gravity. A tram can take you on a behind-the-scenes tour and show you NASA’s Mission Control Center. You may even get a glimpse of real live astronauts training for missions!At Sea World in San Antonio, kids will enjoy the Bay of Play water park, a three-acre aquatic playground. The entire family will enjoy being entertained by the myriad of shows and exhibits. You can pet and feed the dolphins or learn to train a sea lion. At different times of year, Sea World features special concerts or fireworks displays.

New Orleans

New Orleans courtyard by Alex Castro
New Orleans courtyard by Alex Castro

After the long drive through Texas, Louisiana is a short trip, and you drop in and give some tourist support to our previously devastated city of New Orleans. Whether you’re there for Mardi Gras, Jazzfest, or in between major celebrations, you’ll get a sense of the cultural vibe and colorful history. Visit historic houses in the French Quarter or take a riverboat cruise. Gardens, theaters and museums give every visitor something to do.


The town is historic; the beach is breezy, the river walk is serene, and the restaurants and shops that flank it are charming and unique. The waving girl statue at Morrell Park is a symbol of southern hospitality. You can take a trolley through town or sprawl out on the sand. Either way, your visit will be peaceful and tranquil.


Seagrove Beach by Mariko/flickr
Seagrove Beach by Mariko/flickr
If you want to end your vacation with the ultimate in relaxation, head to Tybee Island, Georgia, or travel down to Florida. Tybee Island is a low-key, beachside town with little to do but lounge in the sun and play in the surf. Although the resort town does have plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you busy, you’ll want to take advantage of the salt air after being cooped up in the car. If you’re just looking for miles of beaches, finish off your trip in Florida and make a detour to the keys, or if you need a driving break just stay in the panhandle.The southern belt of this country is pretty much the epitome of “relaxed;” some call it slow, but we’ll just call it laid back. It’s charming, the people and the sun are warm, and every state through which you pass through will have its own unique atmosphere to fill your memories.
About the author
Carla Patterson is a content contributor for online car insurance companies