tampa bay


6 reasons to road trip Southern USA right now

Published July 13th, 2015

The Deep South –  known for its fried chicken and waffles, gospel choirs and strange billboards. On one side there’s Miami – with its glitzy South Beach clubs, Cuban coffee and shopping malls. On the other side there’s Austin – the world capital of live music, weirdos and BBQ. I recently enjoyed both of these amazing cities, plus a few surprise gems in between on a road trip from the right to left of the south.

Because 'MERICA

Student Flights consultant Matt tells six reasons why you need to visit the south:

Matt (center) hanging out with mates in Miami

1. Miami, Florida

Will Smith pretty much summed up Miami’s main drag with lyrics such as  “hundred thousand dollar cars, errybody got em” and “partying all night ‘til the break of dawn”. If that’s your thing – great! But if you really want to get under Miami’s skin, jump in an Uber and leave South Beach. You’ll be rewarded with a bevy of trendy bars in trendy Wynwood. This artsy former warehouse district attracts drinkers, diners and party goers alike. Check out local favorite Wood Tavern for a fun, friendly, house party vibe.

Tampa Bay Lightning game for the all-American experience

2. Tampa Bay, Florida

This Western Florida spot will easily fill a day with options like Busch Gardens – a theme park operated by a brewery – what can go wrong? Or check out the Stanley Cup runners-ups,The Tampa Bay Lightning, for an ice-hockey game downtown, or watch tigers, lions and panthers chow down on some tasty watermelon at Big Cat Rescue.

Wintzell's historic leaderboard

3. Mobile, Alabama

Seafood lovers will get their kicks in this small gulf city. Grab a seat at the bar in Wintzell’s and check out the leaderboard for their oyster challenge (over 400 in one sitting!). If you’re in town for breakfast, make sure you stop in at the Dew Drop Inn for some classic Southern favorites. History buffs will enjoy a visit to the USS Alabama, a battleship that won nine battle stars during WWII. Just remember to pronounce it right (Moh-bull, not Mo-bile).

'Huge Ass Beers' and Po' Boy's in New Orleans

 4. New Orleans, Louisiana

The definitive city of contrasts – one side of the street you have hens parties and holiday hook-ups; the other side, dive bars and despair. All walks of life mingle and mix on Bourbon Street where it’s not uncommon for the party to be well and truly underway before noon. Tourists, locals, rednecks, yuppies and everything in between all share the same sidewalks and barstools here. Grab a ridiculously strong (and cheap) purple drink from Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop and let the conversations flow! When you’re ready to find some real music head over to Frenchmen Street and boogie well into the earlier hours.

Shrimp 'n grits - a staple of the south

5. Lafayette, Louisiana

Only a couple hours out of ‘Nawlins’ you’ll find the capital of Cajun Country, Lafayette. People rave about New Orleans’ food scene – which is good – but Lafayette is where it gets serious yet unpretentious. Firstly, make sure you book your room at Blue Moon Guesthouse – a two story weatherboard homestead that has a bar and live music venue built into the garage. To get the fire started before the bands come on, head across the road to Artmosphere for a few local craft beers and a boudin burger – it will change your life, for real.

Juan In A Million for Austin's best breakfast tacos
Downtown Austin sunset vibes and 'the Ritz' cinema which Quentin Tarantino calls  the best movie theatre in the world

 6. Austin, Texas

If you love live music and red meat then this is your Mecca. If you don’t –the capital of Texas still has plenty to offer. Outdoor enthusiasts can traipse through the Barton Creek Greenbelt for hours, finishing at the famous natural, spring fed pools for a cool dip or join in on an impromptu drum-circle. Shoppers can find one-off pieces on South Congress or “SoCo” to the locals. When tipple time rolls around make sure to check out Rainey street for a shot and a beer combo and maybe a taco or curry from a myriad of food trucks, and then catch a golf-cart taxi over to the world famous Continental Club to catch a gig – you never know who might show up to jam!

Nice ride.

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Matt Castell

If you could make travel a full-time job would you? I am. I've been called a "jack of all trades" many times over the ten or so years spent wandering the globe. Always looking for new skills to learn, whether it be lion taming or flying helicopters... I'll give it a go! Being a Travel Agent for Student Flights has been the top pick so far though!