The American south (also known as “Dixie”) is made up of several states located in the continent’s southeastern quadrant. Though definitions of exactly which states fit vary, one thing is for sure: the food, culture, and environment for those looking to study or work abroad is rich and inviting.
The area is known for its unique culture, delicious cuisine, and inventive musical style. Southern ethnic heritage is rich and diverse, incorporating African, European, and Native American influences. The following are ten things to appreciate in each of the ten states that make up the American south:
Largest city: Houston
Population: 26.5 million
Texas is the second most populous state in the USA after California. Incorporating the cultures of many Hispanic and Asian immigrants as well as a rich cowboy culture, there’s a lot to appreciate about this massive and diverse state. Eat some BBQ, go to the beach, or take a drive through the wide open spaces.
Most of all, attend a rodeo, which is the official sport of Texas. The largest in the state is the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which involves a BBQ cook-off, three different kinds of rodeo events, and live music.
Capital: Oklahoma City
Largest city: Oklahoma City
Population: 3.9 million
Oklahoma is rich in Native American history, with 25 native languages spoken in this state, representing 67 tribes. While in Oklahoma, attend the State Fair which highlights local foods and music and is one of the most heavily-attended events in the state as well as the US.
Largest city: Jackson
Population: 2.98 million
Mississippi is known for its rich musical culture. Sitting along the mighty Mississippi River, this state was instrumental in the development of the blues movement of music. Notable musicians include Elvis Presley, opera star Leontyne Price, and country star Jimmy Buffet, in addition to many others.
While in Mississippi, stop in the Delta Blues Museum to see where this popular movement of music was created.
Capital: Baton Rouge
Largest city: New Orleans
Population: 4.6 million
Louisiana is incredibly diverse, with a rich Creole culture (an amalgimation of French, Spanish, African, and Native American cultures). Most of all, it is known for Jazz, food, and of course, the famous Mardi Gras.
Cajun food is truly an American creation which boasts rich, flavorful, and delicious eats. Savor them all in New Orleans while stopping by for the annual Jazz Festival or the world-famous Mardi Gras celebration - both Louisiana musts.
Largest city: Birmingham
Population: 4.8 million
Alabama is an incredible state to visit for many reasons, not least of which is the dedication its residents have to American (or “gridiron”) football. If you truly want to be immersed in the culture of Alabama, attend an Auburn University football game. Though football is practically a “religion” in most of the South, nowhere is this as apparent as an Auburn game. Don a football jersey, show up early for the tailgate, and roll tide with the most enthusiastic football fans the USA has ever seen.
Largest city: Atlanta
Population: 9.9 million
There are 48 state parks in Georgia and 15 historic sites, making this a very rich state both in natural beauty and history. In Georgia, hike along the Appalachian trail and get a real peek into the past.
Capital : Nashville
Largest city: Memphis
Population: 6.5 million
Tennessee has a big hand in bluegrass music, among many other things. While there, check out Dollywood, a theme park that is run by one of country music’s greatest: Dolly Parton, and Herschend Family Entertainment. It’s all about food, music, and waterslides!
Largest city: Louisville
Population: 4.4 million
Kentucky is known as America’s “bluegrass state” mainly due to the bluegrass found in the fertile soil. Additionally, Kentucky has the USA’s highest per capita number of deer and turkey in the United States.
More than that, Kentucky is America’s bourbon state. The “bourbon trail” leads one through 8 different bourbon distilleries, including Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark. For the bourbon lovers out there, this is one of the big draws of visiting Kentucky.
Largest city: Jacksonville
Population: 19.6 million
Florida is the 4th most populous state in the US and has all kinds of wonderful things on offer, from the fame of Miami to the beauty of the Florida Keys. This water-surrounded state has beaches galore.
One of the most popular things to do while in Florida is to visit Orlando, which is full of theme parks from Disney World to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Largest city: Columbia
Population: 4.8 million
While in South Carolina, as with every other state on this list, enjoy some serious BBQ deliciousness. The American south is known for its amazing BBQ and South Carolina is no different. In between enjoying wonderful beaches, sink your teeth into some ribs, brisket, or BBQ chicken.
As you can see, there’s a lot to the American south, heavily influenced by the diverse culture, amazing music, and delicious and unique foods. You really can’t go wrong aiming to appreciate all three in each state. The south of the USA truly is an amazing mish-mash of all kinds of people and eats - the very things that make the United States so unique to live or study in.