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The Ultimate Music Road Trip in Deep South USA

Deep South USA is the birthplace of practically all popular music. Blues, soul, country, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll were born here, just like Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Sam Cooke and Justin Timberlake.

Aretha Franklin - Deep South USA Music Trip

No better place to embark on the Ultimate Music Road Trip – the one you’ve been dreaming about for ages! In this ongoing series, we’ll show you where to go.

Part 2: Atlanta–Chattanooga–Pigeon Forge 

While Part 1 was all about preparations, now it’s time to load the boot, stock up on snacks and crank the music up high. We have more than 2,000 miles to cover, so we best get going!

The first leg of your Music Trip of a lifetime starts in Atlanta, home of CNN, World of Coca-Cola and the must-see King Center. With artists like Lil Nas X, Childish Gambino, Outkast, Usher en Migos in its corner, Atlanta is widely regarded as one of the world’s hottest hip-hop and R&B capitals. If the hustle & flow is not your thing, it’s good to know that city is renowned for its live music scene, with a broad spectrum of great nights out to choose from.


Your next stop is Chattanooga, Tennessee, about a two-hour drive from Atlanta. This charming city has several claims to fame, but musically there are two main attractions to check out. The first is all about Chattanooga Choo-Choo, the song made famous in 1941 by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra. It tells the story of the Birmingham Special, a popular railway line between New York and Birmingham, Alabama. Along the way the train made a stop at Chattanooga’s historic Terminal Station which was converted to the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, a one-stop hub for accommodation, dining and live entertainment. A good night’s sleep in one of its splendidly restored original Pullman train cars will take you back to those days in style.

Chances are you’ll be beat from the night’s events, because live music is the second thing the Scenic City is cherished for. Its Downtown – leisurely cruisable by a free electric shuttle – offers plenty of ear candy year-round, but Chattanooga’s many music festivals are worth planning for as well. While the annual Riverbend Festival (May, country/folk) lures the big crowds to Chattanooga’s Riverfront, other notable music festivals like 3 Sisters (October, bluegrass), Moon River (September, Tennessee music) and Jfest (May, Christian music) are guaranteed good times during your legendary music quest.

Pigeon Forge

A 2.5-hour drive will take you to your next stop Pigeon Forge, located at the northern gateway to the majestic Great Smoky Mountains National Park – easily worth two days of your time alone. Welcome to the home of country music icon Dolly Parton, who was born in nearby Sevierville and gave her Tennessee Mountain Home one of the most-visited attractions in the region: Dollywood. Its theme park (open March-December) is heaven for lovers of thrill rides, live country music, hearty food and rustic timber, while its water park Splash Country cools you off in between. Don’t forget to pay your respects in Sevierville, where a rock-perched Dolly statue is begging for a souvenir photo.

Next blog item coming up: the birthplace of country music!

The trip

This ultimate, catch-all Music Road Trip below will cover somewhere around 2,000 miles, starting and ending in Atlanta to avoid rental car drop-off fees. Along the way you’ll visit these cities and towns that all have made their mark on music history:

Chattanooga | Pigeon Forge | Bristol | Lexington | Louisville | Rosine | Owensboro | Nashville | Muscle Shoals | Tupelo | Memphis | Nesbit | Clarksdale | Cleveland | Indianola | Greenwood | Natchez | Lafayette | New Orleans | Mobile | Montgomery | Birmingham

We’ve mapped the complete route out here on Google Maps. Tell your local travel agent we said hi!

Sound good? For more info, email us at


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