Agents on the Open Road: RoadTrips USA Edition – At the movies – Southern sights

Home » Agents on the Open Road: RoadTrips USA Edition – At the movies – Southern sights

Part three of Brand USA’s Agents on the Open Road: RoadTrips USA Edition, in partnership with Travel Gossip and Gold Medal, is a must for movie and TV buffs.

This month’s feature focuses on the southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida, highlighting some of the iconic sights that have appeared on the big and small screen.

Read the feature, then answer the question at the bottom of the page and you could win a £50 One4All voucher and enter a grand prize draw to win a £5,000 Gold Medal voucher that can be redeemed against any 2025 Gold Medal USA package holiday.

Full details of the trip can be found here and below is a day-by-day snapshot of what to expect.

Days 1 and 2, New Orleans, Louisiana

The French Quarter, or Vieux Carré, is the oldest and most famous neighbourhood of the city, but the Upper Garden District, home of Anne Rice, who authored the book of the same name, is also worth a visit. Other must-sees are Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and the Old Coliseum Theater, which both featured in Interview with the Vampire.

Have dinner at Napoleon House in Vieux Carré, one of the city’s oldest family-run restaurants which was featured in Oliver Stone’s JFK.

French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana
Day 3, New Orleans to Plantation Trail; then New Orleans to Atchafalaya Basin to Angola to Natchitoches, Louisiana

Follow the mighty Mississippi River through Cajun Country to Oak Alley Plantation, one of the South’s most famous mansions, then stop at the Houmas House Estate, a former sugarcane plantation that has been lovingly restored.

Head back towards New Orleans along scenic Highway 1, making a stop at Laurel Valley Plantation, which served as the childhood home of Ray Charles in the Oscar-winning movie Ray.  Back in New Orleans, visit The Sazerac Bar, the site of the famous John Candy scene in JFK and take a selfie in front of the famous mural.

Head northwest through one of the largest swamps in the United States, the Atchafalaya Basin, for an airboat tour to view the abundant wildlife. Continuing northwest, stop at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, the real-life and on-screen setting of Dead Man Walking. Then, at Natchitoches, take a stroll along the river on historic Front Street and stop at Mama’s Oyster House for a relaxed dinner and live music.

Day 4, Natchitoches, Louisiana

Take a full day to explore one of the oldest towns in Louisiana, with its historic downtown, quaint storefronts and Southern charm, the setting for the play and movie Steel Magnolias.  Visit the Taylor-Cook House, now known as the Steel Magnolia House Bed and Breakfast, and take a tour to see Truvy’s Beauty Spot, Ouiser’s house and the church where Shelby’s pink wedding took place.

Day 5, Natchitoches, Louisiana to Greenwood, Mississippi

Greenwood is where the movie The Help was filmed. Famous locations include the Jackson Bus Stop and the Baptist Church. Visit some of the favorite hangouts of the cast and crew: Enjoy a beer at the Tallahatchie Tavern or dinner at Webster’s Food & Drink.

Day 6, Greenwood, Mississippi to Selma, Alabama
Selma, Alabama

Visit the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the real-life site of the Bloody Sunday march in 1965, which is featured in the award-winning movie about the Civil Rights Movement Selma. Then head to Jackson Lake Island, the location of the fictional town of Spectre in the movie Big Fish. The town was custom-built for the movie and was never taken down.

The final stop is Montgomery, and the site that marked the end of the Bloody Sunday march, the steps of the Alabama State Capitol on Dexter Avenue.

Day 7, Montgomery, Alabama to Opelika, Alabama to LaFayette, Georgia to Atlanta, Georgia

Opelika is the setting for the Oscar-winning movie Norma Rae starring Sally Field. The Golden Cherry Motel, where some scenes were filmed, is still operational. LaFayette is where the town square scenes from Mississippi Burning were filmed.

In Atlanta, Georgia, visit the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, whose spacious and ornate atrium has made it a favourite filming location for directors. Most recently, the hotel appeared in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Day 8, Atlanta, Georgia  
Atlanta, Georgia

Woodruff Park often stands in for New York City’s Central Park in films and is the setting for the hilarious fight scene in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. The Grand Ballroom of the historic Georgian Terrace hotel hosted the gala night of the Gone with the Wind premiere in 1939.

The Swan House at the Atlanta History Center was used as President Snow’s mansion in the Hunger Games movies, while in Druid Hills visitors can see the house that featured in Driving Miss Daisy, which is set in the city. Agnes Scott College, voted one of the most beautiful campuses in the USA, appeared in Scream 2, Driving Miss Daisy and Fried Green Tomatoes.

Day 9, Atlanta to Juliette to Conyers to Atlanta, Georgia

No movie tour of the South could be complete without lunch at the Whistle Stop Café in Juliette, made famous by the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. Return to Atlanta through the small Georgia town of Conyers, the filming location for the teen television show The Originals, a spinoff of popular series The Vampire Diaries.

Day 10, Atlanta, Georgia to Orlando, Florida

Take a short flight from Atlanta to Orlando, Florida.

Days 11 and 12 Orlando, Florida

Spend a day at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World, fly the Millennium Falcon, join the Resistance to fight the First Order, explore the Black Spire Outpost on the Planet Batuu, buy a lightsabre or design a droid.

At Universal Orlando Resort, visit Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida. Enter Diagon Alley to explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, visiting Ollivanders Wand Shop, Hogwarts Express from Platform 9 ¾ and travelling through the English Countryside to Hogsmeade at neighbouring theme park Universal Islands of Adventure.

Day 13 Orlando to Titusville to Orlando, Florida
Atlantis, Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, Florida

Take a short one-hour drive to Titusville and the Kennedy Space Center, the setting for the movies Apollo 13 and Armageddon.

See the Space Shuttle Atlantis, visit the Apollo/Saturn V Center to stand in awe of the largest rocket ever flown and take a behind-the-scenes tour into NASA’s restricted areas to see active launch pads from which Apollo and space shuttle missions were launched.

Agents’ views

Leyla Kent, based in South Wales, an agent with Not Just Travel, visited Atlanta and New Orleans as part of a wider road trip.

“We flew into Atlanta, where we picked up the hire car. We’re big music and American football fans and we found the whole region fascinating. Throughout the South, people are just so friendly, and they can’t do enough for you.

In New Orleans we stayed in the French Quarter, a 10- to 15-minute walk down to the main area and the river front. We were told Frenchman Street is the best place to go for music, which is where the locals go.  It’s great just to wander around, then go into a bar where you hear some music coming from.  

We visited a plantation, watched an NFL game at the home of the New Orleans Saints and went to Café du Monde, for coffee and the legendary beignets [square doughnuts].”

Hays Personal Travel Consultant Kelly Lill, from Lincoln, took in Orlando on a road trip

“In a galaxy far, far away (well actually you only need to go to Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World) is Galaxy’s Edge. The architecture is amazing with a great backdrop for photo opportunities in front of the Millennium Falcon. We rode Star Tours a few times, as this ride is a classic. Watch out for the stormtroopers on the way out!

Then, from Universal Studios, we entered Diagon Alley’s cobbled streets and quaint old shop fronts to Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We rode Escape from Gringotts, shopped in Ollivanders for a wand and tried a pint of butter beer before boarding the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade.

This interactive train ride takes you to the other half of the Wizarding World in Islands of Adventure. One of the best rides this side is Hagrid’s Magical Creature’s Motorbike Adventure. Even visitors who aren’t adrenaline junkies would enjoy walking around the castle, taking in the sights and listening to the frog choir every now and again.”

There are plenty more road trip suggestions on the USA Itineraries section of the Brand USA website.
Also check out the newly refreshed Brand USA training platform, USA Discovery Program.

Gold Medal offers New Orleans, Louisiana to Orlando, Florida including return flights from Heathrow, internal flights, car hire and various hotels along the self-drive route, from £2,399 per person, in March 2025. Quote ref 42040674.

To book this or any USA RoadTrip itinerary, call 0800 014 7777 or visit

The closing date to enter this month’s draw is 1 August 2024. View the competition Terms & Conditions.

Image at top of page: New Orleans, Louisiana