Seeking travel recommendations - Gulf Coast states

I’ve done posts like this before and gotten some good ideas from Dopers, so here goes again!

Each summer, my good friend and I take a trip to watch baseball (Majors and Minors) in different parts of the country. The routine is usually: go to the game; hit the bars until closing time; sleep in; drive to the next city; repeat.

We’re always on the lookout for local flavor like iconic eateries (not fancy or expensive), unique watering holes, and interesting ways to fill the daytime hours in or between our destination towns.

This year, our stops will be (in order):
Montgomery, AL
Pensacola, FL
Biloxi, MS
Mobile, AL
New Orleans, LA
Jackson, MS
Birmingham, AL
Atlanta, GA

Thanks in advance for any tips and advice you can give on these places (and thanks to those who have given me advice in the past)!

Lafayette, LA isn’t on your itinerary but if you’re in that area I’d recommend Prejean’s.

Ive been there! Must have been about 30 years ago, but I remember the crawfish etouffee fondly.
I’d love to get back to Lafayette and the surrounding Cajun burgs one day. However, I don’t think it will be on this trip.

If you can add Savannah, be sure to see a ball game in Grayson Field. They’ve lost their minor league Sand Gnats franchise this year, but there will still be games there in the collegiate league. My favorite minor league ballpark still in existence.

I’ve seen games in Mobile’s old Hartwell Field, but I don’t know anything about the new ballpark. Mobile is a lovely old city, missed by most tourists.

I once did a two week trip by myself, a minor league game every night, sleep in my car in the stadium parking lot evry night, then drive on the next day. From Appleton to Savannah to Erie.

Pensacola Florida has a WORLD class Naval aviation museum. Plan to spend the better part of the day there. There are also two Civil? War era military forts on the base. Make sure to hit those as well.

They recently added a full sized mock up of the Lunar Landing module. Pretty cool.

Somewhat south of Mobile is Bellingrath. I’ve been to it a couple of times while visiting my parents, who traditionally spend the winter in Orange Beach. It’s too late for the fancy Christmas light displays, but the extensive gardens are still a nice place to spend a few hours in the daytime and the house is interesting if you like local history.

If you drive along the coast from Pensacola rather than take the freeway to Mobile, there’s a ferry that goes to Dauphin Island and an old fort on either side (Morgan and Gaines).

In Birmingham, there is a museum/HOF for the Negro Leagues that is likely to be fascinating.

New Orleans has…well…everything. There’s a great WWII museum, Audubon Zoo, the French Quarter, etc.

The Mississippi Coast has casinos and Beauvoir (Jefferson Davis home).

Jackson, MS has a place that I think is only open for lunch now, called “C.S.'s” (it stands for Cocksucker’s–the original owner was a little…eccentric) that has most excellent burgers–the signature dish is a monsterous chili-cheese burger called a “Big Inez” after the waitress/bouncer/part owner. Also a great juke box.

Savannah was on an earlier incarnation of the itinerary; the current version features dates that were better for both of us, as well as a better driving flow. That’s the problem with planning these trips – you want to go EVERYWHERE, and choices must be made. However, we did get to a Sand Gnats game a few years back, and I would certainly be amenable to a return visit!

Your trip sounds pretty epic. Hopefully, though, my days of sleeping in cars are over! :slight_smile:

Keep the suggestions coming, folks. I love it!

I missed Mobile on your list. There’s the WWII battleship *USS Alabama *(same class as the more famous MIssouri) as well as a submarine, the USS Drum, available for touring.

I’ll second the Alabama although, with due respect to Oakminster, it’s a South Dakota class battleship, one class earlier than the Iowas. The aircraft collection has some great examples, including a Lockheed A-12, the CIA aircraft that spawned the SR-71.

If you can fit it in, take a boat or kayak tour. I was on business and we took a river tour but I don’t remember the outfitter.

If looking for a place to stay in Jackson, MS, I recommend the Capitol Inn. It’s a boutique hotel near downtown. They have full body showers, a great way to refresh after a long day.

I stand corrected. :smack:

Poop. I just noticed after logging in that the farthest west you’d be travelling was NOLA. And I was all set to recommend taking in a AA game at Whataburger Field, and beforehand touring the USS Lexington and/or the Texas State Aquarium: all in Corpus Christi, Texas. Oh well.

That said, the WW2 Museum in NOLA is supposed to be top-notch, the cuisine speaks for itself, and I really want to try the drinks selection at one of the few US bars/breweries mentioned in Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon’s Zwanze Day: The Avenue Pub.

CS’s is definitely a hole in the wall, and I don’t know that they’ll be open after the MBraves game (which is what I’m assuming you’ll be here for).

For not-fancy and not-expensive, the first place that popped into mind was Hal and Mal’s. They do your standard blue-plate stuff and have a decent bar.

But if I moved away from Jackson and came back for a visit, I’d probably end up stopping at Babalu. Babalu started here and now has a few locations in the south, but it’s still top rated in so many categories with Best of Jackson (from Jackson Free Press).

CS’s is definitely going on the list. I love joints like that. We’ll probably hit it either on our way into town before the game, or on our way out the next day.

If you miss CS’s, you might like the Cherokee Drive In, which is similar–minus the Big Inez.

Regarding Jackson, I’m looking for a good spot or two to wet our whistle after the game. We’ll likely Uber to and from the ballpark, as there doesn’t seem to be much right around there - or we could stay at the Holiday Inn next to the park and Uber to the bar(s) and back - so we could go anywhere around town, but I’m not finding any “bar districts” per se. (I know we sound like a couple of lushes, but this is one week that we usually go a bit nuts. We never call it a night right after the game!)

Ideally, we’d like to have at least 2 or 3 options, within walking distance of each other. Local taverns, hole-in-the-wall dives, sports bars; that sort of thing. Not dance clubs.

If you’re a foodie, consider Drago’s in New Orleans (especially the charbroiled oysters). For top-shelf fine dining, Antoine’s and Commander’s Palace are excellent (along with many others). Brennan’s is wonderful for breakfast or brunch.

Not too far from New Orleans is Avery Island. This is where the Tobasco brand hot sauce is made. The tour is free, but interesting. Right next to the factory is Jungle Gardens, which costs, but it’s reasonable and absolutely beautiful. You can drive through the Gardens, but there are spots to pull off and stop too.


I have been there several times over the years and it keeps getting better and better.
My last visit was the best. Some time ago, they started something which in my experience is unique in museums. Visitors are encouraged to climb into and over many of the exhibits. Would you like to crawl around the inside of a Ford trimotor A/C? Be careful at the door not to bump your head. They have a real ejection seat mounted low on the wall for younger kids to strap in and dream… When I asked about it, the the guide pointed out that such a large fraction of their visitors were engineers who are only really happy when they can touch things, it was the logical thing to do. It is an amazing experience. Obviously the really fragile and rare A/C aren’t available for this, but it isn’t hard for the museum to come up with another AH-1 gunship cockpit if their current one wears out. Way cool.