Downtown Nashville

America’s South doesn’t stint on big-city glamour: Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans each boast excellent nightlife, destination dining, retail thrills and culture. Atlanta began life as a railroad terminus and remains a transportation hub – but with a 21st-century, global approach. Although it’s populated with towering steel-and-glass buildings, it’s truly a city in the forest, dotted with expansive green spaces. The good times roll in New Orleans, from 24-hour live music to the paddlewheelers on the Mississippi River and historic street cars. With its charming cocktail of musical, history and culture, Nashville is a city for all seasons and styles. Expect to be wowed by its musical thrills and friendly, unpretentious feel.

Downtown Atlanta

Downtown Atlanta

In Atlanta, start with Centennial Olympic Park: Downtown’s centrepiece, anchored by the Fountain of Rings (an everlasting reminder of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games). Other highlights include Georgia Aquarium, CNN Studio Tours, World of Coca-Cola and Center for Civil and Human Rights. Get your retail kicks at the mammoth Ponce City Market, set along the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail. Ponce City Market showcases local, regional and national brands (including Anthropologie, Citizen Supply, Ponce Denim Company and Elk Head Clothing); when you’ve shopped up an appetite, pick from the stellar restaurants and street-food stalls in the Central Food Hall.

Satchmo Summerfest

New Orleans Musical Adventures

New Orleans offers visitors a wealth of musical adventures, including the Voodoo Music Experience, Jazz Fest and the Essence Music Festival, which draws dozens of top acts to the city. Free events such as the French Quarter Festival, Satchmo Summerfest and local-favourite Wednesdays in the Square showcase the city’s wealth of home-grown talent. New Orleans has a famous spirited side, too: take an after-dark tour of a haunted mansion or learn about voodoo as you walk through maze-like cemeteries. The city’s upscale cocktail scene is also worth exploring, so go bar-hopping: new rooftop and specialty cocktail bars dot the Downtown skyline.

Nashville CMA Music Festival

CMA Music Festival

Over in Nashville, don’t miss the CMA Music Festival, which takes place across four days in June. Visitors can expect world-class musical performances, autograph signings, celebrity sports competitions and other events. Wondering where to spend new year? Nashville was named the ‘Best Place to Ring in the New Year’ in a readers’ poll by USA Today. If you’re planning on heading here for the big night, don’t miss the Jack Daniel’s NYE special: a free event with live music, fireworks and a Music Note Drop at midnight.