Traveling Gulf Coast via Motorcycle
There are a few places in the United States that are so distinctive, it is almost as if you entered another time and another place. The Gulf Coast, particularly from Louisiana to Florida, fits that bill. For those more familiar with American regions north and west, it might be quite a culture shock.
New Orleans can easily be considered the capitol of the Gulf Coast. Part of the Louisiana Purchase 210 years ago, the French influence is still pervasive in the Big Easy. Food and architecture reflect the Creole culture, and New Orleans’ status as the birthplace of jazz makes it an essential world city.
Outside the city, swamps, and bayous, and the wildlife they host add a natural complement to the urban bustle of The French Quarter.
To the east sits the stub of Mississippi that accesses the Gulf of Mexico. Here, years later, you can see the devastation that Hurricane Katrina wrought in 2005. Empty beachfront lots sit where vibrant communities once stood; much of this area is an eerie modern American ghost town, though signs of life are returning.
As you move closer to Alabama, normalcy returns. The historic town of Mobile beckons, as it is a regional cultural center, boasting art museums and highbrow entertainment such as the orchestra, opera and ballet. Vintage neighborhoods abound, with a French influence of their own, making Mobile an unexpected jewel.
Once into Florida, the culture changes again, offering a more traditional tourist and American feel. The Apalachicola National Forest hugs the coast, along with the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, keeping with the rural feel of the area as you head toward urban Tampa. Finally, Key West sits at the southern-most point of the 48 states.
Most of the Gulf Coast roads are straight or gently flowing, making a cruiser the perfect choice for the ride. Harley-Davidson Authorized Tours offers a “Once In A Lifetime” guided tour dubbed Louisiana and Florida – operated by USA Moto Riders – that takes in the sites in a luxurious manner.
Running 11 days, the leisurely Harley-Davidson tour visits a wide variety of attractions, including the Tabasco factory on Avery Island, the village of Morganza (seen in the movie, Easy Rider) and an airboat trip through the Everglades.