Interstate 10, officially “The Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway”, is the southernmost interstate highway in the United States of America. It is a grand and imposing road, filled with scenic wonders and long lonely stretches as well as busy urban areas. If your goal is to drive the nation to see the best it has to offer, these towns along Interstate 10 (the fourth-longest highway in America) are well worth your visit.
Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
Welcome to the “Crawfish Capital of the World”. This slice of southern Louisiana is such a friendly place that for as long as anyone can remember people are listed by their nicknames in the local phone directory. The town is named for the Acadian pioneer and founder Firmin Breaux who built a suspension footbridge across the Bayou Teche (pronounced “tesh”) in 1799.
Stroll the downtown stretch of Bridge Street. Breaux Bridge Antiques offers a great selection of the odd and interesting. The town is very cute with vintage homes and historic bungalows dotted here and there. Sample authentic Cajun culture and food like gateau syrup cakes, seafood gumbo, sweet dough pies, and of course, etoufée crawfish in restaurants such as Pont Breaux Cajun Restaurant and Chez Jacqueline.
In addition to the shops, restaurants, and live music, you can explore the nearby swamps with Champagne Swamp Tours on Lake Martin or try kayaking on beautiful Bayou Teche.
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
This town is in the middle of the three-state portion of Intestate 10 that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Today, many signs of destruction are still readily visible in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Ocean Springs was among the hardest hit having lost nearly 1000 historic buildings. Rebuilding continues.
Ocean Springs is a cultural magnet, home to fabled Shearwater Pottery. Shearwater Pottery was founded in 1928 by Peter Anderson with the support of his parents. Peter Anderson’s four children, Peter Michael Anderson, Patricia Anderson Findeisen, Marjorie Anderson Ashley, and James Anderson, own Shearwater Pottery, and three of the children are still active in the ongoing production of Shearwater Pottery. Shearwater is highly collectible and an only-in-Ocean Springs keepsake. You should also visit the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, which showcases an outstanding collection of works of Walter Inglis. Anderson and his brothers Peter & James MacConnell, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, and pottery.
For the outdoor lover, there is much to experience including The Gulf Islands National Seashore. Oysters, pecans, and citrus all form a part of Ocean Springs cuisine. Restaurants to sample are market-driven Vestige and Aunt Jenny’s Catfish Restaurant with a great view of the Back Bay. For a treat, try Quakes Ice Creamery for a “Mississippi Mud Quake”.
To find the best small town, one must be willing to drive a bit away from I-10. Enterprise, an hour drive north of I-10, owes much of its growth and prosperity to the boll weevil, of all things. It struck the surrounding cotton fields with a vengeance in 1915. This meant that the populace had to deal with unexpected change, and they did so with notable success, planting peanuts instead.
By 1917, the region was prosperous and the largest producer of peanuts in the nation. To honor the cause of their change in crops, the happy townspeople erected an elaborate statue to the boll weevil in the center of town, where it stands to this day.
Enterprise is fairly young as Alabama history goes, begun in 1881 and incorporated in 1896. Recently named one of the top ten small towns in Alabama, Enterprise is a good choice for raising a family and putting down roots.
Features of distinction include the Southern Broadway Dinner Theatre. Choose Rawls for special occasion dining, Cutts for authentic southern cooking, and Annie’s for amazing everything, with BLTs, chicken alfredo, and hearty hot dogs among their specialties.
Named for President John Quincy Adams — this just may be the perfect undiscovered southern town, with a 36 block historic district as designated on the National Historic Register. Quincy is called the “The Coca-Cola Town” because of its early financing of the Coca-Cola Company by 67 residents who did quite well as a result of one man, Pat Munroe, urging his friends and neighbors to buy Coca-Cola stock during the Great Depression. You can see just how well these “Coca-Cola Millionaires” did, as you take a walking tour of the beautiful homes and historic buildings of Quincy.
Standout attractions include the Gadsden Art Center, and the Quincy Music Theater. One of the historic homes in Quincy is the Allison House Inn, now a charming B and B, where you can stay; it is said to be haunted by the home’s one-time owner, Florida’s Confederate Governor Abraham Kurkindolle Allison himself. Who knows, it may be true; the man was mighty grumpy by all accounts. Good eating in Quincy can be found at El Tamaulipeco.
There are many other fine small towns all along Interstate 10, as well as cities medium-sized and large, for you to discover on your drive. These towns are worth a lingering visit. Who knows, maybe you will decide to stay.