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  1. #1

    Default Chicago - St.Louis - Nashville - Louisville - Chicago

    Hi all,

    We are looking for some advice on where to go and what to see on our planned road trip this May. We are from England and have only been to America once (New York & Washington DC) before so any advise would be much appreciated.

    We are starting in Chicago where we will stay for 3 nights. We then plan to do a round trip to get a small taste of St Louis, Nashville and Louisville.

    We would like to keep hotel cost to a minimum so are planning to stay one night in each city and then an additional one night on the drive between city's. We would like to be able to do the trip in a maximum of 10 days.

    We are in our late 20's and enjoy walking, music, architecture and good food.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The In Between Spots

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Given the major cities on your itinerary and your desire to stay one night in between each city pair, I'd like to suggest some interesting towns for those intermediate nights. They should be interesting in their own right so that a stroll around them will lead you to some worthwhile sites or activities. They should also be close enough to the next day's destination to let you get there with most of the day available, but not so close that a reasonably early start would put you in rush hour traffic. With those criteria in mind, I would suggest:

    Hannibal MO. This is where Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) grew up and many of the sites and buildings associated with his Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn books are still standing and open to tours. So is the birthplace of 'Unsinkable' Molly Brown of Titanic and movie fame. Hannibal is also connected to St. Louis by the Little Dixie Scenic Byway.

    Ste. Genevieve and New Madrid MO. Two intriguing Mississippi River towns, Ste. Genevieve is a remnant of the days when Louisiana was a French possession stretching all the way from New Orleans to Alberta, Canada, and New Madrid is both the oldest town west of the Mississippi and the site of the largest recorded earthquake east of the Rockies. I'd try to see both and stay overnight in New Madrid due to its proximity to Memphis.

    Bowling Green KY and Hodgenville KY. Bowling Green would make for a great base of operations to visit nearby Mammoth Cave National Park while Hodgenville, a bit farther north and closer to Louisville, has some unique Abraham Lincoln sites.


  3. #3


    Hello AZBuck,

    Thank you very much for your ideas and advise it is very much appreciated. A good point was rush hour traffic which i had not taken into consideration, me thinking if I'm on holiday so is everyone else.

    The places you have suggest look fantastic and are ones we have not come across in our research so far. Reading up on the Mammoth Cave i feel this might be a must for us it sounds like a great place. We are going to look into the places you have suggested in depth this week.

    Thanks again for you help

  4. #4


    Brown County (Nashville (IN - not TN) or Columbus (IN - not OH)) might not be a bad choice between Louisville and Chicago for a stopover given your stated interests. Both have small, pleasant strolling areas and are quite welcoming. No marquee sights, just pleasant towns.

    I did a one-night stopover on a trip with my daughter a while back. Wouldn't have minded whiling away a bit more time there.

    Between Nashville and Louisville, I would try to swing a drive down the Old Frankfort Pike from Lexington to Frankfort (along with a quick stop at a bourbon distillery - there are several) as part of your trip. Very nice and scenic drive. (I would also choose to stay in Frankfort over Louisville, but that is a personal preference and I am sure you have specific reasons for Louisville.)

    As for the other two "in betweens", Hannibal and Ste Genevieve are the ones that occur naturally to me as well. I would suggest a stop and walk over the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge on the way into St. Louis.

    By the way, I know the restaurant scene in St. Louis decently well - you can send me a private message if you would like any suggestions.


  5. #5


    I'll second Brown County, IN (Brown County State Park is great for some hiking in the woods) and Columbus, IN (interesting architecture).

    Mammoth Cave is great...they have all sorts of tours you can take depending on what you want to see. If it interests you at all, I'd say don't miss it.

    In Louisville, the best eating areas are along Bardstown Rd in the Highlands area (which a great walking area in general - lots of quirky shops and little eateries and interesting people) and the NuLu district on East Market St. (restaurants & art galleries). For architecture, West Main St. has a lot of the old cast iron storefronts, along with various museums (Lou Slugger, Muhammad Ali, KY Arts + Crafts, Frazier History). And I personally LOVE Old Louisville (google St. James Court). It's just south of the downtown area & is one of the largest remaining Victorian neighborhoods. Sometimes there's music on the Waterfront or on 4th St., but I don't know if there will be much happening yet in May. OH - but early May is Derby time! Which is absolute chaos, but tons of fun if you happen to be here that week (and if you are, I suggest booking a hotel now or you won't find a place to stay).

    If you're into bluegrass music at all, May is usually when the various bluegrass festivals start. I know there's one in Jefferson Memorial Forest (south of Louisville) some time in mid-late May.

    On your drive south from Lou to Nash, you'd drive right past (or through, if you take 31E instead of I-65) Bardstown (great little town with the actual My Old Kentucky Home) and some bourbon distilleries, if that interests you.

    I've only been to St. Louis twice, but I loved the Italian Hill area (yummy Italian restaurants), Forest Park (with a FREE zoo!), the Budweiser tour (free beer!), and the arch, of course.

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