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  1. #1

    Default Music trail Minnesota to New Orleans

    My wife and I are planning a holiday in the US from our home in Brisbane, Australia, in October.

    We intend to start in St Paul to attend Prairie Home Companion on October 5th and then drive south, stopping at as many places of interest to sample that great range of American blues/bluegrass/jazz that we enjoy, completing our journey of about 4 weeks, in New Orleans.

    If there are some kind souls on this forum that can give us some suggestions for our itinerary that would be very much appreciated! We prefer to stay in small motels, even B&Bs and avoid big cities!

    Last edited by Sanctorum; 08-13-2013 at 07:20 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default ...And All the Children Are Above Average

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It has been my pleasure to have been to two live broadcasts of A Prairie Home Companion. Neither, unfortunately, was in its home in St. Paul but on the road in Tucson AZ and Ithaca NY, but you are in for a treat - as if you didn't already know that. The other thing is that although the Mississippi River is known for its connections with music, particularly jazz and the blues, most of those musical venues are on the southern stretches of that mighty river, so you'll need to find other sites and themes for the first half of your southward journey.

    So, some places on the northern stretches of the river that might be of interest: First and foremost, the river is the backbone of the Mississippi Flyway, a migratory route for North American birds. There are several parks and wildlife refuges along the river including the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, the Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge and the Great River National Wildlife Refuge. Then there are the historical and literary sites such as Nauvoo IL and its Mormon heritage and Hannibal MO which was home to both Mark Twain and the 'Unsinkable' Molly Brown, and of course St. Louis MO. I'd also recommend that you make at least one ferry crossing of the river during your journey as well as check out the old French town of Ste. Genevieve south of St. Louis.

    St. Louis is also where the connection between river and music starts. Check out some of the jazz clubs such as Jazz at the Bistro; BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups; Backstreet Jazz & Blues; and others. Working your way down the river, the next major music venue is Memphis where the emphasis shifts to the blues, particularly in the many clubs along Beale Street. While in Memphis you may also want to visit Sun Studio where Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash all got their start. And, of course, Graceland.

    At this point, depending on how much time you have for your trip, you might want to consider a somewhat sizeable detour into Tennessee and the Country/Western mecca of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and some Bluegrass venues such as Gatlinburg in the Smoky Mountains of Appalachia. In any event, continuing south from Memphis, US-62 has earned the sobriquet "The Blues Highway", while New Orleans, and particularly the French Quarter is known for its jazz.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    AZBuck was very thorough, but I thought of two other places.

    First is the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. This is the largest mall in the US, and also contains an amusement park and quite a few other things that you might not think of when you hear the word "Mall".

    The other place is the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca. The headwaters are located in Itasca State Park. On a map, you'll find it northwest of St Paul, but southeast of Bemidji.


  4. #4


    Ahhh AZBuck, a million thanks for this informative post - it's good and well to look at Guide Books and to seek information via Google, but what you have suggested is exactly the sort of stuff we were hoping to get, and has far more meaning for the wary traveller. We've travelled to many places in the world but always shunned the US because it is too much like our Oz. But this trip that we are planning is exactly what we like to do: focus on an element of the unique local culture that is different to ours, and you have provided some really good tips.

    If perchance you have any additional thoughts or ideas, we will be grateful to have it!

    Will (Sanctorum)

  5. #5


    Thank you very much to you too Donna, it is greatly appreciated. So glad to have found this forum!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Interesting.

    Sorry to go a little off topic, but ......................

    We've travelled to many places in the world but always shunned the US because it is too much like our Oz.
    I find this an interesting comment, as it's the first time I have heard it said and we have many regular members from Oz who frequent the forums. I have not had the pleasure of visiting 'down under' so can't really judge, but I have never thought of them as ' too alike'. Sure you can draw comparisions, but you can do that with most countries on earth and with the diversity the US has to offer, different areas could be compared to almost any country on earth, even here in little old England.

    I'm not trying to 'sell' the USA to you, just suggesting you look a little deeper before shunning further trips so that you don't miss out in the future. ;-)

    I have not travelled the parts you are visiting so I can't help with any first hand tips, but if you use the search function, scroll down this page where you will find 'Similar threads', and have a look at the trip planning tools in the tool bars above [Map centre, routes etc] you will find lot's of info ad tips to add to Bucks and Donna's great suggestions.

    Have a great trip !

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default I understand.

    Dave, the US was never of my list of places I wanted to travel. That is, until my son got married there, and I was forced to go to a place, which like the OP I had shunned.

    Despite the many Aussies who come to this forum, and the number who actually travel to the US, it is still a common attitude downunder. Many reasons. Won't go into all I think is at the root of it, suffice to say that many act to prevent the Americanization of our language and our country.

    My hope is that Will and his wife will find what I found.... And who knows, in years to come they too may get hooked and return multiple times.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Bonny Hills , Australia

    Default Too Much like OZ

    I find the comment Too much like OZ interesting as well. I dont think it could be more different. I think thats why we keep coming back.


  9. #9


    Thanks to everyone for your advice and comments. I meant no offense in giving reasons for not travelling through USA previously - it is purely a matter of personal preference to experience foreign cultures distinctly different to ours, but now that we're coming over to your wonderful country it may well be the first of many to follow!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default None taken.

    No offense taken, it really was a heads up. I'm from the UK and have to admit that when I mention visiting the USA, lot's of folk think, New York, LA, LV, Disneyworld and the like and are just so unaware of the natural raw beauty, the small, friendly town communities and much more that is also there to be discovered.

    I'm sure you'll have a great trip and it'll probably will leave you wanting more !


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