Hi, I am from Ireland and I live in Chicago. My Mum and Dad are coming over in September to visit and they have done Chicago to death because I've been here a while and every visit has encompassed all the touristy and local aspects of the city. This time for a change we plan to do a road trip to Graceland because my Dad is a big Elvis fan. I want the trip itself to be eventful, interesting and fun and obviously the destination too but I am seriously geographically challenged and worried that their holiday will be crap so I would love ANY suggestions you could offer relative to good stops along the way, things to see and do, stops worth making, things to do while there etc. etc. Any suggestions are welcome, I am at a loss....HELP!!!! D
p.s. i have a GPS but it is not one of the really smart ones that points out attractions/ things to see....I want to make it really special for my Dad and any advice that you can offer would be great.
Welcome to the RTA Forum!
I think you've fallen into the trap that you hear the word "roadtrip" and you think you need some big grand plan and have a trip like you'd see on a movie to have a good time.
Slow down, breathe, and take things step by step. Get out a map, take a look at what is between Chicago and Memphis and start thinking about the kinds of things that you and your parents enjoy. I assure you that you will have a much better time if you think about things you might like to do and go with the flow of your trip, rather than stressing out and trying to find a perfect itinerary.
Now that you're calmed down...
...and have taken Michael's good advice, you might be ready for the next step. Use the search feature (in the green bar above) to find previous discussions about places along that route. You might even google the state tourism websites of the states you're traveling through. They are usually full of helpful info. And you might want to plan a circle-drive so you don't re-drive the same road home and can see more new things.
One idea jumps out at me when I look at the map.
* Springfield, IL - visit Lincoln's home and other historical sites related to the 16th President
* St. Louis, MO - see The Arch!
* Memphis - Graceland
* Nashville, TN - The Grand Old Opry
* Louisville, KY - tour the factory that makes the famous baseball bat, the Louisville Slugger
OK, you've got an American president, the gateway city from which the Lewis & Clark expedition and subsequent pioneers ventured forth, Elvis, country music, and baseball. How much more Americana can you want?
Anyway, work up your own ideas and keep asking questions so we can help you tweak things to create a great trip for your parents.
If you take that route, you will be going right through Indy - stop and see the Speedway. That's as Americana as it gets.
A Couple of Sweet Surprises
Céad Míle Fáilte!
I concur with the previous responders that RoadTrips are, at best, fluid adventures. They can be easily over planned, overblown, and oversold. Things work best when you have an outline of what you want the trip to be about, or where it will go, but let things unfold at their own pace and in their own way. You must leave time for things to just happen, and not schedule yourself with so many places you must get to that you skip the unforeseen events, places and people that make travel so rewarding.
Let me give you an example from a couple of my RoadTrips in your country. I was driving my mother down a road along the Shannon River, just enjoying the sunny day and the countryside when I noticed a well maintained topiary by the side of the road. Not being in any particular hurry I doubled back so that my mother could enjoy the many animals trimmed into the shrubs that we had driven by much too fast to get a good look at. Well, while we were there, the elderly gentleman whose garden it was came out and introduced himself and showed us around a bit. He then invited us in for tea. It was one of the highlights of the trip. but only the beginning of the story. When I got home, I found that I had a 5 punt note left over, so I sent it to the gentleman with a note thanking him for his kindness and suggesting he take it down to his local. Some 5 years or so later, my mother again wanted to see Ireland and so my brothers and sisters and I sent her and I went along to do the driving, handle the bags, etc. As it happened, we were driving down the same road and I remembered where the cottage was. But as I drove up to it, it was clear that the garden had fallen into disrepair. Nevertheless, my mother wanted to stop again and so we did. The owner, visibly older and frailer now, was outside on a bench, and shortly after we got out of the car, his wife came out solicitously. Again we were invited inside, but I was making a point not to say we knew the garden when it was in better shape, but rather that we had seen it from the road and just wanted to have a closer look. About 10 minutes or so into the conversation, the man suddenly wanted to tell us a story. It seems that some years ago, another couple from America had stopped to see his bushes. He was clearly waxing nostalgic, and he said there were two things about them that impressed him. The first was that it was a young lad and his mother and the second was that the young lad had sent him a fiver from America to go and wet his whistle. My mother gently informed him that 'they' were us and that she too had lovely and indelible memories of that original visit. There is no way I could have planned any of that, and yet now, with both the Irishman and my mother both having passed on, it is one of my enduring recollections of her.
In any event, the title of this post promised a couple of surprises for your parents. If you follow the general route that Judy suggested, then this is how I heartily recommend that you get from Memphis to Nashville. Take US-78 out of Memphis and head east by southeast into northeastern Mississippi and the town of Tupelo. Having shown him the site of Elvis' death, now you can show him the site of his birth, an entirely different experience, and without nearly the crowds of Graceland. Then it is a straight, but very relaxing, drive up the Natchez Trace Parkway to Nashville.
Last edited by AZBuck; 04-23-2009 at 04:24 PM.
Wow Buck !
What an amazing and rewarding story and it all started by a simple decision to take the time and turn around.
The beauty of the road trip !
What a nice story Buck. If you are ever in Ireland again call in and see me. I'll give you a cup of tea - but I can't offer any topiary and I'm not so sure about the fiver!