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  1. Default Chicago - Louisville - Smoky Mountains - Nashville - Memphis - New Orleans

    Dear all,

    We are a couple from Barcelona (Spain), planning a 15 days one-way trip from Chicago to Nola this August. We love roadtrips, but I'm afraid spending too much time on the road or planning a too-much-ambitious drive planning. We love to know your opinion and your criteria would be much appreciated.

    Below there's our trip planning:

    - Day 1 to 3: Chicago
    - Day 4: Chicago to Louisville.
    - Day 5: Louisville (Muhammad Ali Center), Bluegrass Country Estate, Frankfort and Lawrenceburg (bourbon trail) and Gatlingburg.
    - Day 6: Hiking in the Smokey Mountains. Late in the evening, driving to Nashville.
    - Day 7: Whole day in Nashville.
    - Day 8: Nashville to Memphis via Natchez Trace Pwy, Ethridge (Amish comunity), Florence, Muscle Shoals and Tuscumbia.
    - Day 9: Day in Memphis (Graceland and Sun Studio) and night in Clarksdale (Shack up Inn).
    - Day 10: Blues route (Clarksdale, Cleveland, Greenville, Indianola, Greenwood, etc.). Night in Clarksdale.
    - Day 11: Clarksdale to St. Francisville via Yazoo City, Bentonia, Natchez Trace Pwy, Tunica Trace, etc.
    - Day 12: St. Francisville to Nola: the plan would be mainly visiting a swamp or a bayou, and driving around Lafayette, Beaux Bridge, Nueva Iberia, Houma and South Vacherie before arriving to Nola.
    - Day 13 to 15: New Orleans.

    Opinions and experiences are much appreciated. Especially, we would like to know (a) if it is too much or it's feasible; (b) in case it's too much, if it is better to sacrifice specifics route stops to spend more time in other spots, and; (c) if there are better alternatives or recommended routes around;

    We have also another doubt when leaving the Smokeys. The first idea was going directly to Nashville, but it's my understanding that the scenic route around and going to Chattanooga is fantastic. Is it worthwhile, or the initial route planned from the Smokeys to Nashville via I-40 is a better option?

    Thank you so much in advanced; cheers!!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There is no specific thing in your trip that stands out as being too much, although I think you will have to keep flexible while on the road. There are quite a few days where I could see that you may not have enough time to fully enjoy all the things you've got listed. In those case, you'll have to make a choice between spending more time at some stops and skipping other places, or shortchanging some places to stay on your schedule.

    As far as your plan for the Smokey's, As it is, you're looking at a solid 3.5 hours of driving to get to Nashville on the direct route, so that's really already too far if you don't leave until "late in the evening." If you want to spend anything close to a full day in the National Park. I certainly wouldn't be adding anything more to that day.

  3. Default

    You could do worse than spend a night in Helen, Georgia.

    We did the route the other way that you are doing it last month - Nashville, Lynchburg (for the JD distillery tour) then onto Helen via Chattanoogo. A very scenic drive and the next day we drove from Helen to Gatlinburg, a road which also has some stunning views.

  4. Default

    Thank you so much for your feedback, guys. Much appreciated!

  5. Default

    i don't know if you already went on your trip but if not maybe this can be useful:

    since you will be in Chicago for 3 days, i assume you will try to get to a lot of museums. some are clustered together, some are more thn a walking distance away. consider getting a CTA pass. CTA - Chicago transit authority. i know they for sure have a one day pas, but they also have multi day passes. parking in the downtown are can add up to A LOT of money!!! youd be able to use your pass for buses and the trains (NOT the metra train). Blue line, for example, could take you from O'Hare airport all the way down town. Red line (same kind of train, just a different rout) will take you to China town. you can also get to Midway airport by train.
    buses will take you to just about any museum, without much haste.

    there is also the water taxi - fun and convenient way to get from some areas of the downtown to other areas.
    if you can, visit The Art Institute of Chicago. my favorite art museum!!

    The Chicago theater, my favorite stage theater in Chicago, has theater tours on most days when there is no performance scheduled later in the day. depending on how you purchase tour ticket it can be as low as $7.50 per person. i think $22 at the most.

    The Navy Pier is a very touristy place, but the Ferris Wheel ride gives you the most spectacular view of the city!!!!

    also, i believe they still do fireworks every wed and sat nite. if you take one of the boat tours from the Navy Pier, the view is also amazing.

    if you can, try not to skip your trip to Sun Studio, while in Memphis - one of my all time favorite road trip experiences ever!!! small place , but soooooo much history!!

    While in Gatlinburg, if you have any time left, i recommend the Tram ride!!! there is some candy shop in the same building, they had great fudge!!

    hope you had a great trip if you already went, have a great trip if you are still to go!!

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