Chicago to New Orleans
In about a week an engineer, two future engineers, and a future pharmacist are packing up the Nissan Altima for a road trip to New Orleans. We're leaving from the Chicago area early Monday 12/29 and returning Late Saturday 1/3. We have 3 nights (12/30. 12/31, and 1/1) booked in the Big Easy, but everything else is up in the air. Since it's about a 14 hour drive, the plan is to spend a night on the road on the way there and on the way back.
I've done lots of research online and through AAA information, so I know about the major sights. But what I am looking for is if anyone has any inside information as to good places to stop along the way and suggestions on what to do when in NOL. It's all of our first road trip to the deep south, so any insight would be helpful.
As far as what we like, we're pretty much middle of the road on most things. I enjoy some blues music, but don't know much about it other than songs the Blues Brothers have covered. We're not into night clubs, but we enjoy going out to the bars. We'd be interested in live music venues. We're not history nerds but any important historical sights we'd stop at. We do like parks, but I don't know how well the park going will be as it's winter. We do enjoy brewery tours. And don't let our fancy careers fool you, we're still on a budget somewhat. I think each of us wants to keep the cost around 400 a person (we're splitting hotel costs, and gas costs obviously).
I think we are going to spend the first night in Memphis. The only plans we have for this city is to check out Beale Street. We might check out Graceland, but none of us are terribly interested in it. Any other suggestions on what to see or good places to eat here would be great.
Does anyone have any suggestions on where to stop on the way home? We'll consider going a few hours out of the way for a good city as long as it's taking us somewhat home. I considered Hot Springs AR or Little Rock. I also considered going farther east into KY or TN.
Obviously in New Orleans we'll check out the French Quarter and our New Years plans will probably involve the celebration in Jackson Square. If anyone who lives here or has recently visited can recommend places to see or eat please let me know. One thing that has interested me is a swamp tour.
So in my incoherent and rambling post, what I am asking for is personal experiences with areas along this journey. I think we planned it so we will be able to get a good feel for the Big Easy and be able to take our time during the drive there and back.
Thanks and Happy Holidays to all
Professonal Bathers in Hot Springs
It seems to me that you have put together a pretty fun trip already. On your way home you might consider stopping at the National Historic Park in Hot Springs, AR and get the "treatment". The treatment is performed by a professional bather (this is not a co-ed experience) the bather that did me was a fourth generation professional -- quite an interesting experience. Something that can enliven roadtrip tall tales for years to come.
More posts later.
Random Suggestions and otherwise incoherent ramblings
No reason to get organized (you can do that) --- so here are some random suggestions of places to check out -- I haven't been to all of these, but for one reason or another they have piqued my interest
St. Louis -- Gotta take the Arch tour. It is hard to believe that they actually allow anyone to get into those contraptions. Also be sure to watch the film in the visitor's center. If you like margaritas... the second best margarita in the world is served upstairs in the wine cellar at <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/eats/vivians.htm">Vivian's in ST. Charles</a>.
Louisville, KY is home to the original kitchen of KFC (I know that has got to be a highlight) also a pretty zany restaurant --<a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/eats/lynns.htm">Lynn's Paradise Cafe</a>.
Memphis: East of town along US-64 is a museum dedicated to Buford Pusser -- the inspiration for the three "Walking Tall" movies located in Adamsville, TN Also, I believe that a re-built STAX Records musuem has been opened. Stax, as you may know was THE major Soul label (second to Motown) and responsible for the launch of stars like Otis Redding, Booker T & the MG's etc. It is on East McLemore Avenue. Sun Studio is also open -- both as a working studio and a museum of Rock and Roll music.
If Led Zeppelin is one of your faves you might want to stop by the Absinthe Bar on Bourbon Street -- a frequent watering hole of Jimmie Page.
I will defentially check out the Absinthe Bar. Zep is one of my favorite bands. Thanks.
We have already taken a St Louis Road trip, so we've seen the arch. I think we're going to bypass St Louis and take 57 through IL instead. I've wanted to see Southern IL since I moved to this state.
Do you like BIG tractors?
A little eastward from Chicago is the HQ for John Deere tractors. Pretty close to the Quad Cities area -- and those big tractors do make a really great tour.
Actually, I really like driving along the GRR (Great River Road) -- I have always been able to find rather cool, out of the way places along the GRR. The scale of the Cahokia Mounds are easier to grasp in the winter with less tree foilage for instance. And you could also stop by the Mother Jones memorial in Mt. Olive (not a huge attraction -- but still noteworthy).
Then there is always <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/carlock.htm">Carlock</a>... with the dueling grave yards.
But, you mentioned I-57 so let's see... when you get to Cairo -- take a zig north and visit Metropolis -- Superman's adopted home town. And of course, Cairo marks the spot of the confluence between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
In fact, you could pick up the GRR here and take it down into Memphis.
After you depart Memphis -- seriously consider returning to the GRR and head down to Clarksdale, --- good places to absorb the Delta Blues abound -- you might want to check out the Delta Blues Museum.
I actually lived across the street from the John Deere Mueseum for a month last fall. And growing up in the middle of farm land, WI I've seen my fill of big tractors.
I talked to some distant cousins over christmas and I got a couple suggestions. I guess Vicksburg and Nachez Mississipi are neat old looking towns. We might take the GRR in Misissippi to NOL.
I was also advised to steer clear of the areas north of the French Quarter in NOL. -- good piece of advice --
On the way home I think we are going to try Nashville, mainly b/c the Jack Daniels distillary is south of Nashville and we'd like to visit it. We might check out the Coors brewery tour in Memphis.
I got some other neat suggestions, I will follow up after the trip. Thanks for all your advice.
Viva New Orleans.
French Quarter and beyond
Yes, there are some rougher neighborhoods of NOL. But I have explored most of those "northern" neighborhoods by city bus -- they are an integral part of vitality of the area. Just have to keep your radar on.
The Jack Daniels distillery is a real hoot -- be sure to inhale deeply... It is hard to believe that such a place still exists.
Have a fun trip!
I returned safely. I'll post some trip highlights in the comming days.
Sounds good to us!
Getting there is all the fun.
We look forward to your field report!