Washington DC to New Orleans
We're 5 British lads planning an ultimate route trip this summer (May) and would like to know if anybody has any suggestions on the best route to go from Washington DC to New Orleans?
Any worth while places to visit?
Estimation on how long the drive will take?
The Other Mother Road
Here is a suggestion you might not have thought of yet. Head due west on US-50, all of the way over to US-61 and then follow US-61 south to New Orleans. US-61 has been called the Other Mother Road, (Route 66 being the most commonly known). Tim Steil wrote a truly awesome guide to this little-traveled road. Click here for my review of Highway 61 Revisted.
Used to drive this one often when I was living in Arlington and heading home or back...
I prefer to use 81 out of the Washington area South to 40, which you pick up in Tennessee just before you get to Knoxville. From there it is easy to follow 40 through Nashville and Memphis to pick up 55 South, which will take you straight to Lake Pontchartrain (New Orleans proper).
I found that this was the most appealing, scenery-wise, as well as offering goofy entertainment roadside, which is something I enjoy. There's a lot of nature too, if you're into that - check out the Natural Bridge near the Virginia/Tennessee border, the Cherokee National Forest, or the Smoky Mountains National Park, which is a bit south of the interstate route along 40, but worth the extra time if you like mountainscapes.
Nashville, of course, has a lively nightlife and Dollywood, and then Memphis has Graceland (and great barbecue).
Once you head south out of Tennessee through Mississippi and Louisiana, watch for the signs along the highway. In Clarksdale (west of 55 in the northern area of Mississippi) you can stay at a 'Bed & Beer' where you sleep in actual sharecroppers' shacks. It's a historical place in more ways than one - lots of blues singers and such have stayed there over the years. Not far from Jackson in Mississippi is a petrified forest. To the east there someplace is Rodney, MS - a creepy ghost town that looks like something in one of those movies where everyone dies of a strange disease, and your car is the only one with living people in it.
Once you cross into Louisiana, there's Abita Springs, where you have to go see the UCM and meet Beauford the Bassigator (don't ask).
There are bunches of other things in the small southern towns too, you'll have to find them for yourself.
The drive usually took me 5 or 6 days or more, but that's only because I tend to get distracted and don't cover much ground on a daily basis. Driving straight through with no stops, you can make it in two very long days or three regular ones.
Have a good time, whichever route you take!
A really great post!
Here is one of the "shacks":