Chicago to Boston using gravity to take me a southern route
I'm coming over to Chicago from the UK early May for a wedding and rather than going straight back have decided to hire a convertible and drive down south through Memphis to New Orleans and then back (some how!?) to Boston before flying home.
I've got 13 days in total for the road trip and despite reading my USA Rough Guide would very much appreciate any "must do/see" input.
At a high level I figured Chicago->Memphis->New Orleans->Savannah->Boston?
FYI I've already driven Chicago->NYC via Indianapolis/Cincinnati/Columbus/Pittsburgh/Philadelphia before.
Look forward to hearing any ideas.
Last edited by rbraithwaite; 04-07-2005 at 10:16 AM.
Reason: further info
Personally, I suggest that you drive to Boston through Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, or Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia, or any combination thereof that you see fit. The Smoky and Appalachian Mountains are great to drive through. I think that I-81 (almost the entire thing) is the most beautiful interstate highway that I have ever driven second only to I-70 through Utah and Colorado. I find the mountainous interstate routes are much more enjoyable than the coastal interstate routes. You get to see a lot more of the great mountainous terrain and vistas from an interstate than you get to see of the coast from an interstate.
Now with that being said, I have never been to Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama, so take my suggestions for what you may. :)
Thank you very much for your reply.
I think your first route sounds "in some way" similar to my last trip which touched on West Virginia by a stop off at Wheeling and then on to Pennsylvania.
My guide book talks alot about the Smokey Mountains as being the most visited National Park in the US so maybe there is something in that eh!? Hopefully May won't be too busy.
From somewhere, I think reading Mark Twain or (more likely!) watching Huckleberry Finn on TV when I was a kid, I've got a deep desire to visit the deep south and well, presumably from the books it's a place now out of time but if anyone knows of any gems then please let me know.
Thanks again for your message.
If you're a fan of Mark Twain, swing over to Hannibal, MO on your way south from Chicago. This was Twain's boyhood home and the setting for the Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn stories, but it's not truely southern. Continue on down the "Great River Road" (q.v.) through Cairo, IL to Memphis, TN and pay attention to how the scenery and accents change. The deepest part of the deep south consists of Mississippi and Alabama. If you swing east a bit from Memphis on US-78, you can pick up the Natchez Trace National Parkway. This is a wonderful 2-lane, limited access road which will take you down to Natchez, MS. Take some time to stop at the historical sites along the road and get a feel for why it was created and what it was like to travel it 'back in the day'.
I plan to be driving through southern Mississipi and Alabama myself in June and will be stopping in Vicksburg, MS and Selma, AL, but those stops are to soak up a bit of American history that may not appeal to you. I have been to Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC and both are cities that exude true southern charm. In particular, Charleston is best experienced on foot through its older sections, and you may, in fact, be there during its annual tours of homes and gardens. Check the city's tourist web site, and if those tours are available during your visit, I highly recommend them.
As for the Smokey Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains in general, your visit is well timed. The traditional start to summer tourist season in the U.S. is Memorial Day (May 30th) so if you're travelling even a week prior to that, the roads are much less crowded as most families still have their children in school and haven't started their summer vacations yet. While it's true that I-81 is one of the prettiest interstates, if you have the time travel a portion of the Appalachians on the Blue Ridge Parkway and/or Skyline Drive. These are, as with the Natchez Trace, 2-lane controlled access highways that will let you experience the beauty of the mountains at a more relaxed pace.
Last edited by AZBuck; 04-07-2005 at 03:13 PM.