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Old 02-24-2010, 06:44 PM
Location: New Orleans, LA
675 posts, read 4,257,974 times
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So my friend and I are planning a road trip from Chicago the south (road trip). So far I know we will be traveling down through Memphis to New Orleans. From there, I'm still trying to figure it out. On the way back, we plan on going through Nashville (as my last overnight stop) since we have friends there.

Since the first driving day will be more than 8 hours, we don't really want to spend more than 5 or 6 hours a day driving on any of the other days. My questions are these:

1) Which cities between New Orleans and...say, Savannah or the Carolinas are worth visiting?
2) What are some things we should definitely experience, having never been to the south (such as certain foods or...)?

We're very laid back...doesn't take much to make us happy. A bunch of happening nightlife isn't necessary, but music, mostly indie and folk, are nice. I like seeing historical things or landmarks, but not really museums (been to sooo many--although we've thought of going to the Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta) and the like. We love the beach, and of course the cheaper the better!

Thanks for your help!
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:48 PM
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The Bilmore in Asheville is pretty cool. Includes a nice rose garden and greenhouse as well. Beautiful place and there is a great tour. Museum-like to some extent, but not your standard museum fare by any means.

Besides it means you'll visit Asheville and the mountains! Drive at least part of the Parkway. If you take 40 across from the west you'll go through TN and enter the mountains north/west of Asheville. Beautiful scenery in TN also.

If you take 65 south from Chicago you will go through Louisville which is a great visit if you like horses. Then stop in Bowling Green if you like Corvettes. Cut west from there to go through Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky. Bit of a back roads for that one on 68, but worth the visit.

On the way back you could go through Cumberland Pass. Another beautiful area.

Depends on how much meandering you want to do.
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:26 PM
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Op - How much time do you have for this trip? Several weeks?

Seriously, when you mention New Orleans and Savannah on the same trip you are doing a ton of driving.

If you are looking for food specialties, Memphis is known for its BBQ restaurants. Any good BBQ website will direct you to a variety of good ones. Interstate BBQ is one of the best known.

Nashville, like most southern cities is known for its "meat and threes". Swett's and Wendell Smith's are two fine examples of good southern cooking.

Personally, if I was heading to New Orleans, I would then head west to Lafayette, Abbeville for a couple of days. Then I would hean up through plantation country north of New Orleans and hir the Angola State Prison Museum. Then stop to see the eerie Windsor Ruins in Alcorn, MS. Then I would uake the Natchez Trace Parkway up to Nashville.

Can't speak for anyone else, but I rather see more of an area than try to hit the entire south in one trip.
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Old 02-25-2010, 06:06 AM
Location: Columbia, SC
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Agree w/Jlawrence, you will be doing a ton of driving going from New Orleans to the Carolinas back to Chicago. However, if you do indeed do that, I'd recommend taking a day in both Savannah & Charleston, both our very historic and neat places to visit. Also might want to mix in a stop in Atlanta to see the Georgia Aquarium and Coke museum among other things. Just take I-10 from New Orleans to I-65 in Mobile, AL up to I-85 in Montgomery which will take you to ATL. From there get on I-75 South to I-16 East over to Savannah, and then you can head up to Charleston via I-95 & US-17.
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:16 AM
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Savanah is a heck of a left turn from NO - 15 hour drive? If you go that way Atlanta is certainly worth a day or two. There are better things to do then the Coke Museaum however.
If you like the beach then spending some time on the gulf coast beaches between MS and FL is worthwhile although you have to deal with dozens of tacky t-shirt shops (but avoid it during the spring break period).
If you like music then Memphis (Beale St.) and NO are good, although you get that fake commercialized blues and jazz. Still fun. Atlanta has plenty of clubs for the night life.
If you like food then, again, Memphis for the BBQ and NO for cajun food.
Between the NO and the Carolina's are at least two scenic parkways (Natchez and Blue Ridge), a bunch of civil war battlefields, great mountain scenery, various cultural exhibits, some casinos (in Gulfport, and some a little farther north in Vicksburg and Tunica), a national park (Smokeys), and some tacky tourist towns like Gatlinburg...just a whole lot to do.
First time in the south, hmmm, don't be distracted by visions of Dukes of Hazard. It's not THAT different.
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Old 02-25-2010, 09:44 AM
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Couple of things come to mind...on your return trip going to Nashville. Don't know your interests but here are a couple of suggestions that are common attractions.

Not too far off I-65 just south of Tennessee is Huntsville, AL. It has NASA's Space and Rocket Museum...pretty cool displays.

Not far south of Nashville is Lynchburg, TN, home to Jack Daniels. You can take a distillery tour that interesting (I'm about 12 miles from there) but you can't buy any samples---it's in a dry county.

If you are interested in historical sites, let us know....the South is covered up with them.

Be sure to check the Nashville subforum in the Tennessee forum of CD...it's full of things to do there. If your friends are real familiar with Nashville, that may not be necessary, but I've found that often the locals are kind of unaware of some of the treasures around them. (I know the only times I've been to either the Space and Rocket Museum or the distillery was taking out of town guests...and I'm always glad I went!)

One question Mel2882, what time of year are you going? That can make a difference as to suggestions that get made.
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Old 02-25-2010, 04:38 PM
Location: New Orleans, LA
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Thanks everyone. The trip will be March 27-April 2. I know it will be a lot of driving, but I like driving and have done several trips that will be longer than what we'll be doing. As long as it's just 5 or 6 hours a day, I'm fine with that (except I know that Chicago to Memphis is longer--I figure we'll be pumped and ready to go early in the morning for that one!) However, I was debating between going all the way to Savannah or the Carolinas and just coming back up through Atlanta, so maybe I'll save the farther destinations for another time.

I shoud probably mention that I've been through a lot of Tennessee, so it will be mostly just driving through there and stopping quickly in Nashville to see friends. Most of what we want to check out would be Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.
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Old 02-25-2010, 06:57 PM
Location: Texas
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Don't forget the USS Alabama, berthed east of Mobile right on I-10 past the tunnel.

If you'd like, check out Enterprise, AL and the statue of a Boll Weevil.

In New Orleans, you must drive through the Lower 9th Ward. Even nearly 5 years after Katrina, it's still a depressing place. Just downstream from there a few miles, an on the east bank, is the Chalmette Battlefield where Andrew Jackson's little army defeated Gen. Packingham and the British at the Battle of New Oreleans.

A day around Jackson Square in the French Quarter, including Beniete's at Cafe Dumond is required for a visit to the Crescent City.

When you leave New Orleans, take the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway up to Covington just for the view of the lake.

If you like that kind of stuff, tour the Talladega Speedway. It's east of Birmingham on I-20.

I also recommend the Vicksburg Battlefield, especially the Yankee iron clad they dragged out of the river and restored as much as they could.
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