Among the many on the roads to do through the United States, there’s one that excites me particularly. A very beautiful itinerary I had the chance to do more times and which includes in itself many little different paths and experiences: what many people call the Music Road, from Chicago as far as New Orleans.
A wonderful and unusual journey discovering the roots of the American music – I mean blues, jazz, rock and much more – and of the story tied to the Mississippi River and the old South of the States, among antebellum plantations, cotton fields, legends and soul food.
About 1800 km from Chicago as far as New Orleans.
From the big cities as far as the small towns, through even 5 states – Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana – suggestive backgrounds, unforgettable landscapes and three historic trails intersecting in a such way that they can be covered in traits.
The Great River Road – which follows the whole flow of the Mississippi from Minnesota as far as Louisiana – the Blues Hwy 61 – accompanying the entire route from Chicago as far as New Orleans – and the ancient Indian trail linking Nashville to Natchez – the Natchez Trace Parkway.
An itinerary studied in details, divided into 12 days, distance in kilometres, stages and tips to eat and stay overnight included.
And a series of useful tips, deepening links and practical info, as result of my personal experience as always.
Arrival with intercontinental flight, usually early in the afternoon, collecting the car and leaving towards downtown.
Indicative tour along the Magnificent Mile and/or Loop, sunset at John Hancock Center 360 Chicago and Deep Dish Pizza dinner at Pizzeria UNO’s.
Stay overnight at the Best Western River North Hotel, very good position – just around the Magnificent Mile – and good price/quality ratio.
The whole day is dedicated to the tour of the city: Millennium Park, Loop, Cruise on Lake Michigan and channels, Skydeck Willis Tower, Wicker Park and 606 High Line, blues night at Rosa’s Lounge.
Click here to view the complete itinerary.
Stay overnight in Chicago.
Leaving early in the morning along the old Route 66.
Stages of the day – click on the locations’ names to learn more – Wilmington (Gemini Giant), Pontiac (Route 66 Hall of Fame) and Springfield – Abraham Lincoln’s town.
Arrival in the evening in St. Louis, Missouri.
Stay overnight at Hampton Inn St. Louis at the Arch, central position, very good services, breakfast included.
A day dedicated to the tour of the town: Gateway Arch, Cruise on the Mississippi, Anheuser-Bush Brewery, Missouri History Museum, Soulard Farmers Market, et cetera.
Leaving early in the morning along the Great River Road, which follows the Mississippi River flow – with a stop at Burfordville Covered Bridge and at the suggestive Horseshoe Lake Alexander – as far as reaching Memphis, Tennessee.
Arrival late in the afternoon, stay overnight at the Double Tree by Hilton Memphis Downtown just a stone’s throw from the very central Beale Street.
The whole day is dedicated to the tour of the town: San Studio, Graceland, National Civil Rights Museum at Lorraine Motel, Mud Island, dinner and night in Beale Street.
From Tennessee as far as Missisippi, to the marshes and the swamps of the Delta to reach Clarksdale, the Blues’ birthplace.
Stages which cannot be missed: Delta Blues Museum, the mythical Riverside Hotel, Cut Head Delta Blues and Folk Art, and – if you are keen on Tennessee Williams – the walking tour following the locations of his “A streetcar named desire” movie.
Click here to view the complete itinerary (which includes also part of the first one of Day 8 itinerary – see below).
Green fried tomatoes dinner and great Blues at the Ground Zero (Morgan Freeman’s club) ands stay overnight in an old cotton plantation, the Shackup Inn.
A series of stages through the Great River Road and the Blues Hwy 61 discovering some among the most charming towns of Delta: Cleveland for the new Grammy Museum, Leland for the Hwy 61 Blues Museum, Indianola for the BB King Museum, and Greenwood to visit the locations of “The Help” movie.
Arrival in Vicksburg in the afternoon, tour through the old town and tour of some among its most charming antebellum dwellings.
Stay overnight at the ancient and charming Bazsinzky House, parking, breakfast and Wi-Fi usually included.
Click here to view the today and tomorrow itinerary (day 8 and 9).
Morning dedicated to the Vicksburg National Military Park, the location where one of the most tragic and resolute battles of the Civil War was fought.
Leaving along the Great River Road, stops at the ancient plantation of Windsor Ruins, at the Emerald Mound – holy center for the Native Indians – and Natchez, historic small town on the Mississippi River (see itinerary above, day 8 and 9).
In the afternoon passage through Louisiana and tour of St. Francisville and the Myrtles Plantation.
Arrival in the evening in Baton Rouge and stay overnight at Hampton Inn & Suites Baton Rouge, parking, Wi-Fi and breakfast included.
Arrival in the afternoon in New Orleans, evening in one of the clubs in Frenchmen Street to listen to a good jazz and stay overnight at Dauphine Orleans Hotel, my favorite motel in Nola, historic and charming building just around Bourbon Street. Click here to learn more.
The whole day is dedicated to the tour of the city.
From the French Quarter to the Graden District, then the less known areas like City Park and Treme.
Click here to view a series of itineraries, useful tips and gastronomic suggestions to plan the tour of Nola at the best.
Stay overnight at Dauphine Orleans Hotel.
Last hours in town, give back the car at the reference Rent Car point at the airport and leaving.