Rhythms of the River Chicago to New Orleans
- 9 Days
- 9 Days
- Prices From:
- US$ 1,446
MODERATE | SELF DRIVE: A trip along a fascinating route down south to New Orleans, full of fabulous landscapes, wonderful local culinary experiences, and plenty of history. But it’s the final layer that makes this trip very special: music. From Chicago you are heading out on Route 66, a drive immortalized by the famous (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66. St. Louis boasts the National Blues Museum while Nashville and New Orleans are, naturally, prominently featured. But it’s places like Clarksdale, Cleveland, and Natchez along the Mississippi Blues Trail, that might strike a special chord.
This multifaceted, music-oriented 9-day trip starts in Chicago, then moves along Route 66 to St. Louis, Nashville, Memphis, the Mississippi Blues Trail, Cleveland and Natchez, and on to swinging New Orleans.
Your musical ride begins after you land in Chicago, home to many famous attractions, including Millennium Park and the thrilling Ledge glass balcony at Skydeck Chicago. Book an architecture river tour to view Chicago’s renowned landmarks from the water or take a spin on the 200-foot tall Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier.
Lunch options include Chicago’s well-known deep dish pizza or simply pick up a classic Chicago hot dog from a street vendor. Check out the “Craft Beer Capital” of the country with a tour and a pint at one of the city’s many breweries, such as those on Ravenswood’s “Malt Row,” home to a diverse cluster of craft breweries.
Later, choose from more than 200 live music venues and clubs, major concert venues and historic music halls for an unforgettable evening in the “Windy City.”
The next day, point your rental car toward historic Route 66. The Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, Illinois, is home to thousands of Route 66 artifacts and memorabilia. Or drive south to see the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Museum or the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.
On the way to St. Louis the next day, visit the Gateway Arch, the tallest man-made monument in the U.S.A. St. Louis, your final destination for the day, is renowned for its varied music scene: spend an evening exploring the Loop, home to live music venues and the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
After an optional visit to the National Blues Museum, head to Blueberry Hill to hear live music (home over the years to acts like Chuck Berry, Ed Sheeran, and John Legend) or The Beale on Broadway.
Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee are your destinations on Day 4. Visit Naschville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Grand Ole Opry, or the Art Deco building housing the Frist Art Museum.
Head back to the Great River Road and follow the Mississippi River toward Memphis. Depending on your musical taste, pay homage to blues and rock legends such as B.B. King and Elvis Presley, perhaps including a tour of the hallowed halls of Presley’s Graceland estate. At the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the emphasis is on soul and gospel. Or just stroll the Beale Street strip at night, where the cobblestone walkways are thronged with street entertainers and music lovers heading out to hear some live music.
Follow the Mississippi Blues Trail the next day to Clarksdale, Mississippi, home to the Delta Blues Museum. Then continue south to Cleveland, Mississippi, home to the GRAMMY Museum, to learn more about the history and cultural significance of American music.
On Day 7, en route to joining the Natchez Trace Parkway, make an optional stop at Indianola, Mississippi. Visit the B.B. King Museum, which tells the story of King’s life, his career, and the area’s history and music through award-winning interactive exhibits.
Continue on to Natchez, Mississippi, where you will want to tour at least one of the area’s lovely plantations and restored Southern antebellum mansions.
The last leg of your road trip will take you to New Orleans, Louisiana. Along the way, make a stop in the state capital, Baton Rouge, to explore the historical city’s designated arts and cultural districts.
New Orleans is a photographer’s dream so keep your camera at hand during your last day of the journey. Take a guided tour, stroll through the historic French Quarter, or people-watch at a lively open-air cafe or fine-dining restaurant. Enjoy your final night by adding to your musical repertoire: the city’s distinctive music scene at night is a music-lovers dream.
After your night in the “Big Easy,” return your rental car prior to your departure flight
- 9 Days
- 9 Days
- Prices From:
- US$ 1,446
Itinerary View Trip Map
Arrive at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and transfer independently to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival you might have time to see a little bit of the city. Chicago has the nickname “The Windy City” but if you know the story behind its moniker, you also know it has little to do with wind. The city is rightly renowned for its dramatic architecture and the ‘Chicago Loop’ is the famous and vibrant area where you see great architecture with delightful eateries, chic shops, and boutiques to boot.
Chicago's iconic attractions include the Cloud Gate sculpture (aka The Bean) at Millennium Park, the Ledge glass balcony at Skydeck Chicago off the 103rd floor of Willis Tower, and the new Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier. No matter your musical taste, you can choose from more than 200 live music venues and clubs, with everything from intimate musical experiences to major concert venues and historic music halls. Chicago is also proud of many excellent museums and an excellent culinary scene which, of course, includes its world-famous deep-dish pizza.
Chicago - Springfield
Head out on historic Route 66 this morning for a true slice of Americana. The famous road, which winds from Chicago to Los Angeles, traverses nearly 300 miles (483 kilometres) across Illinois and is dotted with old-fashioned cafes, quirky shops, and unique roadside attractions. Snap a photo in front of the towering Railsplitter Covered Wagon in Lincoln or the huge pink elephant near the Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston. Explore Route 66 memorabilia at the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac. From here, drive about two hours south to learn about Abraham Lincoln's life in Springfield at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Museum, the Old State Capitol, and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.
Springfield - St. Louis
Enjoy a root beer float or a giant banana split at Doc's Soda Fountain in Girard, Illinois on Route 66 - just about 30 minutes from Springfield - on the way to St. Louis, where you can admire its iconic Gateway Arch, the tallest man-made monument in the USA, which has welcomed visitors for 50 years. The vision of renowned architect Eero Saarinen, the Gateway Arch commemorates Thomas Jefferson's vision and St. Louis' role in the westward expansion of the United States. St. Louis is also renowned for its diverse music scene. Visit the Soulard neighborhood for stellar live music, enjoy a delicious meal and music at a trendy suburban bistro, or spend an evening exploring the Loop, with its music clubs, ethnic restaurants, and unique boutiques. Take time to visit Blueberry Hill, a regular gig for Chuck Berry, The Beale on Broadway to see live Blues, Soul and R&B, and do not miss the National Blues Museum.
Overnight St. Louis
St. Louis - Nashville
No music tour would be complete without a visit to Nashville, Tennessee, to many the real home of Country music. At the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, recordings, touch screens and memorabilia trace Country music from its roots to the present. The museum also offers tours of RCA Studio B, where artists such as Dolly Parton recorded songs. The Grand Ole Opry is the place to see today's Country music stars perform. For a variety of genres, catch a concert at the Ryman Auditorium, the historic church building that was once the home of the Opry. Nearby, new art flows regularly into the Frist Center for the Visual Arts (its Art Deco architecture is worth a stop for its own sake). Hungry? Find a meat-and-three restaurant, where you'll select one meat and three side dishes from a list of homespun choices (try golden-fried chicken, creamy mashed potatoes, corn, and collard greens accented with pork).
Nashville - Memphis
Head back to the Great River Road and the Mississippi River toward Memphis, Tennessee. In this pilgrimage city for music-lovers, tour Sun Studio to stand where Blues and Rock legends such as B.B. King and Elvis Presley recorded some of their earliest hits. For an intimate look at Presley's life, tour his Graceland estate. At the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the rhythm shifts to Soul and Gospel. View memorabilia from Stax artists including Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes, whose gold-plated Cadillac is on display. For a sampling of Memphis' contemporary sounds, walk Beale Street, where live music seems to drift from every open door. The aroma of barbecue fills the air, too. Savour local specialties that include dry-rubbed ribs and smoked pulled-pork sandwiches.
Memphis - Cleveland
Follow the Mississippi Blues Trail to Clarksdale, Mississippi, located at the intersection of highways 61 and 49 ('the crossroads'). Clarksdale and the surrounding Delta region are known as 'the land where the blues began', making this the perfect home to the Delta Blues Museum. Continue south to Cleveland, Mississippi, home to Dockery Farms, which was established in 1895 to produce cotton. Charley Patton, considered to be the ‘Father of the Delta Blues’, was among the African Americans who worked here; he later created a formidable body of recordings that inspired numerous other blues musicians in the area. Being somewhat of an elder statesman he mentored among others Son House, Robert Johnson, and Howlin’ Wolf.
Cleveland - Natchez
Your first stop today should be at Indianola, Mississippi where you can visit the B.B. King Museum to learn about the map who helped popularize the Blues as a truly American art form. Join the Natchez Trace Parkway as you continue your journey to Natchez, Mississippi, the oldest settlement in Mississippi. Bygone plantations and restored antebellum mansions can be found all along your route and we recommend that you take time to explore some of these incredible homes that tell the stories of the South.
Natchez - New Orleans
The last leg of your road trip takes you to into Louisiana to New Orleans, where the mighty Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, make a stop in Baton Rouge, the state’s capital city and the hub of all things Louisiana. Baton Rouge is the perfect place to explore the eclectic culture of this amazing state. The city has more than 300 years of history, much of which can be seen in distinct architecture, tasted in delectable food, and learned through its unique culture. After visiting Baton Rouge, head to New Orleans. With its centuries-old cottages and elaborate, historic cemeteries, the city is a photographer's delight. Guided tours are an ideal way to learn about this special place. Join a stroll through the historic French Quarter or take a tour of New Orleans' cemeteries, to better understand voodoo and ghost lore. New Orleans is, of course, also a musical city of prime importance. At Preservation Hall, a rotating lineup of fabulous musicians plays traditional New Orleans Jazz in the most intimate, acoustic environment. Queue up early for standing-room-only space or plan to purchase one of the venue's limited seats. Elsewhere in the city, Frenchmen Street is a hub for live music, lined with venues such as The Spotted Cat Music Club. The cozy room packs as many as three bands nightly, spotlighting various forms of Jazz. Cuisine and the cocktail culture are vital to the New Orleans experience, too. From open-air cafes to fine-dining restaurants, you'll find countless interpretations of local signature dishes, such as sugar-dusted beignets, aromatic jambalaya and spiced, smoked Andouille sausage. Home to Jazz fest, Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, a visit to New Orleans is the perfect way to finish your journey.
Overnight New Orleans
Enjoy your last day in New Orleans before making your way to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport for your flight home unless you plan to extend your stay in the area.
Daily departures: October 1, 2022 - March 31, 2024
- 9 days Intermediate Car Rental with unlimited mileage (Mazda 3 or similar)
- Detailed day by day itinerary
- 1 night moderate accommodations in Chicago
- 1 night moderate accommodations in Springfield
- 1 night moderate accommodations in St. Louis
- 1 night moderate accommodations in Nashville
- 1 night moderate accommodations in Memphis
- 1 night moderate accommodations in Indianola
- 1 night moderate accommodations in Natchez
- 1 night moderate accommodations in New Orleans
- Car rental insurance
- Travel insurance
- International and domestic airfare & airfare taxes
- Entrances fees to sites not explicitly listed as included
- Meals and beverages not mentioned
- Road tolls
- Items of a personal nature
- Visa fees if applicable
- In Chicago, you’ll be able to choose from more than 200 live music venues and clubs - with everything from intimate musical experiences to major concert venues and historic music halls (all optional).
- Snap a photo in front of the towering Railsplitter Covered Wagon in Lincoln or the huge pink elephant near the Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston.
- Take time to visit Blueberry Hill (where Chuck Berry played regularly) or The Beale on Broadway to see live Blues, Soul and R&B, and do not miss the National Blues Museum (all optional)
TERMS AND CONDITIONS:
Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please inquire.
1 Oct 2023