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traveling from Chicago to New Orleans (28 days)

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I am planning a trip for next year (summer 2018) from Chicago to New Orleans. I am planning to rent a car and traveling alone. I will be traveling for a total of 28 days (end of June till the end of July). My plan is flying to Chicago. So my trip will start and end there. I am from the Netherlands. Right now i do a lot of reading about the different places to visite but now i am puzzled. So many options. Where to stay and for how many days? I would like to spend a week in New Orleans and still indecisive about how long to stay in Chicago and which places to visit along the road between Chicago and New Orleans. What i want to see and experience during my stay is some culture (civil rights, civil war), a lot of music, some nature (the bayou), meet (local) people, taste lovely (local) food and just be surprised what is coming at my path. So if you have any suggestions about do's and don'ts i would love to hear them. I cannot book my ticket yet so everything is still open for suggestions. Many thanks for your advice.

Ps. I am excited to here what the best place on my trip will be to spend the fourth of July :)

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