Drive Chicago to New Orleans via Memphis

Old Jan 21st, 2012, 02:53 PM
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Drive Chicago to New Orleans via Memphis

Hi There, I am from Ireland and I hope to vacation in Chicago for a few days before driving to New Orleans, possibly via Memphis. Does anyone have recommendations for the route to take, places to stay along the way, places to eat in any of the cities we visit etc? I would really appreciate some local knowledge on this one! thank you
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Old Jan 21st, 2012, 03:09 PM
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If you didn't want the hassle of dropping off a rental car in a city where you did not rent it, consider riding the "City of New Orleans" Amtrak train to Memphis from Chicago.
The Peabody Hotel looks good for a once in a lifetime stay.
http://www.peabodymemphis.com/
Either rent a car in Memphis to drive to New Orleans or continue a day or two later on the train.
Coming from the EU you may or may not have to pay a drop off fee if you return a car where you did not rent it.
You do not really need a rental car to see most of New Orleans. This sounds like a great trip to several great cities.If you do rent a car plan on driving the Natchez Trace
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Old Jan 22nd, 2012, 01:47 AM
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Some good advice there thank you so much. I will check out the train option as the one way fee unfortunately does apply and it's very expensive! I'm not familiar with the Natchez Trace but I will investigate.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2012, 04:46 AM
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Although I'm familiar with this area (born Chicago, lived Illinois) haven't taken Amtrak but think it is a good idea for you. Yes, Memphis is a good place to visit as well as Clarksdale (blues museum), Vicksburg (Civil War history) Natchez, etc. Depending on route. And of course NO itself.

BTW, do you know "The City of New Orleans" song?
P.S. Would rather be in Ireland.
Bill in Boston
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Old Jan 22nd, 2012, 06:21 AM
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The City of New Orleans leaves Chicago Union Station every night at 8:00PM and arrives in Memphis about 6:30 the next morning. The fare for 2 in coach is $194. Adding a roomette is $106 for a total of $300. There are generally about 3 times as many people in coach as there are in sleepers.
Renting the car in Memphis and returning there after seeing the country between there and New Orleans is probably your best option.
Make a list of what you want to see in each city.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2012, 10:05 AM
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Spend a few nights in Memphis. Stay downtown so you can walk to all the attractions. Visit Beale Street's great bars and music clubs. Take # 61 the blues highway S to NOLA. Stop in Clarksdale, MS home of the blues and stay at Shack Up Inn in an original plantation shack. Stop at Greenwood, MS at the 4 * Alluvian Hotel owned by Viking Range. Spend a night in Vicksburg, MS and visit the antebellum homes and National Military Park. Spend a few nights in historic Natchez, MS and visit the antebellum homes there.
Then on to NOLA. Stay in the FQ and enjoy your visit.

VISIT THE DELTA..........

http://www.visitthedelta.com/
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Old Jan 23rd, 2012, 12:34 PM
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Thanks for all of that. On the basis of all of that information, if we took the "City of New Orleans" train to Memphis (unfortunately I don't know the song -yet!) would it be a good idea to base ourselves there for several days, rent a car and visit some of the places like Clarkesdale, Vicksburg, Natchez etc on day trips? Is a car a good idea whilst staying in the city of Memphis? I really appreciate all these great replies.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2012, 02:07 PM
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The drop off charge on rental cars is always very high but I would research one that's not too high and rent a car in Memphis. Tour Graceland and Sun Studios. Visit Beale Street and enjoy the music and BBQ. Head S to Clarksdale. Stay at Shack Up Inn in a authentic plantaion shack. Head S to Vicksburg and Natchez then on to NOLA. Stay in the FQ in NOLA and walk to all the great attractions.
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Old Jan 26th, 2012, 06:53 PM
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We drove from Chicago to New Orleans last April (2011)! I won't go into detail about that since you already planned your trip by train, but I will just say: spend as much time outside of the French Quarter as possible if you really want to fall in love with the city. Each neighborhood is different and has its own flavor of special. If you will have a car go to the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park. It's just south of the city and it was more amazing than the swamp tour in my 2010 trip to NOLA, and obviously, much cheaper.
http://www.nps.gov/jela/index.htm

I'm going back to New Orleans in May 2012, and you'll most likely see me on Frenchman St. or Magazine. Yes! Check out some live music ahead of time and make sure to go to a show!
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Old Jan 26th, 2012, 07:04 PM
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Oh, restaurants:
Chicago:
Kuma's Corner (burgers)- locals will wait 1+ hours to be seated to get one of these bad boys
Hoosier Mama (Pie)
Violet Hour (amazing alcohol)

Memphis:
Charles Vergos' Rendezvous (I don't eat meat so I don't get it, but we HAD to stop here on our way back home from New Orleans to Chicago. Something has to be said for the fact that you enter through an entrance in an alley.. Gotta love back alley BBQ.)

New Orleans:
Juan's Flying Burrito (Mexican)
Sucre (Sweets)
Lil Dizzy's (southern food, apparently the best fried chicken)
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Old Jan 27th, 2012, 05:07 AM
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My trip reports for Chicago, Memphis, and New Orleans. For the non-food topics, you'll find actual what-I-did attractions reports near the ends of the threads:

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...experience.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...y-184065-2.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...experience.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...-itinerary.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...ack-wanted.cfm

Good information offered by previous posters as well.

Littleman's right that you can experience many of Memphis's good attractions without a car if you stay downtown. Note also that there's a shuttle service that runs between the Rock and Soul Museum (close by Beale Street downtown), Graceland, and Sun Studio.
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Old Jan 28th, 2012, 01:58 AM
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Excellent thanks everyone. I will definitely have a car for the Memphis to NO part of the trip so we hope to visit some of the suggested places en route!
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Old Feb 5th, 2012, 01:26 PM
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So having done some research and using these great suggestions I have a rough itinerary planned that I would love your comments/input on. We are flying in to Chicago and staying for 2 nights (that gives us almost 3 days there) then taking the overnight train to Memphis.
We hope to spend three nights in Memphis and visit Gibson factory, Beale St, Sun Studio, Graceland and other sights and generally get a sense of the place.
We will then rent a car and drive to Clarksdale, perhaps stay at the Shack up Inn. Any suggestions for sights along the way or what else to visit while we are there?
Next morning we will head to Vicksburg and Natchez and perhaps stay the night in one or other of these places. Again suggestions of the best one welcome. We are really interested in historic sites and nature or areas of great natural beauty.
Next stop New Orleans for 3 nights where we will meet up with friends and see and eat as much as possible!
We then hope to drive up towards Nashville and pick up the Natchez Trace for some of the drive and hopefully stay for a couple of overnights in different places along the way.
When we reach Nashville we plan to spend 2 nights there and then drive back to Memphis airport, drop off the rental car (saving $300 in one way fees!!) and fly back to Ireland.
How does this sound folks? Any tips on sights/stop off points along the way would be much appreciated!
We drove through a large part of Canada a few years ago and we hired a 'Gypsy' guide for the car - basically a GPS that gave you a commentary on interesting places to visit en route. Does anyone know of something similar for the Delta area? Thanks a lot.
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Old Feb 5th, 2012, 02:10 PM
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What time of year are you traveling? Memphis and New Orleans have many food, art, and cultural festivals during the year. Might be fun to drop in on a few of those.
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Old Feb 5th, 2012, 05:08 PM
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Yes! I like the plan. You may want to detour through Oxford Mississippi home of Faulkner and University of Mississippi. Great little town. One night at the shack up inn in Clarksdale will be an experience. Go to Ground Zero for music. Then spend a night in Natchez (wife from there we go often). Skip Vicksburg in my opinion. Stay at one of the antebellum homes in Natchez. I can give you recs if you decide to go. Natchez is full of characters and beautiful architecture. About 10 miles away in ferriday, Louisiana is the Jerry Lee Lewis museum. It has incredible memorabilia (John lennons piano, Elvis stuff, dolly parton stuff) and it's just too weird for words. Then drive down highway 61 through St. Francisville. Beautiful drive until you get to Baton Rouge.

Then NOLA, our home. Go to Frenchmen Street for music or clubs Uptown. Not Bourbon Street. Not sure why someone recommended Juan's for dinner. Why go to new Orleans for Tex Mex? If you get homesick there's a new Irish bar and restaurant called Irish House. Have fun!
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Old Feb 6th, 2012, 03:13 AM
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We are travelling at the beginning of June so if we happen upon some festivals that would be wonderful! @BKD I would definitely take your advice to skip Vicksburg and stop in Natchez for the night - it has to be one of the other! If you have some recs for antebellum homes I would appreciate it. My husband is a real music nut so the Jerry Lee Lewis museum will most likely make it into the itinerary Believe me, I would never be homesick for an Irish restaurant with all of the wonderful creole and cajun offerings to choose from!
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Old Feb 6th, 2012, 12:39 PM
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In Natchez, I can recommend Dunleith, Monmouth, Twin Oaks, The Burn. There are more, but I've stayed in all except the Burn. Twin Oaks rooms are kind of small but it's fine and the owner is a chef who grew up in Natchez and had a restaurant in San Francisco and Alaska (I believe). Friend of my wife, actually I guess they're all friends of my wife. The Guest House is good, too, located downtown though it only takes about 2 minutes to get anywhere by car. Check out the Corner Bar where locals go until the wee hours. Let me check on one other for you. I forgot that my brother in law's girlfriend runs a B&B right on the river. I'll get the info. If they do nightly rentals, it's very, very nice.
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Old Feb 6th, 2012, 12:49 PM
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Wow that's great BKD thank you for all of your advice.
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Old Feb 7th, 2012, 06:53 AM
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Fe, the name of the B&B in Natchez is River Edge Guest House. It's Under the Hill a small area of very old buildings next to the Mississippi River. There are a few bars and restaurants there. We stayed there last time we were there and it's extremely nice. The contact is Gail and the email address is [email protected]. Gail's a sweetheart and she'll take great care of you.
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Old Feb 7th, 2012, 08:56 AM
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In NO, to eat where the locals eat and step out of the twenty-first century (not an intentional time-lapse--they just never left the Sixties): "Please You" is a little cafe on St. Charles (on the trolleycar line, I think $1.25 US each way) with Greek roots, good food and low prices.
Also, Fiorella's near the French Market was mainly frequented by locals prior to Katrina, but may have updated somewhat since. Great Po-Boys there.
For a louder, lively atmosphere with authentic NO food, you can also try Acme Oyster House near Bourbon St. (724 Iberville St.). And you really should spend an evening at Mulate's where the dancefloor is always open (live music) and the food is great (authentic Cajun). (the Wall Street Journal called it one of the most underrated in NO) It's at 201 Julia Street, on a corner not far from the Riverwalk. All of these are on our to-do list whenever we go--all have great food at reasonable prices and an enjoyable atmos.
But one word of warning--it get pretty sultry in NO in June, so you might want to be sure to have cool clothes and comfortable shoes. Parking is extremely limited and the hotels don't mind taking their share to house your car (although if you drive around before checking in, you may find a do-it-yourself-lot nearby that is more affordable). Either way, you need to get out and walk to really get the feel of the quarter. Have fun!
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