Southern US Roadtrip - Advice needed!

Old Jul 24th, 2015, 02:15 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 2
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Southern US Roadtrip - Advice needed!


I'm about to embark on a 3 week trip (e.g. late July, early August) with my wife and 4 y/o daughter.

It's a spontaneous trip and we've pretty much only booked the flight tickets (to Houston, from Scandinavia) and a rental car. We're experienced travellers but neither of us have ever visited Southern US. Hence, we're more than open to suggestions and ideas regarding routes and cities from those with experience and knowledge.

- Must start and end in Houston
- Must include New Orleans

- Variation!
- Some relatively scenic or interesting routes (in one way or the other)
- No extremely long/exhausting drives between destinations
- Relatively family-friendly (at least not family-unfriendly) destinations

In a nutshell we're basically interested in seeing some interesting, different, fun, strange and/or historically and culturally important places while eating some great food.

A rough first route draft of ours was something like: Houston - New Orleans - Nashville - Memphis - Dallas - Austin - San Antonio - Houston but again, we're very open to suggestions. The only must-see city for us is New Orleans.

Any suggestions for us?

Thanks in advance!
vict is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2015, 04:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,276
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Please include Charleston, SC in your itinerary for at least 4 days. There are things your daughter will enjoy there as well as you.
Geez, it is next week. Really.
OK, go to the Gulf beach somewhere. Eat in Mobile/Biloxi for great seafood.
Next week--you're on your own.
In Atlanta and Houston, do their very fine museums.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2015, 04:47 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Be aware that the weather will likely be VERY hot and humid. Be sure to stay hydrated, esp your child, and don't plan all outdoor activities for the middle of the day - have some cooling options open.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2015, 06:22 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,248
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Your suggested route is pretty Texas-heavy, which is understandable since you're flying in and out of Houston, but misses the mountains and coast. I might drop Dallas in favor of adding the Chattanooga area, the Smokies or Asheville (two, 3-4 and five hours from Nashville, respectively) so you get a taste of the mountains, if it's of interest. Plus the weather will be cooler in the Smokies or Asheville.

If you're willing to drive that far, Charleston would be a great addition, but it is far - an additional eight hours from Nashville (your current furthest point) via the shortest route, and not near anything else you've mentioned.

To get a really varied experience, I'd pick something like New Orleans, the Florida panhandle beaches, Charleston, Asheville, and Austin, but that's a LOT of driving. How far are you willing to drive in a day? Would you be willing/able to fly between cities? A lot of the more interesting cities are pretty far apart - for example, just New Orleans to Nashville is an eight-hour drive, and that's without a small child. You could take the more scenic Natchez Trace Parkway, but it adds 2-3 hours to the total trip at least. Or you could go over to the Mobile/Pensacola/Destin area from New Orleans and then north or northeast, but even Mobile to Atlanta is 7.5-8 hours. Southwest Airlines would be a good airline to check out - it's a budget airline, and Nashville is a hub for them, so I believe we have direct flights from Nashville to Austin, New Orleans, Charleston and Pensacola or Panama City now. But I don't know how expensive tickets would be for flights that are so soon.

If you keep Memphis in, the zoo is supposed to be good, especially for your daughter. Chattanooga has a fantastic aquarium as well.

You'll find great food just about anywhere. It's what we do in the South. The weather will be VERY hot, especially to you coming from Scandinavia. Indoors you'll be fine - we tend to air condition things to death, so you might actually be cold - but it will be very hot outdoors. Also, pick up some mosquito spray when you get here.
jent103 is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2015, 08:37 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,424
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My husband and I just did a month-long road trip in the general area you are looking at. But it was mid-May to mid-June. By the mid-June part of the trip the weather was already getting too hot/humid for us to enjoy being outside much during the afternoons. (While I lived in various parts of the South in the past, I've been living in San Francisco for quite a while now and so am no longer used to that kind of heat/humidity!) I do worry about that aspect of your trip. And the bugs - the mosquitoes can be fierce.

Don't want to be too discouraging - but you need to be prepared!

New Orleans is definitely worth seeing. I always like San Antonio, Nashville and Memphis. We particularly liked Asheville (North Carolina), Chattanooga (Tennessee) and Natchez (Mississippi) on this recent trip, which were new places for us. But I personally have not been a fan of either Dallas or Houston the times I've been to those cities. Also not actually that big a fan of Austin, although lots of people like it. (I think it has outgrown a lot of the charm it once had.)

I do agree with a poster above that some time at a beach might be nice, especially for your daughter, given the hot weather.

If your child still takes afternoon naps, it might work for you, on your driving days, to sightsee some in the mornings wherever you were spending the night, then drive to the next stop during the hottest part of the afternoons while she sleeps.

Hope you have a great trip!
NorCalif is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2015, 11:38 PM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 1
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Like everyone has mentioned, we are in the grip of a serious heat situation in the Gulf South. Louisiana is seeing it's second hottest July ever recorded. Stay safe weather wise and don't plan any types of walking type tours during midday, as there was a heat index of 109 in most New Orleans metro area at around 9pm! The daytime heat can be broken if you're lucky enough to catch an afternoon thunderstorm. Enough weather ramblings from me! As far as places to go, I'm very much in love with the Gulf Coast.

Along with other posters, I agree that y'all should definitely check out some of the beaches. Some of the most beautiful and completely family friendly beach towns are Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. These are located on the Gulf Coast of Alabama and easily accessed from Interstate 10. In my opinion, Orange Beach is less touristy than Gulf Shores but both boast white sand beaches with beautiful water that is perfect for kids splashing around or water activities like parasailing or just laying on the beach letting the sounds of the soft waves break and gurgle at the shoreline.

Biloxi, MS is a tourist spot mostly due to the casinos that line the beaches on HWY 90. It's sort of like a mini Las Vegas with a beach front view. The beaches aren't as pretty as Alabama's because of the barrier islands that lie so close to the Biloxi Coast. These islands do provide for gorgeous and educational excursions, though. There's also the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art which always fascinates my family. Just to the East, over Biloxi Bay, is the small and artsy town of Ocean Springs, MS. Great pride is taken in it's local art, music, and culinary scene. The downtown area is very small and easily walkable and there may be a festival or two during your trip so take a look at the city's website if this seems like an area you'd be interested in. Don't forget all of the fantastic food to be had either! This area is a melting pot so in addition to fresh from the local waters seafood, you'll also be able to try authentic Italian, Greek, Mexican/Central American and Vietnamese restaurants along with Asian Fusion style spots as well. Biloxi/Ocean Springs could easily be explored in 3-4 days and is quite family friendly even if you chose to stay at one of the casinos.

The other area of the South near and dear to my heart is on the Atlantic Coast. I don't know if yall plan to drive that far; if you do, these spots are worth the time spent. In addition to Charleston, there's Savannah, GA. Savannah is a beautiful historic town with cobblestone streets and a river front that makes you feel as though you've stepped back in time. South of Savannah is Jekyll Island. Some find it stuffy but the natural beauty and wild horses that roam the surrounding barrier islands are worth it. Cumberland Island is gorgeous and you just take the ferry out and then at the end of the day you're picked up. Durations of trips vary by what you would like your experience to include.

As I'm going South down I95 and A1A in my mind, I can't help but recommend Amelia Island as well. Beautiful, off the beaten path, historic, just perfect. The Atlantic Coast beaches in this region are rocky instead of the white sand I grew up with so I was put off a bit at first but fell in love within 15 mins. There's just so many shops and restaurants. You may even see a U.S. Navy submarine surface in the distance as it makes it's slow trip up the channel! Very interesting experience that has happened at least 5 times during my times spent there!

Sorry for the novel! I do hope your trip is wonderful and that yall enjoy every city/town that you visit. And if you do go all the way to the Atlantic Coast and have extra time, try St. Augustine. It's our oldest city and another favorite of mine. Safe travels!
a_lang is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2015, 04:35 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 1,322
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you have to include New Orleans, that's not a bad loop. It totals 2025 miles over three weeks, with three long days: Houston to New Orleans 350 miles, New Orleans to Nashville 535 miles, and Memphis to Dallas 450 miles. That's basically three days of nothing but driving.

If you'd like to go to a beach, I would probably drop off Memphis, Nashville and Dallas and go to Galveston, the Alabama coast (Gulf Shores) or the west coast of Florida. You'll be backtracking through Houston to go to San Antonio, but it's my favorite place in Texas and I think you should see it. It's just a question of what pace you want to set for yourselves.
happytourist is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2015, 11:49 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 2
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Everyone: Thank you so much for your time and effort. Much appreciated!

We're at the airport right now. I'll update you later re where we actually went.
vict is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
United States
Jul 16th, 2019 03:04 AM
Road Trips
Aug 29th, 2017 02:35 AM
United States
Aug 2nd, 2017 10:43 AM
Road Trips
May 25th, 2015 03:29 AM
United States
Jul 12th, 2013 10:38 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information