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Texas and Deep South Road Trip - with Limited Time!

Texas and Deep South Road Trip - with Limited Time!

Jun 10th, 2014, 07:48 AM
  #1  
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Texas and Deep South Road Trip - with Limited Time!

Hello everyone,

Myself and my boyfriend are in our 20's, living in NYC for the last year and originally from Ireland. We are due to head home in Sept and before we head home, we want to go on a road trip around Texas and the South and I was wondering if anyone with any tips could help us out with things to see, do, eat, sleep etc!

Due to limited vacation leave from work, we only have 10 days and as we don't know when we'll be back this side of the Atlantic we have decided to just go for it and see as much as we can in the time we have - 10 days isn't ideal but just have to work with what we have we are also planning to head at the end of june and just going to have to grin and bear the heat!!

So we're flying into Austin and departing from nashville. At the moment, a rough itinery we have is as follows:

Austin, TX (drinks downtown)
Houston, TX, (space centre)
New orleans (steamboat on the Mississippi river, nightlife, plantations)
Birmingham, AL, (civil rights)
Memphis, TN (elvis, blues)
Nashville, TN (coutry music)

As you can see, we have a general idea of what to do but when it comes to specific museums, restaurants, b and b's we're kinda stumped! We also aren't too sure if we're missing out on vital things! What do we enjoy doing/seeing? anything that is iconic to where we are! just absorbing the atmosphere! whatever is typical for that area! we also are looking for scenic routes. I imagine austin to houston wont be too scenic, but maybe from NO to Birmingham there will be a nice route, or memphis to nashville??

finally, we'd love to go to a ranch, but from my review of the net, it seems like this is all concentrated in bandera and there isnt much between austin and houston?? we'd love to go horseback riding for a few hours somewhere!

Any and all tips are greatly appreciated, thanks for taking the time to read this!

THANK YOU!

lbyrne1
lbyrne1 is offline  
Jun 10th, 2014, 08:46 AM
  #2  
 
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With only ten days and that list, you won't have time for scenic anyway - just stick to the fastest. NOLA to Birmingham and Memphis to Nashville won't be very scenic anyway.

Do you have a plan for the number of nights in each place? If all you want to do in Austin is drinks, and all you want to do in Houston is the space center, one thought might be to skip Texas altogether and see the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL on your way north from Birmingham. Austin is GREAT, but if you won't have time to see much, that's a lot of driving for not a lot of payoff. You could have a great trip with 2-3 days each in New Orleans, Nashville and Memphis, plus a day in Birmingham and a stopover in Huntsville.
jent103 is offline  
Jun 10th, 2014, 09:00 AM
  #3  
 
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Memphis is kinda dumpy. It's also one of the nation's four worst large cities in terms of violent crime - a distinction it shares with St. Louis, Oakland and Detroit.

Unless you really have a big desire to see Graceland, just go straight up I-65 from Birmingham to Nashville.

Nola to Birmingham isn't scenic - it's swamps through Louisiana and flat blah through Mississippi. You want scenic, that means Gulf Coast or River Road and you seriously lack time.
BigRuss is offline  
Jun 10th, 2014, 10:29 AM
  #4  
 
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I don't see a problem with this road trip. I think you can hit some of the highlights of each city well within your 10-day timeframe. (I will say that my 25-year-old daughter did a roadtrip to Memphis with a friend last year and they enjoyed the day or two they spent in that city very much.)

Here are just some suggestions for Austin, Houston and New Orleans--towns I have visited on several occasions:

Austin--1) Go see the bats fly out from beneath the Congress Street Bridge each evening. http://www.batcon.org/index.php/get-...tegory/51.html
2) Go shopping or window-shopping along South Congress Street (SoCo). Start at Allen's Boot Store and keep going toward the river.
3) Go to Zilker Park and swim in Barton Springs
4) Eat BBQ at the Iron Works or at one of the locations of the County Line. Don't get sucked into the hype that is Franklin's BBQ.
http://www.ironworksbbq.com/
http://www.countyline.com/

Houston: 1) Expect to see a lot of kids at Space Center Houston since they have kind of "kidified" it in recent years. But there is still plenty for adults to see and do. Allow yourself enough time so that you can take one of the tram tours.
2) Here's a link to an article from last summer about horseback riding opportunities near Houston. So, you might be able to do that after all!
http://houston.cbslocal.com/top-list...ng-in-houston/

New Orleans: 1) Check out the National Park Service sites in New Orleans. They have free activities which might interest you.
http://www.nps.gov/jela/french-quarter-site.htm
http://www.nps.gov/jazz/index.htm
2) Take a free walking tour (tips appreciated) of the Garden District of New Orleans. http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/new-o...cemetery-tour/
3) Be a tourist and have coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter.
longhorn55 is offline  
Jun 10th, 2014, 10:50 AM
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Memphis isn't my favorite city either, but there are great things to see there (besides Graceland, Sun Studio is a favorite, and the National Civil Rights Museum is fantastic) and if you stay in tourist areas you'll be fine.

There is certainly crime - the city has a lot of complex socioeconomic/political/racial issues. But the crime is not directed at tourists, beyond what you might expect in any big city. I have friends and family who do or have lived there, have visited quite a few times, and have never felt in danger. Be smart and use common sense, get a GPS and know where you're going; avoid areas where you'd have no reason to be. Enjoy it. The city gets thousands of tourists a year.
jent103 is offline  
Jun 10th, 2014, 10:51 AM
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New Orleanian here. Do the French Quarter where you can see St Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square and have cafe au lait and beignets across the street at Cafe du Monde. Go to Bourbon Street, have a hand grenade or a hurricane to drink as you stroll. Ride the street car down St Charles Avenue and see the lovely mansions on both St Charles and Carrollton. Once you've transferred to the Carrollton street car, get off at the end of the line at City Park, stroll under the moss-laden live oak trees and take a paddle boat for a spin in the lake. My favorite cafe au lait and beignets is located in City Park - Morning Call. Far better than Cafe du Monde to me but you can't compare unless you have them both.

You can walk from the St Charles line a few blocks and go to Magazine Street for some local color, good food, a couple of local tshirt shops that are not the cheap and cheesy tees sold in the quarter. If you've a mind to, while in the quarter you can go to Harrah's casino, have a few free drinks and play the penny slots just for the experience.

If you really want to do the plantations, that takes a bit of doing as they are far out of the city. You'd have to join a tour to go to them by bus. That takes a day and with your schedule and depending how long you stay elsewhere, you might not want to take the time. Although I've taken my European and British friends to tour them, unless you've got time on your hands, I'd give them a miss.

Any questions you'd like answered as you plan, I'll be happy to help.
crepes_a_go_go is offline  
Jun 10th, 2014, 12:37 PM
  #7  
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jent103, you make a good point. I've unfortunately already booked the flights to land in austin so i think our time in texas will be very brief, id rather spend longer time in the smaller towns that are more unique that the larger cities which wont be that different to any of the other cities i've visited before. i think all we're planning to see in Memphis will be Graceland, Sun Studio and the National Civil Rights Museum so i don't see us spending too much time there.

crepes_a_go_go and longhorn55 , what great tips! thank you, these are exactly the sort of tips i was hoping to get out of this forum and ill be adding those to my itinery, thank you im a big fan of history so i think ill have to see a plantation but we can stop at those before or hand new orleans, we will have a car for the entire route which will come in handy for things like this!
lbyrne1 is offline  
Jun 10th, 2014, 06:35 PM
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You can make that trip in 10 days, but only superficially. I would take HiWay 281 from Austin to Houston .. depending on the time of the year and how much rain we have had, it may be scenic. Be sure to avoid driving thru Houston during rush hours 7 - 10 AM and 3 - 7 PM. . traffic can be really bad.

With the limited time available, I would skip the Space Center and go straight to New Orleans Take I-10 from Housotn to Lafayette, Louisiana, then 90 into New Orleans. It is slower than I-10, but you will see some of "real" Louisiana instead of the interstate. This takes you into New Orleans thru the "Back Door"

Be sure to stay in the French Quarter in NO . . Longhorn has given some great advice. If you are into Military history, the D-Day Museum is worth a half day. It is a great complement to the one in Portsmouth ( UK )

From NO, you can take I-55 and stop off at some smaller towns along the way to Memphis or I 59 to Birmingham if it still interests you. or straight to Nashville
Rich is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 05:17 AM
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If you take 281 to Houston, be sure and stop for some barbeque along the way. If going as far as Houston, you might consider a little trip to Galveston, just an hour away. It is my favorite seaside Texas town. (Not the best beaches in the state, but the best ambience, IMO.) Walk or drive down the seawall, have some fresh shrimp, take the free car ferry to Port Bolivar, just soak up the historic and very cool vibe.
jayne1973 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 06:03 AM
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I would skip Houston and go to San Antonio from Austin and then head for NOLA.
Houston is one huge concrete highway/shopping mall. Enjoy the more picuresque USA. Oh, and San Antonio is pretty spread out, but go to the Alamo and the River Walk.
Gretchen is online now  
Jun 11th, 2014, 09:04 AM
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Ditto on skipping Houston. Galveston too for that matter - you will get all the fresh seafood you can handle in NOLA.

That said, if you do go to Houston, you MUST eat at the ORIGINAL LOCATION of Ninfa's (sort of wrong side the tracks). Handmade tortillas and the best fishbowl margarita's ever! I've been eating there for over 30 years every time I go to Houston.
crepes_a_go_go is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 09:07 AM
  #12  
cd
 
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Let me recommend a couple of hotels. In Memphis we really liked The Peabody it is right downtown and next to Beale Street which you will want to walk, stopping in a few bars to listen to the Jazz. You will also want to watch the ducks make their way into the lounge where they spend the day.

In New Orleans we loved hotel Montelesone and their Carousel Bar. Ask for a upper level room overlooking the Mississippi River.
cd is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 09:34 AM
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lbyrne - are you definitely flying out of Nashville as well? I ask because it would make more sense to fly out of Memphis given your current itinerary, all other things (mainly price) being equal. Jutting over to Memphis "on the way" to Nashville is just out of the way.
jent103 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 02:55 PM
  #14  
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jent103, yes unfortunately, the tickets are booked and paid for!
lbyrne1 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 04:31 PM
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Agree on skipping Houston and adding San Antonio Riverwalk.
Austin is offline  
Jun 12th, 2014, 10:57 AM
  #16  
BKD
 
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Austin - GREAT music -Continental Club, Stubbs, and tons more
Houston - SKIP!! Go to San Antonio instead and stay on the River Walk drink Margaritas. Eat Mexican food. Like being Mexico, really. Way more interesting than Houston.
Head to New Orleans- my home - music, food, architecture, fun, lots to do. If you want to stop on the way to NOLA, stop in Lafayette Louisiana and get in some Cajun/Zydeco music. Fun. After New Orleans,go to Natchez, Mississippi - antebellum (pre Civil War) homes, kooky (in a good way) people, some good bars, lots of character and characters.
Head up Hwy 61 and stop off one night at the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Blues clubs there and supposedly where blues legend Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil to be the best blues guitarist ever (known as the Crossroads). Not sure if that really happened...
Then you can go to Memphis or straight to Nashville. Frankly I think after New Orleans, Memphis might be a letdown.

Have fun!
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Jun 12th, 2014, 11:10 AM
  #17  
cd
 
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If you the advice of BKD and go to Natchez, check out staying at Monmouth Plantation: http://www.monmouthhistoricinn.com/ and consider driving the Natchez Trace Parkway, it's a beautiful drive.
cd is offline  
Jun 26th, 2014, 11:31 AM
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If you are going to the trouble of going to Texas and Houston I would definitely spend a few days in Houston. While it is hot it has a huge variety of restaurants and has many museums including the Natural Science museum, fine Arts, etc. Space Center is about 40 min from downtown and is in the southern part of the city on your way to Galveston. You could also spend time at Kemah Boardwalk and Galveston since you are at that "end of town." Austin is great but need a couple of nights and plan to stay on the weekend.
charli47 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2014, 10:55 AM
  #19  
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I wanted to take a moment to touch back base with you all and thank you for the wonderful road trip ideas and inspirations!

We are back from the trip and had a fantastic time, we drove 1,700 miles in the 8 days! We spent an evening in downtown Austin (which was great), the Houston space Center, which was a novelty but I wont be heading back to Houston anytime soon, the Galveston, the swamps of the Mississippi en route to New Orleans, listened to some fantastic jazz music in the French quarter and ate Gumbo, got a steam boat up the Mississippi and listened to jazz along the route, headed to the Laura plantation to experience a Creole plantation, up to Jackson, Missisippi (more of a pit stop than an actual visit, didn’t seem to be a whole lot there), along the Natchez Trace part of the way towards Birmingham Alabama, BBQ as we entered Alabama, the Birmingham civil rights museum in Alabama, on up towards Memphis where we had some amazing deep fried chicken, saw the Lorraine Motel and listened to some jazz music on Beale St, snuck over the river to touch the ground in Arkansas and then headed to Graceland and then on to Nashville to finish off our trip!

Our personal highlight turned out to be Memphis surprisingly! I know a lot of you noted that it was a bit divey, but with the rich history and great live music and friendly locals we met along the way it would definitely be a place we would recommend!

It was actually quite manageable, I’m not sure if my parents would have enjoyed it but as a pair of 26 year olds we fortunately had the stamina (and car music!) to keep us going. Thanks again for your suggestions, we took most of them on board and had a great time!

lbyrne1 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2014, 01:04 PM
  #20  
 
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Sounds like a blast! I had fun in Memphis, too. You never know until you see for yourself.
jayne1973 is offline  

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