America is one of the best countries in the world to enjoy a road trip. With so many choices of routes with Awesome landscapes, vibrant regions, towns and cities to explore, this is a self-drive dream. The problem is deciding which route to explore. Well how about this little dream of a road trip; The Awesome American Music and Movie Road Trip.

Map of our Awesome American Music & Movie Road Trip

Day 1: Chicago, Illinois

Fly into Chicago, pick up your car at the airport and head off to your hotel to get settled before exploring the city and getting the holiday started.

Our Awesome American Road Trip Holiday starts off in Chicago. Once the domain of the Potawatomi tribe, who lived and travelled alongside the mighty Great Lakes shoreline, in the American Midwest.

Chicago, ‘The Windy City’, is the third largest city and metropolitan area in the United States. This huge vibrant city sprawls over 10,874km². It’s well known for house and electronic dance music, blues, jazz, comedy, shopping, dining, sports, world-class colleges and universities, and Awesome cultural attractions and celebrations.

The Cloud Gate sculpture also known as ‘the Bean, in Millennium Park

Where to Stay:

Chicago South Loop Hotel

Ideally located in the heart of the historic Bronzeville District and South Loop Area, and moments away from The McCormick Place, Chinatown, and all of the downtown excitement. The Chicago South Loop Hotel is a stylish boutique hotel, offering the perfect combination of relaxation, classic style, and impeccable guest’s services.

Day 2: Chicago:

Exploring this Awesome USA city, you will discover many famous landmarks and buildings from films such as ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’, ‘While You Were Sleeping’, and ‘The Road to Perdition’, not to mention ‘The Blues Brothers’.

Try and locate the Blues Brothers Soul Food restaurant on Maxwell Street, and don’t forget to pay a visit to the original House of Blues jazz club.

Chicago by Night

Day 3: Chicago – St. Louis, Michigan

Distance: 296 miles, 474 km’s

It’s time to ‘Hit the Road’ and ask your friends to ‘Meet you in St. Louis’.

Enjoy a scenic drive travelling south to this major city in Missouri, located along the Mississippi River. Take a tram ride to the top of the famous St. Louis Arch and get a city view from 630 feet. Then take time to view Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West, a movie produced by the National Geographic Society and viewed on a giant four-story screen at the Gateway Arch.

Enjoy a cruise on a paddle-wheeler along the mighty Mississippi River and make sure you visit the historic neighbourhood of Soulard. This district is home to barbecue restaurants and clubs playing blues music and Awesome pub crawls.

Where to Stay:

Red Roof Inn Plus St Louis-Forest Park/Hampton Avenue

This hotel is in a great location in the heart of St Louis and well positioned for various attractions and sights, including museums, sports stadiums, the St. Louis Zoo, various art galleries and the Gateway Arch.

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Michigan

Day 4: St. Louis – Memphis

Distance: 283 miles, 453 km’s

Mention Memphis, and a multitude of great musical and movie moments, come to mind. You will have two nights to explore this awesome city and get to all your favourites.

Why not start off with a visit to Graceland, home of the late Elvis Presley. Then you could explore the Rock & Soul Museum, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the Gibson Guitar Factory, or Sun Studio where musicians such as B.B. King, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded many of the great rock ‘n roll classic hits.

Where to Stay:

Comfort Inn Memphis Downtown

Experience the Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll during your stay at the modern Comfort Inn® Memphis Downtown hotel.

Located in the historic area on the trolley line, the hotel overlooks the Mississippi River and offers easy access to a host of activities and attractions including; Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum and the vibrant Beale Street; ‘Home of the Blues’.

Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee

Day 5: Memphis

Continue to explore and enjoy this vibrant city and make sure to check for any outdoor concerts at the Mud Island outdoor amphitheatre. Located right on the Mississippi River, Mud Island River Park is a historic and scenic outdoor area.

Be sure to dine at B.B. King’s restaurant on the famous Beale Street and catch some of the live gigs in the many bars and blues clubs.

Day 6: Memphis- Vicksburg

Distance: 246 miles, 394 km’s

The road trip resumes today with the route taking us from Memphis to Clarksdale, the heart of the Delta Blues. Stop to tour the Delta Blues Museum filled with memorabilia from B.B. King and Muddy Waters.

Where to Stay:

The Quality Inn Vicksburg

The Quality Inn hotel in Vicksburg offers comfortable accommodation and good value. There are a variety of attractions, including: Vicksburg National Military Park, Biedenham Coca-Cola Museum and check out the Vicksburg Riverfront Murals.

Day 7: Vicksburg – New Orleans

Distance: 207 miles, 331 km’s

Today, your Awesome American Music & Movie Road Trip takes you onto the ‘Big Easy’.

New Orleans is a jazz lover’s paradise, and the familiar backdrop in a string of successful movies. The jazz & blues clubs are too numerous to mention, but there are two days in New Orleans to check them out.

Music is at the Heart of New Orleans

Where to Stay:

Holiday Inn New Orleans-Downtown Superdome

Located close by the Louisiana Superdome, this hotel features a rooftop pool, a 24-hour fitness centre, and an on-site restaurant. Free Wi-Fi is offered throughout the property. You can’t miss the original Andy Warhol titled ‘Mick Jagger’ showcased in the lobby.

This hotel is conveniently located a few steps away from the new Loyola Ave streetcar. Enjoy a historic ride down Canal St., hop off in the French Quarter, or catch the St. Charles line for an outing through the stunning Garden District.

Engulf yourself in another place and time, traveling by means of river boat or streetcar.

Day 8: New Orleans

Spend the day continuing to explore this vibrant city with its Awesome riverboats, jazz, and Creole cuisine. Take time to visit the beautiful botanical garden or journey out to the levees to see how they protect the city from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Cruise on-board a paddle steamer for a dinner cruise on the mighty Mississippi River.

New Orleans Mardi Gras

Day 9: New Orleans – Birmingham

Distance: 207 miles, 331 km’s

The holiday continues from New Orleans we head into Birmingham, Alabama. You may not be the only one humming this tune or signing it out aloud as you drive through Alabama. The southern rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ would after all, be most relevant. “Sweet home Alabama, Where the skies are so blue, Sweet home Alabama, Lord, I’m coming home to you”.

Mill House, Alabama

For music fans, the highlight would be a visit to the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. Entrance to this exhibition is free and inside you’ll find a wonderful tribute to jazz greats with ties to Alabama.

For movie lovers, try and locate the original Whistle Stop Cafe, the setting for the novel, and later film, Fried Green Tomatoes. Although scenes in the movie were actually filmed in Atlanta, the original cafe is located in North Irondale, just outside of Birmingham.

Where to Stay:

The Comfort Inn Birmingham

You’ll love the cozy accommodations, friendly staff and delicious breakfast at this comfortable hotel in Birmingham.

Day 10: Birmingham – Chattanooga

Distance: 147 miles, 235 km’s

Continuing the holiday, we travel north back into Tennessee, and onto Chattanooga. Chattanooga is the 4th largest city in Tennessee, located in the Southeast, on the Tennessee River, near the border of Georgia.

Check out Rock City, located on Lookout Mountain, Rock City Gardens features a 4100ft walking trail, a 90-foot waterfall, a 180-foot long suspension bridge, and Lover’s Leap where you can “see seven states.” Also don’t miss Ruby Falls, the thundering 145-foot waterfall inside Lookout Mountain.  

If its summer time you should check the dates of the annual Chattanooga Riverbend Festival. Also, while in Tennessee, don’t miss the opportunity to try a “moon pie”, a favourite Southern snack since the early 1900s.

Canon at Chattanooga

Where to Stay:

Chattanooga Choo Choo

What was once a crossroads for travellers is now one of downtown Chattanooga’s premier vacation destinations. Located in the great Southside neighbourhood, the Chattanooga Choo Choo, successfully blends history and style with unmatched comfort, with your choice of spacious traditional style rooms and cozy train car accommodations.

Day 11: Chattanooga – Nashville

Distance: 134 miles, 214 km’s

Our destination today is no other than Nashville, known as “Music City USA”.

Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, a multimedia music shrine including movie theatres, costumes, instruments and other artefacts detailing country music’s colourful history.

Don’t miss a visit to the Ryman Auditorium and a night at the Grand Ole Opry.

Wille Nelson & Friends Museum

Where to Stay:

Guest House International Inn & Suites – Nashville/Music Valley

The Guest House Inn & Suites Nashville/Music Valley is conveniently located on Music Valley Drive, less than a mile from the Grand Ole Opry so you’ll be right in the middle of all the honky tonkin’ and fun.

Day 12: Nashville – Louisville

Distance: 134 miles, 214 km’s

From Blue Grass to Brass Bands, Kentucky has popular music for every listener.

Today’s destination is Louisville, Kentucky, home of the famous Kentucky Derby which takes place at Churchill Downs the first Saturday each May. Recently featured in the movie Sea Biscuit, Churchill Downs is the mecca of American horse racing and home of the Kentucky Derby Museum.

Take a short side trip to Bardstown and visit My Old Kentucky Home State Park, the inspiration for Stephen Foster’s anthem of the same name which is sung by the crowds every year at the Kentucky Derby. No visit to Kentucky would be complete without a visit to a bourbon distillery, but remember that many Kentucky counties are “dry,” so often there are no tastings.

Baseball fans should ensure they fit in a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum, an interactive museum honouring many of baseball’s greats.

Road Trip through Kentucky

Where to Stay:

Red Roof Inn Louisville Fair and Expo

The Red Roof Inn Louisville offers comfortable and great value, just six miles southeast of downtown Louisville.

Day 13: Louisville- Chicago

Distance: 323 miles, 517 km’s

Sadly, all great Road Trips eventually run out of road. Today, your self-drive holiday adventure returns you to the ‘Windy City’, Chicago, having visited seven different states, experienced many popular movie set locations, and heard music ranging from blues to jazz to soul to gospel to country to bluegrass and rock’n’roll.

Nashville Wall Murial

Day 14: Chicago Departure Day

A final day in Chicago before you return your car at the airport, hand in the keys, and set off for your departure flight back home.

“Map out your future – but do it in pencil. The road ahead is as long as you make it. Make it worth the trip.” – Jon Bon Jovi 

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