Road trips are a lot like parenting. It’s not as much about the destination as it is the journey, and as parents, we know the journey can be pretty amazing—especially if it’s one filled with the blues, beaches, and your babes in the backseat! Keep reading for inspiration on five fab routes through the South that’ll have you all whistling Dixie.

The Blues Highway to NOLA: Memphis to New Orleans, by way of Hwy. 61

Wind your way through the Delta and you'll get enough barbecue and blues to last a lifetime. Along the way, you'll have unforgettable pitstops in Civil War battlefields, walk in the footsteps of Elvis, and see the creek that inspired Henson to create Kermit.

What to See: Kicking off your trip in Memphis, thrill the kiddos with a riverboat cruise on the Mighty Mississippi, see the Beale Street flippers do their thing, compare notes between Elvis's playroom (called the Jungle Room, no less) and yours at Graceland, and set the BBQ bar with ribs at Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous. Then, set out on Hwy. 61 south through the Delta, stopping for the Railroad Heritage Museum and Lower Mississippi River Museum in Cleveland, the Jim Henson Museum in Leland, McCarty's Pottery place in Merigold, the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, and the Vicksburg National Military Park. Be sure to stop at as many honky tonks as you can along the way, and let the locals be your guide. Feeling frisky? Keep trucking right on to NOLA.

Good to Know: While cotton gets all the glory in Mississippi, those in the know will tell you that it's actually the sweltering heat and mosquitos that are the hallmarks of a Mississippi summer. Be sure to pack a cooler, and bring your bug repellant!

Where to Eat: Don't miss Doe's Eat Place in Greenville, Chuck's Dairy Bar in Rolling Fork, the Rendezvous in Memphis, and really any roadside shack that looks like there's a legit smoker out back. Or a sign advertising a fresh tamale. You'll thank us later.

Where to Stay: While The Peabody in Memphis is a pricier option, you'll thrill the kids with a tour of the Duck Castle on the roof, not to mention the daily parade and swim by the esteemed hotel's most revered guests. In Clarksdale, stay at The Shack Up Inn—a collection of sharecropper huts turned comfortable lodging and within striking distance to several killer blues dives, including Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero Blues Club. For a stay at an antebellum gem, try the Anchuca Mansion in Vicksburg, but beware of the ghost who's rumored to walk the hallways.

Photo: Distance Library Services via Flickr 


What’s your favorite route through the South? Tell us in the comments section below!

—Shelley Massey