Rhythms of the river from the Midwest to the Deep South

17 September 2018

Try this musical road trip itinerary and explore the music traditions of the USA, from Blues festivals in Chicago to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

Begin your journey in Chicago, and make sure you visit the iconic Bean sculpture at Millennium Park and the new Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier. No matter what your musical taste is, you’ll find something to suit in Chicago. Rock out at the annual Chicago Blues Festival or one of the 200 live music venues and clubs. Don’t miss your chance to try the famous deep-dish pizza at Gino’s East and delve into Chicago’s craft beer scene on a brewery tour. You’ll then take the historic Route 66 to Springfield where you can pay a visit to the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame in Pontiac. After another two hours on the road, you’ll hit Springfield where you can learn all about Abraham Lincoln's life.

Carrying on your journey, enjoy a root beer float at Doc’s Soda Fountain in Girard and then take a snap at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Here you’ll find even more diverse music, especially in the Soulard neighbourhood where you can have dinner at a trendy suburban bistro and visit Blueberry Hill, where Chuck Berry would often perform.

No music tour would be complete without a visit to Nashville, Tennessee – the undisputed home of country music. At the Country Music Hall of Fame tour, the famous RCA Studio B which has played host to stars including Dolly Parton. Make sure you catch a show at the Ryman Auditorium and when you’re feeling hungry try a meat-and-three restaurant where you can choose from a list of homemade choices.

Back on the Great River Road, you’ll journey towards Memphis. Tour Sun Studio and visit the Graceland Estate as well as the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. You can then follow the road to Cleveland to the area known as the land where blues began, making it the perfect home for the fascinating Delta Blues Museum. 

A stop in Indianola means you can visit the B.B. King museum to learn about the man who helped to popularise the blues, and your journey will then continue to Natchez, the oldest settlement in Mississippi. Take some time to explore the incredible history of this area with its stunning homes and plantations. The last leg of your trip brings you to New Orleans, where the mighty Mississippi empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Visit Frenchman Street in the city for its live music and visit the Spotted Cat Music Club, a cosy room that spotlights various forms of jazz. Make sure you chow down at one of the open-air cafes on local dishes like jambalaya and spiced smoked sausage.

If you'd love to explore the music history of the USA, get in touch with your local Travel Counsellor to book your next adventure.

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