Wheel Chasers

From Chicago to New Orleans: A Scenic Road Trip Adventure through America’s Heartland

Embarking on a road trip from the Windy City of Chicago to the vibrant city of New Orleans can be a fascinating experience. This journey of almost 900 miles takes you through some of the iconic and picturesque landscapes of America’s heartland.

In this article, we will provide you with the best route to take when driving from Chicago to New Orleans, as well as the estimated time it takes to cover this distance.

Best Route to Take when Driving from Chicago to New Orleans

There are several routes one can take when driving from Chicago to New Orleans. However, the most recommended route to take is via I-57 S and I-55 S.

This route will take you through the beautiful cities of Memphis and St. Louis.

The first leg of the journey starts in Chicago, where you will be driving on I-94 East until you reach the I-57 South exit to Memphis.

The advantage of taking this route is that it’s less crowded than the other available options. After driving for approximately 130 miles from Chicago, you will arrive at your first stop – the charming city of Kankakee, Illinois.

Here you can take a break and visit attractions like the Riverview Historic District or the Kankakee River. As you continue towards Memphis through the flat and serene landscape of Illinois, you will come across many small towns, each with its unique character and history.

As you cross the border into Missouri, you will be welcomed by the iconic Gateway Arch of St. Louis, one of the most recognizable landmarks in the country. Taking a short detour to see this monument is highly recommended since it’s a sight to behold.

Continue on I-55 South, and after driving approximately 280 miles from Chicago, you will arrive in Memphis. Memphis is a city well-known for being the birthplace of legendary musicians like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and B.B. King.

While here, you should visit the National Civil Rights Museum, Beale Street, and the Graceland Museum amongst other attractions. After enjoying your time in Memphis, continue heading south on I-55, where you will cross into the state of Mississippi.

As you drive through this state, you will come across many small towns and picturesque views of the Mississippi River. After traveling for approximately 250 miles, you will reach the Louisiana border.

The final leg of the journey takes you through the beautiful city of Baton Rouge and finally arriving in New Orleans. While in Baton Rouge, you can visit attractions like the USS Kidd Museum or the Louisiana State Museum.

Finally, after driving for approximately 80 miles from Baton Rouge, you will arrive at the famous city of New Orleans, known for its rich history, jazz music, and culinary delights.

Estimated Driving Time from Chicago to New Orleans

The distance between Chicago and New Orleans is approximately 900 miles, and the estimated time to cover this distance is around 13 hours. The journey may take a longer or shorter time depending on factors like the route taken, traffic, or weather conditions.

It’s advisable to budget for enough time and make stops along the way to stretch your legs, refuel and enjoy the scenic views.

Tips for the Road Trip

Before embarking on a road trip, it’s essential to prepare adequately. Here are some tips that may come in handy:

– Check your vehicle: Ensure that your vehicle is road-worthy by checking the brakes, fluids, tires, and battery.

– Plan your route: Use a GPS or map to know the route you will take, the distance to cover, and the towns you will pass through.

– Pack appropriately: Pack essentials like food, water, snacks, maps, GPS device, a first aid kit, and emergency supplies.

– Make stops along the way: Breaks are crucial for long journeys to rejuvenate, stretch your legs or simply enjoy the views.

– Respect traffic rules: Avoid speeding or breaking traffic rules, and always wear your seatbelt.


Embarking on a road trip from Chicago to New Orleans can be an exciting and memorable experience. The journey takes you through the beautiful countryside of the Midwest and the Southern regions of the US, with numerous small towns and landmarks to visit.

The best route to take when driving from Chicago to New Orleans is via I-57 S and I-55 S, which takes you through the cities of Memphis and St. Louis. The estimated time it takes to cover this distance is around 13 hours, depending on various factors such as traffic and weather conditions.

By following some of the tips provided, you will have a successful and memorable road trip. Traveling from Chicago to New Orleans is an experience that requires careful planning.

In addition to the best route to take and the estimated time to cover this distance, it’s essential to know the different types of accommodations available along the way and the most scenic and interesting stops to make. This article will provide you with detailed information on these aspects.

Different Types of Accommodations Available on the Way to New Orleans

There is a variety of accommodations available when taking a road trip from Chicago to New Orleans. These include hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, and vacation rentals.

Hotels and motels are usually located along major highways, making them convenient for travelers. They offer comfortable and convenient accommodations with amenities such as restaurants, swimming pools, and fitness centers.

However, they can be pricey, especially during peak travel seasons. Bed and breakfasts provide a unique experience, with cozy rooms and personalized services.

They are often located in quiet and charming residential areas, giving you a chance to experience the local culture. However, the availability of bed and breakfasts is limited, and they can have fewer amenities than hotels.

Campgrounds offer a budget-friendly option for travelers who enjoy outdoor activities. They usually have basic amenities such as restrooms, showers, fire pits, and picnic tables.

They are located in scenic areas, giving travelers a chance to connect with nature. However, campgrounds are not suitable for all travelers, especially those who prefer more comfortable accommodations.

Vacation rentals provide travelers with a home-like experience. They are usually fully furnished apartments or houses that can be rented for a few days or weeks.

Vacation rentals are ideal for families or groups of friends traveling together and seeking more space. However, they require more planning and can be more expensive than other types of accommodations.

The Most Scenic and Interesting Stops to Make Along the Way

The journey from Chicago to New Orleans is a long one, covering around 900 miles. Fortunately, there are several scenic and interesting stops to make along the way.

Here are some of the most popular ones:

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO is a must-see attraction. Rising to a height of 630 feet, it is a symbol of American expansionism and the country’s westward expansion.

The Arch also houses a museum, allowing visitors to learn about the history of St. Louis and its role in America’s westward expansion. Graceland in Memphis, TN, is a museum dedicated to the life and career of rock n’ roll legend, Elvis Presley.

This attraction has been visited by millions of fans over the years and is a popular stop for music lovers. The museum offers guided tours, exhibits, and a chance to see Elvis’ mansion and personal belongings.

Beale Street in Memphis, TN, is known as the birthplace of the blues. It’s a vibrant street with bars, restaurants, and clubs that offer live music performances.

Visitors can also take a historic walking tour along Beale Street to learn about its rich history and its role in the American music scene. The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum in Memphis, TN is another attraction worth visiting.

This museum showcases the history of Memphis’ music scene and features exhibits on famous musicians such as B.B. King, Ike Turner, and Johnny Cash. Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN is a thought-provoking museum dedicated to the struggle for civil rights in America.

The museum highlights the work of civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the progress made in the fight for equality. Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana is a National Historic Landmark that provides a glimpse into life on a Southern plantation.

Visitors can tour the mansion’s grand rooms and lovely gardens and learn about the lives of those enslaved on the plantation. New Orleans is the final destination and offers plenty of exciting attractions.

The French Quarter is a famous district with restaurants, bars, and antique shops. Visitors can enjoy street performers, shop for souvenirs, or taste the local cuisine.


A road trip from Chicago to New Orleans is an adventure full of beautiful sights, historic landmarks, and unique experiences. Knowing the different types of accommodations available along the way and the most scenic and interesting stops to make can make your journey more enjoyable and memorable.

Whether you prefer hotels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, or vacation rentals, there are many options for accommodations. Similarly, the Gateway Arch, Graceland, Beale Street, Civil Rights Museum, Oak Alley Plantation, and New Orleans offer a diverse range of attractions, providing visitors with a thorough taste of the Southern United States.

Driving from the Midwest to the Deep South provides an opportunity to enjoy some of the best cuisine in America. From fast food to fine dining, this region has it all.

This article will provide you with detailed information on the best restaurants and cafes to stop at while driving and how the landscape changes along the way.

The Best Restaurants and Cafes to Stop at While Driving

A great way to experience the culture of the region is through its food. Here are some of the best restaurants and cafes to stop at while driving from Chicago to New Orleans:

Alinea, Chicago, IL Known for its avant-garde cuisine and brilliant presentation, Alinea is a must-visit restaurant while in Chicago.

The culinary team offers a 12 to 14-course tasting menu that takes guests on a journey of unique flavors and textures. They also offer an la carte menu, allowing diners to sample a few dishes.

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, Chicago, IL Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza, and Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria is one of the best places to try it. They offer a variety of toppings on their pizzas, and their crust is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Pappy’s Smokehouse, St. Louis, MO Pappy’s Smokehouse is legendary for its smoked meats and classic sides like mac and cheese, baked beans, and coleslaw. Their ribs are dry-rubbed with a secret blend of spices and smoked for hours.

The Pancake Shop, Hot Springs, AR This family-run breakfast caf serves fluffy pancakes, waffles, and omelets to die for. The Pancake Shop has been a Hot Springs tradition since 1940, and its menu offerings haven’t changed much over the years.

Central BBQ, Memphis, TN Barbeque is king in Memphis, and Central BBQ is one of the best places to enjoy it. The restaurant serves pork ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and chicken with a variety of sauces and sides like mac and cheese, collard greens, and baked beans.

Commander’s Palace, New Orleans, LA Commander’s Palace is a New Orleans institution serving upscale Creole cuisine. This restaurant has been around since 1880 and offers dishes like turtle soup, foie gras, and bread pudding souffl.

How the Landscape Changes as You Drive from the Midwest to the Deep South

The landscape along the route from Chicago to New Orleans changes dramatically, reflecting the diverse topography of the United States. The starting point of the journey in Chicago is a bustling and modern city, with skyscrapers and a busy downtown.

As you drive further, the landscape changes to flat farmland and prairies. As you cross the Mississippi River and enter Missouri, the terrain becomes hilly, with rolling hills and gorgeous valleys.

The Ozark Mountains provide a stunning backdrop to the highways. Missouri is known for its beautiful state parks, and it’s worth taking a detour to see some of them.

Oklahoma provides a glimpse of the American West, with vast prairies and windswept landscapes. This state offers some of the most spectacular sunsets and vistas in the region.

Driving through Oklahoma, one can see the remnants of the famous Route 66. Entering Arkansas, the landscape changes to green forests, rolling hills, and small towns.

The Hot Springs National Park located in central Arkansas is worth a stop to see the historic hot springs and bathhouses. There are also several state parks in the region that offer hiking and outdoor activities.

As you enter Mississippi, the landscape becomes more flat, with vast swamps and bayous. The Yazoo River and the Arkansas River are famous for their abundance of fish, especially catfish.

The Mississippi Delta is known for its rich farmland, and visitors should try the local cuisine of biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, and collard greens. Finally, Louisiana provides a unique landscape, with vast swamps, bayous, and marshes.

The region is home to many wildlife species, such as alligators, nutria, and many different species of birds. Driving through Louisiana, visitors can see the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest wetland in the United States.

The landscape is a unique mix of cypress trees rising from the water and open spaces covered in tall grasses.


A drive from Chicago to New Orleans is a unique opportunity to experience some of the best cuisine and landscapes America has to offer. From avant-garde cuisine to classic barbecue and Creole cuisine, this region has a varied culinary heritage.

The landscape varies from flat prairies and farmland to rolling hills, mountains, and swamps. Visitors can explore national and state parks, historic sites, and detours off highways to see the wild beauty of the region.

Whether you’re a food lover or a nature lover, this road trip has something to offer for everyone. Road tripping from Chicago to New Orleans with kids or family can be a fun and memorable adventure, but it requires careful planning and preparation.

In this article, we will provide you with tips on how to road trip with kids/family and how to prepare for a long-distance journey. Tips for Road Tripping from Chicago to New Orleans with Kids/Family


Plan your route and stops: Before hitting the road, plan your route and identify key stops along the way. This will help break up the journey and give everyone a chance to stretch and explore.

Look for attractions, parks, or landmarks that will interest both adults and children. 2.

Pack essentials: Be sure to pack essential items like snacks, drinks, wet wipes, and tissues to keep everyone comfortable during the trip. Bring a cooler bag with perishable snacks and drinks, as well as non-messy snacks like granola bars, fruit, and trail mix.

3. Entertainment: Keeping kids entertained during a long road trip is crucial.

Pack books, coloring books, puzzles, and games to keep them engaged. Consider downloading movies or shows onto tablets or devices, and bring headphones so each child can enjoy their own entertainment.

4. Rest and sleep: Plan for regular breaks to allow everyone to stretch their legs and get some fresh air.

If possible, try to schedule these breaks at parks or playgrounds to give kids a chance to burn off energy. If the journey is too long for one day, consider staying overnight at a hotel or campground to get a good night’s rest.

5. Pack extra clothing and essentials: Accidents happen, especially when traveling with kids.

Pack extra clothing, towels, and sanitary items in case there are spills or accidents. Don’t forget sunscreen, bug spray, and any necessary medications.

6. Safety first: Make sure car seats and booster seats are properly installed and secure for younger children.

Always make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing their seatbelts. It’s also a good idea to bring a first aid kit, as well as any necessary medications or medical information.

How to Prepare for a Long-Distance Road Trip

1. Vehicle maintenance: Before embarking on a long-distance road trip, ensure your vehicle is in good condition.

Schedule a maintenance check-up to change oil, check fluid levels, and inspect the brakes, tires, and battery. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

2. Plan for emergencies: Prepare for unexpected situations by having an emergency kit in your vehicle.

Include items such as a spare tire, jack, jumper cables, flashlight, and basic tools. It’s also a good idea to have a roadside assistance plan or contact information for towing services.

3. Check road conditions and weather: Stay informed about road conditions, construction, or any potential detours along your route.

Use navigation apps or websites to check for traffic updates and to find the most efficient routes. Check the weather forecast to anticipate any adverse conditions.

4. Create a trip itinerary: Plan your journey with a rough itinerary, including estimated driving times and stops.

However, be flexible and open to changes if needed. Having a plan will help you stay organized and ensure you make the most of your trip.

5. Bring necessary documents: Pack essential documents such as driver’s licenses, vehicle registration, insurance information, and any necessary identification for your kids.

Also, carry a copy of important documents in case of loss or theft. 6.

Budget and financial considerations: Plan a realistic budget for your road trip, taking into account gas, accommodations, food, attractions, and unexpected expenses. Make sure you have enough cash or access to cash throughout your journey.

7. Notify friends or family: Inform trusted friends or family members about your travel plans, including your itinerary and expected arrival times.

Keep them updated with any changes or delays along the way. 8.

Pack smartly: Organize your belongings efficiently to maximize space and make items easily accessible. Consider using packing cubes or clear plastic bags to keep things organized.

Pack a small daypack with essentials for each day, including water bottles, snacks, and entertainment items.


Road tripping from Chicago to New Orleans with kids/family requires careful planning and preparation. By following these tips, you can ensure a smoother, more enjoyable journey.

Plan your route, pack essential items and entertainment, and prioritize safety for everyone in the vehicle. Prepare your vehicle, check road conditions, and create an itinerary to stay organized.

Finally, notify someone trusted about your plans and pack smartly to make the trip comfortable and stress-free. Happy road tripping!

When embarking on a road trip from Chicago to New Orleans, it’s important to be aware of the different weather patterns you might encounter along the way and how to avoid traffic and road closures.

This knowledge will help ensure a safe and efficient journey. In this article, we will provide you with detailed information on these aspects.

Different Weather Patterns You Might Encounter on the Way

As you drive from Chicago to New Orleans, you will pass through various states with diverse weather conditions. Here are some of the different weather patterns you might encounter along the way:


Spring: In the springtime, you might experience changing weather conditions. In Chicago, temperatures can still be quite cool, with chances of rain.

As you travel south, temperatures gradually rise, and you might encounter milder weather in states like Missouri and Arkansas. However, sudden showers or thunderstorms can still occur, especially in April and May.

2. Summer: In the heart of summer, temperatures can soar along the route from Chicago to New Orleans.

In the Midwest, you can expect hot and humid conditions, especially in states like Missouri and Arkansas. As you venture further south into Mississippi and Louisiana, the heat can be intense.

Be prepared for high temperatures and make sure to stay hydrated and use sunscreen. 3.

Fall: Fall brings more pleasant weather to the region, with cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels. Early fall can still be warm, especially in the southern states, but by October, temperatures become milder.

Fall foliage can be quite beautiful along the route, particularly in states like Missouri and Arkansas. 4.

Winter: Winter weather can vary greatly along the route, with northern states experiencing colder temperatures and potential snowfall. In Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri, snow and ice are not uncommon during winter months.

However, as you travel further south into Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, the chances of encountering wintry precipitation decrease significantly. It’s crucial to check weather forecasts before your trip and pack accordingly.

Prepare for different weather conditions by bringing appropriate clothing layers, rain gear, and even winter gear if you’re traveling during the colder months. Stay informed about local weather conditions during the journey, and adjust your plans if necessary.

How to Avoid Traffic and Road Closures Along the Way

Traffic and road closures can significantly impact your road trip experience. Here are some tips to help you avoid traffic congestions and unexpected road closures along the way:


Plan your travel times: Avoid peak travel times and rush hours when possible. Adjust your departure time to avoid heavy traffic in major cities like Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans.

Leaving early in the morning or taking advantage of off-peak hours can help you avoid traffic congestion. 2.

Use traffic apps and websites: Take advantage of modern technology and use traffic apps like Google Maps, Waze, or local traffic websites to check for real-time traffic updates. These apps provide alternative routes, traffic flow information, and can help you navigate around road closures or accidents.

3. Research major construction projects: Before your trip, look into major construction projects along your route.

Check state department of transportation websites for information on road closures or detours. Being aware of construction zones will help you plan alternate routes if necessary.

4. Stay informed with local news and radio: Tune in to local news stations or listen to traffic updates on radio channels to stay informed about traffic conditions and potential road closures.

Local news stations often provide timely information about accidents, road work, or other incidents that might affect your journey. 5.

Plan rest stops strategically: Use rest stops strategically to avoid peak traffic times. Take breaks before or after major cities, during less busy periods.

This approach will help you avoid traffic congestion when entering or leaving urban areas. 6.

Be prepared for unexpected delays: Even with careful planning, unexpected delays can occur. Have a backup plan for accommodations in case you encounter significant delays or road closures due to inclement weather or accidents.

Keep contact information for nearby hotels or campgrounds handy. 7.

Consider alternate routes: Familiarize yourself with alternate routes along your journey. Sometimes, taking a detour can help you avoid heavy traffic or road closures.

Use navigation apps or maps to identify alternative roads that might be less congested. Remember, it’s essential to prioritize safety during your road trip.

While avoiding traffic and road closures is desirable, never compromise your safety or the safety of others. Stay alert, follow traffic rules, and be patient if you encounter delays along the way.

By being prepared and flexible, you can have a smoother and more enjoyable road trip experience.


When traveling from Chicago to New Orleans, being mindful of different weather patterns and how to avoid traffic and road closures can significantly enhance your road trip experience. Prepare for various weather conditions, stay informed about current weather forecasts, and pack accordingly.

Plan your travel times strategically to avoid peak traffic hours, use technology and local information sources to stay updated on traffic conditions, and consider alternative routes if necessary. With these tips, you can navigate smoothly and safely from Chicago to New Orleans, making the journey more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Embarking on a road trip from Chicago to New Orleans requires efficient navigation and ways to stay entertained during the long drive. Luckily, there are several useful apps that can enhance your navigation experience, as well as various ways to keep everyone entertained along the way.

In this article, we will provide you with detailed information on the best apps for navigating a road trip from Chicago to New Orleans and how to stay entertained during the drive.

The Best Apps for Navigating a Road Trip from Chicago to New Orleans

1. Google Maps: Google Maps is a versatile and reliable navigation app that provides turn-by-turn directions, real-time traffic updates, and automatic rerouting.

It also offers offline maps, which can be especially helpful in areas with weak or no signal. Additionally, Google Maps provides information on nearby gas stations, restaurants, and attractions.

2. Waze: Waze is a community-based navigation app that relies on real-time user reports to provide accurate traffic updates, including accidents, road closures, and hazards.

It offers voice-guided navigation, alternate route suggestions, and estimated arrival times. Waze also allows users to share their location with others, making it easy for friends and family to track your progress.

3. Roadtrippers: Roadtrippers is a fantastic app for planning and navigating a road trip.

It helps you discover interesting sights, attractions, restaurants, and accommodations along your route. Roadtrippers also allows you to customize your trip by adding specific stops or scenic routes.

The app provides turn-by-turn directions and useful information about each location. 4.

GasBuddy: GasBuddy helps you find the cheapest gas prices along your route. It identifies nearby gas stations and provides real-time fuel price updates, allowing you to save money on your journey.

GasBuddy also offers additional features such as station amenities and user reviews. 5.

iExit: iExit is a useful app for road trips, especially when you’re looking for places to stop, eat, or refuel. It displays upcoming exits along your route and provides information on amenities available at each exit, including gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and attractions.

iExit is particularly helpful in deciding when and where to take breaks.

How to Stay Entertained During a Long Drive

A long drive can become tiresome, especially for kids. It’s important to keep everyone entertained to make the journey more enjoyable.

Here are some strategies to keep everyone engaged and entertained during the drive:

1. Audiobooks and podcasts: Audiobooks and podcasts are a great way to pass the time during a drive.

Choose genres or topics that are suitable for the whole family. Encourage discussion or start a family book club where you can discuss the story together.

2. Music playlists and sing-alongs: Create a road trip playlist with songs that everyone enjoys.

Encourage sing-alongs and dance parties in the car. Music can boost mood and keep everyone entertained during the long drive.

3. Car games: Car games can help pass the time and keep everyone engaged.

Classic games like “I Spy,” “20 Questions,” and the “License Plate Game” are always popular choices. You can also create your own games or trivia quizzes related to the places and landmarks you pass by.

4. Travel journals or scrapbooks: Provide each family member with a travel journal or scrapbook to document the journey.

Encourage them to write about their experiences, draw pictures, or collect small mementos along the way. This not only keeps everyone entertained but also creates lasting memories.

5. Interactive apps or games: There are several interactive apps and games available for mobile devices that can be entertaining for kids and adults alike.

Seek out educational apps or games that encourage problem-solving, creativity, or learning about the places and landmarks you pass on your journey. 6.

Engaging conversations: Use the travel time to have meaningful conversations with your family members. Engage in discussions about their interests, dreams, or topics related to places you are visiting.

This can foster connection and create a deeper bond during the long drive. 7.

Snacks and treats: Pack a variety of snacks and treats that everyone enjoys. Having a selection of tasty treats can boost morale and provide a welcome distraction during the journey.

Just be mindful of chewing and eating in a safe manner while driving. 8.

Stretch and rest stops: Take regular breaks to stretch your legs, have a picnic, or explore interesting spots along the way. Incorporate mini adventures or short walks to break up the monotony of the drive and provide a change of scenery.


Navigating a road trip from Chicago to New Orleans is made easier with the help of various navigation apps such as Google Maps, Waze, Roadtrippers, GasBuddy, and iExit. These apps provide turn-by-turn directions, real-time traffic updates, and helpful information about nearby attractions and amenities.

To keep everyone entertained during the drive, consider utilizing audiobooks, podcasts, music playlists, car games, travel journals, interactive apps or games, engaging conversations, and tasty snacks. By combining efficient navigation with fun and engaging activities, you can make the journey from Chicago to New Orleans more enjoyable for the entire family.

As you embark on a road trip from Chicago to New Orleans, one of the essential aspects to consider is fueling up and taking necessary breaks along the way. This article will provide you with detailed information on the different gas stations and rest areas you will encounter on the journey.

Additionally, we will discuss tolls and other fees you may need to pay during your journey.

Gas Stations and Rest Areas Along the Way

1. Illinois:

As you leave Chicago, you’ll find numerous gas stations along I-57 South and I-55 South.


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