New Orleans is about 530 miles southwest of Nashville. The fastest route by car is to take I-65 out of Nashville to Birmingham, AL and exit on I-20 which will take you to New Orleans. This drive will take between 7-8 hours depending on the number of stops along the way. For a slightly longer trip, but to stop at one of America’s most historic cities, continue on I-65 south of Birmingham to Montgomery, AL for a taste of its culture and charm. Carry on with I-65 to Mobile, TX and connect with I-10 heading west to New Orleans.
There are two options if you are interested in a slower but more scenic and interesting route. The first takes you through Tennessee and Mississippi while the second takes you along the western side of Alabama.
For the first option, take US Hwy 64 to Savannah, TN, then continue to Selmer, TN and take US Hwy 45 south to Tupelo, MI. Continue to Interstate 20 to Meridian, MS where you’ll connect to Interstate 59 which takes you all the way to New Orleans. This drive is roughly nine hours, not including stops.
For the second option, take I-65 to US Hwy 43. This highway takes you through western Alabama until you connect with I-10 to New Orleans. This route is roughly 10 hours without stops.
Before leaving Nashville visit some of the city’s wonderful attractions. Nashville, also known as “City Music U.S.A” has long been known as the country music capital of the world.
For a fun and unique day trip from Nashville, visit Dunbar Cave State Park. Only 60 miles from Nashville, the park boasts Dunbar Cave which is eight miles long and includes prehistoric art. Take I-24 West out of Nashville which takes you straight to the State Park. To explore the cave, you must sign up beforehand for a group tour.
Another excursion is the Nashville Zoo. The 200-acre zoo also hosts a historic plantation farmhouse. Just six miles southeast of downtown Nashville, it is easy to access and make a great family outing.
If you choose to take US Hwy 64 through Tennessee and Mississippi, your first stop should be Savannah, TN. Freshen up on your Civil War history at the Shiloh National Battlefield. There is no entrance fee for this national historic site. Your next stop on this journey should be Tupelo, MI, the birthplace of Elvis Prestley. Visit the birthplace museum and shop for collectibles. From Tupelo, continue to Interstate 20 to Meridian, MI where you’ll connect to Interstate 59 which takes you all the way to New Orleans.
If you choose to take the western Alabama route, take I-65 past Franklin, TN and veer off on US Hwy 43. Take your first stop in Tuscumbia, AL, the birthplace of Hellen Keller. Explore the grounds and the home of this historic American icon. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for students aged 5-18. Special rates apply for seniors and military.
Continue on US Hwy 43 and stop at Moundville Archaeological Park to explore Chickasaw and culture. In-depth or self-guided tours are available and the newly renovated museum is a wealth of information. Abridged family tours for 10 people and under are available for $30.
Demopolis, AL is another great place to stop for the night with plenty of bed and breakfasts and old home. Stop at the Gaineswood Plantation House to explore. Now a national historic landmark, the Gaineswood Plantation House is a well-preserved example of American history. Photo: nandyphotos/Fotolia
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