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Des Moines, St. Louis, Memphis, Atlanta, Orlando

Des Moines to Orlando - Boys road trip - ideas please.

I am taking my son (who is 13) on a road trip to Orlando, starting in Des Moines.  The current plan is to go via St Louis, Memphis, and Atlanta (unless people recommend something better).  We are from New Zealand and have never been through this part of the USA.  We plan to take about 4 days to drive down (about 5 hour driving blocks). We will then have 4-5 days in Orlando doing theme parks and NASA. Any hints, tips, great places to visit on the way?  

7 Answers

answered by
Donna from Memphis

Sounds like a great trip. Memphis has a great Memphis Zoo, with nice natural exhibits and two pandas on loan from China. By the time you come through, the Bass Pro Shop might be open by the Pyramid. There is the Children's Museum of Memphis with hands-on "doing" exhibits. And of course, we do have one rather famous fellow who used to live at Graceland. Bon Voyage.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Memphis Zoo (attraction)
  2. Children's Museum of Memphis (attraction)
  3. Graceland (attraction)
2 thanks

answered first by
Stephen "Sven" from Florida

The answer to this question is how quick you plan on wanting to get to Orlando and what kinds of things you are interested in. If you are interested in seeing the sights and not in a hurry then the route you mentioned is ok. There is not much to see between St. Louis and Orlando. So you might be interested in stead to travel from Saint Louis to Nashville. Take interstate 65 south from Nashville through Birmingham (Alabama) to Montgomery. Then take state route 331 out of Montgomery to Florida interstate 10. You can go through Tallahassee the state capital of Florida and home to the University of Florida. Then you have a wide choice of ways to get to Orlando. If you stay off I-75 because of the construction it could wind up being a bad way to go. Suggest you take alternatives like I-75 to Ocala and then take route 40 over to Orlando.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. St. Louis (city)
  2. Orlando (city)
  3. Nashville (city)
  4. Birmingham (Alabama) (attraction)
  5. Montgomery (city)
  6. Tallahassee (city)
  7. University of Florida (attraction)
  8. Ocala (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Matt from Greensboro, North Carolina

Atlanta has multiple great places to go for families - Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, Center for Civil and Human Rights, High Museum of Art, College Football Hall of Fame, Atlanta Braves, Hawks, etc!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Georgia Aquarium (attraction)
  2. World of Coca-Cola (attraction)
  3. Center for Civil and Human Rights (attraction)
  4. High Museum of Art (attraction)
  5. College Football Hall of Fame (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Matthew from St. Louis

Hi John!

When will you be coming through? This can definitely impact what I would recommend. Although, regardless of the time of year, in St. Louis, I would highly recommend the City Museum. This is one of the first places I typically recommend to out of town visitors; there is simply no other place like it (at least not that I'm aware of). It's also downtown and very close to some other main attractions like the Gateway Arch, Busch Stadium(baseball), CitygardenAnheuser-Busch, Inc, and many other attractions. 

If you are coming through during baseball season and you are at all interested in sports, St. Louis is one of the greatest baseball cities in the country and I would recommend trying to see at least part of a Cardinals game.

St. Louis also has a world-class botanical garden (Missouri Botanical Garden) that is great to visit at any time, but hosts a variety of different events during the year.

Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the world and is home to many great (and free) attractions, such as the Saint Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Zoo, the History Museum, the Saint Louis Science Center, and the Municipal Theatre Association ("The Muny" outdoor theatre; with free seats in the back). In the summer, you can also find organized Rugby leagues and even the occasional cricket game in the park!

Those are just a few standard notables, but if you expand a little on your interests, I will try to follow-up on other, more specific recommendations for your time St. Louis.

One other thought: if you route your trip through Kansas City, this would only add another hour or so of driving and would give you another great city to explore. Even if you can only spare an afternoon, I'd say it is worth the extra mileage. The folks from Kansas City can give better information than me, but there's lots of great BBQ places, great sports (including an excellent Major League Soccer team and venue), beer, etc.  

Sounds like a fun trip. I hope I can make a run through New Zealand when my son is 13!



Mentioned in this answer:

  1. City Museum (attraction)
  2. Gateway Arch (attraction)
  3. Busch Stadium (attraction)
  4. Citygarden (attraction)
  5. Anheuser-Busch, Inc (attraction)
  6. Missouri Botanical Garden (attraction)
  7. Forest Park (attraction)
  8. Saint Louis Art Museum (attraction)
  9. St. Louis Zoo (attraction)
  10. Saint Louis Science Center (attraction)
  11. Municipal Theatre Association (attraction)
1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Ashley from Pittsburgh

Hi! There are several great things to do in the area. You could go see the Gateway Arch, which is downtown, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, which is the location of one of the biggest mosaic masterpieces in the world, or the St. Louis Zoo, which is one of the best zoos in the country (AND it's free!) and located in Forest Park

If you want to try out some of the local food, 2Schae Cafe has one of the best brunches around. If you like BBQ, Pappy's Smokehouse is featured on the Food Network. Seoul Taco is a Korean joint that has several unique options, all of which are delicious. Try out another Food Network place for dessert- Ted Drewes

I hope you have fun on your road trip! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Gateway Arch (attraction)
  2. Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis (attraction)
  3. St. Louis Zoo (attraction)
  4. Forest Park (attraction)
  5. 2Schae Cafe (restaurant)
  6. Pappy's Smokehouse (restaurant)
  7. Seoul Taco (restaurant)
  8. Ted Drewes (restaurant)
1 thanks

answered by
Linda from United States

Ok..Atlanta has lots of cool places to visit but keeping 13 yr old in mind. Google Atlanta for things to do. Staying in Atlanta...Buckhead area near the 2 cool malls Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square Mall. Driving south you may want to visit Senoia if your teenager watches The Walking Dead. Filming takes place there and the souvenir store is huge with film props downstairs then take I-75 to Florida.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Buckhead (neighborhood)
  2. Phipps Plaza (attraction)
  3. Lenox Square Mall (attraction)
  4. Senoia (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Charmaine from St. Louis

the Science Center has an Imax theater, many hands-on exhibits, and a Planetarium with original mock-ups of the Mercury and Gemini capsules that were made in St. Louis for NASA. If you think NASA will be interesting, this should be too.  As New Zealanders visiting the hot south of USA, perhaps you'd like to take a travel breather and walk through refreshing green forest?  Powder Valley Nature Centeris a state park  featuring a 2.8 mile trail and a building with big windows for watching (and hearing!) song birds, deer, squirrels, etc.  More dramatic is Mastadon State Historic site & museum (small) and in Illinois Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (13th-century Native American urban center) with an outstanding interpretive center, an EXCELLENT film, and model village (indoors) of the city, "One of the greatest cities of the world, Cahokia was larger than London was in AD 1250."  in Memphis don't miss Mud Island River Park an actual island in the Mississippi River with a scale model of the River that you can walk along and dip your in your feet--it will blow your mind how the River increases in size as it flows from Minnesota to New Orleans.



Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Science Center (attraction)
  2. Powder Valley Nature Center (attraction)
  3. Mud Island River Park (attraction)

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