What is the best driving route from Columbia, MD to New Orleans, LA. My husband and I are traveling with our two girls (9 & 10). We check in to our hotel on July 7th. We would like to stop only once overnight. Any suggestions on routes or cool stopping places for our girls to see cool stuff are appreciated!
It is going to be all you can do to get to Jacksonville or Atlanta. From Jacksonville take Highway I 10 W over to New Orleans. I would consider staying overnight in Biloxi, Beau Rivage Resort & Casino . I navigate to Cafe DuMonde, then park where l can near Jackson Square. Then l take a Carriage ride through the French Quarter. I would stay South of Atlanta so you don't fight traffic in the morning. Take I 75 South to I-10 W
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I drove from NYC to New Orleans (via Memphis) and back last summer and I'm doing again this summer. If you want it to be efficient, just Google Maps it which will get you there via every basic interstate. If you want it to be interesting, well that's a different story. Last year I took the route through both Shenandoah National Park--Stunning! ($20 entrance fee to the park but worth it with empty roads and breathtaking vistas)--and Smokey Mountain Nat'l Park. Also pretty, but a bit more of a mess of tourists. Then down through Asheville NC where I filled my belly with BBQ and then down to NOLA from there.
This year I'm driving to Nashville for a few days and from Nashville I'm going to take the suggestion of a New Orleans photographer and take the Natchez Trace Pkwy (https://www.nps.gov/natr/index.htm) which you pick up just south of Nasvhille and it takes you all the way to Natchez, MS, which isn't but a few hours from New Orleans. According to this travel photographer it's both stunning and fascinating.
All of these routes will definitely be longer than taking the basic interstate, but if you've got the time, they're way more fascinating and beautiful. Have fun! I'm buying a house in New Orleans because it's our coolest city, so let me know if you have questions. A few photos from my driving last year:
This says it is a 16 hour trip for you. 8 hours = 500 miles. If you take nice breaks along the way, it will be a nice trip. If you push it, it will be difficult. If you pack up one-two weeks before and put things in car the day before, great. Bring a case of water. Stop every two hours and walk. Avoid dvt. I would print out mapquest maps. They are very useful to have.