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  • Enjoying the shops, bars and restaurants of busy downtown Nashville, Tennessee, as traffic zooms by on the street
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    Starting Point: Nashville, Tennessee

  • Illuminated guitars on Beale Street in Memphis
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    U.S. Music History in Memphis, Tennessee

  • Gateway to the Blues Highway visitor center in Tunica, Mississippi
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    Timeout in Tunica

  • The sign on Highway 61 outside of Clarksdale, Mississippi marking 'The Crossroads'
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    Reach the Crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi

  • Street performers playing Bluegrass style music in the French Quarter district of New Orleans, Louisiana
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    Southern Fusion in New Orleans

Road sign welcoming motorists to the Blues Highway
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The Blues Highway

By Kate Donnelly

  • Route distance:
    1011.00 km
  • Suggested Time:
    6 days

Cruise through some of the USA’s most storied music spots.

The legendary Blues Highway is an unforgettable journey from Nashville, Tennessee to New Orleans, Louisiana, with music around every corner. From the birthplaces of celebrated artists and vinyl record shops to recording venues and Southern culinary delights, every stop has a story to tell. What to bring: a harmonica to play along with the Blues, your favorite playlists and an appetite for southern culinary delights.

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Enjoying the shops, bars and restaurants of busy downtown Nashville, Tennessee, as traffic zooms by on the street
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Starting Point: Nashville, Tennessee

Your trip begins in Nashville, Tennessee. Fly into Nashville International Airport and pick up a rental car to begin exploring. Nashville is known as “Music City” because of its homegrown cultural scene and more than 120 live music venues. Catch a glimpse of country music history with a backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry, home to the world’s longest running live radio program and Country Music’s most famous stage. Between watching live music, try some of the amazing local restaurants like Swetts, famous for its fried chicken served cafeteria style.

341 km
3 hours by car
02
Illuminated guitars on Beale Street in Memphis
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U.S. Music History in Memphis, Tennessee

Head southwest to Memphis where you’ll find the not-to-be-missed Stax Museum of American Soul Music. The former home of Stax Records was rebuilt to resemble its storied former glory. Celebrated artists like Isaac Hayes and Aretha Franklin recorded songs at this legendary venue.

Even the King of Rock & Roll Elvis Presley had to start somewhere, and that somewhere was Sun Studio. Dubbed the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll, this famous studio was also the launch pad for music greats like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. As you dance your way through this toe-tapping bit of musical history you’re bound to get hungry. Stop at Tops Bar-B-Q, which has been serving up pulled-pork sandwiches and beef brisket for more than 60 years. In the evening, stroll down bustling Beale Street to watch live street performers.

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69 km
1 hour by car
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Gateway to the Blues Highway visitor center in Tunica, Mississippi
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Timeout in Tunica

Onto Tunica, Mississippi, nicknamed “The Gateway to the Blues.” A stop at the Gateway to the Blues Visitors Center & Museum will help unlock the top Delta Blues landmarks. Make a lunchtime trip to the Blue & White Restaurant to sample the home-style noon buffet with Southern treats like country ham, fried chicken and catfish. In Clarksdale, pay a visit to the colorful Ground Zero Blues Club, owned by Academy Award-winning celebrities and featuring a rotating list of today’s hottest musicians.

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59 km
1 hour by car
04
The sign on Highway 61 outside of Clarksdale, Mississippi marking 'The Crossroads'
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Reach the Crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi

Host to musical greats like Muddy Waters and Bukka White, Clarksdale is a must-see for any Blues fan. Make time for the Delta Blues Museum, which recounts the history of the Blues and has musical instruments, costumes and other memorabilia. It even features Muddy Waters former home. Spend the night at the iconic Riverside Hotel, where several prominent Blues musicians have stayed. Don't miss the New Roxy where superstar, Soul Music pioneer and Clarksdale native Sam Cooke performed along with other famous musicians. On the way out, be sure to check out the iconic sign at the Crossroads, where local lore says Robert Johnson made a deal with the devil to play Blues that well.

542 km
5.25 hours by car
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Street performers playing Bluegrass style music in the French Quarter district of New Orleans, Louisiana
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Southern Fusion in New Orleans

Next on the itinerary is New Orleans, Louisiana, a culturally diverse city of French, Spanish, Cuban and Creole influences. Hop on a streetcar to shop on Magazine Street or visit the ornate Garden District. The streets are covered with stately mansions and lush oak trees. The action takes place in New Orleans’ French Quarter, a cultural mainstay that has long inspired musicians, writers and artists.

A New Orleans institution, Café du Monde is the perfect spot for fresh beignets, fried dough eaten hot sprinkled with confectioners' sugar. Slowly sip a cafe au lait or cup of chicory coffee with subtle hints of chocolate. Later, take to the vibrant streets and visit the famed Bourbon Street where revelers take to the street and hop from bar to bar. Locals head to Frenchman Street to take in live Jazz at a dozen or so music hot spots.

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