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Jul 16, 2009 08:55 AM

Road trip from New Orleans to Michigan -- recommendation?

Hi all

I'm going to post this on the midwest board as well. I live in New Orleans and I am driving from here to Michigan (Ludington, near the lake, if you need to know where in MI). I am leaving next week, I have only one or two overnights to spare for the drive up. However I love road trips and I love going all over, on little roads, to little towns, the world is my oyster. So I have not decided on a route yet. The most direct way is straight up through KY and Indiana, but I was even thinking of going through St. Louis cuz I love that town. So what I'm trying to say is that I am open about my route, so long as it doesn't take me too far out of my way, but 2-3 hours out of my way is OK for something real fun.

So here is the question: Do you have recommendations for neat places to stop overnight on my way? I love little roads, little towns, big cities, off the beaten path, on the beaten path, ALL sorts of food (low brow to high brow). I also love old hotels. So if any of you have a fun suggestion, really anywhere from Arkansas/Missouri or up through Kentucky/Indiana, I'm interested. Give me your ideas! I'm interested in fun places to eat (road stop, family restaurant, old school southern food, fancy cuisine, anything), interesting towns, and hotels with history. Other than that, the sky is the limit.

Obviously I also have to drive back home, so I can even go one way up there, and another route on the way back.

Some criteria:
- I am a woman traveling alone, and I am not traditional looking (I have tattoos) so I need to stay places where I will feel safe, whether safe in terms of my own safety or safe in terms of not being given a hard time because I have short hair and tattoos.
- I have spent a lot of time in Memphis, Nashville, Louisville KY, and Paducah KY so I'm not interested in any of those places.
- Money isn't a huge issue but I'd rather spend less than $75 on dinner for myself and less than $200 for a hotel room. $225-ish would be OK if it's a really special hotel (ex: I once stayed in the Hotel Phillips in Kansas City on a road trip and it was $225 a night at that point and I had such a great night and the best steak I ever ate from their room service, so it was worth the splurge). Low brow is OK too as long as I'm safe being alone.

Looking forward to your suggestions!

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  1. Last fall we took the Blues Hiway 61 from Mississippi to St Louis. Google the tamale trail and Koolickle(kool aid pickle) for some regional cuisine. Hiway 1 closer to the river looked like it had some interesting places-for tamales.
    We ate at Mammy's cupboard just south of Natchez on 61
    We also ate in Tunica at the Blue and White-great catfish- I think they raise them themselves.
    Would also like to check out the Hollywood Cafe
    I will post more on the midwest board.

    1. I live in Memphis, but have a cottage in Ludington and visit Ludington every summer. When in Ludington try the soups at the Grand (the have a different two each day), the pizza at the Sportsman, the Grand Slam sandwich at the Grand, and there is a surprisingly good BBQ joint up there called Bones 'n Butts.

        1. re: Ross B

          But Lambert's ("throwed rolls"--the intentional bad grammar is a red flag) was chosen in a Travel Channel documentary as America's #1 pig out place (big red flag). Usually such places aren't bastions of quality food. I tried to get into the one in Alabama once (the parking lot was the size of a football field--another red flag) but the lines were too long. How is the food? Is it really chow-worthy?

          1. re: johnb

            ...and I have real issues with a "NO credit cards...but checks are Welcome" policy. ....maybe if you are a family member, in good standing, of the restaurant owner.

            1. re: Brawny

              It is MASS quantities of food and every few minutes they come around and put more on your plate okra, cooked tomatoes etc. The roll I had was good but that filled me up. I found the food to be bland, but that is my personal taste. There are usually busloads of people there. I think there are better places to go. Here are some other posts about the area.


              I think this looks interesting next time we are down there(If we don't go to
              Ray's for dinner

              Also Wib's drive in in Jackson.

              1. re: wekick

                Which Jackson --- Mississippi, Tennessee, etc.?

            2. re: johnb

              Yeah, I've been to Lambert's actually. I don't feel a huge need to go back but I'm glad I went once. The food is large indeed and they do throw rolls at you. The food is just OK but not fabulous. Worth going to once.

          2. If you're coming up 65 in Kentucky, in Glendale there's the Whistle Stop right beside the tracks as you get into town. It's a really nice place with good food. It's a beautiful little town too.

            I did a blog about a place called the Friendly Tavern just outside Indy.

            I also blogged about Blimpy Burger in Ann Arbor.

            Have a safe trip.


            1. Hi-

              Please post a separate query on the Midwest board to cover the leg of your travel that is outside of the South, that way locals in the Midwest who are familiar with the areas will be able help you, and we can keep this thread focused on eating in the South.