If you want to experience Southern hospitality, it is time to make a Champaign to New Orleans road trip. While you could head straight down Interstates 55 and 57 South for about 12 hours, you would do yourself a disservice if you did not stop and visit national and state parks, attractions and cities along the way. While this road trip offers a fantastic opportunity to see major attractions, like Graceland and the St. Louis Zoo, there are also terrific smaller attractions you will not want to miss. You will want to spend some time exploring Missouri, Tennessee and Louisiana along the way, so stay comfortable by making this trip in an RV.
Gateway Arch National Park
Constructed between 1963 and 1965, there was little room for error when workers built the arch at Gateway Arch National Park. The arch, which is dedicated to the American people, was built in 143 pieces, with each piece being preassembled and set on top of the parts before it. There was only room for 0.25 inches of error in the entire project and thirteen workers died during the arch’s construction. Today, you can ride the elevator to the top of the arch. You will also want to visit the museum at the bottom of the arch to learn more about men and women important in Westward expansion, including the U.S. space program.
Pere Marquette State Park
Especially if you are making your Champaign to New Orleans RV road trip in the winter, you will want to stop at Pere Marquette State Park to see if you can spot the bald eagles. This park near Grafton, Illinois, is also a great place to stop during the fall when the leaves are changing colors. Spring fishing is often fantastic, and this park’s boat ramp makes it easy to launch your vessel. Bring along your bikes to ride on the bike trails and your ropes so that you can go rappelling.
LeFleur's Bluff State Park
LeFleur's Bluff State Park near Jackson, Mississippi, is home to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, the largest museum in the state. Once you have seen the aquariums and habitat exhibits, head out to play on the 50-acre lake. There are beautiful nature trails to explore. End your visit by challenging your friends to a round of golf on the nine-hole course.
Lake Lincoln State Park
Lake Lincoln State Park near Wesson is a fantastic place for some water fun during your road trip from Champaign to New Orleans. You and your traveling companions will love playing at the swimming beach. If you have children along, let them run off the last bit of energy at the playground before heading to the campground for a great night’s rest. Start your day early with a stroll along the nature trail, where you can often see various wildlife. Challenge your friends to a game of volleyball or a round of disc golf.
Percy Quin State Park
Percy Quin State Park near McComb, Mississippi, is one of the oldest state parks in Mississippi. Shop at the marina before heading out on the water for swimming, fishing, and boating fun. Play a game of tennis on the tennis courts. If the weather is warm, then enjoy swimming in the pool. The 6,700-yard Quail Hollow Golf Course is a great place to prove you are the golf ninja in your group. If that doesn’t work, you will still enjoy the beautiful natural setting of this golf course.
Fairview Riverside State Park
Strolling along the quiet paths at Fairview Riverside State Park near Madisonville is a great activity to include near the end of your road trip itinerary from Champaign to New Orleans. You will love seeing the tall oak trees and the wildlife along these paths near the Tchefuncte River. This river is a great place to go fishing. Before you leave, visit the Otis House Museum to view artifacts from the 1850s to the 1930s, when this area had some of the largest sawmills in the United States.
When you get to Effingham, Illinois, head southwest to Saint Louis to explore Forest Park. This park, covering more than 1,300 acres, is the most visited urban park in the United States. The park is home to many cultural institutions. Learn more about the city’s history by touring the Missouri History Museum, science by visiting the Saint Louis Science Center, and art by visiting the Saint Louis Art Museum. After a full day of learning, take in a show at The Muny. Then, get an early start the next day so that you can visit the St. Louis Zoo.
World Chess Hall of Fame
While you are in St. Louis exploring the Gateway Arch National Park and Forest Park, be sure to include a stop at the World Chess Hall of Fame. This is a terrific venue to explore the connection between chess and art, culture, and history. See unique exhibits that are constantly changing and learn more about the game’s best players.
Explore the 120-acre estate that Elvis Presley called home by touring Graceland. See the rooms where Elvis purchased most of the furnishings, many of the awards that he won, and some of the costumes that he wore on stage. Then, tour his classic car collection and see his private airplane. Put on white gloves, and you can hold a ring, belt, and other memorabilia.
Eudora Welty House and Garden
You can visit the home that Pulitzer-prize-winning author Eudora Welty lived in when you tour the Eudora Welty House and Garden in Jackson. See where she entertained guests and wrote her books, like "The Optimist's Daughter." This home hosts special storytimes weekly on the front porch. Then, head on out to see the beautiful garden surrounding this home.
When you leave Jackson, take U.S. 49 through Hattiesburg until you reach Lucedale to visit the Palestine Gardens. This area has been carefully sculpted to look like Palestine during the first century A.D. Accompany your guide on a tour of the Districts of Judea, Samaria, and Galilee as you see the model buildings.
Consider spending a night at one of the fabulous Cape Girardeau campgrounds. Play miniature golf and swim in the pool while staying at Cape Camping & RV Park, the largest RV park in the city. Another fantastic option is to camp at The Landing Point RV Park, which has a dog park and a convivence store for basic supplies. Cape Girardeau RV dump stations are available at Rhodes Travel Center and Trail of Tears State Park.
There are fantastic campgrounds in Memphis regardless of your interests. If you love rock ‘n’ roll, consider camping at the Graceland RV Park & Campground, which is very close to Elvis Presley’s home. If you want to camp under tall trees, head to Tom Sawyer’s RV Park or T.O. Fuller State Park. There are fantastic Memphis RV dump stations at Love’s Travel Stop, Elvis Presley Boulevard RV Park, or Graceland RV Park and Campground.
LeFleur's Bluff State Park is a fantastic place to camp in Jackson, but there are also other terrific Jackson campgrounds. Consider Timberlake Campground if you love to go swimming or Shady Pines RV Park, with its great laundry and quiet atmosphere. There are fantastic Jackson RV dump stations in Jackson at Swinging Bridge RV Park, Wendy Oaks RV Park, and Pilot Flying J Travel Plaza.
Hammond, Louisiana, is a fun city to explore, and you can find terrific Hammond campgrounds. Hidden Oaks Campground offers many live musical events and weekend bingo. Another fantastic choice is Calloway RV & Campground, where you can enjoy scenic lakeside recreation. There are terrific Hammond RV dump stations at Abita Springs Resort, Land-O-Pines Family Campground, and Tchefuncte Campground.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Champaign to New Orleans, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Champaign or New Orleans.