Take the Long Way to The Big Easy

The first and last days of vacations are often a flurry of exhausting drives, pushing the limit for those extra miles to reach the destination. Have you ever enjoyed the path less traveled? For the first leg of our spring adventure, that’s just what we did, driving the first 350 miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville, TN to Jackson, MS.

Jackson Falls

The Natchez Trace, originally a trail used by the Choctaw and Chickasaw and later used by explorers in the 1700s-1800s, was once considered the most dangerous highway in America, later seeing less use when travel by steamboat gained popularity. The parkway includes many stops with picnic areas and hikes for all levels of experience. We walked a few of the shorter pathways, enjoying spring’s fiddleheads and redbuds near peak bloom. The speed limit is also only 50 m.p.h, perfect for cruising in the Mini Cooper!

Road Trip Audiobook: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (Historical Fiction about the Blue Fugates of Kentucky and the tough women of the WPA’s Pack Horse Librarians)

Our final destination was The Big Easy! While I’m no expert on the area, here are a few memorable moments:

Favorite Meals (in no particular order):

  • Duck Gumbo at Curio
  • Shrimp Philly or Royal Feast Sandwich at Verti Marte (to-go only)
  • Ratatouille Omelette at Croissant D’Or
  • Charbroiled Oysters or Crawfish Mac & Cheese at MRB

Memorable Adventures:

  • Staying in a balcony room in the French Quarter-perfect for morning reading and writing while sipping chicory coffee, eating the messy but tasty Verti Marte sandwiches, and enjoying the ebb and flow of the city
  • Attending a St. Patrick’s Day Parade! (I was having so much fun that I didn’t take a single picture.)
  • Riding the St. Charles Streetcar near Canal St. to Harmony Circle and later exploring the Garden District (The stop at Harmony Circle is a few blocks from the WWII Museum. For those who love architecture, there’s a beautiful library and grounds less than a block from one of the stops in the Garden District.)
A WWII Vet surprised the crowd with an impromptu harmonica performance!
  • Touring the Old Ursuline Convent, the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley: When fires repeatedly ravaged the city, this sole survivor remained. There is also a beautiful religious piece in the chapel, commissioned in New Orleans, perhaps the most valuable piece of art in the south!
  • Exploring the nooks and crannies of the French Quarter…
The Courtyard in Croissant D’Or
  • Attending the short daily Mass at St. Louis Cathedral (located at Jackson Square) and wandering the museums on each side-See the beautiful gowns and jewels from past Mardi Gras balls and sort the truth from “faux-stalgia” of Jean Lafitte.*
  • Being pulled in to sing a verse with some street musicians-While walking past, singing along to a familiar song, I had the opportunity to join in with some harmony!

New Orleans offers something for everyone. My nudge is to be open to the unexpected. If you are a planner like me, set aside a few days to see what The Big Easy has in store for you!

Thanks for reading!

Travel Tips:

  • Mini Cooper Community: The uneven streets of the French Quarter are rough on run-flat tires.
  • If traveling the Natchez Trace Parkway, plan ahead for gas and lodging stops (some stretches of the highway have few offerings). Also, check the website for areas closed for construction.

*I first heard the term “faux-stalgia” on the Bear Grease podcast in reference to the mythology surrounding Chief Tecumseh.



  1. Maggie, we loved your post today. We also received your postcard today. Thank you so much. We had the pleasure of visiting the WWII Museum the summer it opened. I hear it’s much bigger. Safe travels.

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