Immerse yourself into America’s music culture
Travel from Chicago to New Orleans on this epic rail journey. Experience Chicago's towering cityscape, immerse yourself into America's iconic music culture, dance the night away in New Orleans' French Quarter, and discover the city's mysterious Bayous.
Our classic US journey begins at London Heathrow, as we board our direct flight to Chicago. Arriving in America's Midwest, we transfer to our hotel for a 3-night stay. Later we enjoy an authentic slice of Chicago cuisine, with dinner in a local pizza restaurant.
We begin our explorations this morning with exclusive entry to the Windy City's soaring 360 Chicago Tower. Located on the world-famous Magnificent Mile, the views from the top are magnificent to match, and we experience them accompanied by a local guide, who helps us identify points of interest. With backdrops spanning out over downtown Chicago and glittering Lake Michigan, it's easy to see why these encompassing panoramas were voted one of the best views in America. To make our visit even more special, we are able to take all this in during a private opening of the attraction - before entry has been admitted to the general public. A continental breakfast is also included, which we enjoy 1000ft above Chicago's superb skyline. We continue with a half-day's guided coach tour of Chicago's main highlights before an afternoon at leisure.
We take to the water today for a specialist architecture cruise that focuses on the capital of Illinois' unique architecture. From our vantage point, we see the city from a different perspective as a local expert and qualified architect tells us the history of the city through its distinctive buildings. Afterwards you are free to continue sightseeing at your own pace. You might like to make the short walk to Navy Pier, a 50-acre playground of music, museums, rides, restaurants and shops, take in some culture at the Art Institute of Chicago, or visit Chinatown, a colourful area of the city that has been offering visitors traditional Chinese shopping and cuisine since 1905.
Today is free until our evening departure aboard Amtrak's City of New Orleans overnight service to Memphis. Leaving Chicago's Union Station behind, the route takes us through the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.
We arrive into Memphis central station early this morning, and set ourselves up for the day with a hearty breakfast. We then embark on a fascinating tour of the celebrated Sun Studios, renowned for being not only the 'Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll', but also the 'Home of the Blues'. It was in these small recording booths that history was made as some of the world's most famous musicians, including Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash, began their illustrious careers. The studios are still in use, providing a new generation of musicians with a legendary recording space, whilst still remaining a popular tourist destination. We then head out on to Beale Street, a stopping point for artists following the blues trail from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago. Nowadays, this historic district pays homage to its melodious beginnings through a range of museums, shops, bars and performance spaces all dedicated to the preservation of blues music.
Please Note: For Departure CNJ1703 you will be staying at the Doubletree Downtown Memphis Hotel in Memphis.
Today we enjoy a fascinating trip to Graceland, the home and final resting place of the King himself. Our time at the 13.8 acre estate includes a guided tour of the mansion and grounds including Elvis' grave and collection of vintage automobiles as well as his two custom-built aeroplanes. We then transfer to the Memphis Springhill Suites, our home for the next two nights, after which your afternoon will be free to begin looking around or to relax and enjoy the hotel's facilities. This evening we enjoy dinner together against a backdrop of live blues music.
You are free to explore this city nestled on the banks of the mighty Mississippi today, which has played an important part in America's history from being a cornerstone of popular music, to an important site connected with the civil rights movement. You might like to continue your musical education with a visit to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, or pay your respects to Martin Luther King at the motel where he was assassinated - now the National Civil Rights Museum. Alternatively, why not stop at the Chucalissa Archaeological Museum, whose main attraction is a live archaeological site, used to inform visitors about the early lives of the Native Americans?
We check out of hotel early this morning to re-join the City of New Orleans train for the final leg of our journey to the 'Big Easy'. We arrive into New Orleans mid-afternoon, then continue to our hotel, the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel - our home for the next three nights.
Please Note: For departure CNJ1703 Q&C Hotel New Orleans in New Orleans.
This morning we take a sightseeing tour of New Orleans' world-famous French Quarter, as well as a visit to the former home of Degas in the heart of the city. Here we are welcomed into the painter's family house, where he spent a year perfecting his impressionist style, where we have a tour of the gallery and a cool drink. The property is decorated in keeping with the period Degas was here, and boasts reproductions of some of his most famous works. The rest of your day is at leisure to continue exploring. Perhaps visit the acclaimed Cafe du Monde to taste the local delicacy - beignets, venture into the city's links with voodoo and the supernatural with a stop at one of the 'Cities of the Dead' cemeteries, or take a relaxing walk through Jackson Square historic park.
We enjoy a highlight of our tour today as we follow the path of the river out of the city by coach to plantation country. Our destination is Laura Plantation, a historic sugar farming estate which, at its largest, covered over 12,000 acres. Here our guide brings to life the personal history of the residence from its construction in 1804 by a French naval veteran, who fought in the American revolution, to the lives of the slaves who toiled the land for their masters. We hear, from their point of view, how hard life was working in Louisiana - the last state where slavery was legally permitted. After lunch, we continue to the region's instantly recognisable swamplands for a boat ride through the meandering bayous. As we cruise through the atmospheric scenery of towering cypress trees and trailing Spanish moss, we may encounter some of the local wildlife, including alligators.
You are free today until mid-afternoon when we transfer to the airport for our flight back to London, arriving on Day 12.
Please note that while every departure of this tour features the same excursions, they may not necessarily be in the order listed above.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all your travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour
Immerse yourself into America’s music culture