Historic tracks lead us on a rail tour through the heartland of great American music - from Nashville, home of Country Music, to the Blues, Soul and Rock 'n' Roll of Memphis and the jazz of New Orleans.
We fly from London Heathrow to Atlanta and transfer to our hotel, the Courtyard Atlanta Airport South for an overnight stay. On Day 2, entrance is included to the Martin Luther King Center and Church, which pays homage to the man himself as well as the civil rights movement he was a driving force of. Our tour continues to Margaret Mitchell House, where the author wrote her Pulitzer Prize winning novel 'Gone with the Wind'. Following free time for lunch, we transfer to Chattanooga, where we board the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, taking us on a journey on the world's steepest railway track, overlooking the city below and the Tennessee River. Later, we transfer by coach to our hotel.
Our coach takes us through Tennessee to Lynchburg, capital of Moore County. Moore County has been 'dry' since the days of prohibition, which makes its main attraction all the more extraordinary - it is the home of the Jack Daniel's Distillery. After a tour and tasting at the distillery, we continue to Nashville, staying for 3 nights at the Clarion Downtown. This evening, we visit the legendary Grand Ole Opry. Founded as a radio station in 1925, today this famous music venue still hosts the same regular broadcast, now with a popular extended format, in addition to regular stage shows. We enjoy live music performed on 'country's most famous stage', a wonderful introduction to Nashville's music heritage.
Since the 1940s, Nashville has been synonymous with country music thanks to its collection of recording studios on 'Music Row' and the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry for 3 decades. A morning guided tour introduces us to the sights, before we visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, the world's largest music museum. Day 5 is free to explore Nashville.
Our journey through Tennessee continues to Memphis, pausing en-route at Jackson where there's free time for lunch and a spot of sightseeing. We then stop at the Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, a series of museums dedicated to the history of the south; from its musical traditions to its infamous history of slave labour in the cotton fields. We complete our journey to Memphis later this afternoon, checking into our hotel.
We begin our day by paying a visit to the fantastic Graceland, Elvis' 14 acre mansion, and view his preserved living quarters, as well as his private aircraft and car collections. This afternoon introduces us to the sights of Memphis' extraordinary musical history. We visit Sun Studio, which lays claim to being the birthplace of rock 'n' roll and boasted a roster that featured Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.
Boarding Amtrak's City of New Orleans service this morning in Memphis, we head from Tennessee, through Mississippi to Louisiana. It is claimed that the blues spread along this route by rail. The pretty, floral towns of Brookhaven and McComb lead into the exotic Cajun swamps of the Louisiana Bayou, and we take the train as far as Hammond. From here, we transfer by coach to the Oak Alley Plantation for a guided tour. This restored house stands as testament to both the grand lives of Louisiana land owners and the suffering of those enslaved here, revealing the history of the house, sometimes referred to as the 'Grande Dame of the Great River Road', along with its grounds. Later, we continue by coach to New Orleans, where we stay at the Sheraton Hotel, New Orleans.
Your entire day is free to soak up the splendour of New Orleans. Roaring with life, the 'Big Easy' is known as the south's party city thanks to Mardi Gras, yet year-round there is a sense of spirited adventure and playfulness here. A wander through the colourful streets will offer an excellent introduction to the eclectic architecture stretching back centuries.
We leave New Orleans behind today and board our Amtrak service to Houston. We begin Day 12 in Houston with a guided tour of the city's main landmarks, including Allen's Landing and NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.
We transfer to the airport today for our flight home, arriving into London Heathrow on Day 14.
The first origins of Mardi Gras can be traced back to medieval Europe, travelling Italy and then onwards to France. On 2nd March 1699, French- Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived on a plot of land south of New Orleans - now the small town of Mobile - and named it "Pointe du Mardi Gras" when he realised it was the eve of the festive holiday. The Carnival of Mardi Gras refers to the period of feasting and fun that begins on the Christian Feast of the Epiphany (6th January) and ends on Mardi Gras (also known as 'Fat' Tuesday), the final day of revelry before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. When visiting New Orleans, the festival is in full swing, with floats making their way through the streets, and the vibrant colours of purple, green, and gold - standing for justice, faith, and power.
You can experience Mardi Gras in full swing on our Feburary Departures.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
All prices are per person and assume full occupancy of the room.
Please always refer to the website for up-to-date prices and availability.
Amtrak trains provide the passenger rail services in the USA, and relaxing on board one of its comfortable long distance trains is simply the best way to discover this vast country, its great cities and ever-changing landscape.
On overnight journeys, accommodation is in a Roomette Cabin, which are comfortable but compact. Inside you have two comfortable reclining seats beside a large window, which convert to upper and lower berths at night. Each cabin has individual climate control, a fold down table, fresh towels and complimentary bottled water. WC, shower and washroom facilities are located at the end of each carriage. Roomettes are located on both the upper and lower levels of the double-deck carriages.
On some Amtrak trains a limited number of bedrooms are available at a supplement. These cabins have a daytime sofa that converts to a wide lower berth and a comfortable upper berth at night, and the added benefit of their own en suite shower, washbasin and WC. During daytime journeys we travel in comfortable seats with plenty of legroom. On tours involving journeys on overnight sleeper services, passengers enjoy a meal in the restaurant car if they are travelling during a mealtime. Passengers travelling during the day may purchase meals from the restaurant car where this service is provided. Many Amtrak trains also have Lounge, Dinette and Café cars where passengers can buy snacks, meals and beverages and take advantage of the comfy seating.
The City of New Orleans serves the 926-mile (1,490km) route between Chicago and the Great Lakes in the north to the Gulf of Mexico and the city of New Orleans in the south. On our Tracks of the Deep South tour, we join the train for just a section of this route from Memphis, Tennessee, through Mississippi and Louisiana to New Orleans - a journey of just under 9 hours, all in daylight. It is particularly apt, given the musical theme of our Tracks of the Deep South tour, that the City of New Orleans is the subject of a folk song of the same name written and performed by Steve Goodman. The song, which describes the journey made by the City of New Orleans, was subsequently covered by artists such as Arlo Guthrie, Johnny Cash, John Denver and Willie Nelson, amongst others.
Lookout Mountain played an important part in the American Civil War, as it was where the Union forces suffered one of their greatest defeats. So, by the late 19th century, Lookout Mountain had become a popular attraction for tourists, but it took a long time to ascend - horse drawn buggies were the quickest option, and they took about four hours.
With the advent of railways, the idea of a mountain railway was proposed to reduce the time taken to reach the top. A direct route was planned and then built on; this ran for a mile from St Elmo to the summit. The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway was opened in November 1895, and has been a firm favourite with locals and tourists ever since. In 1911 the steam locomotives were replaced with diesel engines, but apart from that very little has changed on the line since its opening.
Due to the tremendous scenery it passes, the railway is sometimes referred to as "America's most amazing mile". The line is also loved by railway enthusiasts as in places it reaches an incline of 72.7% - making it one of the steepest passenger railways in the world.
In Atlanta we stay at the 3-Star Courtyard by Marriot Atlanta Airport South, conveniently located just minutes from the airport. The hotel provides comfortable guest rooms and a great range of facilities, including a swimming pool, fitness centre, an à la carte restaurant serving American cuisine and a full bar.
In Chattanooga, you will stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown.
We stay at the 3-Star Marriott Houston West Loop by The Galleria in Houston. The modern rooms offer free Wi-Fi, a mini fridge, tea & coffee making facilities, and a desk. The hotel's restaurant serves American-style cuisine, as well as a bar, an indoor pool and a fitness centre.
The 4-Star Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel in Memphis is set in an attractive tower at the heart of Memphis and minutes away from the impressive Memphis Bridge. The tower itself offers magnificent views across the city below and the nearby attractions, while amenities here include an indoor heated pool and a fitness centre. Each room has complimentary WiFi, a hairdryer and a television.
The 3-Star, modern Hyatt Place Nashville/Opryland Hotel is in the heart of Music Valley, near to downtown Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. On-site facilities include an outdoor pool and indoor fitness centre, as well as a restaurant serving American favourites, a coffee shop and bar. Each room comes with free Wi-Fi and a spacious living area, while other amenities such as a coffee maker, 42-inch flat-screen television and a mini fridge, help to make your stay more comfortable. The en suite bathrooms all come with complimentary, luxury toiletries.
The Sheraton New Orleans Hotel is located on Canal Street, close to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. The hotel has a bistro serving typical New Orleans cuisine, a bar offering a range of drinks and light snacks and a Starbucks. Leisure facilities include an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre with cardiovascular equipment, weights, steam rooms and saunas. (Please note: a fee applies for use of the fitness centre.) Rooms are air conditioned and feature a telephone, television, radio alarm clock, coffee maker, safe and a hairdryer. Many of the rooms offer views over the Mississippi or the French Quarter.
We offer a selection of upgrades and 'add-ons' designed to help you make the most of your holiday - and make it even easier!
• Upgrade your flight to Premium Economy from £550 per person each way
Spending a night in London before your tour can make such a
difference to the first day of your holiday - you can arrive in the
capital in good time, relaxed and ready to join your Tour Manager
the next morning. You may even want to take in a show on the West
End, or dine in one of London's famous restaurants. Perhaps on your
return to London, you would like to break your journey with an
overnight stay before continuing home.
We are able to book a wide range of hotels in central London or, for our holidays beginning with a flight, at Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester Airport for the night before or after your holiday. The hotels listed below are some of the more popular hotels our customers book in Central London, others are available on request.
|Hotel||Room Rate From Price|
|The Ambassador Hotel||From £65 per person|
Above prices are approximate, subject to availability, and per room per night based on two people sharing. If you require a quote for single occupancy at any of the hotels please contact us on 01904 734 805.
Buying tickets for UK train services can be a tricky business - there are so many fares to choose from, each with different rules and restrictions. As you are connecting with an international departure, we strongly recommend that you book a fully flexible ticket to ensure that should the departure times for your holiday change, your rail ticket can allow for these changes.
We can book fully-flexible UK rail tickets from your local station to join your holiday whether this be a European holiday from St Pancras or a UK holiday. The prices are competitive and tickets are not restricted to a particular train or time of day, and in most cases offer you a free choice of routes.
For an up to date quote from your local station, please ask one of our Tour Advisors.