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Tracks of the Deep South

Discover the soundtrack of the USA’s Deep South

From £2,795 per person


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 - on this culture-packed adventure.

The itinerary for your journey
Tour highlights

What’s included

Day 1 - London and Atlanta

We fly from London Heathrow to Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, where we spend our first night.

Day 2 - Atlanta and Chattanooga

On Day 2, we explore Atlanta, a railway city that played a crucial part in the American Civil War. We begin by visiting 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. We continue to Margaret Michell House, where the author wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1936 novel, 'Gone with the Wind.'

After lunch, we make our way to the city of Chattanooga. Set on the banks of the Tennessee River and surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga is nicknamed the 'Scenic City'. We have the chance to admire this stunning scenery as we board the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway for a journey on one of the world's steepest railways, taking in views across the sprawling city below as well as the striking mountains and river. We continue to our hotel for the night.

Day 3 - Lynchburg and Jack Daniel’s Distillery

Today we head through Tennessee to Lynchburg, the capital of Moore County. Moore County has been 'dry' since the days of prohibition, which makes its main attraction all the more extraordinary - it's the home of the world-famous Jack Daniel's Distillery. After a tour and tasting of the iconic whiskey at the distillery, we continue to Nashville, where we spend three nights.

Nashville is a vibrant city famous for its rich country musical legacy, and this evening we visit one of its most famous institutions, the legendary Grand Ole Opry. Founded as a radio station in 1925, today this popular music venue still hosts the same regular broadcast, in addition to stage shows. We enjoy an evening of live music performed on what's often referred to as 'country's most famous stage' - an excellent introduction to Nashville's music heritage.

Day 4 - Nashville

We delve further into Nashville's musical history today. The city has been synonymous with country music since the 1940s, thanks to its collection of famous recording studios on 'Music Row' and the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry for three decades. A morning guided tour introduces us to the main sights of the city before we visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, the world's largest music museum. Here, we're immersed in the sounds and history of country music, as we learn the story of the genre through fascinating artefacts, sound recordings, and vintage video.

Day 5 - Nashville

Today, you're free to explore Nashville at your own pace.

Day 6 - Jackson and Memphis

Our journey through Tennessee continues. We stop at Jackson where there's free time for lunch, before continuing to the Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville. This series of museums is dedicated to the diverse 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.

Day 7 - Graceland and Sun Studios

We begin our day by paying a visit to fantastic Graceland, the mansion that Elvis Presley called home. We have a fascinating insight into the 'King of Rock' n' Roll' as we view his preserved living quarters, as well as his car collections. This afternoon introduces us to the sights of the extraordinary musical history of Memphis. We visit Sun Studio, an iconic studio that lays claim to being the birthplace of rock' n' roll, and once boasted a roster that featured both Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

Day 8 - The City of New Orleans train and the Oak Alley Plantation

We board Amtrak's City of New Orleans service this morning. It's claimed that the blues spread along this route by rail, and we trace the journey through Mississippi to Louisiana. The views from the train are fantastic, as the pretty, floral towns of Brookhaven and McComb lead into the exotic Cajun swamps of the Louisiana Bayou. We alight in Hammond and take a coach to the Oak Alley Plantation for a guided tour. The restored house stands as a testament to the grand lives of Louisiana landowners and the awful suffering of those enslaved here. Our tour reveals the history of the house, sometimes referred to as the 'Grande Dame of the Great River Road', along with its grounds. Later, we continue to New Orleans, where we check into our hotel for the next three nights.

Day 9 - The French Quarter and a Mississippi cruise

This morning's guided tour provides an introduction to one of the best-known areas of New Orleans: the renowned French Quarter. We stop at Café Du Mond for beignets, a delicious deep-fried choux pastry, and coffee. Following some free time, this afternoon we board a traditional paddle steamer for a delightful sightseeing cruise along the Mississippi River, taking in the site of the Battle of New Orleans. Our cruise takes place on board an authentic steamboat, and offers a view of the 'Big Easy' that only a vantage point on the river can provide. After disembarking, you're free to enjoy your evening in this exciting city.

Day 10 - 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 offers an excellent introduction to the eclectic architecture stretching back centuries.

Day 11 - To Houston

We leave New Orleans behind today and board our Amtrak service to Houston, the famous home of space travel.

Day 12 - Houston

We delve into the fascinating heritage today, as we visit NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Here, we see the historic Mission Control of 'Houston, we have a problem' fame, alongside displays dedicated to NASA's history.

Day 13 - Houston to London

We transfer to the airport today for our flight home.

Day 14 - London

We arrive back into London Heathrow today, where your tour concludes.

Mardi Gras

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

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure Dates
12 June 2022From £2,895
11 September 2022From £2,895
25 September 2022From £2,895
2 October 2022From £2,795
30 October 2022From £2,795

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.

Trains
Amtrak Trains
Amtrak

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.

Amtrak's City of New Orleans
New Orleans

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 Incline Railway
Lookout Mountain Incline Railway

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.

Hotels
Atlanta Airport Marriott, Atlanta
Atlanta Airport Marriott, Atlanta

The 4-Star Atlanta Airport Marriott hotel offers comfortable and convenient accommodation close to Atlanta International Airport. Guest rooms feature modern decor and come with a host of excellent facilities, including a flat-screen television, complimentary toiletries, air-conditioning, and tea & coffee making facilities.

Chattanooga Marriott Downtown, Chattanooga
Chattanooga Marriott Downtown

Located close to the scenic riverfront, the 4-Star Chattanooga Marriott Downtown is an ideal base to explore Chattanooga. From here, it is a short distance to the Tennessee Aquarium and the Creative Discovery Museum. This relaxed hotel boasts a contemporary American grill restaurant, as well as a sports bar and a café. Other excellent facilities include a gym, an indoor pool, and a seasonal outdoor pool. The comfortable and modern rooms all have mountain or city views, and amenities include a television, tea & coffee-making facilities, a hairdryer, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Holiday Inn Houston Downtown, Houston
Holiday Inn Houston Downtown, Houston

The 3-Star Holiday Inn Houston Downtown is well-placed in the centre of the lively city, close to many excellent shops, bars and restaurants. Rooms come with modern facilities including a flat-screen television and air-conditioning. On-site, there's a traditional American grill restaurant offering up gourmet burgers, and a stylish bar.

Crowne Plaza Memphis, Memphis
Crowne Plaza Memphis

The 3-Star Crowne Plaza Downtown is located in the heart of historical Memphis, close to Beale Street and the National Civil Rights Museum. This hotel offers a restaurant, a bar, a fitness centre with a gym, and an outdoor pool. The spacious rooms offer superb views of the city, and amenities include Wi-Fi, television, a coffee maker, and air-conditioning.

Holiday Inn & Suites Nashville Downtown, Nashville
Holiday Inn & Suites Nashville Downtown, Nashville

Well-located in downtown Nashville, the 3-Star Holiday Inn & Suites Nashville Downtown is close to the Bridgestone area and the Johnny Cash Museum. On-site, there's a fitness centre, an indoor and heated outdoor pool, and a cocktail lounge. Guest rooms come with tea & coffee making facilities, a minibar, and flat-screen television.

AC Hotel by Marriott, New Orleans
AC Hotel by Marriott

The 3-Star AC Hotel by Marriott New Orleans Bourbon is located near the iconic Mississippi River, and is close to many of New Orleans sights. The rooms here are bright and airy, and come with a television, air-conditioning, tea & coffee making facilities, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Upgrades

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 World Traveller Plus
Flight Upgrade

Upgrade your flight to World Traveller Plus from £500 per person each way. Please call for further details.

London Hotels
London hotels

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. 

UK rail connections
UK train tickets

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.

This page was printed from www.greatrail.com/tours/tracks-of-the-deep-south/#DSG22 on 27 May 2022.
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