The soundtrack of Deep South USA
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. Then enjoy an unforgettable private dinner and performance with a member of the Cash Family.
Meet your group and Tour Manager at the HolidayInn & Suites Atlanta Airport North.
A morning guided sightseeing tour explores this fascinating city. Entrance is also included to the Martin Luther King Center and Church which pays homage to the man himself as well as the civil rights movement which he was part of. The tour continues to Margaret Mitchell House, where the author wrote her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, 'Gone with the Wind'. That afternoon, we transfer to Chattanooga, where we stay for two nights at the Doubletree Downtown Chattanooga Hotel.
Today we experience a ride on two of Chattanooga's railways, travelling first on the restored heritage Tennessee Valley Railroad. Our trip on the Tennessee Valley Railroad begins at the Grand Junction Station in Chattanooga, which is a modern replica of the station in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Hauled by either a steam or vintage diesel locomotive, we take the Missionary Ridge route on a 55 minute round trip to East Chattanooga Depot and back.
The journey takes us through one of Tennessee's oldest railroad tunnels, which was constructed in the mid-19th century. We also witness the locomotive turning around using the Tennessee Valley Railroad's turntable at the East Chattanooga Depot and enjoy a guided tour of the maintenance and restoration shop where the railroad's historic locomotives are repaired, repainted and rebuilt.
Later we experience 'America's Most Amazing Mile', named for the tremendous scenery it passes, on a journey on the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway. Built in 1895 to service a hotel at the top of the mountain, part of the track has an incline of 72.7%, giving it the distinction of being the world's steepest passenger railway. In 1911 the steam locomotives were replaced with diesel engines, but apart from that very little has changed on the line since its opening.
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 Jack Daniel's Distillery! After a tour of the distillery, and a tasting of some of the produce, we continue to Nashville, staying for two nights at The Sheraton Music City, in easy reach of the honky-tonk bars and live Country music scene. This evening there is an optional excursion to the legendary Grand Ole Opry, one of the oldest and most iconic country music venues in the US.
Since the 1940s Nashville has been synonymous with Country Music, with its collection of recording studios on 'Music Row' and the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry for three decades. A morning guided tour introduces you to the sights before we visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, the world's largest music museum, for an amazing 'who's who' in the world of Country music.
Today we also enjoy a true highlight of the trip, an exclusive performance by a member of Johnny Cash's family, as part of the Cash Family Experience. Later, we take a private tour of Studio B, a recording studio famous for pioneering the Nashville Sound.
Our journey through Tennessee continues to Memphis. En route we stop at Tupelo to visit the birthplace of Elvis Presley. A fascinating insight into the humble beginnings of Elvis, the town features a museum, the Presley family's two-room house and the church building where Elvis' love of Gospel music was formed. Later we arrive in Memphis for three nights at the Doubletree by Hilton Memphis Downtown.
Today introduces the sights of Memphis' extraordinary musical history. We visit Sun Studios, which lays claim to being the birthplace of rock 'n' roll, with a roster featuring Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. By contrast, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music covers another of the city's musical phenomena. Founded in the neighbourhood known as Soulsville USA, Stax was responsible for launching the careers of great soul artists such as Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. In the afternoon we visit Graceland, Elvis' 14 acre mansion, and view his preserved living quarters, private aircraft and car collections.
Day 8 is free for you to explore Memphis independently. Beale Street's live music is a must as the evening draws in. It is here that Blues from the delta found a home before moving on to influence the world's musical tastes.
This morning we board Amtrak's City of New Orleans service, heading 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. Following our arrival into the city of New Orleans, we transfer to our hotel for three nights, the Hampton Inn Downtown New Orleans.
This morning's guided tour provides an introduction to this fascinating city. In the afternoon we go a sightseeing cruise along the Mississippi before enjoying a creole dinner at the Tujaques restaurant. Day 11 is spent at leisure. The 'Big Easy' boasts unique architecture, influenced by Spanish, French, Creole and American styles, representative of the cultural melting pot that the city has become. On Day 12, departing from New Orleans, we board our Amtrak service to Houston.
We begin our day in Houston with a guided tour of the city's main landmarks, including the Allen's Landing and NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. That afternoon you are free to depart and make your own way home today.
Our February 3rd 2018 a grandstand ticket for the New Orleans Mardi Gras (or 'Fat Tuesday') celebrations is included in the price. As one of the most famous carnival events in the world, Mardi Gras marks the beginning of the feasts of Epiphany and sees the city of New Orleans transformed into a city-wide carnival. Stunning floats and extravagant costumes abound and there is plenty of wonderful food and drink to sample during the celebratory period.
For this tour, we recommend that you arrive at Atlanta Hartfield-Jackson International Airport (airport code ATL), which is approximately 1 miles from your first hotel. Our recommended departure airport is Houston George Bush International Airport (IAH), which is approximately 30 miles from your final hotel.
You may check in at the first hotel on your itinerary anytime after 14:00; this is where you will meet your Tour Manager.
An escorted experience and travel during your tour
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
The soundtrack of Deep South USA