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Tracks of the Deep South

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4.1 stars(37 reviews)
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Discover the soundtrack of the USA’s Deep South

You are viewing the 2023 itinerary. Select your departure year
20232024
14 days From £2,895 per person

2023 Tour code: DSG23

About the tour

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.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - To Atlanta

Our holiday begins with a flight to Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, where we spend our first night.

Day 2 - Atlanta and Chattanooga

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 the World of Coca Cola where you have time to explore. 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

We head to Lynchburg, the capital of Moore County. Moore County has been 'dry' since the days of prohibition, which makes its main attraction even more extraordinary - it's the home of the 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. Alongside its reputation as a music city, Nashville is also known for its vibrant neighbourhoods packed with great indie coffee shops, breweries and boutiques, and there's some incredible cuisine to be enjoyed across the city. While you can take your pick from a fantastic variety of international dishes, from ramen to ravioli, the meals that Nashville does best are traditional southern comfort foods. Head to a café and order up some fiery hot chicken, rich mac 'n cheese or a plate of mouth-watering barbecue - you won't regret it.

Day 6 - Jackson and Memphis

Our journey through Tennessee continues. We make a stop at Jackson where there's free time for lunch, before we continue to the Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville. This series of museums is dedicated to the diverse history of the southern states; from the rich musical traditions found here to the area's infamous history of slave labour in the cotton fields. We complete our journey to Memphis later this afternoon, checking into our hotel in the city.

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. 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 and grounds. Later, we continue to New Orleans, where we check into our hotel for three nights.

Day 9 - The French Quarter and a Mississippi cruise

This morning's guided tour introduces us to one of the best-known areas of New Orleans: the renowned French Quarter. We stop at Café Du Mond for a beignet, a delicious, deep-fried choux pastry, and coffee. Following some free time, 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 the Mardi Gras celebrations that take place here, yet there's a sense of spirited adventure and playfulness here year-round. A wander through the colourful streets offers an excellent introduction to the eclectic architecture that stretches back centuries. Bourbon Street is the place to go for a lively atmosphere and great cocktails. There are some fantastic landmarks you might like to visit in the city too, including stunning St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in North America.

Day 11 - To Houston

We leave New Orleans behind today and board our Amtrak service to Houston, speeding through the countryside on our way to the famous home of space travel. Found in the larger-than-life US state of Texas, Houston is the home of Space Center Houston and mission control for many space expeditions.

Day 12 - Houston

We delve into the intriguing heritage of Houston today. We visit NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, a research institute and the bustling hub of human spaceflight activity for more than half a century. Here, we explore the visitor centre, seeing the historic Mission Control of "Houston, we have a problem" fame, alongside displays dedicated to NASA's history. The centre houses the largest collections of spacesuits and moon rocks currently on public display in the world and is truly fascinating to discover.

Day 13 - Houston and home

Our explorations of the south come to an end today, as we transfer to the airport for our overnight flight home.

Day 14 - London

We arrive back in the UK today, where your tour concludes.

Additional information

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.

Mardi Gras
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 times

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.

Visa requirements
Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Atlanta Airport Marriott, Atlanta

Atlanta Airport Marriott, Atlanta

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Chattanooga Marriott Downtown

Chattanooga Marriott Downtown, Chattanooga

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Holiday Inn Houston Downtown, Houston

Holiday Inn Houston Downtown, Houston

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Crowne Plaza Memphis

Crowne Plaza Memphis, Memphis

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Holiday Inn & Suites Nashville Downtown, Nashville

Holiday Inn & Suites Nashville Downtown, Nashville

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AC Hotel by Marriott

AC Hotel by Marriott, New Orleans

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Trains

Amtrak Trains
Lookout Mountain Incline Railway

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London Hotels
UK rail connections

Reviews

4.1 stars4.1 / 5 · 37 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (18)
  2. 4 stars
    (7)
  3. 3 stars
    (10)
  4. 2 stars
    (1)
  5. 1 star
    (1)

Mr Julian Bown

5 stars

Submitted 28/Oct

Excellent!

Collected by Trustpilot

Mr Braithwaite

5 stars

Submitted 27/Oct

A comprehensive tour, great experience and a very personable tour guide

Collected by Trustpilot

Dave Holding

5 stars

Submitted 27/Oct

The planned visits and activities were well organised and managed by our tour manager James. The only negative of the experience were the Holiday Inn hotels, they were terrible, cheap and dirty.

Collected by Trustpilot

Cheryl Anderson

3 stars

Submitted 22/Oct

This was the 4th GRJ holiday I have taken. Previously hotels were always a minimum of a good 3 star or even 4 star and in a good location. On this holiday, regrettably, the hotels were barely 3 star and in poor locations. Our Tour Manager, however, was first Class and so knowledgeable of America and its history. I will not be taking another holiday with GRJ but will try other companies.

Collected by Trustpilot

A Fuller

5 stars

Submitted 22/Oct

Very interesting and lively tour. Tour rep was excellent and kept us well informed and supported. Hotels only 3* standard which was a bit disappointing for the price paid for the holiday. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable holiday hence the 5 star rating

Collected by Trustpilot

J Dickenson

3 stars

Submitted 22/Oct

The big disappointment was the lack of train travel. We are not train fanatics, but the coach journeys were nowhere near as comfortable or enjoyable as being on a train. We only had one train journey in 12/13 day holiday. Also, the majority of the hotels were of poorer quality than we had enjoyed on previous journeys, and not always well-placed. Some of the stops were unavailable as the attractions were closed. Our tour manager was lovely, though, and we felt well-looked after by him.

Collected by Trustpilot

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Tracks of the Deep South

Discover the soundtrack of the USA’s Deep South

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