Day 1 - Atlanta
Welcome to the US of A! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Your evening is then free to relax or explore. If you arrive early and have time before the meeting, perhaps head to one of Atlanta’s world-class attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium, the CNN Centre or the World of Coca-Cola.
Day 2 - Savannah
In the morning, drive to Savannah (approximately 5 hours). With mansions, oak trees and colonial public buildings sitting alongside dive bars and university students, this is a charming southern city that's well worth taking the time to explore. Perhaps start by taking a seat in Chippewa Square – which was used as a setting for the film Forrest Gump – or grab a cocktail and enjoy the sound of some duelling pianos in a local bar. Afterwards, perhaps take a guided ghost tour of old Savannah.
Day 3 - Charleston
Today, leave Savannah behind and drive to Charleston, South Carolina (approximately 2 hours). Feel the pace slowing a little as this grand old gem of the south comes into view. Charleston’s streets are awash with stories and were made for strolling. Be sure to stop and smell the honeysuckle as you wander along the cobblestones. In the afternoon, enjoy a tour of one of the plantation homes around Charleston. Wander around the well-maintained gardens and learn about the estate's history.
Day 4 - Charleston
Today is free for you to explore Charleston at your leisure. Perhaps take a trip out to the seaside fortress of Fort Sumter, the location where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Alternatively, you might like to visit the Old Slave Mart Museum, take a walk through Battery Park past the memorials or learn about naval history on the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point. As dusk begins to set in, why not take a walk along the Pitt Street Bridge and watch the sun set over downtown Charleston. While you're here (either today or tomorrow), enjoy an included visit and tour of the Boone Hall plantation, one of America's oldest (and most photogenic) plantations.
Day 5 - Asheville
In the morning, drive into North Carolina and onto the city of Asheville (approximately 5 hours). A real feature of this town is the picturesque streets and their architecture. Perhaps use the afternoon to visit George Washington Vanderbilt’s 250-room chateau on Biltmore Estate, which was completed in 1895. Later on, take the time to explore Asheville's modern boutiques, restaurants and record stores. From craft breweries and artisan chocolate shops to buskers and bazaars, the downtown area seems to have something for everyone – music lovers and others.
Day 6 - Asheville
Head up into Asheville's surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and do some exploring on foot. Dating back over 400 million years, the mountain range is home to wildlife, lush forest, scenic peaks, waterfalls and shallow rivers. This is a great place to hike, but note that some of the trails can be strenuous in places. Bring sturdy walking shoes, plenty of water and warm clothes. After your visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains, your evening is free to do as you wish.
Day 7 - Nashville
Say goodbye to Asheville in the morning and drive to Nashville (approximately 4–5 hours). Welcome to the undisputed capital of country music. Once you’ve checked in to the hotel, visit the Country Music Hall of Fame with the group, which contains the golden Cadillac that once belonged to Elvis. Another point of interest is Music Row, where more than 50 recording studios and some 200 music publishing houses are located. In the early evening, perhaps head to the Wildhorse Saloon to experience southern food, country line dancing and live music.
Day 8 - Memphis
Next it's off to Memphis, the famous home of the blues (approximately 4 hours). On the way, visit Graceland, the lavish former home of Elvis Presley, and check out the site of his tomb. Here you can see the famous jungle room, as well as his cars, private planes and much more. In the evening, consider heading down to check out Beale Street's traditional blues clubs, made famous by legends such as Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters and BB King.
Day 9 - Memphis
Today it's over to the legendary Sun Studio, the 'Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll'. An included visit to this still-active recording studio shows you where some legendary performers like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins laid down tracks. For the rest of the day, enjoy some free time. Those with an interest in history might like to visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the former Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated. Another fun activity is to visit to the Peabody Hotel to see what's known as the 'march of the ducks'. These ducks live in the hotel and perform daily marches from their rooftop palace to the lobby fountain at 11 am (and the reverse at 5 pm).
Day 10 - Clarksdale
Next stop: Clarksdale, just a short drive away. This interesting spot is widely regarded as the original birthplace of the blues, and there are some great sights to check out around town. Head to Blues Alley, Robert Johnson's Crossroads or perhaps the Delta Blues Museum. In the evening, perhaps enjoy dinner and some live music at the Shack Up. Your accommodation for tonight is at an old plantation – the conditions are pretty basic, but it's a lot of fun.
Day 11 - New Orleans
Next it's off to the 'Big Easy', a Southern town like no other. Settle in for the fairly long drive to New Orleans (approximately 6 hours). After checking in to your hotel in the French Quarter, use your free time getting to know the city. An eclectic mix of European, Creole and Cajun culture manifests in the city's architecture, cuisine and music scene. Possibly take a walk down rowdy Bourbon Street or through the former plantation area of the Garden District. Perhaps join the rest of the group tonight for a Cajun-style dinner.
Day 12 - New Orleans
It's time get amongst the sights and sounds of Jazz Fest. A single-day general admission ticket is included in the price of your trip, and today is the first day of the festival. With music scattered across 12 stages, this event is about so much more than jazz – you can also find gospel, Cajun, zydeco, blues, R&B, rock, funk, African, Latin, Caribbean and folk music, and there are usually a couple of big-name international guests as well. Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Burning Spear and Youssou N’Dour are among those who have played here before, which gives a sense of the calibre – and diversity – of the talent. The line-up is usually announced in January. Needless to say, music isn't the only thing celebrated here – take the chance to sample delicious Southern cuisine and learn a thing or two about Lousiana's rich cultural heritage while you're here.
Notes: Your leader will leave you after breakfast today, and no accommodation is included tonight. Staying on longer to enjoy the festival in full is of course highly recommended.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Flights, Travel Insurance, Visa, Vaccinations or Personal Spending Money