Welcome to one of the most beautiful vacation destinations in North America, the breathtaking Smoky Mountains. You'll explore the history and beauty of this enchanting region of Tennessee and the "Bluegrass State" of Kentucky, enjoying a variety of great country entertainment, the work of superb artisans, and great down-home cooking. During your leisurely 3-night stay in Gatlinburg, Tennessee you'll explore the truly smoky, ancient uplands that are Great Smokies at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Your adventures continue at the Vanderbilts' 250-room, 8,000 acre Biltmore Estate - the nation's largest privately owned home – followed by a special wine tasting at the estate winery. In Nashville, city highlights include a toe-tapping performance at the Grand Ole Opry and tour including stops at the Old Ryman Auditorium, Music Row, Parthenon and an evening of dinner and entertainment at the Wildhorse Saloon. Highlights of your final two nights in Kentucky include visits to the bourbon-distilling town of Bardstown, the plantation known as my "Old Kentucky Home," the world-famous Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Horse Park, as well as Sinking Springs Farm, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.
Day #1 Louisville, KY - Tour Begins - Spectacular scenery and foot-stompin’ entertainment surround you when you travel through the Great Smoky Mountains and Kentucky - the “Bluegrass State.” Your tour begins today when you arrive in the home state of the famous Kentucky Derby.
Day #2 Louisville - Lexington - Louisville - Kentucky is known for raising the finest thoroughbred horses in the world. This morning, enjoy a memorable breakfast while watching horses perform their morning exercises when you dine at the Kentucky Derby Museum’s “Backstage Tour.” Your visit includes a stop at the famous Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby! Next, travel to historic Lexington via some of the most breathtaking countryside imaginable – including incredibly manicured horse farms. A visit to the Kentucky Horse Park is sure to be a highlight. This working horse farm – unparalleled worldwide with 1,200 acres surrounded by 30 miles of white plank fencing – is dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. Take some time to visit the International Museum of the Horse, an affiliate museum of the Smithsonian Institution that is located on the grounds as well! Get to know your fellow travelers during an evening of fine dining and entertainment aboard the Belle of Louisville, the steam powered national historic landmark and a treasured Louisville icon!
Day #3 Louisville - Bardstown - Asheville, North Carolina - Your day begins with a tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. Discover the story behind the bat and the family company that still creates it! Enjoy a visit to Sinking Springs Farm, the birthplace of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, and Bardstown, where half of the world’s bourbon is distilled. A guided tour of Maker’s Mark Bourbon Distillery allows you to see this interesting industry first-hand. After the tour you will be treated to a tasting and have the opportunity to purchase a bottle of the finest Maker’s Mark bourbon and seal your own bottle with its signature wax. Then, set off on the road that leads to Asheville.
Day #4 Asheville - Cherokee - Asheville - Your day begins with a visit to the Cherokee Reservation, learning about their fascinating language and history through the ages. Spend your morning at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian where you’ll be immersed in the history, culture and stories of the Cherokee people. Then, climb aboard the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, traveling back to a time when the short line railroad was every small town’s signature. As you relax to the soothing and nostalgic sounds of the train, behold the awe-inspiring countryside unfolding before your eyes.
Day #5 Asheville - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee - Begin your day with a visit to the incredible Biltmore Estate, the largest privately-owned home in America. This 250-room French chateau is owned by the Vanderbilt family and features an extensive collection of art and furniture. Spend the day exploring this 8,000-acre property, including the exquisite Biltmore Winery, where you will enjoy a special wine tasting. This afternoon, behold incredible beauty as you travel through Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Emitting a distinct smoke-like haze, these mountains are some of the oldest upland regions on Earth and stretch from western North Carolina into eastern Tennessee. Then, roll up your sleeves for a good old Country-style meal when you enjoy a dinner show at the fantastic Dixie Stampede!
Day #6 Pigeon Forge - Gatlinburg - Nashville - Begin your day with a lovely morning show before enjoying free time to explore Gatlinburg's many specialty shops and restaurants. You will find everything from fine arts and linens to crafts and collectibles. Stroll its charming streets, reveling in the lively atmosphere around you. Then it’s off to the “Music Capital of the World” – Nashville!
Day #7 Nashville - This morning, a local guide officially welcomes you to Nashville by sharing its history and lore during an interesting sightseeing tour. View the State Capitol, Music Row and the Parthenon – a full scale replica of the Athenian original! Then, spend some time visiting the Ryman Auditorium to stroll through the halls filled with fascinating memorabilia from the Ryman’s storied past! The remainder of your afternoon is free to explore Nashville at your leisure. You may opt to take an excursion to the Country Music Hall of Fame or perhaps visit a local venue to relax over some soothing tunes in this musical city. Later, take your seat at the renowned “Grand Ole Opry!” What began as a building where a local radio broadcast show aired once a week in 1925 has grown to become an entertainment complex that attracts music fans from all over the world.
Day #8 Nashville - Tour Ends - Your tour ends today. You return home with songs in your heart and many cherished memories of your journey through the Great Smokies and Kentucky.