The beautiful South comes alive on this wonderful vacation. Start your trip in Chicago and spend leisure time getting to know the city. See the famous Chicago landmarks on an included sightseeing tour before heading south to St. Louis, Missouri, known as the “Gateway to the West.” On your St. Louis tour, take a trip to the top of the towering Gateway Arch. Then cross the Mississippi River to Nashville, Tennessee, home of country music! A guided tour shows you Nashville’s most famous sites, including the recording studios on Music Row, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and legendary RCA Studio B, once the recording home of Elvis Presley. No vacation to Nashville is complete without a visit to the Grand Ole Opry, and you have reserved premier seating for a Grand Ole Opry show!Travel to Memphis, “Home of the Blues,” a city with a distinct Southern flair. Enjoy an orientation tour and visit Graceland, Elvis Presley’s grand estate. Next, hop on the AMTRAK City of New Orleans train, and pass cotton fields and catfish ponds on the way to Louisiana. Cruise through the waterways of Atchafalaya Basin, where you may spot alligators, before arriving in New Orleans. Spend three nights in New Orleans to get acquainted with the city. You’ll also receive a pass and round-trip transportation to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. What a great way to end your musical vacation to the charming South.
Day #1 Chicago. Welcome to the “Windy City.” Enjoy time at leisure to relax or to do some independent exploring. Your Tour Director is on hand this evening to answer any questions.
Day #2 Chicago. Start the day with an included sightseeing tour and see all the landmarks of this exciting city. This afternoon is at leisure. Ride the elevator to the top of Sears Tower, stroll in Grant Park along the waterfront, or take an optional cruise on Lake Michigan. This evening you might enjoy dinner on the Navy Pier with its collection of shops and restaurants.
Day #3 Chicago–St. Louis. Travel across the fertile Illinois farmlands today to St. Louis, the “Gateway to the West.” Your orientation tour includes a trip to the top of the towering GATEWAY ARCH, which commemorates the city’s key role in westward expansion. Be sure to visit the museum under the Arch, celebrating the famous expedition of Lewis and Clark 200 years ago.
Day #4 St. Louis–Nashville. Start today’s journey by recrossing the Mississippi River and rolling southeast to Paducah on the Ohio River. Late-afternoon arrival in Nashville. (CB)
Day #5 Nashville. Start the day with a sightseeing tour of Nashville’s famous landmarks and the Music Row recording studios. Tour historic RCA STUDIO B, the cradle of the “Nashville Sound” in the 1960s and where stars such as Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, Willie Nelson, and the Everly Brothers recorded many of their biggest hits. Afterward, visit the COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME with its glittering costumes, rare instruments, and Elvis Presley’s “solid-gold” Cadillac! Tonight, enjoy reserved premier seating for a show at the world-famous GRAND OLE OPRY, a mecca for country musicians.
Day #6 Nashville–Memphis. Cross Tennessee today to Memphis, “Home of the Blues” and a city with a distinct Southern flavor. Enjoy an orientation tour on arrival. Join the optional excursion that visits famous Sun Studio, where rock ‘n’ roll was first recorded, followed by dinner at a local Memphis restaurant.
Day #7 Memphis. Visit To Graceland. A good portion of the day is devoted to GRACELAND, Elvis Presley’s beautiful estate. Your platinum audio tour focuses on the splendid garden, private plane, and the opulent 15,000-square-foot mansion. Return to Memphis mid-afternoon. Tonight you may want to visit a blues club on famous Beale Street.
Day #8 Memphis–Amtrak City Of New Orleans Train–Hammond–Lafayette. Providing the locomotion for today’s journey through the state of Mississippi and into the Mississippi River Delta is the CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, the famous train of story and song. Pass cotton fields and catfish ponds as the train enters Louisiana. In Hammond, leave the train and board a motorcoach for the short drive into the heart of Cajun Country to Lafayette, first settled by French-Acadian farmers expelled from Nova Scotia by the British in the 1700s.
Day #9 Lafayette–New Orleans. On to St. Martinville to see the famous oak tree from Longfellow’s poem, Evangeline. Next, board your boat for a CRUISE through the winding, swampy waterways of the Atchafalaya Basin. If you are lucky, you might spot alligators basking on the banks. Then, cross Bayou Country to New Orleans. (B)
Day #10 New Orleans. A full morning dedicated to the sights and sounds of New Orleans, featuring a tour that includes the French Quarter landmarks, St Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, and a visit to a unique above ground cemetery. The rest of the day is free.
Day #11 New Orleans. Today be part of the 44th Annual Jazz & Heritage Festival that showcases the most storied names in music history alongside many of Louisiana’s equally respected musical artists. A true heritage festival, Jazz Fest stands alone in presenting the highest caliber artists. Your one day pass allows you to enjoy great music, and classic New Orleans staples, including Creole, Cajun, and international cuisine.
Day #12 New Orleans. The trip ends today with guests departing on individual schedules. Transfers to the New Orleans International Airport are included.