This is a scenic and educationally packed trip as history comes alive in locations throughout this tour. Your trip begins and ends in the capital of the United States, Washington DC. There’s plenty of sightseeing to be done in Washington DC, and your sightseeing tour covers the highlights. In Colonial Williamsburg, see history recreated as costumed villagers add charm and authenticity to the quaint streets. Also visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home; Mount Vernon, the home of George and Martha Washington; Sinking Spring Farm, where Lincoln was born; Harper’s Ferry, where John Brown made his raid on the U.S. arsenal; and Gettysburg Battlefield, where Lincoln delivered the famous Gettysburg Address. This vacation also includes beautiful scenery. Enjoy vistas of the Shenandoah Valley from the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and stop at the Luray Caves. At the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains sits the popular mountain retreat of Gatlinburg, where you’ll spend two nights. In Kentucky, the scenery changes to the green pastures, whiteboard fences, and columned estates of Kentucky Bluegrass Country. These are just a few of the many features you’ll enjoy on this vacation. History and beauty—this trip has it all!
On this special tour, be a part of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. Retrace the steps of the Gray on Antietam Battlefield and be a part of the epic battle at the Gettysburg Battle Anniversary reenactment.
Day #1 Washington DC Area. 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 Washington DC Area–Excursion To Alexandria. Today begins with a guided sightseeing tour that shows you the graves of American heroes, including those of John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, in beautiful Arlington National Cemetery. Here, visit Arlington House, home of Robert E Lee the renowned confederate general. Afterwards, your guided tour of the capital continues with photo stops at Capitol Hill and the White House, with visits to the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials. View landmarks such as the Willard Hotel and enjoy a visit to Ford's Theatre where Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. Next a visit to old town Alexandria, a quaint historic town on the Potomac River that boasts some of the finest historical architecture, galleries and shops. Alexandria's riverfront was an important port during the Colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War periods. During a GUIDED WALKING TOUR learn about the events leading to the union occupation of Alexandria and life in the city during the civil war. Your evening is free for independent activities.
Day #3 Washington DC Area–Gettysburg. Cross the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania and visit the site of the Battle of Gettysburg where your visit will coincide with the annual GETTYSBURG RE-ENACTMENT, one of the largest and finest of its kind where you will learn why this was the decisive campaign of the civil war. Enjoy a number of living history events with people dressed in clothes and uniforms of the era and you will experience the cannon fire, cavalry charges and infantry battles of the Union and Confederate armies as you watch the two forces re-enact the events of July 1863.
Day #4 Gettysburg–Antietam–Harpers Ferry–Luray Caverns–Shenandoah National Park. This morning begins with a stop at the BATTLEFIED OF ANTIETAM for a guided tour which highlights the events of the bloodiest battle during the Civil War with over 23,000 casualties in a single day. Afterwards, head for HARPERS FERRY, where in 1859 John Brown made his ill-fated raid on the US arsenal. Time to stop at Luray for a guided tour of the spectacular LURAY CAVERNS, and then up to the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains with magnificent vistas of the Shenandoah Valley. (CB).
Day #5 Shenandoah National Park–New River Gorge–Beckley. Through lumber and limestone country into wonderfully wild West Virginia. After a lunch break in Lewisburg, a Civil War battlefield, travel to Fayetteville and stop at New River Gorge Bridge, the world’s largest steel-span bridge, rising 876 feet above the river. Then, on to Beckley, the heart of West Virginia’s “smokeless” coal industry for an overnight stay.
Day #6 Beckley–Lexington, Kentucky. Before entering Kentucky we stop in the state capital of Charleston, West Virginia, the one-time home of Daniel Boone. As you cross the state border, the scenery changes to green pastures, white-board fences, and the columned estates of Kentucky bluegrass country—backdrop for the movie Seabiscuit. Arrive in Lexington, the “Heart of the Bluegrass.” This afternoon, enjoy a fascinating visit to the KENTUCKY HORSE PARK, from where legends like Man o’ War and Secretariat conquered the racing world. The visit includes the International Museum of the Horse; the Hall of Champions, where famous horses from the past enjoy their retirement; the Parade of Breeds; and many other exhibits and demonstrations. (CB)
Day #7 Lexington–Bardstown. Travel on Bluegrass Parkway and stop at SINKING SPRING FARM, where Abraham Lincoln was born. A replica of the original log cabin is preserved as a shrine to the best-loved of American presidents. Visit a true working WHISKEY DISTILLERY, and learn about the production of the very finest Kentucky Straight Bourbon, for which Kentucky is famous. Overnight in Bardstown, Kentucky’s second-oldest city and “Bourbon Capital of the World.” Evening is at leisure.
Day #8 Bardstown–Gatlinburg. This morning’s journey takes you along Kentucky’s scenic backroads. After lunch, on to Corbin for a short visit to COLONEL SANDERS’ original fried chicken restaurant, which is now a museum. This afternoon, visit the fascinating MUSEUM OF APPALACHIA, with 65 acres of farmland and a number of historic cabins, barns, and other buildings, even a frontier privy! The next two nights are in Gatlinburg at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. (CB)
Day #9 Gatlinburg. As one of America’s most popular mountain retreats, Gatlinburg offers something for everyone. You might want to spend a day at world-famous Dollywood, an 88-acre landscaped theme park inspired by Dolly Parton and her love for the mountains, family, and country music. Tonight’s optional outing features the Dixie Stampede, an action-packed evening filled with friendly North and South competition, thrilling horse-riding stunts, spectacular special effects, and phenomenal musical productions.
Day #10 Gatlinburg–Great Smoky Mountains National Park–Asheville Area. Drive right through the center of the Smokies along the spectacular Newfound Gap Road, peaking at 5,046 feet. Into North Carolina and a stop at the 7,500-acre grounds of BILTMORE ESTATE, built by George Vanderbilt, grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. Then, on to dramatic CHIMNEY ROCK. Take an elevator carved through solid rock up to the granite monolith for views over Hickory Nut Gorge. Overnight in the Asheville area, hometown of American author Thomas Wolfe.
Day #11 Asheville Area–Lexington, Virginia. Blue Ridge Parkway runs from the Great Smokies to Shenandoah National Park without a single traffic light along its 470-mile route. Take in a portion of the parkway today, from Fancy Gap to Roanoke. Stop at the tranquil setting of Mabry Mill, one of the most photographed spots in the country. Upon arrival in Lexington, a guided tour of the STONEWALL JACKSON HOUSE lets you experience the pre-war life of Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and introduces you to the man who became a legend! Visit the LEE CHAPEL & MUSEUM, a National Historic Landmark. Lee’s office is preserved much as he left it for the last time on September 28, 1870. The museum exhibits items once owned by the Lee and Washington families. Also visit the MUSEUM OF THE VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE and discover its Civil War past. (CB)
Day #12 Lexington, Virginia–Richmond–Williamsburg. The day begins with a visit to NATURAL BRIDGE, a 215-foot-high arch in a wooded setting, once owned by Thomas Jefferson. George Washington’s initials are still visible on the cliffside, from his work here as a young surveyor. This afternoon’s highlight is the graceful home of the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson. The MONTICELLO ESTATE reflects Jefferson’s skills as an artist, architect, and designer. It is the only house in the U.S. that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List of international treasures. We follow with a short sightseeing tour of Richmond, capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. The day ends in Williamsburg, between the James and York Rivers, where the very earliest European settlers established their first colonies. (CB)
Day #13 Williamsburg. Today is dedicated to COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG, where American heritage is proudly preserved in the reconstructed buildings and historical displays. Take a stroll down quaint streets and browse through homes, gardens, taverns, shops, and exhibits. In the Hall of Burgesses, listen as costumed interpreters debate the controversial steps that led to the Declaration of Independence. (B)
Day #14 Williamsburg–Mount Vernon–Washington DC Area. This morning, visit MOUNT VERNON, the beloved home of George and Martha Washington, overlooking the banks of the Potomac River. Time to explore the most popular historic estate in America. The final leg of your journey takes you back to Washington DC. This evening, join an optional evening outing featuring a delicious dinner followed by an illumination tour of Washington’s famous memorials. (B)
Day #15 Washington DC Area. The trip ends today with guests departing on individual schedules. Transfers to Dulles or Reagan International Airports are included. You can extend your vacation with extra nights and explore Washington DC further with a variety of exciting optional activities.