Enjoy the sights and sounds on this wondrous vacation through the heart of the South, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. Your trip starts in New Orleans, where you’ll visit the French Quarter, see the stately mansions and clanging streetcars, and learn about New Orleans’ unique burial customs at an above-ground cemetery. Plus, be a part of the infamous Mardi Gras celebration and watch the Mardi Gras parades, be dazzled by the flamboyant costumes, and experience the festive atmosphere. Then drive through the heart of Cajun Country to elegant Natchez, where you can admire a pre-Civil War home. See the passing rural landscape of Mississippi as you cross the state and venture into Tennessee. In Memphis, visit Graceland, Elvis Presley’s grand estate. In Nashville, see the famous sights and visit the Country Music Hall of Fame. No vacation to Nashville is complete without a visit to the Grand Ole Opry, and you’ll have reserved premier seating for a Grand Ole Opry show! Stop in Chattanooga, home of the Chattanooga Choo Choo, before heading through Chattahoochee National Forest to the metropolis of Atlanta. Enjoy a tour of Atlanta and leisure time to explore the city on your own. Continue to Savannah for a trolley tour, time to discover the city, and a 2-night stay. Your vacation ends in the “capital” of Disney’s entertainment parks, Orlando, with a 2-night stay. From one end of the spectrum to the other, this trip has it all. If you want to see and experience the beauty and charm of the South—plus the excitement of Mardi Gras—this vacation is for you!
Day #1 New Orleans. 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 New Orleans. The morning is dedicated to the sights and sounds of this Old World city. First, visit the French Quarter including St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square. Next, learn about the city’s unique burial customs at an above-ground cemetery, followed by a leisurely drive down historic St. Charles Avenue to enjoy its stately mansions and clanging streetcars. Sightseeing ends with a must do visit to BLAINE KERN’s MARDI GRAS WORLD. Your guided sightseeing tour shows you where Mardi Gras magic is made. Walk among towering figures of fantasy. Marvel at the skill and technology that animate mega-floats. Acquire an insider’s appreciation of the history and traditions of Carnival. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day #3 New Orleans. Today, experience the colorful parades, floats and costumes of "Fat Tuesday"! Try to catch colorful doubloons as they are thrown from the floats - but watch out, the competition is fierce! Try the famous King Cake with coffee, and don the traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, gold and purple in preparation for New Orleans' most renowned and exciting day of celebration. Tonight the celebrations continue with a delicious Mardi Gras themed dinner at the Court of Two Sisters with its picturesque old-world courtyard with original gas lights and flowing fountains add to the unique history of this French Quarter building. (D)
Day #4 New Orleans–Baton Rouge–Natchez. Drive through the heart of Cajun Country to Baton Rouge for an orientation tour that features the Governor’s Mansion and the State Capitol. Next, on to elegant Natchez, a thriving port in the golden years of the cotton trade. Visit a gracious PRE-CIVIL WAR HOME featuring fine collections of period furniture and paintings. In the evening, relax and perhaps sip a refreshing mint julep as the sun goes down.
Day #5 Natchez–Jackson–Memphis. Drive to Jackson, then north through rural Mississippi to Memphis. On arrival, acquaint yourself with the town during an included orientation tour. For your first night in the “Home of the Blues,” why not visit one of the famous music clubs on Beale Street, immortalized in WC Handy’s famous songs? (B)
Day #6 Memphis–Graceland Visit–Nashville. A trip to Memphis would not be complete without visiting GRACELAND, the palatial home of “The King,” Elvis Presley. Our guided platinum audio tour focuses on the splendid garden and the opulent 15,000-square-foot mansion. Afterward, the “Capital of Country Music,” Nashville.
Day #7 Nashville. Its association with country music has made the name “Nashville” world famous, but it’s not just music fans who will find this charming Southern city a delight. Start the day with a sightseeing tour of the famous landmarks, including the Parthenon, the State Capitol, Bicentennial State Park, and the recording studios of Music Row. Then, visit the COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME with its glittering costumes, rare instruments, and Elvis Presley’s “solid-gold” Cadillac. This evening, you have reserved premier seating for an unforgettable show at the world-famous GRAND OLE OPRY, a mecca for country musicians since 1925.
Day #8 Nashville–Chattanooga–Atlanta. First stop today is Chattanooga, home of the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Then, enter the “Peach State” of Georgia and continue through Chattahoochee National Forest to the fast-growing metropolis of Atlanta, former home and burial place of civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. After an included sightseeing tour of the city, the rest of the day is yours to explore or relax.
Day #9 Atlanta–Savannah. We head south through rich, rolling farmland to the historic seaport of Savannah for a 2-night stay. On this afternoon’s TROLLEY TOUR, your tour highlights attractions such as the City Market, Forsyth Park, Mercer House, Madison Square (where General Sherman concluded his “March to the Sea”), Colonial Park Cemetery, and the world-famous River Street. This evening is free to explore this charming city on your own. (CB)
Day #10 Savannah. A day at leisure to explore. Shop on cobblestoned River Street or stroll among the many squares surrounded by elegant homes and majestic gardens. Don’t miss the impressive Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum, where you can learn about Savannah’s important role in maritime history. (CB)
Day #11 Savannah–St. Augustine–Orlando. Travel into the “Sunshine State” of Florida, stopping first at St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States. You will see the Oldest House and the Spanish fortress, Castillo de San Marcos, on your orientation tour. Then, drive to the magical city of Orlando. (CB)
Day #12 Orlando. A full day to relax and explore the many sights in the Orlando area. Your Tour Director will suggest a varied and exciting selection of optional outings, such as Disney’s huge entertainment parks, including the Magic Kingdom®, Animal Kingdom®, Epcot®, and MGM Studios®. Also on the list are SeaWorld® (America’s biggest marine life park) and exciting Universal Studios®.
Day #13 Orlando. The trip ends today with guests departing on individual schedules. Transfers to Orlando International Airport are included. You can extend your vacation with extra nights and explore the “Sunshine State” further with a variety of exciting optional activities.