On this tour through the South—including Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington DC—see some of the cities and historical sites that played a role in the Civil Rights Movement. Enjoy sightseeing tours in Memphis, Birmingham, Montgomery, Atlanta, Augusta, Richmond, and Washington DC. Visit some of the sites most associated with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., including the National Civil Rights Museum housed in the Lorraine Motel, where he was assasinated, and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, which contains his birth home and burial site.Other tour highlights include the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, an interpretative museum depicting the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement; the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, bombed by Klansmen in 1963, killing four little girls; the Selma to Montgomery Trail Interpretative Center, dedicated to those who peacefully marched 54 miles from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery in order to gain the right to vote; the Slavery & Civil War Museum, offering a sensory reenactment of the history of enslavement; and the Rosa Parks Library & Museum, featuring a reenactment on the bus from that momentous day. In Memphis, you’ll also visit Elvis’ Graceland as well as the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and Sun Studio, probably the most famous recording studio in the world, launching the careers of Johnny Cash, BB King, and many more. These are just a few of the many highlights of this tour through the South—a fascinating and educational trip!
Day #1 Memphis. Welcome to Memphis! 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 Memphis. Memphis, the “Gateway to the Old South,” is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States. Filled with Southern charm, beautifully restored mansions, sculptured tree-lined parkways, the world’s finest barbecue, and the “Red, Hot & Blue” sounds of Beale Street. Today, a guided sightseeing tour will take you to the Mississippi Riverfront and through downtown Memphis. Travel past magnificent mansions in Victoria Village and down Cotton Row, where you will experience a Southern river town in its heyday, when carriages lined the streets. It was here that an important labor dispute in 1968 brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis. Your sightseeing tour also takes in Beale Street Baptist Church, the first brick-constructed, multi-story church in the U.S. built by and for African Americans; and Mason Temple Church, site of the last sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. End the day with a visit to the NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM, housed in the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Connected to the museum is the Young and Morrow Building, the former rooming house where James Earl Ray fired the fatal shots.
Day #3 Memphis. Excursion To Graceland. Memphis is considered by many to be the “Home of the Blues” and the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” a mecca for blues, country, and gospel artists from all over this music-rich area of the United States. Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis, Elvis Presley made his home at Graceland, and Johnny Cash called Memphis home during his career. Today you will get a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective from your expert Local Guide. Discover the hard-to-find, “hidden” Elvis sites, such as his Lauderdale Courts apartment, Humes High School, Overton Park Shell Theatre, where Elvis gave his first paid concert, and others. Then, on to the ROCK ‘N’ SOUL MUSEUM, which traces Memphis’ cultural and musical past, and a visit to SUN STUDIO, probably the most famous recording studio in the world, where Rock ‘n’ Roll was first recorded. Hear outtakes from sessions, touch Elvis’ first microphone, see memorabilia, and relive the history of the studio that launched the careers of Johnny Cash, BB King, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many other music legends. End the day and experience life as Elvis did by walking through the decadent, quirky rooms of GRACELAND, where he felt truly at home. You’ll also be able to board “The King’s” private jet. Finish your tour of Graceland with a visit to the Meditation Garden, where Elvis often went to reflect on life, and where he is laid to rest next to members of his family.
Day #4 Memphis–Birmingham. Few cities played as prominent a role in the American Civil Rights Movement as Birmingham. A guided city sightseeing tour lets you experience the Birmingham Civil Rights District, a 6-block tribute to the monumental fight for human rights that includes Kelly Ingram Park, the focal point during the Civil Rights Movement; Fourth Avenue, an African American business district formed just after 1890; Miles College, founded by the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church to educate African Americans; and much more. The afternoon has been set aside to explore the BIRMINGHAM CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE, an interpretive museum that depicts the struggles of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Across the street, visit the historic SIXTEENTH STREET BAPTIST CHURCH, bombed by Klansmen in 1963, killing four little girls. Stroll through Kelly Ingram Park where sculptures depict the police dogs and fire hoses that were turned on demonstrators who gathered here to protest segregation laws.
Day #5 Birmingham–Selma–Montgomery. Stop in Selma to visit the SELMA TO MONTGOMERY TRAIL INTERPRETIVE CENTER, a site dedicated to those who peacefully marched 54 miles from Selma, Alabama, to the State Capitol in Montgomery in order to gain the right to vote. Next, pause to reflect on the historically compelling aspects of America’s past by visiting the SLAVERY & CIVIL WAR MUSEUM—the only museum in the country offering a sensory reenactment of the history of enslavement. Continue on to the “Capital City of the American South”—Montgomery, Alabama.
Day #6 Montgomery. From the Civil War to Civil Rights, Montgomery is steeped in history. Today you will walk in the footsteps of the many heroes who shaped the nation and brought it forward to the present—from the courage of Rosa Parks to the steadfast dream of Martin Luther King Jr. Guided sightseeing takes in many of these historic places and more. Montgomery is home to one of the only STATE CAPITOLS designated a National Historic Landmark. See where Jefferson Davis took his oath of office as President of the Confederate States of America. The historic Senate and House of Representatives Chambers, the old Supreme Court Chambers, and the original governor’s office have been restored to the Civil War era. Visit OLD ALABAMA TOWN, with six blocks of authentically restored 19th and early 20th century structures beckoning you to step back in time and learn how early Americans of all backgrounds lived and worked in central Alabama. Not to be missed is the ROSA PARKS LIBRARY & MUSEUM, featuring a recreated street scene and reenactment on the bus, with video footage that transports witnesses to the fateful day on December 1, 1955. Additional exhibits will lead you on a journey through the days of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which became the first step on the often difficult path to Civil Rights in America. (CB)
Day #7 Montgomery–Atlanta. Journey to the capital city of Atlanta and upon arrival, a city sightseeing tour focuses on the downtown area and the elegant residential neighborhoods that take pride in tradition. Highlights include the Georgia State Capitol, Peachtree Plaza, Olympic Village & Stadium, Sweet Auburn Curb Market, CNN headquarters, and a visit to the MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE, which contains his birth home and burial site. (CB)
Day #8 Atlanta–Augusta–Columbia–Charlotte. This morning, travel to Augusta and discover the historic charm and classic South, with tree-lined streets and majestic antebellum mansions. On the historic tour you’ll travel along the downtown streets, learn about Augusta’s elite, and see the grand homes they once inhabited. You’ll also visit Summerville, one of Augusta’s seven historic districts, which began as a summer resort for wealthy Augustans. Continue to Columbia, South Carolina, a special place of grace and charm. Visit the SOUTH CAROLINA STATE MUSEUM, where the past and present come alive. Tonight we stay in the city of Charlotte.
Day #9 Charlotte–Richmond–Washington DC. Enjoy a city sightseeing tour of Richmond, capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War, before continuing on to Washington DC. (CB)
Day #10 Washington DC. Excursion To Mount Vernon. Today begins with a visit to MOUNT VERNON, the beloved home of George and Martha Washington, overlooking the Potomac River. Afterward, a guided sightseeing tour of Washington DC shows you the graves of American heroes, including those of John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, in beautiful Arlington National Cemetery. Your tour of the capital continues with photo stops at Capitol Hill and the White House, as well as visits to the Lincoln, Vietnam, National WWII, and Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorials. This evening, join an optional evening outing, featuring a delicious dinner followed by an illumination tour of Washington’s famous monuments.
Day #11 Washington DC. 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.