On this vacation, visit the cities and landmarks that have influenced America’s musical heritage—country, soul, blues, and jazz with Elvis Presley also thrown into the mix. Start in Nashville and visit the Country Music Hall of Fame; RCA Studio B, one of the country’s most important recording studios; and the Grand Ole Opry, where you have reserved seats. In Memphis, visit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, celebrating Memphis soul music; Sun Studio, the most famous recording studio, which launched the careers of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and more; and Elvis Presley’s Graceland. Travel deep into the heart of the Mississippi Delta, the “Birthplace of the Blues,” and visit the Delta Blues Museum, dedicated to the blues.Other musical landmarks on this tour include the B.B. King Museum and the Louisiana Delta Music Museum, where you will learn more about Louisiana Delta musicians such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, and more. In New Orleans, visit the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park and enjoy great jazz and delicious food during your lunch cruise on the Mississippi River.But that’s not all…in addition to musical heritage, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn about life on a plantation and cruise through the swampy waterways of Atchafalaya Basin. It’s a trip no music lover should miss!
Day #1 Arrive In Nashville. Welcome to Music City, USA! At 6 pm, meet your traveling companions for a welcome drink.
Day #2 Nashville. This morning, enjoy a sightseeing tour of Nashville, including Centennial Park’s full-size replica of Athens’ Parthenon, the recording studios of Music Row, and famous Honky Tonk Row. Learn their history, their importance, and the celebrities that got their starts here. We then visit the COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME to see its collection of costumes, memorabilia, instruments, and photographs. Free time this afternoon to explore on your own. Tonight you have reserved seats for an unforgettable show at the world-famous GRAND OLE OPRY, the mecca for country musicians. (B)
Day #3 Nashville–Memphis. Start your day with a visit to [LF] RCA STUDIO B, Nashville’s oldest surviving recording studio and one of the country’s most important studios. Between 1957 and 1977, more than 35,000 songs were recorded here. Make a special recording and take it home as a memory of your time in Nashville, then depart for Memphis, “Home of the Blues.” Upon arrival, visit SUN STUDIO, probably the most famous recording studio in the world and where Rock ‘n’ Roll was first recorded. This historic studio launched the careers of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more. Then, visit the STAX MUSEUM OF AMERICAN SOUL MUSIC, a celebration of the great Memphis soul music made famous by Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MGs, Aretha Franklin, and many more. Enjoy dinner this evening on vibrant Beale Street with its many music clubs. (B,D)
Day #4 Memphis. Excursion To Graceland. This morning, see all the landmarks of Memphis. A Local Guide will play and sing selections from the city’s rich musical heritage, along with generous amounts of comedy and interaction. We then travel to Elvis Presley’s GRACELAND. Tour his private jets, the mansion, the racquetball building that houses a collection of his ornate jumpsuits and capes, his original business office, and his trophy building, which houses his enormous collection of gold records and awards. The tour ends at the Meditation Garden, where Elvis and members of his family have been laid to rest. The remainder of the day is at leisure. (B)
Day #5 Memphis–Clarksdale–Greenwood. Today we follow the path of the mighty Mississippi River and travel deep into the heart of the Mississippi Delta, the “Birthplace of the Blues.” From the cotton fields, street corners, and juke joints of the Mississippi Delta came a new kind of music—the blues. Considered by many to be the only truly indigenous American music, the blues has influenced musicians worldwide. Blues legends such as Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, Ike Turner, and John Lee Hooker honed their incredible music talents here before sharing them with the world. Visit the DELTA BLUES MUSEUM, dedicated to exploring the history and heritage of this unique American musical art form. Exhibits contain historical images, artifacts, musical instruments, and the remains of the cabin where Muddy Waters lived during his days as a sharecropper. Enjoy an orientation tour of some of Clarksdale’s famous blues sites, including a photo stop at the “Cross Roads,” where legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil to play like no one else. Then, a special lunch at [LF] Ground Zero Blues Club, owned by Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman. Enjoy some downhome Southern cooking before continuing to Greenwood, where many of the city’s downtown buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (B,L)SPECIAL FEATURE: Overnight at the historic Alluvian Hotel. Originally opened in 1917, it has undergone a major transformation, and is now rated as one of the Top 10 Hotels in the United States by Conde Nast magazine.
Day #6 Greenwood–Indianola–Natchez. This morning we visit the B.B. KING MUSEUM in Indianola, hometown of the legendary musician. Explore King’s 60-plus year career, from his time as a sharecropper and his time on Memphis’ Beale Street to the international music star he has become. Artifacts, images, and a guitar studio where visitors can play instruments bring it all to life. We then continue south to beautiful Natchez. Enjoy a horse-drawn CARRIAGE RIDE through downtown as the driver tells you the stories and history that make up this beautiful city. Dinner tonight is at an elegant antebellum mansion. (B,D)
Day #7 Natchez–Frogmore–Lafayette. First stop today is FROGMORE PLANTATION, where you’ll learn about the trials and triumphs of life on the plantation, from the 1700s to today. Travel then to the LOUISIANA DELTA MUSIC MUSEUM, where you are treated to a guided tour and will learn intimate stories about Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, Conway Twitty, and other Louisiana Delta musicians. Head through Louisiana into the heart of Cajun Country. Arrive in Lafayette and participate in a unique experience at [LF] MARTIN ACCORDIONS, where you learn the history of accordion making, and enjoy music and storytelling by the Martin family. (B)
Day #8 Lafayette–Oak Alley Plantation–New Orleans. Enjoy a morning visit to St. Martinville to see the famous oak tree from Longfellow’s poem, Evangeline. Then, CRUISE through the swampy waterways of the Atchafalaya Basin. See moss-draped trees, wildlife, and maybe even a lingering alligator or two. On to the Great River Road, where wealthy plantation owners built their monumental homes. Afterward, enjoy authentic Cajun home cooking along the banks of the Atchafalaya. Visit OAK ALLEY PLANTATION, the “Grande Dame of the Great River Road.” Tour the mansion and see the quarter-mile canopy of giant live oak trees, believed to be nearly 300 years old, which forms an impressive avenue leading to the classic antebellum home. We then continue to exciting New Orleans for a 2-night stay. (B,L)
Day #9 New Orleans. This morning, a Local Guide shows you the sights and sounds of New Orleans. Visit the French Quarter, including Jackson Square and Pirate’s Alley, then stop at an above-ground cemetery and learn about the city’s unique burial customs. Drive along tree-lined St. Charles Avenue to see the stately homes bordering the historic Garden District. Visit the NEW ORLEANS JAZZ NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, which preserves the history of the people and places that helped shape the development and progression of jazz in New Orleans. This afternoon, visit the NATIONAL WORLD WAR II MUSUEM and explore the war that changed the world. From the beaches of Normandy to the sands of Iwo Jima, the museum’s exhibits are a blend of personal accounts, artifacts, documents, photographs, and original film footage. The stories of the thousands of men and women who made Allied victory in World War II possible are told through the fascinating exhibits. Tonight, celebrate your musical journey with a festive farewell dinner at the famous Court of Two Sisters restaurant. (B,D)
Day #10 New Orleans. Continue your stay in New Orleans, the “Crescent City.” Sample beignets at Café du Monde, ride a New Orleans streecar, shop for souvenirs, or learn to cook Cajun specialties at the New Orleans School of Cooking. This evening, sample some of the country’s finest restaurants or listen to some local jazz musicians at Preservation Hall. Your Tour Director will have suggestions for things to see and do. Included in your stay is a 2-hour LUNCH CRUISE along the Mississippi River, featuring great jazz and delicious food. (B daily,1 L)
Day #11 New Orleans. Continue your stay in New Orleans, the “Crescent City.” Sample beignets at Café du Monde, ride a New Orleans streecar, shop for souvenirs, or learn to cook Cajun specialties at the New Orleans School of Cooking. This evening, sample some of the country’s finest restaurants or listen to some local jazz musicians at Preservation Hall. Your Tour Director will have suggestions for things to see and do. Included in your stay is a 2-hour LUNCH CRUISE along the Mississippi River, featuring great jazz and delicious food. (B daily,1 L)
Day #12 New Orleans. The tour ends after breakfast with guests departing on individual schedules. Transfers are provided to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. (B)