Day 1: Join trip in Savannah
Join the trip in Savannah and check-in to the hotel.
Day 2: Walking tour of this historic city
The historic district of Savannah is the largest registered urban National Historic Landmark district in the United States. This means it is officially recognised for its outstanding degree of historical significance. It is a charming city and boasts 21 squares filled with statues and fountains. This morning we will embark on a walking tour of Savannah, where we will see some of the many restored Federal and Regency buildings. We will view the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the Colonial Park Cemetery (established about 1750) , the Oglethorpe Monument and Chippewa Square (where the waiting for the bus scene was filmed in Forrest Gump). The tour will end at the City Market, the commercial and social centre of Savannah since the early 1700s.
The rest of the afternoon has been left free to continue exploring at your own leisure, perhaps choosing to take a river cruise (optional) where you will hear intriguing tales and historic facts about the history of Savannah.
Savannah has long been known as one of America's most haunted cities. There is the possibility of joining a walking tour to discover Savannah's haunted history tonight.
Day 3: Wander round Bonaventure Cemetery
Nestled beneath a canopy of live oak and magnolias laced with Spanish moss, Bonaventure is a Southern Gothic sculpture garden consistently named on travel lists as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. Savannahians have been interring their dead on the grounds of this former 18th century plantation since well before the Civil War. We will learn more about its history on a two hour walking tour.
Later on, a short drive brings us to Charleston. Our first stop will be the City Market, one of the nation's oldest public markets and today many vendors sell art, food and jewellery. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore this old city. You may want to visit the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, which is considered to be one of the three most historically significant colonial buildings in the US. The declaration of independence was read from its balcony for the citizens of South Carolina. Throughout the years this structure has functioned as a custom house, public market, public meeting place, military prison, post office and barracks.
Day 4: Charleston tour, Southern cooking class
Today we start our morning with a walking tour where we will learn about the history, culture and architecture of Charleston. The historic district boasts handsome old houses and charming little streets. On the tour, we will see Dock Street Theatre (America's first theatre), Rainbow Row ( a series of thirteen colourful historic houses) and the Old Slave Mart.
After lunch we will visit Magnolia Plantation, a historic plantation house just outside of Charleston. The old house was founded in 1676, and is steeped in over 300 years of family history. However, most visitors come for the gardens which are enormous and filled with azaleas, lillies, roses, magnolias and many more species. These are the oldest public gardens in the US, opening their doors to visitors in 1870.
This evening we will participate in a hands-on Southern cooking class so roll up your sleeves and get ready to cook! You will create a meal that you will sit down and enjoy at the end of class.
Day 5: Visit the Aiken Rhett historic house, head to Atlanta
We continue our exploration of Charleston with a visit to the Aiken-Rhett House, one of the historic homes in downtown Charleston, before heading to Atlanta, the capital of Georgia and one of the most important Confederacy areas during the civil war. On our way there, we will stop in Augusta, hometown of The Godfather of Soul, Mr James Brown. This singer/song writer, activist was the creator of funk music and a major figure of 20th century popular music and dance. His career spanned six decades, and influenced the development of several music genres. This evening, we can visit Centennial Olympic Park and see the Fountain of Rings Show.
Day 6: Discover the Martin Luther King, Jr National Historic Site
On our way to Nashville, we will visit the Martin Luther King, Jr National Historic Site where we can hear his story, visit the home of his birth and where he played as a child. We will follow in his footsteps and hear his voice in the church where he moved hearts and minds. We will walk through the International World Peace Rose Garden, The King Centre (where we will view the Eternal Flame), and Dr and Mrs King's Tomb and stroll down the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.
This evening, we can experience all that Nashville, the country music capital of the world, has to offer, perhaps visiting the famous Wildhorse Saloon where we can try some free line dancing lessons (if available). You may also want to drink some Jack Daniels whiskey, which is produced in Tennessee.
Day 7: In Nashville; visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Historic RCA Studio B
This morning we will visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum where we can view memorabilia from stars such as Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn and Garth Brooks. We will also take a guided tour of Historic RCA Studio B, where artists such as Elvis and Dolly Parton recorded over 35,000 songs. Afterwards, we will enjoy a sightseeing tour of the famous landmarks of Nashville including the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park.
Broadway is lined with honky-tonks and live music venues playing not only country, but all music genres, a great way to enjoy your free evening.
Day 8: Drive to Memphis, optional museum visits
We will depart early for Memphis today. Memphis is famous for being the home of Elvis Presley, the birthplace of the blues and a key location in the Civil Rights struggles. After a short orientation tour, you can choose to visit The National Civil Rights Museum (built around the former Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968) or the Rock 'n' Soul Museum (optional).
This evening we can enjoy live music along Memphis' famous Beale Street. Legendary forefathers such as Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters and B.B. King helped to put Beale Street on the musical map.
Day 9: Discover legendary Graceland, Elvis Presley's home
A trip to Memphis would not be complete without a visit to Graceland, the home of 'the King', Elvis Presley. Elvis died at the estate in 1977 and Graceland is forever styled in '70s decor. Our guided tour focuses on the splendid garden and the opulent mansion. Rooms of note include the Jungle Room which includes an indoor waterfall. It was built as a den and was later converted into a recording studio, where Elvis recorded his last two albums. The Trophy Building displays records, movie posters, memorabilia and awards.
The rest of the afternoon is yours to enjoy. Visit one of the museums you didn't see yesterday or take a trip to Sun Studios, where singers such as Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and of course Elvis recorded.
This evening, it is possible to see a Broadway show or watch a concert at the Orpheum Theatre.
Day 10: Visit Clarksdale, the birthplace of the Delta Blues, continue to Vicksburg
Today we travel along Old Highway 61, more commonly referred to as The Blues Highway. Our first stop will be in Clarksdale, Mississippi at the junction of Highways 61 and 49. Legend says that it was at these crossroads that Robert Johnson, the godfather of the blues, sold his soul to the Devil. Johnson's music later went on to influence some of the most highly regarded artists and musicians in modern history, from Bob Dylan to Eric Clapton. Known as the birthplace of Delta Blues, Clarksdale is the premier city for the preservation of the arts and music of the Mississippi Delta as we will see with visits to The Delta Blues Museum and a local juke joint. After a uniquely American experience immersed in blues culture along this famous route, we end our day in the historic riverboat gambling town of Vicksburg along the Mississippi River.
Day 11: Cajun Country swamp tour, continue to New Orleans
Our route today takes us through Cajun Country. We will stop for a swamp tour before we arrive in New Orleans. Experience the tranquillity of the swamp from a boat, looking out for alligators and birds such as little blue herons and great white egrets.
Otherwise known as the 'big easy', New Orleans is an eclectic mix of European, Creole and Cajun culture which manifests in every aspect of the architecture, cuisine and musical scene. It has to be one of the most diverse and intoxicating cities in the US, with the scents of delicious food and strains of jazz music around every corner. We will check into our hotel and have the evening free to explore the French Quarter and its many bars, restaurants and live music venues where we can listen to some jazz, perhaps whilst sipping some Southern Comfort, which originated in the city. New Orleans is well known for its food, and the local food specialties are well worth a try, in particular spicy jambalaya, gumbo or the huge po'boys (submarine sandwiches, often filled with shrimp).
Day 12: Discover the 'big easy'
Today is a free day to explore New Orleans further, and a great way to start is with beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde. Optional trips include visiting Mardi Gras World, taking a trolley to the beautiful Garden District with its 19th century mansion houses, or joining a Voodoo cemetery tour. There is plenty to enjoy in the city just by wandering around the streets and listening to the street musicians playing jazz, blues or honky tonk - frankly the highest quality buskers you'll find anywhere! Your Explore Leader will help you organise your day based on your interests, and in the evening Frenchmen Street is the place to go to find the area's best live bands.
Day 13: Trip ends in New Orleans
Our trip ends in New Orleans this morning.
Touring with Explore
Explore have been creating award-winning adventures for over 35 years and are experts when it comes to unique travel experiences.
Their small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981 and today, Explore are one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 600 trips to more than 130 countries. At Explore, they are passionate about travel and have developed a wide range of unique activities and experiences which gives their customers an unforgettable adventure with a team of award-winning Explore leaders .
With Explore, you'll get to see your destination from a whole new perspective that takes you away from the typical well-trodden tourist track. You'll have the chance to meet, dine and stay with local people, rest in authentic accommodation with other like-minded explorers and travel to must-see destinations with a unique Explore twist.
From family trips to holidays for solo travellers; cycling tours to wildlife safaris; trekking on mountains or exploring miles of scenic coastline; self-guided holidays or small group trips; there is something for every kind of traveller with Explore. They will provide their expert knowledge, exciting itineraries and outstanding service as part of their sustainable travel experiences which take you under the skin of the country you're visiting for the adventure of a lifetime.