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Tracks of the Deep South

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Discover the soundtrack of the USA’s Deep South

14 days From £2,995 per person
Operated by our sister company Great Rail Journeys

2022 Tour code: DSG22

About the tour

Historic tracks lead us on a rail tour through the heartland of great American music - from Nashville, home of Country Music, to the Blues, Soul and Rock 'n' Roll of Memphis and the jazz of New Orleans - on this culture-packed adventure.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Days 1-2 - London and Atlanta

We fly from London Heathrow to Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, where we spend our first night.

On Day 2, we explore Atlanta, a railway city that played a crucial part in the American Civil War. We begin by visiting the Martin Luther King Center and Church, which pays homage to the man himself as well as the civil rights movement he was a driving force of. We continue to Margaret Michell House, where the author wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1936 novel, 'Gone with the Wind.'

After lunch, we make our way to the city of Chattanooga. Set on the banks of the Tennessee River and surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga is nicknamed the 'Scenic City'. We have the chance to admire this stunning scenery as we board the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway for a journey on one of the world's steepest railways, taking in views across the sprawling city below as well as the striking mountains and river. We continue to our hotel for the night.

Day 3 - Lynchburg and Jack Daniel’s Distillery

Today we head through Tennessee to Lynchburg, the capital of Moore County. Moore County has been 'dry' since the days of prohibition, which makes its main attraction all the more extraordinary - it's the home of the world-famous Jack Daniel's Distillery. After a tour and tasting of the iconic whiskey at the distillery, we continue to Nashville, where we spend three nights.

Nashville is a vibrant city famous for its rich country musical legacy, and this evening we visit one of its most famous institutions, the legendary Grand Ole Opry. Founded as a radio station in 1925, today this popular music venue still hosts the same regular broadcast, in addition to stage shows. We enjoy an evening of live music performed on what's often referred to as 'country's most famous stage' - an excellent introduction to Nashville's music heritage.

Days 4-5 - Nashville

We delve further into Nashville's musical history today. The city has been synonymous with country music since the 1940s, thanks to its collection of famous recording studios on 'Music Row' and the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry for three decades. A morning guided tour introduces us to the main sights of the city before we visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, the world's largest music museum. Here, we're immersed in the sounds and history of country music, as we learn the story of the genre through fascinating artefacts, sound recordings, and vintage video.

On Day 5, you're free to explore Nashville at your own pace.

Day 6 - Jackson and Memphis

Our journey through Tennessee continues. We stop at Jackson where there's free time for lunch, before continuing to the Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville. This series of museums is dedicated to the diverse history of the south; from its musical traditions to its infamous history of slave labour in the cotton fields. We complete our journey to Memphis later this afternoon, checking into our hotel.

Day 7 - Graceland and Sun Studios

We begin our day by paying a visit to fantastic Graceland, the mansion that Elvis Presley called home. We have a fascinating insight into the 'King of Rock' n' Roll' as we view his preserved living quarters, as well as his car collections. This afternoon introduces us to the sights of the extraordinary musical history of Memphis. We visit Sun Studio, an iconic studio that lays claim to being the birthplace of rock' n' roll, and once boasted a roster that featured both Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

Day 8 - The City of New Orleans train and the Oak Alley Plantation

We board Amtrak's City of New Orleans service this morning. It's claimed that the blues spread along this route by rail, and we trace the journey through Mississippi to Louisiana. The views from the train are fantastic, as the pretty, floral towns of Brookhaven and McComb lead into the exotic Cajun swamps of the Louisiana Bayou. We alight in Hammond and take a coach to the Oak Valley Plantation for a guided tour. The restored house stands as a testament to the grand lives of Louisiana landowners and the awful suffering of those enslaved here. Our tour reveals the history of the house, sometimes referred to as the 'Grande Dame of the Great River Road', along with its grounds. Later, we continue to New Orleans, where we check into our hotel for the next three nights.

Day 9 - The French Quarter and a Mississippi cruise

This morning's guided tour provides an introduction to one of the best-known areas of New Orleans: the renowned French Quarter. We stop at Café Du Mond for beignets, a delicious deep-fried choux pastry, and coffee. Following some free time, this afternoon we board a traditional paddle steamer for a delightful sightseeing cruise along the Mississippi River, taking in the site of the Battle of New Orleans. Our cruise takes place on board an authentic steamboat, and offers a view of the 'Big Easy' that only a vantage point on the river can provide. After disembarking, you're free to enjoy your evening in this exciting city.

Day 10 - New Orleans

Your entire day is free to soak up the splendour of New Orleans. Roaring with life, the 'Big Easy' is known as the south's party city thanks to Mardi Gras, yet year-round there is a sense of spirited adventure and playfulness here. A wander through the colourful streets offers an excellent introduction to the eclectic architecture stretching back centuries.

Days 11-12 - To Houston

We leave New Orleans behind today and board our Amtrak service to Houston, the famous home of space travel. We delve into the fascinating heritage on Day 12, as we visit NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Here, we see the historic Mission Control of 'Houston, we have a problem' fame, alongside displays dedicated to NASA's history.

Days 13-14 - Houston and London

We transfer to the airport today for our flight home, arriving into London Heathrow on Day 14.

Additional information

Mardi Gras

The first origins of Mardi Gras can be traced back to medieval Europe, travelling Italy and then onwards to France. On 2nd March 1699, French- Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived on a plot of land south of New Orleans - now the small town of Mobile - and named it "Pointe du Mardi Gras" when he realised it was the eve of the festive holiday. The Carnival of Mardi Gras refers to the period of feasting and fun that begins on the Christian Feast of the Epiphany (6th January) and ends on Mardi Gras (also known as 'Fat' Tuesday), the final day of revelry before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. When visiting New Orleans, the festival is in full swing, with floats making their way through the streets, and the vibrant colours of purple, green, and gold - standing for justice, faith, and power.

You can experience Mardi Gras in full swing on our Feburary Departures.

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We will write to you around 10 weeks before your departure date with the precise meeting times for your tour group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Crowne Plaza Memphis Downtown

Crowne Plaza Memphis Downtown, Memphis

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AC Hotel by Marriott

AC Hotel by Marriott, New Orleans

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Train

Amtrak

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Tracks of the Deep South

Discover the soundtrack of the USA’s Deep South

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Helen Laverack
Helen
Luke Simpson
Luke
Lynne Broadley
Lynne