A Southern Sojourn
· New Orleans
Arrive Atlanta and transfer to your hotel
This evening, one may want to visit Underground Atlanta. Located in the heart of downtown, this six block area was once the city center. During the 1920's, construction of the concrete "viaducts" elevated the street system one level, thus giving birth to what is now Underground Atlanta. Today it is bustling with activity. Take a guided history tour or enjoy a variety of clubs and restaurants.
Spend the day exploring Atlanta from its place in the Civil Rights movement to the iconic attractions of today.
Drive to the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Sweet Auburn district to see the restored King birth home, the Ebenezer Baptist Church where three generations of the King family preached, and Dr. King's burial site. Or visit the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum, next to The Carter Center. The library includes a replica of the Oval Office and Jimmy Carter's Nobel Peace Prize, as well as traveling exhibits.
This afternoon, return to downtown. Choose to take the Inside CNN Studio Tour and watch behind the scenes action of the newsroom, or head to the World of Coca-Cola where the famous soft drink's story is told through fascinating exhibits, a 4-D theater, classic ads and a fully functioning bottling station. Taste more than 70 Coca-Cola products from around the world.
In the evening visit the Virginia-Highland district, Atlanta’s most popular neighborhood for shopping, dining and nightlife.
Atlanta – Blue Ridge, Georgia (93mi/150km)
Travel northwest to the Gateway of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Blue Ridge was once an elite health resort because of it mineral waters. Today people visit it for its upscale antique and specialty shops, galleries, restaurants and small town atmosphere.
This afternoon ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The railroad connects the towns of Blue Ridge and McCaysville, and offers a journey along the beautiful Toccoa River. Cross the blue line in McCaysville and stand in two states at one time, Tennessee and Georgia.
Blue Ridge – Chattanooga – Nashville (214mi/345km)
En route to Nashville, stop in Chattanooga. The Downtown Riverfront District runs along the Tennessee River and offers visitors museums and cruises along the river. Walk across the nation’s longest pedestrian bridge, the Walnut Street Bridge and enjoy lunch at one of the Riverfront’s many restaurants.
Upon arrival in Nashville visit the Country Music hall of Fame and Museum. Rhinestone costumes, seasoned instruments and tear-stained lyric sheets are only the beginning. Here one can also take a tour of Historic RCA Studio B – where Elvis and others recorded over 35,000 songs.
This evening, enjoy the area between Broadway and 2nd Avenue, filled with entertainment venues, night clubs and an assortment of restaurants.
This morning, tour the Grand Ole Opry House. Guides provide a rare glimpse of what happens behind the scenes of the world's most famous country music show. In the afternoon, visit Ryman Auditorium. Built in 1892 and designated a National Historic Landmark, one can take a self guided museum tour or guided backstage tour or record a CD in the new Ryman Recording Studio. This evening, return for a show or concert at this premier performance hall.
Nashville - Memphis (212mi/341km)
En route to Memphis, visit Belle Meade Plantation. Once a 5,400-acre world-renowned thoroughbred horse farm, today it is a 30-acre historical site. Also on site are 7 historic outbuildings, including The Winery at Belle Meade Plantation.
Arrive Memphis, where the roots of Blues, Country and Gospel music formed in the 1930s. Begin your visit at The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and learn about the explosion of Sun Studio, and Memphis’ musical heyday in the 70s, to its global musical influence. Stroll at your own pace through the seven galleries featuring audio visual programs, instruments, costumes and other musical treasures.
No visit to Memphis is complete with a tour of Graceland. Walk in the footsteps of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll Learn of Elvis’ humble beginnings through his rise to superstardom. See how a rock ‘n’ roll legend lived and relaxed with family and friends. The Graceland experience includes Graceland mansion, Elvis' Automobile Museum, Elvis' custom jets.
This afternoon and evening spend time on Beale Street, the melting pot of delta blues, jazz, rock-n-roll, R&B, and gospel. Enjoy the the rich, spicy food of the south, cold brew and hot music
Memphis – Vicksburg, Mississippi (250mi/402km)
Upon arrival in Vicksburg, you may want to visit Vicksburg National Military Park which preserves the site of the Civil War’s Battle of Vicksburg.
Vicksburg – New Orleans, Louisiana (207mi/333km)
Steeped in a history of influences from Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and beyond, New Orleans is one of America's most culturally and historically rich destinations. This afternoon, tour some of the city’s various neighborhoods. The Garden District homes are still known by the names of the families that built them over a century ago, and the Arts District features the nation-al World War II Museum and the Contemporary Arts Center.
Of course the French Quarter is the most famous New Orleans neighborhood. Filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars, it is be a unique place to spend the evening.
There are 20 historic districts on the National Register in New Orleans, more than any other city in the United States. Inside these districts, an array of architectural styles from different time periods and cultures are reflected in individual homes and buildings. Visit homes such as the 1850 House, the Beauregard-Keyes Home and Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, a Grand Southern Mansion surrounded by the some of the South's most beautiful gardens.
New Orleans – Mobile(146mi/233km)
Before departing New Orleans, make time to enjoy a traditional Louisiana Creole Brunch at Brennan’s. Located in the French Quarter, breakfast at Brennan’s is a tradition among New Orleanians.
This afternoon, arrive in Destin. Stunning white beaches, challenging golf and world-famous fishing define this Emerald Coast of Florida city. Settle into your resort and begin to enjoy its amenities.
Today, explore Mobile Bay. Start at Bellingrath Gardens and Home, the 1930s Eden of Mobile’s first Coca-Cola bottler. Tour Fort Gaines, an old federal citadel guarding the bay’s entry, then ferry to Fort Morgan. Take scenic Route 98 to Point Clear and ogle gorgeous mansions on its seaside walk. Before crossing the bay back to Mobile, visit Fairhope, a resort and arts haven founded as a utopian town in the 1890s. “The Fairhope Museum of History has lots of local stories, and the views and sunsets from the public park are spectacular.
Mobile – Montgomery (168mi/271km)
Depart Destin for Montgomery, the capital of Alabama and a center of activity during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 60’s.
This afternoon, visit the Rosa Parks Library and Museum. Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old seamstress, sparked the modern civil rights movement by taking a stand and keeping her seat on a city bus. Watch a reenactment of the events and listen to actual participants of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. One can also visit the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church and see the actual pulpit where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., first preached his message of hope and brotherhood. This evening, explore downtown Birmingham’s many dining and nightlife options.
Montgomery – Atlanta (160mi/257km)
This morning, visit “Old Alabama Town”. This village features authentic 19th and early 20th century homes and buildings that have been saved from demolition, carefully restored, and reopened to the public as a history museum. Here one will learn how early Americans of all backgrounds lived and worked in Central Alabama.