Duration: 14 Days
From colonial settlements and Civil War sites to the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains and stunning Great Smoky Mountains, this mid-South U.S. tour features historic sites, spectacular scenery, and fun experiences all along the way. Overnights include the Washington DC area, Gettysburg, Shenandoah National Park, Gatlinburg, Asheville, and Williamsburg. History buffs will enjoy visits to the Gettysburg Battlefield, where Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal speech in 1863 and Harper’s Ferry, where John Brown made his ill-fated raid on the U.S. Arsenal in 1859. Other highlights include the Lincoln Museum and Sinking Spring Farm, a reproduction of the one-room cabin where Lincoln was born; touring the grand and historic Biltmore Estate and gardens, America’s Largest Home®; Mount Airy, the real-life Mayberry and inspiration for the Andy Griffith Show; Monticello Estate, Thomas Jefferson’s home; Mount Vernon, home of George and Martha Washington; and Colonial Williamsburg, where life in the 18th century is recreated.
Throughout this tour you’ll witness fascinating landscapes. Beautiful views await you in Shenandoah National Park, with its 200,000 acres of protected lands. Marvel at the green pastures, white-board fences, and columned estates in Kentucky bluegrass country. Drive through the centre of the Smoky Mountains, with its winding roads, striking wildflowers, and animal diversity. In Virginia, stop at tranquil Mabry Mill, an old water-driven grist mill and often photographed spot, and visit Natural Bridge, a 215-foot-high limestone arch sculpted by nature in a wooded setting. These are just some of the many highlights of this tour which features stunning national parks, historic sites, and memorable experiences.
- Adventure is knocking with everything you need for perfectly affordable touring. Cosmos includes hand-selected accommodations, guided sightseeing, and seamless transportation between destinations—with value-minded travel lovers in mind. Explore with expert Cosmos Tour Directors and Local Guides, and private, first-class, air-conditioned motorcoach with free Wi-Fi. Enhance your free time to explore like a local with your CosmosGO mobile app!
- Enjoy the spectacular colours of the Appalachian Mountains on our special Fall Foliage departures: September 7 to September 28 (if Mother Nature permits).
Enjoy time at leisure to relax or do some independent exploring. Your Tour Director is on hand this evening to answer any questions.
Today begins with a tour of the nation's capital with a Local Guide. Highlights include visiting the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials and seeing Ford's Theatre where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Afterward, cross the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania, and visit the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Centre. Tonight, we offer an optional outing to a local restaurant to enjoy the flavour of the area. (B)
This morning experience a guided visit to the hallowed Gettysburg Battlefield, site of the decisive Civil War campaign and where Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg Address in November 1863. Afterward, head for Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, where, in 1859, John Brown made his ill-fated raid on the U.S. Arsenal. The park shares a part of the 2,178 mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail. En route to Shenandoah, crest the Blue Ridge Mountains for magnificent vistas of the Shenandoah Valley. Overnight in Shenandoah National Park. (B)
Travel through lumber and limestone country into wonderfully wild West Virginia. After a lunch break in the pre-Civil-War town of Lewisburg, travel to Fayetteville and stop at New River Gorge Bridge, the world's third-longest steel-span bridge, rising 876 feet above the river. Then, on to Beckley, the heart of West Virginia's "smokeless" coal industry, for an overnight stay.
Before entering Kentucky, we stop in the state capital of Charleston, West Virginia, one-time home of American frontiersman Daniel Boone. As you cross the state border, the scenery changes to green pastures, white-board fences, and the columned estates of Kentucky bluegrass country-backdrop for the movie Seabiscuit. Arrive in Lexington, the "Heart of the Bluegrass." This afternoon, enjoy a fascinating visit to the Kentucky Horse Park, from where legends like Man o' War and Secretariat conquered the racing world. (B)
Travel on the Bluegrass Parkway and stop at Sinking Spring Farm, to see where the nation's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, was born. A replica of the original log cabin is preserved as a shrine to one of the best-loved American presidents. Visit the Lincoln Museum, dedicated to Lincoln's life and times. The museum features 12 historically accurate scenes from Lincoln's life and Civil War memorabilia. Be sure to walk out to the centre of Town Square for a photo op in front of the Lincoln Statue and the Lincoln Boy Statue. Afterward, we head to Bardstown to visit an authentic Bourbon Distillery. You'll learn about the production of the finest Kentucky Straight Bourbon and enjoy a tasting. Return to Lexington, where the evening is free for independent activities. (B)
Travel to Tennessee, with a stop at Corbin for a short visit to Colonel Sanders' original fried chicken restaurant, which is now a museum. This afternoon, visit the fascinating Museum of Appalachia, with 65 acres of farmland and a number of historic cabins, barns, and other buildings-even a frontier privy! The next two nights are in Gatlinburg at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. (B)
As one of America's most popular mountain retreats, Gatlinburg offers something for everyone. The day is free for independent activities. (CB)
Drive right through the centre of the Smokies along the spectacular Newfound Gap Road, peaking at 5,046 feet. Continue into North Carolina and stop at the 8,000-acre grounds of the magnificent Biltmore Estate, built by George Vanderbilt, grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. Take a self-guided tour of America's Largest Home and immerse yourself in the grandeur of days gone by. (CB)
Blue Ridge Parkway runs from the Great Smokies to Shenandoah National Park without a single traffic light along its 470-mile route. Take in a portion of the parkway today, from Fancy Gap to Roanoke. Visit Mount Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith's hometown. Affectionately known as Mayberry, the town is the inspiration for the setting of The Andy Griffith Show that ran in the 1960s. There is time to stroll Main Street, visit Floyd's Barber shop and enjoy a taste of the past at Walker's Soda Fountain. This afternoon, stop at the tranquil setting of Mabry Mill, one of the most photographed spots in the country. Next up: a visit to Natural Bridge, a 215-foot-high arch in a wooded setting, once owned by Thomas Jefferson. George Washington's initials are still visible on the cliffside, from his work here as a young surveyor. (B)
Visit the graceful home of the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson. The Monticello Estate reflects Jefferson's skills as an artist, architect, and designer. It is the only house in the U.S. that is on the UNESCO World Heritage list of international treasures. Enjoy an orientation tour of Richmond, capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Then, we make our way to Williamsburg, between the James and York Rivers, where the very earliest English settlers established their first colonies. (CB)
Today is dedicated to Colonial Williamsburg, where American heritage is proudly preserved in the reconstructed buildings and historical displays. Stroll down quaint streets and browse through homes, gardens, taverns, shops, and exhibits. In the House of Burgesses, listen as costumed interpreters debate the controversial steps that led to the Declaration of Independence. (B)
This morning, visit Mount Vernon, the beloved home of George and Martha Washington, overlooking the banks of the Potomac River. Take time to explore the most popular historic estate in America. The final leg of your journey takes you back to Washington DC, where you overnight amidst the ambiance of this quintessential political city. Cap off your memorable adventure on our optional Farewell Dinner followed by an illumination tour of the stately monuments. (B)
Your holiday ends this morning. You may choose to extend your holiday with extra nights and explore the nation's capital further.