Welcome to Music City, USA! At 6 pm, meet your travelling companions for a welcome drink.
Start your day with 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. This afternoon, visit 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. Tonight, you have reserved seats for an unforgettable show at the world-famous GRAND OLE OPRY, the mecca for country musicians. (B)
This morning, 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 M.G.'s, Aretha Franklin, and others. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant tonight. (B,D)
SPECIAL FEATURE: Spend the next two nights at the Guest House at Graceland, located just a few steps from Graceland. The hotel is designed with classic elegance, modern luxury, and is uniquely Elvis.
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 the mansion, see his original business office, 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. There's also time to see Elvis' collection of ornate jumpsuits and capes, as well as the automobile museum. The remainder of the day is at leisure. (B)
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 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 GROUND ZERO BLUES CLUB, owned by Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman. After lunch, continue to Greenwood, where many of the city's downtown buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Upon arrival, take a TOUR to see the sites and locations used for the Oscarwinning movie The Help. (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.
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. Dinner tonight is at an elegant ANTEBELLUM MANSION. (B,D)
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 MARTIN ACCORDIONS, where you learn the history of accordion making, and enjoy music and storytelling by the Martin family. (B)
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 HOUMAS HOUSE PLANTATION, the "Crown Jewel of the Great River Road." Tour the mansion, which is filled with period antiques and Louisiana artwork, and enjoy some time to stroll the magnificent gardens. You may just want to relax under one of the magnificent oak trees. We then continue to exciting New Orleans for a 2-night stay. (B,L)
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. This afternoon is free to explore New Orleans on your own, shop for a favourite souvenir, or relax with a fresh cup of cafe au lait and a beignet. Tonight, celebrate your musical journey with a festive farewell dinner at one of the oldest restaurants in New Orleans. (B,D)
The tour ends after breakfast with guests departing on individual schedules. (B)