The Music of America sings to your soul as you journey through Chattanooga, Smoky Mountains, Bristol, Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans in search of your perfect song.
Chattanooga, TN – Ignis Glass Studio Tour – Choo Choo Hotel
Arriving in Chattanooga, TN this afternoon, tour Ignis Glass Studio offering a hands-on glass blowing experience where you can blow your own heirloom glass ornament. With the help of their professional artists you may choose colors, assist with working the piece, and actually trap your own breath in glass. The group will be divided into two: while one group is making an ornament, the other group can browse the downtown shops.
Then check into the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel for a two night stay. All Aboard! Opened in 1909 as Terminal Station, the train depot welcomed thousands of travelers during the golden age of railroads. Today, Terminal Station stands as part of the world famous Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. History and hospitality are at the heart of the Chattanooga Choo Choo. The complex boasts onsite dining, retail shops, tranquil rose gardens and much more.
Tonight, dinner is included at Sticky Fingers Downtown Chattanooga. Enjoy BBQ classics that are pit-smoked & slathered in signature sauces at this Southern smokehouse. (D)
Day 2 Chattanooga - Songbirds Guitar Museum – Rock City – Ruby Falls – Incline Railway – Dinner Cruise
Enjoy breakfast this morning at the Frothy Monkey Restaurant located in the hotel. First stop today is the Songbirds Guitar Museum. As you tour the museum, you will learn and be inspired on a remarkable journey through the history of the guitar and its impact on pop culture and music overall. The tour will include special exhibits and interactive videos.
Next, visit “Rock City” Gardens a true marvel of nature featuring massive rock formations, gardens with over 400 native plant species and a breathtaking “See Seven States” panoramic view.
Then take a ride on the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway. Known as “America’s Most Amazing Mile,” The Incline’s trolley-style cars descends through the natural beauty surrounding historic Lookout Mountain at a breathtaking 72.7% grade – straight down! Sit back, relax and enjoy the scenic views of the mountains and valleys from the observation windows on the train as well as the panoramic views from the observation tower at The Incline’s top station.
Take a guided Waterfall Tour of Ruby Falls, This famous cave and waterfall is located 1,120 feet below the surface of Lookout Mountain and see for yourself why it’s been a popular Chattanooga attraction since 1930.
After you disembark at the Incline’s Lower Station, take some time to explore historic St. Elmo. The town of St. Elmo is home to an eclectic collection of shops, restaurants and attractions, all within a few blocks of the Incline.
Tonight, enjoy a dinner cruise on the Southern Belle. Since 1985, the Southern Belle Riverboat has had a simple mission: to provide a unique and spectacular experience of the beautiful city of Chattanooga. Dining cruises show off the beauty of both the river and the city, giving you gorgeous views of Chattanooga that you can only experience from the Southern Belle, all while enjoying a fantastic meal! (B,D)
Day 3Smoky Mountains – Dollywood – Dolly Parton's Stampede Dinner Show
Travel to Pigeon Forge, TN. Spend the afternoon at Dollywood Music Theme Park. Enjoy live stage shows, Dolly museum, master craftsmen at work, train ride, an American Eagle habitat, and for the very brave the Wild Eagle-America’s First Wing Coaster!, but for those not so brave it is fun to watch.
Check into your Pigeon Forge Hotel for a two night stay. Tonight’s dining & entertainment will be at Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Show. Dolly Parton’s Stampede is filled with a friendly North and South competition, thrilling horse riding stunts, spectacular special effects, phenomenal musical productions plus a mouth-watering four-course feast complete with a delicious dessert! Also, Stampede’s SKEETER & NUGGET show delivers a huge helping of family-friendly comedy at every show! As Dolly says “It’s the most fun place to eat in the Smokies.”
Smoky Mountains - National Park Tour, Ole Smoky Moonshine, Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud
After breakfast this morning, a local guide escorts you deep into Smoky Mountain National Park - the most visited National Park in America - on a narrated sightseeing tour. Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park.
At the end of your tour, you visit Gatlinburg for the afternoon. Here you can tour Ole Smoky Moonshine, visit Ripley’s Aquarium or the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tram. There are also numerous restaurants and gift shops to fill your afternoon.
Then tonight you have seats right in the middle of the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s Dinner Show – an evening of Feudin’ Feastin’ and Family Fun as these two families settle their differences mountain-style. Whether you’re city-folk or country cuzins, you’ll love the singing and dancing, mighty feats of strength, jaw dropping stunts and side-splitting comedy. (B,D)
Smoky Mountains - Depart for Bristol, TN/VA
Smith Morning Variety Show – The Island –
After breakfast check out of your hotel and depart for the Country Tonite Theater and enjoy the Smith Family Variety Show. This show is filled with Southern music and culture. You’ll enjoy their unique brand of music and comedy in this intimate, familial style show. Their talented blend of classic country, bluegrass, gospel, oldies rock-n-roll, and clean family comedy pleases all.
Enjoy free time, shopping and lunch on your own at The Island. The Island in Pigeon Forge, TN boasts 23 acres of entertainment in an inviting setting perfect for groups trying to escape the everyday. With over 80 shops, restaurants and attractions, our location combines all things fun, in a safe environment where you can eat, shop and play. The Island’s diverse selection of activities makes it a one-stop-shop of fun for all ages. The Island Show Fountains are programmed to music and lights year round and you can purchase a ticket to ride “The Wheel” which is 200 feet tall. There truly is something for everyone to enjoy at The Island.
Bristol Birthplace of Country Music – Carter Fold – Travel to Bristol, VA. for a two night stay. Dinner is at a local restaurant, following which you drive deep into the Virginia Mountains for an evening at the Carter Fold. Dedicated to the First Family of Country Music, the legendary Carters were at the 1927 Bristol Session, and have been given the greatest share of the credit for the birth of commercial country music.
You will have time to visit the A.P. Carter Cabin, and the Music Center whose objective it is to promote the old-time music. You will see family artifacts and hear conversation from docents about a famous son-in-law. But the highlight is the Carter Fold music show. In keeping with their traditional music style, no electrical instruments are allowed (it’s all acoustic). This is not your typical Country Music show, it’s old time joyful music with local folks who come every week and dance for the sheer joy of it.
Bristol, VA - Pickin’ Porch - Birthplace of Country Music
Your Sunday morning in the mountains begins with a Gospel Brunch at Heartwood, a place that blends Appalachian heritage, and crafts, with local foods. You will enjoy live Gospel Music from mountain musicians and a buffet filled with farm fresh Virginia foods. You will also time to shop for Mountain arts and craft work.
The afternoon features the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. An affiliate of the Smithsonian it is dedicated to an event known as “The Bristol Sessions.” Which were perhaps the single greatest moment in recording history – this was the first commercially successful, music recording session.
It was 1927 and a talent scout for the Victor Talking Machine Company brought a portable recording device (four men had to carry it) to a hat factory in Bristol. He advertised, inviting musicians to record the music of the Appalachians. Among the first few were The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, both destined to be legends. Through this museum the authenticity of that single moment and this region’s rich music legacy sing loud and proud today.
This evening your group will enjoy a country dinner and a little Front Porch Pickin,’ a traditional Appalachian evening with musicians coming together for no other reason than the joy of playing. It’s through these impromptu gatherings that much of the old-time country, gospel and bluegrass music has been preserved. This is a very casual night you should feel free to sing a long any time you want.
Depart for Nashville - Johnny Cash Museum, Fifth & Broadway - Showbars on Broadway
This morning you leave the mountains of Southwest Virginia and Tennessee – following the earlier musicians from mountain farms – to dreams in Nashville.
On arrival you’ll find an immediate connection to Bristol, at the new Johnny Cash Museum. He was of course, that famous son-in-law who married June Carter Cash the daughter of Mother Maybelle Carter. His museum features the largest and most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world. It chronicles the life of the “Man in Black” with interactive technology.
Next on tour is the Ryman Auditorium, the “Mother Church of Country Music.” From 1943 to 1974 the Ryman was the home of The Grand Ole Opry. The legends of country music all played here, and it’s a romantic and historic landmark that is often used today. After this tour you will be able to say, you were on the Ryman Stage.
Walk right across the street for the next stop on our musical adventure - the National Museum of American African American Music! This brand new history of music museum is state-of-the-art, and completely mind-blowing. As you make your way through the exhibit, you'll become part of a Southern Gospel Choir, see the bedazzling costumes of the Supremes and Little Richard, and learn dance steps from Beyonce. It's truly a one of kind experience!
After your tour, dinner is a $25 Voucher at the Assembly Food Hall, a European-style market with casual dining both indoor and open air, high atop Fifth + Broadway. With eats and entertainment for all ages, this venue is changing the way Nashville lives, works, and plays. Enjoy premier shopping & ridiculously good food at Apple Store, Ariat, Free People, Cava, Hattie B’s, Shake Shack, Slim & Husky’s and much more all while taking in the downtown views.
Then the balance of your evening is free to enjoy the shows as you wish. Broadway Ave cuts through the heart of Downtown Nashville, from 1st Ave and the Tennessee River to the Ryman Auditorium at Fifth + Broadway. You will find many shops and boutiques such as Ernest Tubb’s Record Store, Betty Boots and several Western Shops. Plus, attractions like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Musicians Hall of Fame. But the real reason you are here are the showbars. Choose from Honky Tonk Central, Robert’s Western World, The Stage, Luke Bryan’s 32 Bridge, Whiskey Bent, Legends Corner, AJ’s Good Time Bar (AJ is Alan Jackson), Jason Aldean’s Kitchen & Rooftop Bar, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, Miranda Lambert's brand new Casa Rosa and several more.
Plus, there are two great showbars right inside Fifth + Broadway. The Twelve Thirty Club and the Rooftop Terrace at Assembly Food Hall where food, drinks, atmosphere and music collide for another Nashville Experience. You are literally in the heart of Music City and the sound of Country Music is pulsing everywhere you go.
Many of the showbars in “The District” are much more than you would imagine. There are rooftop bars, three and four story showplaces with music on every floor, full scale restaurants and/or sandwich shops as well as souvenir stores. Its as much, if not more, music and fun than any Dancin’ Fool or Music Fan can handle.
Nashville - Studio B Recording Session – Music Row - Country Music Hall of Fame - Grand Ole Opry
This morning you meet our Troubadour, a Nashville singer / songwriter who is your tour guide. You begin with the downtown where you learn its colorful history. You drive by the world famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Honky Tonk Row, the original Ernest Tubb Record Shop and more. As you motor thru Music Row you learn about the recording industry. You will hear insight from your Troubadour about what it is like to be immersed in the Nashville music scene, both the struggles and the victories!
The afternoon begins on Nashville’s famed Music Row at the Historic RCA Studio B. Here, you get a up-close look at a famous studio. Music legends Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley; and more recently Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, and Marty Stuart recorded here. Inside the studio, you actually interact with a professional sound engineer in a group recording session.
Then it’s off to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the keeper of priceless Country Music Treasures. Your self-guided tour is a walk through history, one that leads you from the earliest folk traditions to the music that thrills millions of fans today. Every tour ends in the Hall of Fame Rotunda, the never-ending Circle, and storied home of the inductees.
As time allows your group can explore the Downtown. Visit Ernest Tubbs, shop for Cowboy Boots, have a beer at Tootsies and soak in the atmosphere that is unique to Music City.
For dinner you’ll find that the most famous show in country music is now making its mark on Southern cuisine, in a new Nashville restaurant as uniquely entertaining as the Grand Ole Opry itself. Your dinner this evening is at the Backstage Grill, where country cooking and music define the menu.
Next, it’s showtime. For more than 85 years, country’s best performers have mesmerized audiences at the Grand Ole Opry – a continuously broadcast Live Radio Show. Each Opry features a variety of new stars, superstars and the legends of music. You’ll hear the very best in country with a little bluegrass and comedy added in. This is live and unrehearsed, you never see the same show twice.
The 1927 Bristol Sessions were the ‘Big Bang of Country Music’ and you visited the birthplace, the very spot where the explosion first sparked; now tonight you find yourself seated in the center of this ever expanding Musical Universe filled with brilliant lights and glorious lyrics. (B,D)
Depart for Memphis - Tina Turner Museum, Rock 'N Soul Museum, Beale Street, GuestHouse at Graceland
Enroute to Memphis, you stop for a quick visit to the Tina Turner Museum located in the historic “blacks-only”one-room schoolhouse she attended as a child. After this salute to the Queen of Rock n’ Roll you drive into Memphis and visit the Rock N Soul Museum. Created by the Smithsonian Institution, it tells the story of musical pioneers who, for the love of music, overcame racial and socio-economic barriers to create the music that shook the entire world. Then you enjoy an evening on Beale Street that includes Dinner at The Blues City Café. Check in to the beautiful GuestHouse at Graceland Hotel for 2 nights. (B,D)
Memphis – MoJo Tour, Sun Studios, Stax Records, Graceland
Memphis comes alive today starting with the MoJo Tour. A professional Beale Street musician/tour guide will sing of the city’s music history, entertaining you with tunes and behind-the-scenes stories of Memphis celebrities. Along the way, you will see the City’s famous sights including The Lorraine Motel and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, plus you have photo stops at Graceland and the Johnny Cash home.
During this tour you will also visit Sun Studios – The Birthplace of Rock N’ Roll (1950) and home to the ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ – Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Did you know Studio owner Sam Phillips, a music legend in his own right, discovered BB King and recorded Howlin’ Wolf while working for another label?
And, did you know that Sun Studios is still rockin’ today? You never know who may walk in the door as you’re walking out.
After lunch is a visit to Stax Records (1959). They launched the careers of Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett, Booker T & the MG’s and dozens of others whose influence remains vital to R & B today. This museum preserves the legacy of American soul music with records, video, artifacts and memorabilia.
The balance of the afternoon is spent exploring Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland Mansion. Where you are fully immersed in his life and career. At the new Elvis Presley’s Memphis you learn of his roots, his influences and his artistry. Admission includes the Elvis the Entertainer Career Museum, Presley Motors Automobile Museum and many other exhibits.
Dinner will be at EP’s Bar & Grill in the New Guest House at Graceland hotel. Where you enjoy the soul of the South with a modern twist. Here, Elvis’ favorite food and beverages meet contemporary interpretations. You’ll feel right at home in this Memphis-inspired setting with lots of Southern flair.
Set Sail on the American Queen or the American Countess (options to take Amtrak instead are available).
After breakfast at the hotel, you board the American Queen and prepare to embark on an unforgettable journey down America's largest and most historical river. It's time to start your voyage where memories will be made that will last a lifetime!
Modern amenities and classic luxury combine aboard the American Queen. Enjoy Victorian opulence with details like scrolling woodwork, fresh flowers and lacy filigree or travel back in time with the world of Mark Twain for the ship's collection, Enjoy nightly entertainment aboard the river boat in the grand saloon or the Captain's Lounge, or stroll up and down the decks admiring the views and scenery during your cruise.
Cruising on the Mississippi River
There is always plenty to do between dawn and ducks on the river and today is the perfect day to enjoy the many public spaces and activities that are available to you onboard. Consider booking an indulgent, stress-relieving massage in the American Queen's spa. Browse the Emporium gift shop for the perfect keepsake, or take time to mingle with fellow guests.
Vicksburg perfectly blends Southern culture and heritage with exciting modern attractions. Described as the "Key to the South" by Abraham Lincoln, this southern town carries a history unlike any other Civil War city. Vicksburg was founded in 1911 and grew as a vital river port city, It was a major component to the civil War and carries much of the history within the town, Today, Vicksburg is a popular spot for tourists to learn about the battles of the city, taste the cuisine , visit the many museums, and pick out the perfect souvenir.
This charming river tow was first inhabited by the Natchez Indians and French explorers who shared the land. It was founded in 1716, making it the oldest city on the Mississippi River. The city is known for its elegance, hospitality, and impressive preservation of history - found on every street corner through Natchez. Guests will enjoy the unique shops restaurants, museums, and historical houses located in Natchez, as they explore the beautiful downtown areas.
Baton Rouge, LA
The Capital of Louisiana has a deep culture and rich history. Named by French explorer, Sieur D'Iberville, after a reddish pole marking two separate tribal hunting grounds, Baton Rouge has transformed into a rich cultural city. Locals speak a version of French in their everyday language, The city is home to Louisiana's capitol building, which is the largest in the United States, as well as the old State Capitol - a Gothic architectural monument located on the bluffs overlooking the Mighty Mississippi. Spend the day exploring all that Baton Rough has to offer, from the museums and the architecture to the shops and the cuisine - everyone will enjoy and exciting, busy day!
St Francisville, LA
St. Francisville today is a testament to the lifestyle of a bygone era, with its plethora of charming antebellum-period homes and striking architecture. With over 140 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, beautiful plantation homes nestled in the rolling countryside and bustling Main Street shops, this quaint town situated on the bluffs of the Mississippi River has a style all its own.
Nottoway is the South's largest, most glorious remaining Antebellum mansion with a rich history dating back to 1859. Original furnishings mingle with era-appropriate antiques to create an atmosphere that does justice to the home’s original ambiance. It is fascinating history and luxurious aesthetic packaged in Southern hospitality – an experience that you will not want to pass up.
Depart American Queen - Tour New Orleans
New Orleans – French Quarter – Dixieland Jazz Dinner Cruise
Depart the American Queen and start your tour of New Orleans. You will enjoy two nights lodging in the French Quarter. It has been said that you have not experienced New Orleans until you’ve spent an evening in the Quarter. Tonight you enjoy a great Dixieland Jazz Dinner Cruise. Sailing onboard an authentic paddlewheel boat down the Mississippi with a Dixieland Jazz band playing into the night. Once you’ve returned to the hotel, you may want to stroll the Quarter and listen to the Jazz coming from any number of clubs. (B,D)
New Orleans, LA - Narrated Sightseeing – Mardi Gras World – Cajun Dance Hall
Today begins in the French Market with a traditional Beignet and Café au Lait, then you enjoy a walking tour that highlights this unique section of the City. Discussion will begin with the people. The French, the Cajuns and Creoles, commentary will include the architecture, history and traditions. You will walk through Jackson Square, see the St Louis Cathedral and more. The last site included this morning is Mardi Gras World. Created for you by the people who bring Mardi Gras to life every year. The colors, the lights, the music, the joie de vivre. It’s all here in one magical place where you can peek behind the curtain and see Mardi Gras in the making. You then have a free afternoon in the French Quarter to explore the shops, museums and clubs. Dinner tonight is another musical treat at Mulates, the King of Cajun Dine & Dance Halls. Featuring live Cajun Music and Dancing, Mulates is where Cajuns come to celebrate their heritage and the world comes to help them celebrate.
After breakfast at your hotel, check-out then depart for home with a song in your heart and music in your soul.
For more information or to book this trip, please Click HERE.