Sightseeing:In Chicago, Nashville, New Orleans; orientation tours in St. Louis and Memphis, Gateway Arch, Country Music Hall of Fame, RCA Studios, reserved premier seating at the Grand Ole Opry, Graceland, and boat cruise through the Atchafalaya Basin.
Scenic Highlights:Mississippi River, Cajun Country, and Louisiana Bayou Country.
Services of a professional Tour Director; Local Guide for sightseeing in New Orleans.
Welcome to the “Windy City.” Enjoy time at leisure to relax or to do some independent exploring. Your Tour Director is on hand this evening to answer any questions.
Included sightseeing shows off the city’s landmarks, then an afternoon at leisure. Maybe ride the elevator to the top of Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, stroll in Grant Park, or cruise on Lake Michigan. Tonight, how about dinner on Navy Pier with its delightful shops and restaurants?
Day 3Chicago–St. Louis
Travel across the fertile Illinois farmlands to St. Louis, “Gateway to the West.” An orientation tour includes a trip to the top of the GATEWAY ARCH, which commemorates the city’s key role in westward expansion. Visit the museum under the Arch, celebrating Lewis & Clark’s famous expedition 200 years ago.
Day 4St. Louis–Nashville
Recross the Mississippi River today and roll southeast to Paducah on the Ohio River. Late-afternoon arrival in Nashville. (CB)
Start the day with a sightseeing tour of Nashville’s famous landmarks and the Music Row recording studios. Tour historic RCA STUDIO B, cradle of the “Nashville Sound” in the 1960s and where stars such as Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Eddy Arnold, Willie Nelson, and the Everly Brothers recorded many of their biggest hits. Afterward, visit the COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME with its glittering costumes, rare instruments, and Elvis’ “solid-gold” Cadillac! Tonight, enjoy reserved premier seating for a show at the world-famous GRAND OLE OPRY, a mecca for country musicians.
Cross Tennessee to Memphis, “Home of the Blues” and a city with a distinct Southern flavor. Enjoy an orientation tour on arrival. Join the optional excursion to Sun Studio, where rock ‘n’ roll was first recorded, followed by dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 7Memphis. Visit to Graceland
A good portion of the day is devoted to GRACELAND, Elvis Presley’s beautiful estate. Your platinum audio tour focuses on the splendid garden, private plane, and the opulent 15,000-square-foot mansion. Return to Memphis mid-afternoon. Tonight you may want to visit a blues club on famous Beale Street.
Day 8Memphis–Amtrak City of New Orleans Train–Hammond–Lafayette
Providing the locomotion for today’s journey through the state of Mississippi and into the Mississippi River Delta is the CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, the famous train of story and song. Pass cotton fields and catfish ponds as the train enters Louisiana. In Hammond, leave the train and board a motorcoach for the short drive into the heart of Cajun Country to Lafayette, first settled by French-Acadian farmers expelled from Nova Scotia by the British in the 1700s.
Day 9Lafayette–New Orleans
On to St. Martinville to see the famous oak tree from Longfellow’s poem, Evangeline, then CRUISE the swampy waterways of the Atchafalaya Basin. Watch for alligators basking on the banks. Cross Bayou Country to New Orleans. (B)
Day 10New Orleans
A full morning dedicated to the sights and sounds of New Orleans, with a guided tour that includes the French Quarter landmarks, St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, and a visit to a unique above-ground cemetery. The rest of the day is free.
Day 11New Orleans
The trip ends today with guests departing on individual schedules. Transfers to the New Orleans International Airport are included.
Transportation:AMTRAK® City of New Orleans train from Memphis to Hammond; private, deluxe air-conditioned motorcoach while touring.
1 breakfast, 1 continental breakfast