Sightseeing:In Washington DC; orientation tour in Richmond, Gettysburg Battlefield, Harpers Ferry, Luray Caverns, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby Museum, Sinking Spring Farm, Whiskey Distillery, Colonel Sanders, Museum of Appalachia, Biltmore Estate, Chimney Rock, Stonewall Jackson House, Lee Chapel & Museum, Monticello, Jamestown Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg, and Mount Vernon. Inside visits as shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description, including admission charges where applicable.
Scenic Highlights:Harpers Ferry National Park, Kentucky Bluegrass Country, Shenandoah National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Natural Bridge.
Local Guides for sightseeing in Washington DC and Gettysburg; services of a professional Tour Director.
- Enjoy the spectacular colors of the Appalachian Mountains on our special fall foliage departures: September 12 to October 3 (if Mother Nature permits).
Day 1Washington DC Area
Enjoy time at leisure to relax or to do some independent exploring. Your Tour Director is on hand this evening to answer any questions.
Day 2Washington DC Area–Gettysburg
Today begins with a guided sightseeing tour that shows you the graves of American heroes, including those of John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, in beautiful Arlington National Cemetery. Afterward, your guided tour of the capital continues, with photo stops at Capitol Hill and the White House, and visits to the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials. Afterward, cross the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania for a visit of the hallowed GETTYSBURG BATTLEFIELD, site of the decisive Civil War campaign and where Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg Address in November 1863. Tonight we offer an optional outing to a local restaurant to enjoy the flavor of the area.
Day 3Gettysburg–Harpers Ferry–Luray Caverns–Shenandoah National Park
Head for HARPERS FERRY, where in 1859 John Brown made his ill-fated raid on the U.S. Arsenal. En route to Shenandoah, stop at LURAY CAVERNS for a guided tour, then up to the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains for magnificent vistas of the Shenandoah Valley. (CB)
Day 4Shenandoah National Park–New River Gorge–Beckley
Through lumber and limestone country into wonderfully wild West Virginia. After a lunch break in Lewisburg, a Civil War battlefield, visit Babcock State Park and fully operable Grist Mill. 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, the one-time home of Daniel Boone. As you cross the state border, the scenery changes to green pastures, white-board fences, and the columned estates of Kentucky. Make a stop at the LOUISVILLE SLUGGER MUSEUM AND FACTORY for a guided tour. Overnight in Louisville, home to the “most exciting two minutes in sports”—the Kentucky Derby. (CB)
This morning begins with a guided walking tour of historic CHURCHILL DOWNS. Learn about past Derby winners and the rich history. Next, experience Derby Day—from the starting gate to the finish line—at the KENTUCKY DERBY MUSEUM. Afterward, travel on the Bluegrass Parkway and stop at SINKING SPRING FARM, where Abraham Lincoln was born. A replica of the original log cabin is preserved as a shrine to the best-loved of American presidents. Visit a true working WHISKEY DISTILLERY, and learn about the production of the very finest Kentucky Straight Bourbon, for which Kentucky is famous. Overnight in Bardstown, Kentucky’s second-oldest city and “Bourbon Capital of the World.” Evening is at leisure.
This morning’s journey takes you along Kentucky’s scenic backroads. A mid-morning stop in 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. (CB)
As one of America’s most popular mountain retreats, Gatlinburg offers something for everyone. You might want to spend a day at world-famous Dollywood, an 88-acre landscaped theme park inspired by Dolly Parton and her love for the mountains, family, and country music. Tonight’s optional outing features the Dixie Stampede dinner show, an action-packed evening filled with friendly North and South competition, thrilling horse-riding stunts, spectacular special effects, and phenomenal musical productions.
Day 9Gatlinburg–Great Smoky Mountains National Park–Asheville Area
Drive right through the center of the Smokies along the spectacular Newfound Gap Road, peaking at 5,046 feet. Into North Carolina and a stop at the 7,500-acre grounds of BILTMORE ESTATE, built by George Vanderbilt, grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. Then, on to dramatic CHIMNEY ROCK, where you can take an elevator carved through solid rock up to the granite monolith for views over Hickory Nut Gorge. Park Rangers provide an opportunity to view up close and personal some of nature’s top predators. Learn about the unique adaptations of raptors, challenges they face, and about the birds currently under rehabilitation. Overnight in the Asheville area, hometown of American author Thomas Wolfe.
Day 10Asheville Area–Lexington, Virginia Area
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. 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. (CB)
Day 11Lexington Area–Richmond–Williamsburg
The day begins with a guided tour of the Stonewall Jackson House that lets you experience the pre-war life of Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and introduces you to the man who became a legend. Visit Lee Chapel & Museum, preserved as Robert E. Lee left it for the last time on September 28, 1870. This afternoon’s highlight is 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. We follow with a short sightseeing tour of Richmond, capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. The day ends in Williamsburg, between the James and York Rivers, where the very earliest European settlers established their first colonies. (CB)
Day 12Williamsburg. Excursions to Jamestown Settlement & Colonial Williamsburg
This morning, visit the nearby JAMESTOWN SETTLEMENT for a guided tour to learn about the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Then, enter COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG, where American heritage is proudly preserved in the reconstructed buildings and historical displays. Take a stroll down quaint streets and browse through homes, gardens, taverns, shops, and exhibits. In the Hall of Burgesses, listen as costumed interpreters debate the controversial steps that led to the Declaration of Independence. (CB)
Day 13Williamsburg–Mount Vernon–Washington DC Area
This morning, visit MOUNT VERNON, the beloved home of George and Martha Washington, overlooking the banks of the Potomac River. Time to explore the most popular historic estate in America. The final leg of your journey takes you back to Washington DC. This evening, join an optional evening outing featuring a delicious dinner followed by an illumination tour of Washington’s famous memorials. (CB)
Day 14Washington DC Area
The trip ends today with guests departing on individual schedules. Transfers to Dulles or Reagan International Airports are included. You can extend your vacation with extra nights and explore Washington DC further with a variety of exciting optional activities.
Transportation:Private, deluxe air-conditioned motorcoach while touring.
With Cosmos, there’s no better way to get to know your destination than through the eyes of your Tour Director. Averaging over a decade... we’d like you to meet a Tour Director, who is representative of the type of expert that will be with you on your vacation.
Years of Experience: 22 years
I have been conducting tours for many years. I love sharing my part of the world with travelers and watching them have fun, knowing that I play a part in their enjoyment. I am from the Deep South, so I feel that I have much to share in that area. I also conduct tours in the Midwest, the East, Southeast, Northeast, and Eastern Canada. Some of my favorite hobbies are cooking, entertaining, playing the piano, daily walks, reading, and travel!