Day 1& 2
Depart London Heathrow – 15:00
Arrive Atlanta – 19:05
Journey Time – 9 hours 5 minutes
On arrival collect your rental vehicle from the airport. We recommend renting the Sat Nav system on offer making navigation on arrival to your overnight hotel a piece of cake.
Overnight – Atlanta
Atlanta, the ‘Capital City of the American South’ where Jimi Hendrix, Bobby Brown and Elton John have all called it home. Scarlett O’Hara and Gone with the Wind have faded into the mist in this very sophisticated and contemporary city where the fastest growing population is 20-something professionals. Make sure you allow time to tour the CNN Centre where Ted Turner changed the way the world watches the news. A behind the scenes tour gives insight into the complexity of production required to put on a good show. In the evening, explore Underground Atlanta or take in a world-class performance which can range from the symphony to hot jazz.
Atlanta loves to eat! Filled with creative concepts, Atlanta dining offers something to tickle the taste buds of even the most fickle foodie. All around the city, you’re sure to discover a new Atlanta dining favourite just around every corner. Enjoy a taste of contemporary Atlanta farm-fresh restaurants or traditional fare and can’t-miss classic cuisines worth writing home about.
Overnight – Atlanta
Atlanta to Chattanooga
Travel north today, into the Appalachian Mountains. Driving into Chattanooga, you can almost hear Glenn Miller’s Big Band playing that famous song that put the city on the musical map. Back in 1941, Chattanooga out shone its famous Tennessee musical sisters with the first million selling hit to be given a gold record. The original Choo Choo is now part of the Holiday Inn.
While here, you may want to visit the Tennessee Aquarium, take a Chattanooga Riverboat lunch or dinner cruise and spend some time on Lookout Mountain. Deep in the heart of the mountain, Ruby Falls cascades more than 140 feet underground. Passages through rooms filled with stalactites, stalagmites, columns, drapes and flowstone range in size from the tiny helectites in the Hall of Dreams to the large columns found in the Onyx Jungle. Or visit the Houston Museum of Art which is considered to have the finest collection of antique glass and ceramics anywhere in the world.
Chattanooga’s variety of dining options will tempt you with everything from BBQ to hand-dipped chocolate truffles, or animal cracker ice cream. Get your “Meat and Three” or feast on seafood like sautéed Hawaiian Walu. Find a diverse wine selection and imaginative cuisine at one of Chattanooga’s fine dining establishments.
Overnight – Chattanooga
Day 4 & 5
Chattanooga to Huntsville
Your first stop in Sweet Home Alabama is Huntsville known as ‘The Rocket City’ for good reason as it is home to the US Space and Rocket Centre – the largest comprehensive space flight museum in the world. It has an extensive collection of original space exploration hardware and includes the Davidson Centre which was especially designed to house the first Saturn V rocket. Adults and children can tour the grounds of the US Space Camp, enjoy simulators, rides and hands-on exhibits!
Located on the Cumberland Plateau of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, Huntsville also offers visitors hiking, biking, horseback riding and fishing along the Tennessee River. Work up an appetite and sample the Braised Meyer Ranch beef short ribs at Cotton Row Restaurant, the BBQ stuffed potato at Little Paul’s BBQ or quench your thirst at Humphrey’s Bar and Grill!
Overnight – Huntsville
Day 6 & 7
Huntsville to Birmingham
As Alabama’s largest city, Birmingham boasts a vibrant arts and cultural scene and is known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, fine dining, jazz and dance clubs – be sure to visit some of Birmingham’s wonderful attractions including the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame which pays tribute to great Alabama artists Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton – there’s also the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.
The city was heavily involved in the Civil Rights movement and it’s version of the Civil Rights story is told at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute – different from a static museum, the Institute works at taking the lessons from the past to chart new directions for the future. Kelly Ingram Park and the 16th St Baptist Church are also not to be missed.
The Five Points entertainment district caters for all music tastes and has some great dining too. Get an authentic southern breakfast at the Original Pancake House and seafood lovers would be mad to miss a great restaurant called the Fish Market run by a Greek named George! The Highlands Bar and Grill is famous for Highlands baked grits and why not try Tomato salad and pickled okra at the Hot and Hot Fish Club? From Buttermilk fried chicken at Cafe Dupont and Parmesan soufflé at Bottega, it will be hard to tear yourself away from the range of dining options.
Overnight – Birmingham
Birmingham to Mobile
Mobile is one of the oldest cities in America. Fought over by the French, Spanish and British, Mobile retains many elements from its past occupation yet is every bit a genteel, hospitable Southern belle. Mobile was the capital of the French colonial empire in the early 18th century and is home to the original ‘Mardi Gras’ of the New World. Today Mobile still shows many similarities to neighbouring New Orleans with its oak trees spreading a shady canopy over the downtown area and its wrought iron balconies… Visit in February for Mardi Gras in Mobile, America’s oldest Mardi Gras!
Visitors marvel at the sheer beauty of the city—breathtaking sunsets, lush foliage, spectacular historic and modern architecture, amazing museums, diverse arts and culture. The recreated 1735 Fort Conde is a museum which brings the city’s colourful history to life. Bellingrath Gardens and Home has a beautiful location overlooking the river and is loved for Camellias in Winter, Azaleas in Spring, Roses in Summer and Chrysanthemums in the Autumn. Mobile Carnival Museum gives a fascinating insight into the glittering costumes, fur lined trains and crowns that date back to the 1800s.
As you would expect, Mobile offers a variety of culinary options stretching from one end of the city to the other. For great seafood visit Ed’s Seafood Shed home of “Yo Mamma’s Platter! Try the crab soup at ‘Felix’s Fish Camp’ right on Mobile Bay, with views over the water and bands playing with names likes ‘Grits and Pieces’. Legendary ‘Wintzell’s Oyster House’ has been serving them ‘fried, stewed or nude’ since 1928. ‘Spot of Tea’ with it’s pretty location in Cathedral Square is an excellent choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Eggs Cathedral and strawberry lemonade are a must!
For nightlife visit hot spots like Boo Radley’s and Veet’s Bar and Grill which open early, stay open late and offer great appetizers, drinks and entertainment.
Overnight – Mobile
Another day in Mobile will allow you to hear the sound of waves gently lapping on the shore and enjoy 32 miles of white sand beaches and sparkling emerald waters in the Gulf Shores area. Point Clear, home to the Grand Hotel Marriott Point Clear Resort and Spa, is on the way from Mobile to Gulf Shores. Even if you’re not staying there, it’s a lovely place to stop and enjoy high tea and a daily military cannon salute! Fairhope, also on the drive, is one of the most romantic coastal towns in America according to Coastal Living Magazine.
You can get down with the best of them in Gulf Shores at Florabama right on the Florida/Alabama state line and enjoy live music and casual dining at Lu-Lu’s located at Homeport Marina overlooking the water. Or try The Hangout and the Pink Pony Pub for more live venues located right on the beach.
The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Beach, next to Fort Morgan, has over 6 miles of hiking trails. Fort Morgan witnessed Union Admiral Farragut charging into the Battle of Mobile Bay shouting ‘Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!’ Alabama Point, a spot for serious relaxation, is surrounded by the glistening turquoise water you always see in magazines. Gulf State Park has a natural beach that is usually not crowded and there are many other public access points to the ocean in Gulf Shores. You can get a better view of the water with the Orange Beach Helicopter Service or on one of the many boat charters and cruises that leave from Gulf Shores or Orange Beach.
If you prefer dry land, commune with nature as you hike through one of Alabama’s wildlife areas viewing gators and shorebirds. At Alligator Alley they let you feed the gators or watch the crew feed them.
Overnight – Mobile
Day 10, 11, & 12
Mobile to New Orleans
New Orleans (known as ‘The Big Easy’) is one of the world’s most fascinating cities steeped in a history of influences from Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and beyond, it’s a brilliant mosaic of culture, food and music. Explore the French Quarter, where old brick and beautiful iron balconied buildings reflect both French and Spanish influence. Stroll along the narrow streets of this walking neighbourhood, visit the antique shops and jazz clubs and experience Cajun and Creole cooking at its best. Travel on the famed “Streetcar Named Desire”, walk through the historic garden district or take a steamboat evening cruise on the Mississippi River.
We strongly recommend a city tour which takes a couple of hours to give you a good overview of New Orleans, its neighbourhoods and some history and facts about the precarious relationship this city has with Mother Nature!
Visit the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Shaw Centre for Performing Arts and the Sci-Port Museum in between hardy servings of gumbo, jambalaya and boiled crawfish. The Audubon Nature Institute, the National World War II Museum are just two more attractions well worth seeing.
Overnight – New Orleans
Day 13 & 14
New Orleans to Montgomery
When you reach Montgomery, Alabama, you’ll find a bustling city of the New South which also celebrates it’s history and music culture. The quaint Old Cloverdale historic area has been transformed into clubs, bars and restaurants. Relax and listen to hot jazz at the 1048 Jazz and Blues club or enjoy a drink and a meal at the nearby Montgomery Brew Pub which has live music most Thursday – Saturdays.
Montgomery is Alabama’s Capital and a truly Southern city. In 1861 Southern politicians gathered at the State Capitol Building to form the Confederate States of America. Stand where Jefferson Davis was inaugurated President and tour the first White House of the Confederacy. Almost 100 years later Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and the modern civil rights struggle in America was born. The Rosa Parks Museum and the Civil Rights Memorial are a ‘must see’ whilst visiting the city. Dr Martin Luther King Jr helped organise the Montgomery Bus Boycott from the basement of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church which is also located downtown.
Old Alabama Town, one of the South’s premier history villages, is a collection of authentically restored 19th and 20 century buildings stretching along six blocks in the heart of historic Montgomery, Alabama. Over 40 restored structures include an original 1850s townhouse, schoolhouses, a cotton gin, blacksmith shop, grist mill, tavern, log cabin, pole barn, southern mansion, and more. Here you can experience life in Montgomery during the infancy of the state’s history.
Take refreshment and rest your legs at the new ‘Alley’ entertainment area. Why not try ribs at Dreamland BBQ, Jalapeno truffle chocolate soufflé at Garrett’s or Hot dog with Chris’ sauce at Chris’ Hotdogs? Lemon catfish and Johnnie Mae’s peach cobbler at Isaiah’s are always sure to lure you in!
Overnight – Montgomery
A very easy drive north west along Interstate 85 which takes you straight back to the airport. With an evening departure you have time to relax in the morning before setting off. As you depart Atlanta today, know you have explored and experienced some of the best food and hospitality the South has to offer.
Depart Atlanta – 21:15
Arrive London Heathrow – 10:15 (Next Day)
Journey Time – 8 hours