Depart London Heathrow – 14:30
Arrive Atlanta – 18:55
Journey Time – 9 hours 25 minutes
Welcome to the USA and one of its busiest airports, collect your Intermediate size car rental (upgrade options available) and transfer to your hotel in Atlanta the capital of the Peach Tree State. Famous for its links with Margaret Mitchell’s classic Gone With the Wind, Atlanta rose from the ashes of the Civil War to become a commercial and financial giant of the Southeast. Host to the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games the city is also the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr and his birthplace along with the Ebenezer Baptist Church can be seen in the Sweet Auburn Historic District. Jimi Hendrix, Bobby Brown and Elton John have all called this sophisticated contemporary city home and highlights include the Carter Presidential Centre, the World of Coca Cola Pavilion and the CNN Centre, home of the largest TV network where a behind the scenes tour gives insight into the complexity of production required to put on a good show. Have a great evening in the city known as ‘The Big Peach’ as you choose from the abundance of superb restaurants and take in some of the many jazz bars. If you are in need for some retail therapy, you will be spoilt for choice with two Simon Shopping Destinations in Atlanta: Lenox Square® and Phipps Plaza, both located in Atlanta’s affluent uptown district Buckhead. Underground Atlanta sizzles at night or a short cab ride can get you to Blind Willies Bar for the best in blues, booze and Cajun food! Visit the road to Tara Museum from Gone with the Wind, the enormous Georgia Aquarium the Carter Presidential Centre, the new World of Coca Cola or the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King Centre. Explore Underground Atlanta for good food and great live entertainment.
Overnight – Atlanta
Atlanta to Smoky Mountains
Stay in the vicinity of the charming mountain town of Gatlinburg, filled with shops and attractions. Be sure to stop in Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and other attractions. Try skiing or the luge at Ober Gatlinburg. Travel the talent-rich, eight-mile loop of Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community, the largest group of independent artisans in North America. Take time to appreciate the lost arts here and take home a treasure.
Overnight – Smoky Mountains
Explore the Great Smoky Mountains
Unbridled Spirit … You’ll get a magical feeling in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You’re in the presence of something fresh and, yet, ancient. The oldest mountains in the world. A preserve of wildflowers, old-growth forests and rushing mountain streams. The Smokies. It’s the ultimate getaway. Bring your camera. The park has panoramic vistas with cascading rivers and majestic forests. Venture out on horseback at Sugarlands, and then cool off by rafting the Pigeon River. Cycle the 11-mile Cades Cove loop for some of the park’s best wildlife viewing. Learn about cantilevered barns and that mysterious blue haze over the mountains. Take the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage to see 1,600 kinds of flowering plants. Study the wildlife. In addition to the 1,500 bears in the park, the Smokies has more salamanders than anywhere else on earth!
Hike Abrams Falls and Mt. LeConte. Find a waterfall. The Smokies is a hiker’s paradise with more than 800 miles of maintained trails ranging from short walks to strenuous treks that call for backcountry camping. The Appalachian Trail gives you a unique perspective with 70 miles of crestline trail. Cosby, with great campgrounds and a spacious picnic area, is a favourite among locals for the popular day hike to Sutton Ridge Overlook’s spectacular panorama.
Overnight – Great Smoky Mountains
Gatlinburg to Lexington
Lexington is the Horse Capital of the World and home to more than 450 Thoroughbred and Standardbred farms with many open to the public. In Lexington is Keeneland Race Course, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, where racing takes place in April and October. Located near Keeneland, Kentucky Horse Park offers a true equine experience. This is the only park in the world dedicated exclusively to the horse, which also hosts seasonal events and annual events such as the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day event.
Overnight – Lexington
Lexington has more than 200 years of history and nearby is Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. Unbridled Spirit…. Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill is home to an impressive collection of Shaker architecture, furniture, artefacts and historians. With 34 Shaker structures, built from 1809 to 1875, the site is the country’s largest private collection of original 19th century buildings. The Shakers were 19th century America’s largest and best-known communal society. Their movement began in New York shortly before the American Revolution, and by the 1840s, nearly 3,500 Shakers lived in communities from Maine to Kentucky. In 1805, a group of Shakers came to central Kentucky and established a village they named Pleasant Hill. The Shakers chose a peaceful way of life. They were celibate, believed in equality of race and sex, and freedom from prejudice. A quest for simplicity and perfection is reflected in their fine designs and craftsmanship, and today the term Shaker-made is synonymous with excellence around the world.
Overnight – Lexington
Lexington to Louisville
Louisville is firmly embedded in the American national consciousness for its multimillion-dollar Kentucky Derby held each May at Churchill Downs. The Derby, known as the richest two minutes in sport, attracts 500,000 fans to this cosmopolitan and diversified city the first Saturday in May, but there is racing at Churchill Downs in April, May, June, October and November and the track is open for tours year-round. The next-door Kentucky Derby Museum is an excellent hands-on experience and has a magnificent audio-visual display that captures the Derby Day atmosphere on a 360o screen. Downtown Louisville rolls gently down towards Main Street then abruptly lunges down to the river where the historic Belle of Louisville leaves for daily sightseeing cruises. Don’t miss the Slugger Museum and Factory and be sure to sample the Urban Bourbon Trail along Whiskey Row and around town. Unbridled Spirit….The Muhammad Ali Centre rises on the south bank of the Ohio River and has majestic views of Kentucky’s largest city where Ali was born Cassius Clay in 1942. Ali went on to boxing fame and fortune but in his heyday he was known as the “Louisville Lip” and a loquacious self-promoter responsible for some of the finest quips to emerge from a sportsman. The Ali Centre is not obsessed with glory and triumph and it does not shy away from Ali’s failings, but his boxing achievements are the centrepiece and fans can watch his fights in a multimedia area as well as follow his brave and principled stand against the Vietnam War and racism.
Overnight – Louisville
Louisville to Bowling Green
Among the highlights of today’s journey are Bardstown (voted America’s most beautiful small town), and the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Centre, driving the Bluegrass Parkway and the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville. As I-65 heads south toward Bowling Green you are in the heart of Kentucky’s Cave Country and the region’s “karst” topography is responsible for hundreds of ancient caverns and the idyllic rolling hills seen on the surface. Unbridled Spirit…The four hundred miles of labyrinth passages and domed caverns of Mammoth Cave National Park contain amazing geological formations which are carved by acidic water trickling through limestone. There is a bewildering display of stalagmites and stalactites’, a huge cascade of flowstone known as Frozen Niagara and Echo River, 365 feet below ground, is populated by a unique species of colourless and sightless fish. Guided tours are available with varying time lengths and degrees of difficulty from a one-hour stroll to a full-day, crawling-though-tunnels experience. Not only can you have one-of-a-kind cave and Corvette experience in Bowling Green, but this cosmopolitan university town has a flourishing cultural scene, good shopping and dining and one of the state’s most innovative distilleries. Bowling Green’s Fountain Square is quintessentially American and reminiscent of the one in the film Back to the Future. There are restaurants, bars, a B&B and the Corsair Artisan Distillery which produces small batch whiskey, moonshine, gin and vodka.
Overnight – Bowling Green
Bowling Green to Paducah
Discover why the Corvette is “America’s true sports car” and how a small Kentucky river town is a UNESCO Creative City – one of seven in the world. Unbridled Spirit… General Motors began production of the esteemed Corvette at the Bowling Green assembly plant in 1981 and the facility has remained the exclusive home of the Corvette for more than 30 years. The guided tour of the factory shows how man and machine combine to produce137 cars a day – all on order! The nearby National Corvette Museum features more than 70 Corvettes from classics in mint condition including Roy Orbison’s vintage ‘67, one-of-a-kind prototypes that never went into production to racetrack champions and modern-day wonders of engineering and design. There is also a display of six of the eight smashed-up cars that were swallowed by a massive sinkhole in 2014 when the roof of a cave below the museum collapsed – causing visitor numbers to double! Creativity is the common thread that connects people from around the globe to Paducah. The world’s 7th City of Crafts and Folk Art in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, Paducah is home to the National Quilt Museum, the Lower Town Arts District and 50 life-sized panoramic floodwall murals. Paducah’s location at the heart of America’s inland waterways (the Ohio and Tennessee rivers) has shaped its history and culture. The River Discovery Centre chronicles these highways of heritage from the era of Paducah’s earliest inhabitants to the City’s modern day life on the river
Overnight – Paducah
Paducah to Memphis
Learn how quilting can produce wall-hanging masterpieces, see the family home and ancestry that inspired the classic book and TV series, Roots, and watch the glorious sunset on the banks of the Mississippi River in Memphis. Unbridled Spirit… The internationally-celebrated National Quilt Museum features the finest quilting and fibre art in the world as a portal to the contemporary quilt experience. Go behind-the-scenes on a VIP tour to discover contemporary quilts that are not the kind our grandmothers made. Now in its 21st year, the museum has attracted visitors from over 40 countries and as well as its core collection it houses 8-10 exhibitions a year. There are about 21 million quilters in the USA alone and it’s a billion-dollar industry. Paducah’s heritage is reflected and preserved in its architecture and historic attractions, including the River Discovery Centre, Lloyd Tilghman House & Civil War Museum and Wall-to-Wall Murals. The 50 life-sized murals by internationally recognised artist Robert Dafford, depict pivotal moments from Paducah’s past. Driving south from Paducah to Memphis, make a stop in Henning at the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Centre, Kunta Kinte. Kizzy. Chicken George. In the mid-1970s, these characters became household names thanks to author Alex Haley. His 1976 novel Roots: The Saga of An American Family, and the television miniseries Roots, which aired a year later, changed what many thought they knew about African-American heritage, taking the story of slavery and the quest for freedom out of dry-as-dust history textbooks and making it come alive in our living rooms. Haley often said his novel had its own roots in oral history, inspired by the stories he heard as a child from his grandmother and aunts on the front porch of the family home in Henning. Continue to Memphis on the mighty Mississippi River and immerse yourself in the city renowned as the Home of the Blues and Birthplace of Rock’n’Roll.
Overnight – Memphis
Memphis more than matches its myth. Pilgrims flock from all over the world to find a vibrant city that while cherishing its past remains very much alive. Don’t miss the tour at famous Sun Studio and be sure to see the Stax Museum of American Soul Music as well as the Smithsonian’s Rock’n’Soul Museum and the Gibson Guitar Factory. Unbridled Spirit… Visit Graceland, Elvis’ beloved mansion, see his two private jets and the fantastic Automobile Museum as well as a host of other exhibits and memorabilia. Graceland is a surprisingly modest home for the world’s most successful entertainer, but when Elvis bought it in for $100,000 in 1957 it was considered one of the most desirable properties in Memphis and once was part of a 500-acre farm. Tours start opposite the mansion at the Graceland Plaza and visitors are ferried across Elvis Presley Boulevard in mini coaches for the iPad tour of the mansion and grounds. In August during Elvis Week a candlelight vigil is held on the anniversary of his death (August 15/16) and worshippers stand in line for the opportunity to parade along the Graceland driveway and pay their respects at the King’s tomb in the Meditation Garden. January 8, Elvis’ birthday, is another special time at Graceland with events and activities plus the mansion is specially decorated during the Christmas season.
Overnight – Memphis
Discover African-American history at Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum and explore the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. Unbridled Spirit… Craft beer has caught Memphis by storm and now small-batch breweries are popping up all over town. Breweries such as Ghost River Brewing, Wiseacre Brewing Co., High Cotton Brewing Company and Memphis Made Brewing Company offer visitors the opportunity to discover the story of beer-making and sample some great beer. Be sure to hear live Blues on Beale Street and dance the night away at BB King’s, Rum Boogie Café, Jerry Lee Lewis’ Café & Honky Tonk or Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall. Beale Street also offers good dining, street entertainment and busking plus festivals and special events year-round.
Overnight – Memphis
Memphis to Nashville
Leave Memphis and head east through cotton fields to Nashville via Brownsville and be sure to sample the Southern delicacies served at The Old Country Store at the Casey Jones Village in Jackson. Unbridled Spirit…At the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Centre in Brownsville peek inside the one-room schoolhouse attended by a young Anna Mae Bullock – known to the world as Tina Turner Flagg Grove School is now home to a collection of the Queen of Rock’s memorabilia including costumes and gold records donated by Tina and her family. Even her high school yearbook is included among the treasures. Agriculture rules the region and the adjacent Cotton Museum helps you discover how cotton has been produced and managed since the early 1800s. Nashville may be best known for its country roots, but the word is out that it’s also home to a diverse mix of musicians (Kings of Leon, the Black Keys, Jack White) and a diverse mix of music (rock, Americana, bluegrass, blues, gospel) as well as the largest song writing community in the world. Nashville’s creative spirit has also led the way to an evolving arts, fashion and culinary scene that’s starting to share the spotlight with its music scene. Spend an evening at the Bluebird Cafe, Nashville’s legendary hotspot where you’ll enjoy songwriters performing original material in an intimate “in the round setting.” Or experience Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, the world’s longest running radio show, to see first-hand some of country music’s rising stars such as Taylor Swift and legends like Dolly Parton. Take a backstage tour and see the dressing rooms and famous Green Room. The Opry is on every Friday and Saturday and Tuesdays during the summer season.
Overnight – Nashville
See Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Paul McCartney are among the various rock and folk artists who came to Nashville in the late 1960s and early ‘70s to record with the town’s best session players and this extensive exhibit explores this magical time. Tour the Johnny Cash Museum, which features many never before seen historical documents, letters, awards, costumes and instruments that will take the visitor on a three dimensional journey through Johnny Cash’s life. Catch a concert or take a tour of the Ryman Auditorium, regarded as the “Mother Church of Country Music.” The Ryman is a National Historic Landmark renowned for its exceptional acoustics that has hosted musicians from James Brown to Patsy Cline and Cold Play, as well as current and rising stars of all musical genres. Unbridled Spirit… RCA’s Studio B, located on historic Music Row, is Nashville’s legendary recording studio and home to hits like Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely,” the Everly Brothers’ “Dream,” Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and 250 hits by Elvis Presley including “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” The small and intimate studio, known as the “home of one thousand hits,” is now part of the music school program at the local Belmont University. The tour, which is sold as part of the Country Music Hall of Fame ticket, involves a return mini coach transfer to Music Row from downtown and departs regularly at set times. Go honky tonkin’ at Nashville’s world famous bars – honky tonks – including Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Robert’s Western Wear and Legends Corner to see where many country music legends got their start. Kick up your heels to the country sounds at the Wildhorse Saloon or take a cabaret dinner cruise aboard the General Jackson Showboat on the Cumberland River.
Overnight – Nashville
Nashville to Chattanooga
Chattanooga is nestled along the beautiful Tennessee River and surrounded by spectacular mountains and scenic beauty. Chattanooga has a newly revitalised riverfront, first class attractions, a free electric shuttle, a clean and Green environment, outdoor adventures, rich American Civil War history, a thriving music scene and plenty of annual events that offer year-round entertainment. No visit to Chattanooga is complete without a visit to the Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal Station Complex & Hotel. This 1909 train station was made famous by the song “Pardon me boy – is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?” when it became the first record in the world to sell over one million copies. But you can still tour this historic complex; ride an electric trolley; spend the night in a train carriage; have “dinner in the diner” where your waiter will take the stage and sing you a song.
Overnight – Chattanooga
See the scenic sights of Chattanooga before driving south to Atlanta for your evening flight back to Europe. Chattanooga’s Native American name comes from the pointed mountain rise only 15 minutes from downtown – this “rock – coming to a point” is Historic Lookout Mountain where you’ll find a whole new arena of things to do. Ride the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway – the steepest incline in the world, or go underground to Ruby Falls, a 145-foot waterfall deep inside the mountain, or stroll to the National Park Service’s American Civil War Battlefield at Point Park. Unbridled Spirit… Rock City Gardens – an award-winning garden and geological wonder – is located atop Lookout Mountain, just six miles from downtown Chattanooga. Rock City is a true marvel of nature featuring massive ancient rock formations, gardens with over 400 native plant species and breath-taking “See Seven States” panoramic views. Take an unforgettable journey along the Enchanted Trail where each step reveals natural beauty and wonders along the woodland path. Experience the magic of Fairyland Caverns (an inspiration for Walt Disney), Mother Goose Village and lunch at the Big Rock Grill.
Depart Atlanta – 20:55
Arrive London Heathrow – 09:55 (Next Day)
Journey time – 8 hours