Experience real Southern hospitality from New Orleans to Charleston.

Enjoy classic architecture, history, music and food on this adventure through the Southern states of the USA. Kick things off in Atlanta before heading to the historic cities of Savannah, Charleston and Asheville and the musical cities of Nashville and Memphis before finishing in New Orleans in time for Jazz Fest. See a variety of artists covering all kinds of genres from jazz to zydeco to blues, rock, African, and more. It's not just music either – Southern cuisine, crafts, folk heritage and native cultures all play a role in this action-packed, world-class event.


Start
Atlanta, United States
Finish
New Orleans, United States
Country
United States
Style
Comfort
Theme
Explorer
Code
SSKES
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 13

Why we love this trip

  • Jazz Fest is one of the best music festivals in North America. As well as being able to listen to all different kinds of music across 12 stages, the festival also attracts some big name international artists. A single day ticket is included in the price of your trip.

  • Embark on a road trip across one of the most colourful, musical and hospitable parts of the USA: the Deep South. This diverse trip takes you through six states and the best of the region's contrasting cities, from the historic settlements of Savannah and Charleston, to the mountain town of Asheville and the musical centres of Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans

  • A journey through the USA wouldn’t be complete without a lesson in history. Charleston’s story is told through the former auction rooms of the Old Slave Mart and in the fields of the cotton plantations

  • Experience the pinnacle of pop culture with a visit to Graceland, the iconic home of the ‘King of Rock and Roll’, Elvis Presley

  • Y'all might think you don't like country music, but Nashville’s honky-tonks may well change that. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and then check out a live band in town

  • Lively New Orleans is a great place to round off your trip. Discover French, Creole, Spanish and American influences in the Big Easy's architecture, food, history and music, and you won't find a cocktail more colourful than the city's signature drink, the Hurricane

Is this trip right for you?

  • The southern states of the USA can be really hot and humid in the summer. September through to November is also hurricane season, so prepare for potentially wet weather.

  • You'll be travelling in a van with a group of travellers, so conditions may feel a little cramped. This is all part of the adventure, however and you might even make some long-term friends.

  • You're in the Deep South of the USA, so expect a lot of (delicious) fried food and barbecue. Vegetarians may also have limited options, as a lot of southern cuisine is meat-based.

  • In some of the cities we visit, some neighbourhoods are deemed more unsafe than others. This is nothing to be alarmed about, as your leader will point you in the right direction. You just may need to be more aware of your surroundings.

Itinerary

Welcome to the US of A! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Your evening is then free to relax or explore. If you arrive early and have time before the meeting, perhaps head to one of Atlanta’s world-class attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium, the CNN Centre or the World of Coca-Cola. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • CNN Center - USD15
  • Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site - Free
  • World of Coca Cola - USD16
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
In the morning, drive to Savannah (approximately 5 hours). With mansions, oak trees and colonial public buildings sitting alongside dive bars and university students, this is a charming southern city that's well worth taking the time to explore. Perhaps start by taking a seat in Chippewa Square – which was used as a setting for the film Forrest Gump – or grab a cocktail and enjoy the sound of some duelling pianos in a local bar. Afterwards, perhaps take a guided ghost tour of old Savannah.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Ft Pulaski National Monument - USD7
  • Savannah Ghost Tour - USD25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today, leave Savannah behind and drive to Charleston, South Carolina (approximately 2 hours). Feel the pace slowing a little as this grand old gem of the south comes into view. Charleston’s streets are awash with stories and were made for strolling. Be sure to stop and smell the honeysuckle as you wander along the cobblestones. In the afternoon, enjoy a tour of one of the plantation homes around Charleston. Wander around the well-maintained gardens and learn about the estate's history.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is free for you to explore Charleston at your leisure. Perhaps take a trip out to the seaside fortress of Fort Sumter, the location where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Alternatively, you might like to visit the Old Slave Mart Museum, take a walk through Battery Park past the memorials or learn about naval history on the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point. As dusk begins to set in, why not take a walk along the Pitt Street Bridge and watch the sun set over downtown Charleston. While you're here (either today or tomorrow), enjoy an included visit and tour of the Boone Hall plantation, one of America's oldest (and most photogenic) plantations.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Boone Hall Plantation
Optional Activities
  • Charleston Museum - USD12
  • Various Historic Homes - USD12
  • Old Slave Mart Museum - USD10
  • Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum - USD20
  • Fort Sumter National Monument - USD20
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning, drive into North Carolina and onto the city of Asheville (approximately 5 hours). A real feature of this town is the picturesque streets and their architecture. Perhaps use the afternoon to visit George Washington Vanderbilt’s 250-room chateau on Biltmore Estate, which was completed in 1895. Later on, take the time to explore Asheville's modern boutiques, restaurants and record stores. From craft breweries and artisan chocolate shops to buskers and bazaars, the downtown area seems to have something for everyone – music lovers and others.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head up into Asheville's surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and do some exploring on foot. Dating back over 400 million years, the mountain range is home to wildlife, lush forest, scenic peaks, waterfalls and shallow rivers. This is a great place to hike, but note that some of the trails can be strenuous in places. Bring sturdy walking shoes, plenty of water and warm clothes. After your visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains, your evening is free to do as you wish.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Walking in the Blue Ridge Mountains - Free
  • Biltmore House - USD65
  • Show at the Altamont Theatre - USD25
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Say goodbye to Asheville in the morning and drive to Nashville (approximately 4–5 hours). Welcome to the undisputed capital of country music. Once you’ve checked in to the hotel, visit the Country Music Hall of Fame with the group, which contains the golden Cadillac that once belonged to Elvis. Another point of interest is Music Row, where more than 50 recording studios and some 200 music publishing houses are located. In the early evening, perhaps head to the Wildhorse Saloon to experience southern food, country line dancing and live music.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Country Music Hall of Fame
Optional Activities
  • Wildhorse Saloon - USD10
  • Tennessee State Museum - Free
  • Grand Ole Opry Tour - USD19
  • Ryman Auditorium Tour - USD14
  • Johnny Cash Museum - USD17
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Next it's off to Memphis, the famous home of the blues (approximately 4 hours). On the way, visit Graceland, the lavish former home of Elvis Presley, and check out the site of his tomb. Here you can see the famous jungle room, as well as his cars, private planes and much more. In the evening, consider heading down to check out Beale Street's traditional blues clubs, made famous by legends such as Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters and BB King.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Graceland Museum
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today it's over to the legendary Sun Studio, the 'Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll'. An included visit to this still-active recording studio shows you where some legendary performers like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins laid down tracks. For the rest of the day, enjoy some free time. Those with an interest in history might like to visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the former Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated. Another fun activity is to visit to the Peabody Hotel to see what's known as the 'march of the ducks'. These ducks live in the hotel and perform daily marches from their rooftop palace to the lobby fountain at 11 am (and the reverse at 5 pm).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sun Studio
Optional Activities
  • Peabody Hotel Duck March - Free
  • Rock 'n' Soul Museum - USD11
  • National Civil Rights Museum - USD13
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Next stop: Clarksdale, just a short drive away. This interesting spot is widely regarded as the original birthplace of the blues, and there are some great sights to check out around town. Head to Blues Alley, Robert Johnson's Crossroads or perhaps the Delta Blues Museum. In the evening, perhaps enjoy dinner and some live music at the Shack Up. Your accommodation for tonight is at an old plantation – the conditions are pretty basic, but it's a lot of fun.
Accommodation
  • Motel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Delta Blues Museum - USD7
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Notes: Our accommodation in Clarksdale is clean and comfortable, but isn't typical of the Comfort standard. We've chosen it because it is fun and quirky and a little different to the other accommodation on this trip.
Next it's off to the 'Big Easy', a Southern town like no other. Settle in for the fairly long drive to New Orleans (approximately 6 hours). After checking in to your hotel in the French Quarter, use your free time getting to know the city. An eclectic mix of European, Creole and Cajun culture manifests in the city's architecture, cuisine and music scene. Possibly take a walk down rowdy Bourbon Street or through the former plantation area of the Garden District. Perhaps join the rest of the group tonight for a Cajun-style dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Bourbon Street - Free
  • New Orleans - Cemetery Tour - USD25
  • New Orleans - French Market - Free
  • Mississippi Riverboat Cruise - USD70
  • Presbytere - USD6
  • Preservation Hall Jazz - USD15
  • Ursuline Convent Tours - USD5
  • Voodoo Museum - USD7
  • New Orleans School of Cooking - USD29
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
It's time get amongst the sights and sounds of Jazz Fest. A single-day general admission ticket is included in the price of your trip, and today is the first day of the festival. With music scattered across 12 stages, this event is about so much more than jazz – you can also find gospel, Cajun, zydeco, blues, R&B, rock, funk, African, Latin, Caribbean and folk music, and there are usually a couple of big-name international guests as well. Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Burning Spear and Youssou N’Dour are among those who have played here before, which gives a sense of the calibre – and diversity – of the talent. The line-up is usually announced in January. Needless to say, music isn't the only thing celebrated here – take the chance to sample delicious Southern cuisine and learn a thing or two about Lousiana's rich cultural heritage while you're here.

Notes: Your leader will leave you after breakfast today, and no accommodation is included tonight. Staying on longer to enjoy the festival in full is of course highly recommended.
Included Activities
  • JazzFest Weekend Day Single Ticket
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
You are free to spend as much time at the festival as you wish. We recommend booking another night's accommodation in New Orleans to allow you to make the most of the day. You can also purchase a second day's ticket via http://www.nojazzfest.com/home/ if you wish to spend another day at the festival.

Meals

4 breakfasts

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (10 nights), Motel (1 night)

Included activities

  • Boone Hall Plantation
  • Country Music Hall of Fame
  • Graceland Museum
  • Sun Studio
  • JazzFest Weekend Day Single Ticket

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip.
2. Interested in this trip but unable to make it for Jazz Fest? See trip code SSKE for our regular departures

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.