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Grand Journey from the Deep South to Route 66

18days from
£4,499*per person

Overview

18 Days - Classic Escorted Tours

Buckle up for a classic American road trip through the Deep South and along Route 66, experiencing the USA's unique culture, music and charm and retracing some of the most momentous events in the country's history.  There's no better welcome to America than the gracious hospitality the Deep South is famous for. Here, you'll hear the sounds of the South - rock n’ roll, the blues and country - in their birthplace, Nashville, and the swinging jazz bands of New Orleans. While you're in The Big Easy, don't miss its unique Creole and Cajun cuisine. Spicy peppers and fresh seafood - this is the mouthwatering taste of the South. Along with way, we'll stop at the sites of some of the USA's most historic moments - the assassinations of JFK in Dallas and Martin Luther King in Memphis, as well as the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio and the Space Race at Mission Control in NASA'S Johnson Space Centre, Houston.  Then we'll continue our Deep South discovery on part of the iconic Route 66 stopping at quirky American sights, shops and diners, and visiting the incredible Grand Canyon. This holiday is ideal for travellers with a fascination for retro-American culture or a hankerin’ for an epic road trip.

Itinerary

  • Arrival in Atlanta Our Grand Tour begins with a direct flight to Atlanta, so today you'll head to the airport and hop on a flight arriving in Atlanta later the same day.
  • Lynchburg  We'll leave Georgia and head into Tennessee to the quintessential little town of Lynchburg. This is a true slice of unspoilt 50s America (well, the good parts) with its red-brick courthouse, general store and one traffic light. Lynchburg's famous landmark, known as Point of Honor, was home to Dr George Cabell Sr., the doctor of famous patriot Patrick Henry who famously said, 'give me liberty or give me death".  This charming town is a lovely place to just browse shops and grab a bite to eat before we visit Lynchburg's other claim to fame: the Jack Daniels Distillery.  Jack Daniel’s Distillery  We'll tour the site where Jack Daniel's Whiskey has been made since 1884 and find out what goes into making that signature oaky, sweet taste. What's interesting about the location of the distillery is that the county is 'dry', and locals are not allowed to consume the product they're most famous for. Later, we'll continue across Tennessee's rolling green hills to 'Music City USA', Nashville. Included experience Visit Lynchburg and Jack Daniel's Distillery.
  • The Country Music Hall of Fame  The rapidly growing city of Nashville has a unique, go-getting attitude all of its own. Music drips from every pore, floating on the breeze from bars and restaurants. Today, we'll explore the city's music heritage, starting in the Country Music Hall of Fame. A huge museum of all things ‘Country and Western’, it has floors of fascinating exhibits from the earliest days of country music to the megastars of today. There are films and videos of music’s greatest, with their life stories and costumes. Music Row  Then, we'll head to the nearby Music Row, lined with studios and record company offices, where we visit the legendary RCA Studio B, where Elvis recorded many of his greatest hits, followed by a ‘who’s who’ of recording superstars such as Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. Lower Broadway  Later, we'll visit Lower Broadway, Nashville’s nightlife centre, with stupendous live music in famous honky-tonk bars like Robert’s Western World and The Stage on Broadway and many more. There’s a fantastic atmosphere along the entire street and an evening here is a real ‘must’! Included experience Tour of Nashville with visits to Country Music Hall of Fame, Music Row and Lower Broadway.
  • Memphis  Say goodbye to Nashville and head to the far west of Tennessee to the city of Memphis and America's artery, the Mississippi. From its earliest beginnings as a small French garrison, Memphis grew into a magnet for freed slaves after the Civil War and as a cotton trading centre. Sun Studio   This afternoon, we'll have a guided tour around the birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll – the legendary Sun Studio, where Elvis recorded his first hit. This insignificant, yet iconic 1950s building, was the starting point for Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison amongst others and is a designated National Historic Landmark. You can stand in the spot where Elvis first recorded and see priceless memorabilia like Jerry Lee’s piano and Elvis’ microphone! Included experience Visit to the legendary Sun Studio.
  • Graceland  No doubt you've heard his music, now see the place Elvis called home on a visit to one of America's biggest tourist attractions, Graceland. The 'King' bought the Graceland mansion for $100,000 in 1957 when he was just 22 and it was his main home until he died. Today we'll explore the beautiful mansion, walk to the garden where he found peace, tour the aircraft that he travelled in from show to show and see his extensive classic car collection. You can uncover more about the musician's life through the legendary costumes, artefacts and personal mementoes from Elvis and his family. And pay your respects to the man himself at his grave.  National Civil Rights Museum  This afternoon, we'll step back into America's historical milestones, visiting the National Civil Rights Museum at The Lorraine Motel. We'll learn more about slavery, the boycotts, assassinations and black powerhouses that played a part in the history of the uprising that pushed national and international civil rights forward, while looking back on the momentous events that shaped the USA's future.    It was here Martin Luther King was shot on 4th April 1968. Five years previous on 28th August 1963, he delivered his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech around the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC to a crowd of 250,000 people. The following year, in 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through non-violent resistance. In that same year, President Johnson passed a law prohibiting all racial discrimination.  This evening is at leisure but those in the know will want to head down to the Beale Street Entertainment District - three blocks of restaurants, shops and bars in the heart of downtown Memphis. It's a melting pot of delta blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll, R&B and gospel that has played host to some legendary live music - you can see why it's a National Historic Landmark district. Included experience Visits to Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum.
  • Travel to New Orleans After an early start, this morning, we board a trusty coach to the legendary city of New Orleans. We'll journey through sprawling forests, passing charming farms and catching glimpses of the quaint 'southern' towns that dot the east bank of the mighty Mississippi River, like pearls on a necklace - each with its own story to tell. So sit back, relax, and soak in the scenery as we make our way to the heart and soul of the Big Easy! New Orleans has a unique and distinctive charm. Its heady combination of rich culture, history and a vibrant atmosphere makes the city a must-see destination for any Americanophiles.  In the evening, why not step out and try New Orleans’ famed Cajun cuisine – there are plenty of fantastic restaurants.
  • New Orleans Nestled in a bend on the Mississippi River, the first New Orleans settlers built their community in what is now the French Quarter. Thanks to their foresight, and the relatively high elevations, this historic Quarter has survived for over 300 years - it was even spared the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. So, it's the perfect place to get to know the history of the city, which we'll do on a walking tour this morning with an expert local guide.  The French heritage of the city shines brightest here in the military-style grid design, the central green spaces and street names like Bienville and Iberville. There's also plenty of evidence of its Spanish heritage - after a fire in the late 1700's the Spanish rebuilt many parts of the city in the newer architectural styles. You can see this in the Town Hall and the Presbytere (priests' residence). On our tour, we'll see the charming art galleries and antique shops along Royal Street, the white stucco St Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square, full of artists, musicians and fortune tellers, and walk up the iconic Bourbon Street, the centre of the city’s nightlife. Included experience Walking tour of the French Quarter in New Orleans.
  • Free Day in New Orleans A free day to relax in the ‘Big Easy’ and explore further afield.  
  • Houston & NASA We’ll leave New Orleans this morning, heading westwards along Louisiana’s Cajun country towards Texas, The Lone Star State. As we enter the outskirts of Houston, our first stop is at NASA’s world-famous Johnson Space Centre. For more than half a century, the Space Centre in Houston has led the USA and the world on a continuing adventure of scientific exploration and discovery, and it's still a working NASA base today. It's from there that the International Space Station is controlled.  On our visit, we'll see Mission Control, now restored to its 1965 look with all the original equipment and furniture – a unique experience - and a full-size Saturn V rocket, which famously has no onboard computer (they were just too big at the time). Plus, we'll gain insight into the testing and training each astronaut undergoes in the huge indoor training facility before they are allowed to visit the International Space Station. Included experience Visit NASA's Lyndon B. Space Center in Houston.
  • San Antonio We’ll continue further into the south Texas plains arriving in San Antonio this afternoon and checking into our hotel for a two-night stay.  Originally settled by the Spanish who built a mission station here, the Alamo, whose name was destined to be one of the most evocative words in American history. It was here in 1836 that a seriously outnumbered group of settlers, including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, were besieged by the Mexican army for nearly two weeks before they were overrun.  Today we’ll see the remains of the Alamo on a visit. Behind the church is the Alamo’s living history encampment. There are hands-on demonstrations about daily life at the time of the Texas Revolution – what they wore, medical practises and all the skills you’d need to survive. Tonight, we’ll stay just around the corner from the Alamo and within easy walking distance to the charming River Walk area with its many bars and restaurants, ideal for trying out the region’s famed Tex-Mex cuisine. Included experience A visit to the Alamo.
  • Free Day in San Antonio Enjoy a day at leisure exploring the city of San Antonio.  Once a frontier settlement in the Wild West, San Antonio has become a city full of modern amenities. There's plenty of shopping to be done with upscale boutiques multiple shopping malls and the largest Mexican market in the USA. Just around the corner from our hotel is the city's famous River Walk stretching for more than 24km. The River Walk has shaded pathways that connect you to hundreds of shops, restaurants and hotels as well as historic landmarks, museums and attractions.  In the North, you'll find museums filled with everything from Picasso to Eastern memorabilia. To the South, you'll find four UNESCO-protected Spanish missions that once provided shelter for the frontier settlers - and still provide some of the best birdwatching spots around.   You could explore the missions and the Alamo.
  • Free time in Austin  We'll say goodbye to friendly San Antonio and travel north to Dallas, stopping in Austin - Texas's quirkiest city – with free time to explore. Dallas  After arriving in Dallas, we'll visit the infamous Dealey Plaza, where President John F Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. The floor in the Texas Book Depository from where the fatal shots were fired has been converted into the 6th Floor Museum dedicated to explaining the background and the events of that fateful day on the 22nd of November in 1963. This afternoon we'll visit the historical Stockyard District. We challenge you to name anything that embodies Western heritage better than the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. With the original brick walkways and the wooden corrals, every inch of the Stockyards tells the history of Texas’s famous livestock industry. Included experience Visit Dealy Plaza and the historical Stockyard District. 
  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park  Today, we'll drive from Dallas to Amarillo, stopping at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.  Palo Duro is the second largest state park in America, named from the Spanish meaning ' hard stick'. It's often thought of as the Grand Canyon of Texas thanks to its size and dramatic geological features, like the steep mesa walls of the canyon. The entire park is full of lush vegetation with layers of orange and red rock that form the canyon walls, and we'll enjoy otherworldly vistas of colour and natural beauty as we travel some of the same trails used by Native Americans, early Spanish explorers, buffalo hunters and pioneers.  Amarillo  We'll stay for one night in Amarillo, the largest Texan city, where the southern plains meet the desert. Its name means "yellow" in Spanish and refers to the yellow banks of nearby Amarillo Lake. In the 1890s, Amarillo was a booming cattle town, one of the most important cattle shipping points in the nation, and there are still many working ranches in the panhandle area surrounding the 21st-century city - making Amarillo a lovely blend of old and new Texan traditions.  The city is a highlight along Route 66, the Main Street of America. Starting as a migration route for farm works from the Midwest to California over time the iconic 200-mile stretch of road has become an icon of American popular culture synonymous with independence, freedom and the American way, transporting its visitors to a bygone era of drive-in and neon signs. Included experience  Visit to Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
  • Cadilac Ranch  On our way out of Amarillo, we'll stop at Cadillac Ranch, a unique public art installation that's captured the imagination of travellers along Route 66 since 1974. A collaboration between the Panhandle native Stanley Marsh and the San Franciscan art group 'Ant Farm', inspired by the aesthetics and symbolism of Route 66, buried a line of Cadillacs nose-first in the ground. The cars, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, face west in a straight line and stand nose first in the ground at an angle corresponding to the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Unlike traditional art exhibits, we're invited to participate in the process by leaving our own mark on the cars.  Free time in Albuquerque  We’ll continue on to Albuquerque in New Mexico, Land of Enchantment, where we stay for one night. This evening you could take a trolley ride or a short walk down to the Old Town - 10 blocks of narrow streets lined with century-old houses, shops and government buildings. It looks much like it did when it was built, 70 years before the US Declaration of Independence was signed. You'll find a wide range of eateries in the Pueblo-Spanish-style architecture and flat roofs - the city is famous for its blend of Native American and Spanish flavours. You may hear the servers ask, "Red or green?" - they mean Albuquerque's signature ingredients: red and green chillies. (If you want to sound like a local, ask for "Christmas" for a mix of red and green chillies - assuming you can handle the heat!) Included experience  Visit to Cadillac Ranch.
  • Gallup  From Albuquerque, we'll travel to Williams passing towns like Gallup, which has a few monikers, including 'the most patriotic city in America' and 'Indian Capital of the World". Thanks to its location in the middle of a Navajo Reserve - and its long history of the area well before the city was founded - Gallup is responsible for more than 70% of the nation's Native American jewellery manufacturing, not to mention Navajo/Dine rugs, pottery from several tribes, paintings, and more. With 110 trading posts, shops and galleries in Gallup, it’s the undisputed Southwestern centre for authentic Native American art and the perfect place for a break on our road trip.  The Petrified National Forest  Our next stop will be the Petrified National Forest, best known for its Triassic fossils. It's like having two parks in one, in the south the colourful petrified wood of trees that are over 200 million years old; in the north the Painted Desert - an otherworldly paradise of colourful hills, flat-topped mesas and sculptured buttes created by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, wind erosion, and even torrential flooding. Williams  We'll stay overnight in Williams, a small town nestled in the pine country of Arizona with a retro 1950s vibe. Here the high street is full of old-style shops and diners including six blocks of historic buildings and shops bursting with Route 66 memorabilia - the perfect place to pick up a few souvenirs. Included experience Visits to Gallup and the Petrified National Forest. 
  • Grand Canyon National Park  Today, our road trip takes us off Route 66 and up to the Grand Canyon National Park, stopping at some of the best viewing points to provide different perspectives of the ever-changing panorama. Theodore Roosevelt called it "the one great sight which every American should see" (and who are we to argue). With its red-layered rock, the Grand Canyon is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world - and standing at the Rim, it's not hard to see why. At an average of 10 miles across, up to a mile deep and 277 miles long, its massive 1,904 square miles make it bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island. You can enjoy a mindboggling series of shapes, colours and glaring desert light; contrasted with jet-black shadows, formed by pinnacles of rock interspersed with stark promontories. Included experience  Visit to the Grand Canyon.
  • Depart from Las Vegas While not much of the original Route 66 remains, we will drive along a section of the original Route 66 on our way to the airport this morning as we drive to Las Vegas for our flight home.
  • Arrive home Arrive home today with memories of an incomparable tour full of the most extraordinary insights and experiences that the USA has to offer. 

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Delve into the sounds of The South with visits to places synonymous with music’s history. Tour Studio B, visit the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville and explore Graceland, home of Elvis – King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  
  • Explore key points in US history with visits to The Alamo in San Antonio, Dealey Plaza where JFK was assassinated, The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston.  
  • Stop at the sights along Route 66, the Main Street of America, a road that embodies the independence, freedom and rich history that's synonymous with the USA. 
  • Travel to New Orleans, where we’ll enjoy a walking tour with a local guide through the iconic French Quarter. 
  • See the alien landscapes of the Petrified Forest National Park and the iconic Grand Canyon. 

Our Price Includes

  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room with single rooms available at the relevant supplement. Price includes: 
  • Scheduled flights to Atlanta and back from Las Vegas 
  • All transfers 
  • 16 nights in three-star and three-star superior accommodation 
  • All tours as mentioned 
  • All flight and accommodation taxes 
  • Hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person 
  • The services of a Riviera Travel Tour Manager 
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Accommodation

3* Courtyard by Marriott – Downtown/Blackstone Fort Worth -

★★★

The three-star superior Courtyard is right in the centre of Fort Worth, with plenty of restaurants nearby. Dating from 1929, this historic art-deco building is a landmark in Fort Worth. The hotel’s casual Deli & Bakery is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and it also has a small seasonal outdoor pool and fitness room. All the 203 air-conditioned rooms have bath/shower, hairdryer, iron/board, cable TV, tea/coffee-maker and complimentary wifi. Buffet breakfast is included.

Comfort Inn Williams -

★★★

About the hotel The Comfort Inn features an inviting indoor hotel pool and hot tub to relax in, as well as a delicious hot breakfast to kick start your day. Your cosy, modern room offers a comfortable night's sleep, with a TV, tea and coffee making facilities, seating area, a desk, air-conditioning and complimentary Wi-Fi. Location The Comfort Inn Williams is located in the picturesque city of Williams in Arizona, known as the gateway to Grand Canyon National Park, which is only one hour away. Williams part of the historic Route 66 and is home to many American-style shops and restaurants dating back to the early 1900s.  

3* Hilton NASA Clear Lake - Houston -

★★★

The Hilton NASA Clear Lake overlooks Clear Lake, and is next to NASA Space Centre. The hotel is in a great location for all the local attractions.  The hotel has all the facilities you would expect including gym, outdoor pool, a restaurant and bar.   All the 242 rooms are large and spacious and have TV, Air conditioning and coffee maker and overlook the lake.

Courtland Grand Hotel by Wyndham -

★★★★

About the hotel The hotel has a garden courtyard pool with a glass atrium ceiling, offering guests a place to relax and unwind. The hotel restaurant serves a selection of American style cuisine and the Market coffee house offers smaller snacks and coffee to go. Location This modern hotel is located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, with plenty of restaurants nearby.

3* Hyatt Place Opryland - Nashville -

★★★

The three-star superior Hyatt Place is located close to Grand Ole Opry auditorium, the General Jackson Showboat paddlewheeler and about a mile from the huge Opry Mills Mall. Downtown Nashville is around a 10-minute drive away, but there’s also several restaurants (some with live music) within walking distance. The hotel has a small outdoor pool (seasonal) and a bar which also serves coffee in the mornings, plus there’s a ‘room service’ dinner menu available to order and collect from the bar. All the 125 air-conditioned rooms have separate sitting area, shower, hairdryer, iron/board, mini-fridge, cable TV, tea/coffee-maker and complimentary Wi-Fi. Buffet breakfast is included.

3* Menger Hotel - San Antonio -

★★★

The three-star superior Menger Hotel is located in the centre of San Antonio, just across the road from The Alamo and within easy walking distance of all the many al-fresco restaurants and bars along the lively River Walk area of the city. This property is the oldest continuously operating hotel west of the Mississippi and as a member of the Historic Hotels of America, the Menger has preserved much of its architecture, as well as numerous antiques and works of art. The impressive three-storey Victorian atrium in the old wing is the centre of the hotel, but it’s heart is the famous Menger Bar, dating from 1887, panelled in dark Cherrywood, it even has the original spittoons! The Colonial Room restaurant serves breakfast and dinner and also offers outdoor seating overlooking the heated seasonal pool. The 316 air-conditioned rooms all feature bath/shower, hairdryer, iron/board, cable TV, coffee-maker and complimentary wifi. 

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Other Information

Holiday code

R609

Holiday provided by Riviera Travel

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: change your booking for free, Covid-19 cancellation protection included as standard and 100% protection with ABTA & ATOL. This holiday is sold and operated by Riviera Travel (ABTA V4744, ATOL 3430). These ABTA and ATOL bonds mean that, when you book a Riviera Travel holiday, you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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