Through the Deep South

13-Day Deep South Itinerary - USA

Prices from £1,960 pp

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View day-by-day

Duration13 days / 12 nights (flexible)


ItineraryAtlanta - Cherokee - Pigeon Forge - Nashville - Memphis - Natchez - New Orleans

Suitable for families

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The Deep South offers a variety of experiences that all benefit from the classic Southern Hospitality that you will hear so much about. While on this 13-day trip you will take in big cities, unique rural stays and mansions on cotton plantations but no matter where you end up you will always find a warm welcome. With opportunities to visit Graceland, the Johnny Cash museum and even Dollywood you’ll also find that music is the beating heart of this region.

What's included

  • Accommodation – price based on 2 people sharing
  • Excursions as described below
  • Car hire and insurance – prices may vary depending on departure dates

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Location map

Your day-by-day itinerary

Easy Going Atlanta

You will arrive at the Atlanta airport and collect your rental car, as this is the perfect starting point for your road trip through the southern states of America. Tonight, you will sleep in a centrally located city hotel, so you don’t have to drive far and are able to explore the city on foot. Atlanta is the hometown of Martin Luther King Jr. and you can get a tour of his birth house or visit the Atlanta History Centre to learn more about one of America’s most influential individuals.

a skyline at night

Start the day with perhaps the first tasty American breakfast of your trip. In the morning you still have time to discover the city before traveling on to your next destination and could even fit in a real American tradition of heading to a ball game at Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves. The city is also home to one of the country’s largest news channels, CNN, whose studios can also be visited.

a big city at night

Into the Great Smoky Mountains

Today you arrive in the Great Smoky Mountains, spending the night next to the Blue Ridge Parkway in the town of Cherokee. It is a convenient spot to drive to the Visitor Centre, which is located at the beginning of the Newfound Gap Road, where you’ll collect a map of the park with all the viewpoints and activities. In the afternoon, drive to the Indian village of Oconaluftee, where you can learn more about the life and culture of the Cherokee Indians.

the sun setting over the mountains

The next day you’ll wake up on the edge of The Smokies and you can get a nice breakfast at the local bakery, before hitting the Newfound Gap Road. The road itself takes about 1 hour to drive but it’s worth starting early to avoid the crowds and because there are plenty of stops to make along the way. If you are a real early bird, you can even watch the sunrise at Clingman’s Dome and see the mist hanging between the mountains. A little further on the Newfound Gap Road you find the trailhead of the Alum Cave Trail an easy to navigate route with scenic beauty everywhere you look.

a viewpoint built over the trees

Cruising through Pigeon Forge

Today you will arrive in Pigeon Forge, also known as Little Las Vegas, situated on the north side of the Smoky Mountains. It’s not the quietest part of the region, but there is plenty to see and do here. To get a real taste for the area, you can stop by the Ole Smoky Moonshine after dinner to try the local moonshine. It’s an alcoholic drink that comes in flavours like passion fruit or try the dessert version that tastes more like amaretto. Whichever you choose, it’ll be sure to help you sleep well tonight.

a view over the green mountains

You’ll have all day the next day to enjoy the nature on the doorstep of Pigeon Forge. Visit Cades Cove in the morning, this valley’s an hour’s drive from Pigeon Forge and is surrounded by thick forests and is the best place to spot wildlife, including black bears, squirrels, raccoons, and many birds. In the afternoon, you’ll have plenty of time to drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, driving past small waterfalls, rapids and old buildings. If you’re feeling adventurous then pull off at the trailhead of The Grotto Falls Trail, where you have climb and scramble to get to a waterfall that you can walk right behind.

a black bear in the woods

Walk the Line in Nashville

You will arrive in Nashville in the early afternoon today, spending the night in a hotel that is a 20-minute drive from the centre. The advantage of staying here is that you stay close to the Opryland, where Grand Ole Opry is recorded (make sure to book tickets in advance if you want to visit it). This is a music program that is broadcast on TV almost daily with different country stars performing all week. Some of the best in the world play here, so you never know who you will be lucky enough to see!

plaques in a hall of fame

The next day you’ll wake up in the home of country music and have all day to explore its past and present. From your hotel you can take a shuttle service to the centre and visit the Jonny Cash Museum or the Country Music Hall of Fame. If you aren’t a big music fan then you can explore Centennial Park, a perfect place to have a picnic. You will also find a replica of the Parthenon from Athens and the campus of Vanderbilt University is conveniently situated opposite. In the evening, grab a bite to eat along Music Row then walk to the bars and cafes on Broadway following the sound of live music and to really get in the mood, get line dancing on the dance floor.

a band play a small gig

Walking in Memphis

You’ll arrive at your hotel in the centre of Memphis in the afternoon, with time to begin discovering the city. A visit to the Civil Rights Museum is a must. Set in the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, you walk through the museum where the developments of the Civil Rights Movement are chronicled, including the bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Once the sun has set, take a walk along Beale Street with music and people pouring from the cubs and bars – BB King’s Blues Club is highly recommended.

a couple stand on a street

The following day you will visit Graceland, Elvis Presley’s mansion, where you can quite easily spend half day learning all there is to know about his fascinating life and eccentricities. You can start by taking a look at his planes, car collection and admiring the famous suits from his performances, as well as visiting the exhibit about his personal life and time in the military. It’s then time to visit his old house to hear more about his life through an audio tour and discover more photos and videos of his lifetime achievements.

a statue of elvis

Cotton and Culture in Natchez

In the afternoon you’ll arrive in the town of Natchez, which lies on the banks of the Mississippi River and a small park has been laid out along the water. You’ll be staying on the grounds of a historic inn that is built on an estate with a beautiful large garden and cottages spread over the site, in the evening you can take dinner on the patio of the main mansion. The visitor centre is a short walk from the hotel, they have all the information about events that take place in the town and they show a short film about its history, so you’ll feel like a local in no time.

a cotton field at sunset

The following day, it’s time to visit what the Deep South is most known for, plantations. It is about a half hour drive to the cotton plantation and the owner is also your guide. During the tour she’ll tell you how the plantation used to function form the perspective of an owner and the slaves. She’ll also show you how the cotton was picked back then and how they do it today. After your tour you’ll still have time to visit Longwood, an octagonal mansion where only the ground floor is finished. The other floors were never finished because the American Civil War had broken out, and you can still see the original tools scattered around the site.

a house in the garden

The Big Easy

You will arrive in New Orleans today, leaving your car in a cheaper garage on the edge of town and walking to the city centre. You’ll spend two nights in the historic French Quarter in a boutique hotel, so that you can conveniently explore the city on foot. At night, the streets in the French quarter are lit up and the music of Bourbon Street is never hard to locate. This is where the parties are held and there is music coming from every building all the way down Frenchmen Street.

a band play on the street

Today you have a day off and there is plenty to do in New Orleans. Grab some breakfast at one of many cafes and wander through the streets of the French Quarter. Each street has its own theme that matches the name of the street and the shops have adapted to that. You can also choose to do a city tour to learn more about the city, the southern customs and voodoo. For a tasty snack, head to Cafe Du Monde, where they sell the beignets that New Orleans is famous for. If you fancy getting out of the city, you can venture out to the Jean Lafitte National Park, best explored on an airboat tour through the Bayou, or visit the plantation houses located in the area.

voodoo dolls in a shop

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