Southern Charm

18-Day Southern Charm Itinerary - USA

Prices from £2,440 pp

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View day-by-day

Duration18 days / 17 nights (flexible)

DepartureDaily

ItinerarySavannah - Charleston - Cherokee - Pigeon Forge - Nashville - Memphis - Tallahatchie - Natchez - New Orleans

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Overview

It is now time to see the more charming side of the Deep South, there are still rough and ready experiences like a rural stay in a river shack and chances to camp in the wilderness, but you will also find colonial cities, quaint cottages on cotton plantations and manicured gardens. You’ll also get to explore the areas musical past whether it be Rock ‘n Roll with Elvis in Memphis, country music with Jonny Cash in Nashville or the blues in lesser visited Tallahatchie.

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

Savannah is Like a Box of Chocolates

On arrival at the airport, go through customs, pick up your suitcase from the baggage claim and follow the signs to the car rental station to pick up your new car that you will be traveling in for the coming weeks. As soon as you arrive in the city you will feel immersed in the Spanish and French influences. You will be spending the next two nights in a conveniently located hotel, right by the waterfront and in the centre of the city. Savannah is a great place to relax and known as the city of parks and squares, one of which you may notice is the famous setting from the film Forrest Gump.

sunset over a river

Wake up early the following day and have breakfast overlooking the waterfront. Then it is time to head away from the river and explore the parks and squares the city is famous for. Many say the city is haunted and there is a city tour you can book locally that tells you all about why and what creepy legends to be on the lookout for. The Bonaventure Cemetery, located just outside the city, is well worth a visit, and is where you will find many unusual tombstones. In the afternoon, grab your rental car and drive a little further to Tybee Island and unwind on the lovely sandy beaches.

a city square with a fountain

Colonial Charleston

Today you will arrive in Charleston to find a lively city on the water with lots or bars, restaurants and music to discover. You’ll sleep in a centrally located city hotel with a swimming pool and within walking distance from all the action. Take the time to visit Fort Sumter, which can be reached by ferry or a take a trip to The Old Slave Mart Museum, where you’ll learn more about South Carolina’s slavery past.

colourful houses on a street

Get up early the following morning, as there is still a lot to see in the city that some call the French Riviera of the South. You can visit the Boone Hall Plantation, where the movie ‘The Notebook’ was filmed and is one of the largest, continuously working plantations in the area. You can participate in a guided tour of the house that includes eight slave houses on the grounds, bringing you closer to the area’s past, as you find small exhibitions consisting of photos, old objects and information boards.

a colonial mansion with pillars

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

River Shacks of Tallahatchie Flats

Today you will arrive at your home for the next few nights. Seven kilometres from the nearest town, this is the place to get a feel for real rural Mississippi living. Each “flat”, or tenant house as they are known locally, has been acquired from a local plantation and restored to preserve a piece of history that allows you to feel as if you have stepped back into 1940s America. There is a front and back porch, and the furniture is true to the time period with only the plumbing, air-conditioning and fully functioning kitchen brought up to 21st century standards.

a porch of a wooden building

The next morning you will wake up to the silence of rural life, far away from any main roads or busy towns and your time here is yours to enjoy. You can decide to relax on your porch and take a walk through the Delta countryside on one of the main nature trails in the area. If you are feeling more adventurous, grab a paddle and canoe up the river with a fishing rod and fish for supper or there are also bikes to rent and you can explore the Delta on two wheels. At night you can head to the local tavern on site serving local in authentic surroundings.

a shack from the side

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
Emma

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