Like a moonlit night on the bayou, the American south has for centuries, bewitched and beguiled those who visit.
With its soulful foods, its biting literature and rhythmic song, this distinctive region has gone on to influence much of our modern-day culture.
The south is a region that has been shaped, for better or worse, by its past, and reminders of its lineage can be found all around. From the haunting battlefields and stately antebellum mansions of the seventeen and eighteen-hundreds to the groove-filled music studios and Jazz clubs that gave us the sounds we’re so familiar with today, visitors will find the south to be full of sentiment and yearning.
Perhaps nothing so beautifully captures or defines the southern identity though, like music. From Country and Honky-Tonk, to Jazz, R&B, Rock n’ Roll and the Blues, music permeates the southern way of life.
From legendary hotspots like Graceland and the Grand Ole Opry, to the obscure barbecue eateries, you’ll find plenty to sink your teeth into on this exciting 8-day journey.
The currents of the mighty Mississippi River might end in New Orleans, but for guests joining Collette’s America’s Music Cities tour, the journey is just beginning.
It’s off to the Vieux Carré; that part of New Orleans otherwise known as the French Quarter. Gateway to this historic neighbourhood is Jackson Square, a gated park surrounded by some of the South’s most historic buildings, including the Cabildo, (built 1795), the Presbytere (1813), and the most visible, St. Louis Cathedral (1794 to 1850). At the centre, the famous Andrew Jackson equestrian statue commemorates the contributions of the famous war-time general and U.S. president.
Other New Orleans highlights on this 3-day stop include a visit to French Marketplace and Pirates Alley, a meal at the local favourite Café Du Monde, and peaceful drives along St. Charles Avenue where many of the city’s historic mansions can be seen. There’s even an optional cruise through the Louisiana bayou where indigenous wildlife like alligators, bald eagles and herons can be seen.
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From its flavourful Barbeque cuisine, to its funky rhythmic beats, Memphis is a city like no other. This famous Mississippi River city is rich in history and loaded with interesting things to see and do. On day one of your Memphis tour, you’ll experience southern cuisine at Central BBQ, one of the most popular restaurants in the city. After a good night’s sleep at the Sheraton Memphis Hotel, day two begins with an in-depth guided tour of the city. From its history as a great southern port in the early 19th century, to civil rights and the music sounds of the twentieth century, the Memphis story is one of perseverance.
Of course, what would a visit to Memphis be without a tour of Elvis’ famous Graceland mansion. Even for non-Elvis fans, this revealing look inside the home of this cultural icon is fascinating. Museum exhibits include a collection of the King’s many cars, his gold record collection and private work areas.
After the tour, use your free time to visit the National Civil Rights Museum. Enlightening exhibits are set within historic buildings, two of which include the infamous Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and the boarding house across the road from where the assassin carried out the heinous crime. This tour offers a fascinating, and at times sobering look into what can only be described as a dark period in American history.
Next, it’s on to Music City U.S.A., where the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, and the Country Music Hall of Fame showcase much of America’s Country music history. Music and entertainment are the backbone of the Nashville scene. Just walk down the bustling streets of Broadway and Second Avenue, and you’ll see just how prevalent music is to the identity of this southern capital.
Attend a show at the historic Grand Ole Opry and tour the iconic Studio B where Elvis, Dolly Parton and many others recorded well known hits. Other attractions on the tour include the Parthenon. Containing historic works of art, this striking building just happens to be a full-sized replica of the ancient Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Guests on the tour will also see the lovely Tennessee state capitol building – a classic Greek Revival structure that dates to 1845.
If you’re looking for a place to relax during your free time in Nashville, consider a visit to the Oak Bar which is located in the historic Hermitage Hotel. Just a block away from the Tennessee state capitol building, this luxury hotel and iconic Nashville landmark dates back to 1908 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Admire the beauty of the grand lobby before heading downstairs to the Oak Bar for a plate of “FGT” – fried green tomatoes – and a pot of tea or a cold drink.