Discover the museums, memorials and monuments along the American History trail – from the small-town charms of Philadelphia to the capital-city icons of Washington DC.. Get into the groove of Memphis and indulge in the kitschy glamour and over-the-top Southern charisma of this musical metropolis.. Explore New Orleans’ distinct old-school jazz vibes, delicious food and French-inspired architecture in a true Deep South experience.. Release your inner child at one of Orlando’s range of theme parks, from the thrills of Universal Studios to the comforting throwback to your favourite cartoons at Walt Disney World.
Take a bite out of the Big Apple, swing through to the Big Easy and wind up at the Big Peach. This is one juicy adventure full of theme-park thrills, beach-side vibes, old-school jazz and a huge slice of southern hospitality. Share stories around the campfire in the shadows of the Appalachian Mountains, indulge in Creole cuisine and round-the-clock nightlife on buzzing Bourbon Street, discover the museums and memorials along the American History trail and re-enact your favourite Forrest Gump moment in Savannah’s Chippewa Square – life may be like a box of chocolates, but we’ve made sure you know exactly what you’re going to get on this tour – and we’ve selected all the best flavours.
New York (Newark)
Welcome to New York AKA the Big Apple! There are no activities planned today until your welcome meeting in the hotel lobby at 6 pm, so if you arrive early perhaps check out Central Park and the Empire State Building or take a walk around Times Square – in fact we recommend arriving a couple of days earlier to make the most of what this incredible city has to offer. For the inside scoop on all the famous landmarks and local eateries, consider doing the half-day Midtown Sights & Bites Food Tour with Urban Adventures (for more info visit urbanadventures.com). After your welcome meeting, why not join your new friends for dinner and grab yourself a slice of pizza, New York style.
This morning, kickstart your journey along North America’s history trail and drive south towards the nation's capital, stopping at Philadelphia on the way for a quick look at some of the highlights of the Old City, including the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the 'Rocky' steps. After touring around Philly, continue on to DC where your leader will point you in the direction of all the major sights on an orientation tour of the city. The total driving time from New York to Washington DC will take about 4 hours, so in the evening why not stretch out your legs on H Street – an artsy and energetic two-and-a-half kilometre (one-and-a-half mile) corridor in Northeast DC, renowned for its communal atmosphere and buzzing nightlife!
Today is free to explore Washington DC, a city easily discovered on foot – we suggest grabbing a map and planning your day to ensure that you maximise your time in this iconic city. Choose from any of DC’s almost 100 world-class museums – the National Air and Space Museum, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of Natural History and the Newseum are just a few. There are also many other small fascinating museums hidden around the city. The city is overflowing with famous monuments and buildings, so don’t miss the White House, Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, MLK Monument, FDR and Jefferson Memorials (some places charge an entrance fee, so make sure you bring some spare cash along). You’ll most likely do a lot of walking today, so maybe reward yourself with a relaxing evening.
Escape the city grind and venture into the breathtaking scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains. Stop by Shenandoah National Park, one of the highest and most scenic portions of the Appalachians. Continue your journey along Skyline Drive – a famed mountain highway which winds through deep woods and past spectacular vistas. Stop to stretch your legs under the impressive oak trees and admire the gorgeous views. Later in the afternoon, drive to your campsite and pitch your tent in the heart of the great outdoors, share stories with your fellow travellers around the campfire and make s’mores (a traditional night time campfire treat in North America) – you may even learn some new skills! Total drive time today will be around 5 hours.
Head south this morning on a 4-hour drive to the USA’s Country Music Capital - Nashville, Tennessee. Once settled into the campground, join your leader on a short orientation tour of Nashville’s Downtown area – focusing on the bustling entertainment hub of Broadway – a famed strip renowned for the honky tonk bars which offer live music every day of the week. The rest of the day is at your leisure, so perhaps visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, which contains the golden Cadillac that once belonged to Elvis or check out some iconic music venues like Grand Ole Opry House and the Ryman Auditorium. The Wildhorse Saloon is a great spot in the evening to experience authentic southern food and live music.
Say goodbye to the glitz and glamour of ‘Nashvegas’ this morning as you continue your musical pilgrimage to the birthplace of rock and roll: Memphis, Tennessee (approximately 3.5 hours driving time). Join your leader on a short walking tour to familiarise yourself with the city. You’ll head down bustling Beale Street, where traditional blues clubs and ritzier tourist traps rub shoulders – but don’t worry, your leader will give you the lowdown on which bars are worth a look. After an included world-famous fried chicken lunch, the rest of the day is free to explore. If you have time, a must-see in Memphis is Sun Studio, the 'Birthplace of Rock', which boasts the first recordings of legendary performers like Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. For those with an interest in history, there's the National Civil Rights Museum (at the former Lorraine Motel) where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. This evening, why not head out for a famous Memphis-style barbecue.
With no activities planned today, consider heading out of the city to visit Graceland, Elvis Presley’s former home and the site of his tomb. Exploding with kitschy glamour and over-the-top Southern charm, here you can see the famous jungle room, as well as Elvis’s cars, private planes and much more. For an unusual and local experience, check out the popular Duck Parade at the famous Peabody Hotel – where ducks that live in the hotel perform waddle from their rooftop palace to splash in the lobby fountain (and then back again) at 11 am and 5 pm daily.
In the evening, get into the groove of Memphis and consider heading back down to Beale Street's traditional blues clubs, made famous by legends such as WC Handy, Howlin' Wolf and BB King.
It’s a long drive today as you head across the state of Mississippi and prepare to get down in New Orleans AKA the ‘Big Easy’ (approximately 8 hours). Get back to nature with a stop at Honey Island and perhaps opt for a tour down one of the least-altered river swamps in the country. It's pretty much in its original condition, almost a pristine wilderness and home to a variety of critters. Residents include nutrias (river rats), snakes and wild boars – spot alligators sunbathing on the banks and absorb the incredible scenery as you cruise through the eerie marshland. Continue your drive into New Orleans – with a mix of Creole, Cajun and European culture reflected in the city’s architecture, cuisine and music there’s plenty to explore and do. On arrival, your leader will point you in the direction of all the major attractions on a short walk of the eclectic French Quarter, the historic heart of the city, famous for its cast-iron balconies and vivacious nightlife. The rest of the time is yours! Perhaps take a walk down rowdy Bourbon Street or through the former plantation area of the Garden District, or head out for a typical Cajun-style dinner and toast to your adventure.
Enjoy a free day to fit in as much of New Orleans as you can! Perhaps cruise the Mississippi on a riverboat or visit the fascinating little Voodoo Museum. This evening, gather together for another meeting at 6 pm where you’ll meet your new group leader and welcome some new travellers on the next stage of your adventure. After the meeting, why not get to know your new travel buddies by checking out a jazz show and dancing the night away in the bars along Frenchman Street.
Panama City Beach
It's quite a long drive today from New Orleans to Panama City Beach (around 6 hours), but once there, the best way to recover is to relax on some of the 14 kilometres (9 miles) of pristine white sand beach, and take a swim in the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Panama City Beach is also renowned for its night clubs and parties and is a popular spring break destination, so if you have enough energy left at the end of the day, definitely hit the town and live a carefree life like you’re back at school.
Head from Panama City Beach to the heart of Florida. The third largest city in Florida, Orlando has a lot going on, including a heap of shops and outlet malls to check out and an exciting and varied nightlife. If there's time on arrival, you may like to go out and explore International Drive, have a walk around Lake Eola, or spend some time working out what theme park to hit up tomorrow.
Today is a free day to explore Orlando's famous amusement parks and attractions. Most people opt for Walt Disney World Resort or Universal Orlando Resort as they are the two of the most well known and both feature multiple theme parks, but there are over a dozen other parks that might take your fancy. If you’re graced with nice weather, Orlando has some water parks such as Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, for those who love to get soaked. Each park is a full day's worth of action, so choose wisely. If theme parks aren’t your thing, do not fear! Your group leader can suggest other, less thrill-seeking activities to fill your day.