- Elvis' Graceland and America's Deep South
America's Civil Rights Movement, music heritage and space exploration all came to a head in the explosive and exuberant atmosphere of the 1960s. Our tour encompasses the highlights and tragic lows of this era through the country music of Nashville, the rock 'n' roll and jazz of Memphis and the rhythmic blues of New Orleans before concluding at the Houston Space Centre.
Depart London on your scheduled direct flight to Nashville. On arrival, you will be met by a local tour director and transferred to your hotel. Enjoy the evening at leisure in Nashville, 'Music City USA', a city set amidst rolling farmland and known worldwide as the home of country music.
This morning, embark on a tour of Tennessee's rhythmic capital, Nashville, whose energetic ambience is characterised by its vibrant music scene, neon lit avenues and bustling honky-tonks. For music listeners, your tour begins with a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame, a huge museum of all things country and western and home to films, videos, costumes and Elvis Presley's solid gold Cadillac. After some time at leisure to wander through the city, enjoy a trip to the Grand Ole Opry.
Begin today's Nashville exploration at the Johnny Cash Museum to admire historical documents, awards and costumes before delighting in the chance to visit one of Nashville's famous honky-tonks playing live country music, as well as the impressive Parthenon - the only full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon and the reason behind Nashville's nickname 'Athens of the South'. This evening, after checking into your hotel we've arranged dinner at BB King's Blues Bar Nashville for a great night of Southern food, musical sounds and hospitality.
Begin the day with a visit to Studio B, Nashville's oldest surviving recording studio regularly used by stars such as Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and The Everley Brothers, to name just a few. The tour will head for Memphis, yet another highlight of this Southern Musical Medley tour. On arrival in Memphis you will take a trip to the National Civil Rights Museum built on the spot where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. Telling the story of the fight for freedom from slavery through to the Civil Rights Movement of the early fifties and sixties, prepare yourself for an emotional and unforgettable experience.
Today's tour of Memphis' music greats starts with a morning visit to Sun Studio where Elvis recorded his first hit and where Jerry Lee Lewis's piano still stands. Next, experience another first for the music lover - a visit to Graceland, the iconic home of Elvis and final resting place of The King. Enjoy an audio tour through the decadent and quirky rooms including the 'jungle den' where he used to watch football games and kung-fu movies. You'll also watch the famous Peabody Ducks march to and from the Grand Lobby at the Peabody Memphis Hotel, a unique tradition dating back to 1933. Continue on through central Memphis and admire architectural landmarks such as Court Square Fountain, the Lincoln American Tower and Calvary Episcopal Church whilst your guide entertains you with tales about this rowdy riverside town and its inhabitants. Tonight is at leisure for you to explore and experience the many bars, restaurants and music scene of Memphis.
Today the tour leaves Memphis and follows the path of the mighty Mississippi River and travels deep into the heart of the Mississippi Delta via Jackson before crossing the border into Louisiana. Driving across Lake Pontchartrain on the longest causeway in the world you will arrive in New Orleans, a melange of European style and Caribbean flavours and a city full of flamboyance, festivities and a whole lot of soul. We've arranged to take you to the New Orleans School of Cooking this evening for an entertaining demonstration from one of their Creole/Cajun experts with dinner included and the chance to try a New Orleans speciality such as gumbo, jambalaya or pralines.
In the morning, visit some of New Orleans' highlights including the famous French Quarter taking in Bourbon Street, the art galleries and antique shops of Royal Street and Jackson Square with its many artists, museums and fortune tellers. From here you will take a visit to a local distillery and savour the tastes of up to three different spirits. The rest of the day and evening are for you to enjoy at your leisure, but make sure you live the New Orleans' motto 'Laissez les bons temps rouler' - let the good times roll!
Today is a free day for you to enjoy New Orleans in your own time. Stroll around the market in the French Quarter, stop for some lunch at one of the many oyster bars and restaurants, shop for antiques and trinkets or book yourself a tour through the Louisiana bayou aboard an airboat. This evening you can take your pick of the many excellent bars, eateries and music venues for which this laidback city, The Big Easy is world renowned.
This morning it's time to leave New Orleans and travel to Houston to catch your return flight to the UK the next day. There will be a stop along the way in Lake Charles for an hour or so for you to stretch your legs and have some lunch. Arriving in Houston in the early hours of the evening there will be a short orientation tour before returning to the hotel.
The final day includes a visit to Houston's Space Centre, home to NASA and the world's largest collection of moon rocks and lunar samples on public view. You'll also see Mission Control that guided the first moon landings as well as original Saturn, Mercury and Apollo rockets that have been at the forefront of space exploration since the early sixties. Sadly, your southern tour of music, culture and history is at an end and it is time to depart for the airport to catch your return direct flight back to London or continue on to your chosen extension.
Michaela Cadden14 Oct 19
The Gaylord in Nashville was superb, the Holiday Inn in Memphis was really good, the Royal St Charles in New Orleans was poor, but the Sheraton in Houston was great.
Philip Wilson14 Sep 19
First class hotels I have never stayed before on any other tour in such nice hotels, with the facilities I want. The people on the tour, we all met at Nashville Airport on arrival with the tour guide, we were all strangers to each other, we all left at the end of the the tour all as friends, I have never been on a tour where every one is so pleasant and kind and we did have a few good laughs and a great cross range of ages which was so very nice.
Brian Cripps26 Nov 18
We thought all the hotels were extremely good apart from the Holiday Inn Express in Atlanta which was 'somewhat tired' and not to the same standard as the others
Lyn Richards13 Nov 18
Cannot believe the quality of hotels, absolutely amazing
A visa is not required for entry into the USA for UK passport holders. You will need a tourist card which you can get on arrival by completing an immigration form provided either on the flight or on arrival at the airport. You will need to obtain an ESTA visa This must be applied for at least 7 days before you are due to land in the USA. Please advise if you would like us to arrange this for you. All UK passport holders must have a Bio-metric ePassport and your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date you are expected to arrive back in the UK. Important note: if you do not have a Bio-metric ePassport, you will be refused entry into the USA. We work closely with The Travel Visa Company who will be who will be able to arrange the ESTA visa on your behalf. Please call them on 01270 250590 and quote 'Mercury Holidays'. The cost of the visa is approximately £25. If you wish to apply for the visa yourself, you can do so online by visiting the <a href="https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/" target="_blank" rel=''nofollow''>website</a>. Further advice should be sought from the applicable tourist authority for other nationalities and for general queries. We strongly advise you to check with your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy for the most up-to-date guidelines regarding required passport validity.
We strongly recommend that you and all members of your party are suitably insured as soon as you book your holiday. It is a condition of booking that you must have suitable travel insurance. It is important that you purchase travel insurance that suitably covers your participation in whatever activities you may undertake at the time that you make your booking. To assist you with this, we have arranged travel insurance in partnership with Holiday Extras. To arrange your travel insurance with Holiday Extras, please call 0800 781 4237 and quote 'WK830' for preferential rates. Please ensure you provide us with the name of your insurer, policy number and their 24-hour emergency contact number as soon as possible. Mercury Holidays will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking.
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
Your flight is to Nashville International Airport with British Airways (BA), departing from London Heathrow Terminal 5. Each passenger is entitled to 23kg of hold luggage. There is also an allowance of one cabin bag not exceeding 56cm x 45 cm x 25 cm and one personal bag not exceeding 45 cm x 36 cm x 20 cm that you can take on the aircraft as hand luggage. Weight restrictions will be finalized on E-ticket receipt. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay extra at check-in. Check-in should be at least 3 hours before departure.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
This tour is accessible to most people with an average level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves full days of sightseeing, often on foot and includes some climbing of stairs and getting on and off coaches. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The minimum number of travellers in your group will be 25, and the maximum will be 45. If in the unlikely event there are less than 30 people booked on your tour date, we will endeavour to reduce any disruption to your holiday and try to operate your tour with lower passenger numbers. If we are not able to operate your departure date then you may be asked to change to a different date and a full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.
This is a fully escorted tour, meaning that you will be met on arrival and will be accompanied by a guide throughout your stay ensuring that you have first-hand knowledge at all times.
The currency in America is the United States Dollar (USD). You will be able to change currency both before you travel and whilst you are away. You will also have access to ATMs during your tour where you can withdraw money in the local currency.
You will need to take money with you to cover any personal purchases such as souvenirs, laundry and extra drinks and snacks. Approximately £500-£700 per person will be sufficient for the duration of the tour, depending on how much of a bargain-hunter you are! It is customary to tip your guide and driver. This is at your discretion but we recommend you allow approximately £4 per person per day