Slideshow: How to Road Trip Through the South Without Driving
January 11, 2017
Why you should consider taking an escorted tour for your next trip
If you’ve never been to the South, you’ll fall in love with the Spanish moss dripping from the mature oak trees. On gloomy days, the effect is ominous and moody. But when the sun is out it feels lush, almost like it’s being used as set decoration.
Your luxury coach awaits! Each row features tons of legroom, cup holders, electrical outlets, and overhead storage to keep your travels comfortable and enjoyable. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the scenery.
Your traveling concierge and tour guide will fill you in on everything you need to know about each city and state you visit. She’ll also share trip information like how to receive your included breakfasts and departure times for your next destination. It’s OK to sleep on the coach but you may miss one of Ann’s fun quizzes!
Nashville is full of music history and your first stop on the itinerary is to Studio B. More than 45,000 songs have been recorded there, including several hits by Elvis and “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. Your Studio B tour guide will walk you through the history of early rock and roll and how the studio came to be before inviting you to record an Elvis hit, singing choir style with your travel mates, and sending you on your way with a CD to remind you of that once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Country Music Hall of Fame
The Country Music Hall of Fame is full of memorabilia and displays that will appeal to even non-country music fans. Your visit will include a session with a local singer/songwriter. We heard from Richard Leigh, writer of the Crystal Gayle hit “Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue” and many other well-known songs.
He performed some of his music and talked about his inspiration and experience in the country music scene.
Spicy Fried Chicken
A trip to Nashville wouldn’t be complete without trying some Nashville hot chicken. I found this riff on chicken and waffles at Café Lula at the Ryman Auditorium. This spicy fried chicken was so full of flavor that it made the pain totally worth it. I paired it with a local beer to create a delicious memory. Nashville has an excellent food scene, so do a little research before you get there and set out to find those hidden gems.
The Grand Ole Opry
I’m not a huge fan of country music but getting to tour the Ryman Auditorium, with its rich history, was really cool. And getting to attend a live taping of The Grand Ole Opry was even cooler! This long-running radio program features live music (on our visit we got to see Jo Dee Messina and Allison Krause!), comedy, and even live commercials.
Before leaving Tennessee we made sure to stock up on regional sweets like the goo goo cluster and the moon pie. The goo goo cluster is considered to be the first candy bar where multiple ingredients were mixed together (chocolate, peanuts, caramel, and marshmallow nougat) and was created in Nashville. A hungry Kentucky coalminer once asked a candy company traveling salesman for a snack as big as the moon and the moon pie was born. The Chattanooga-made candy was an instant hit!
Southern Comfort Food
Though the tour itinerary doesn’t focus on food specifically, Southern comfort food could be found just about everywhere we went, like this buffet. The candied sweet potatoes and green beans were my favorite. Vegetarians: Beware that most of the vegetables contain some type of meat.
Heading to Memphis means barbecue! Central BBQ is said to be the best barbecue in town and is just a short car ride from the hotel for this part of the trip. Try out the brisket plate or the barbecue nachos.
National Civil Rights Museum
Though not on the tour itinerary, I highly recommend a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. It’s designed beautifully and is a poignant experience that takes visitors through centuries of civil rights history.
A trip to Memphis wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Sun Studio, where Elvis was first discovered. What was considered to be the first rock and roll song was also recorded here. The music made in this studio paved the way for what we hear on radio today.
Don’t even think about visiting Elvis’ hometown without a stop at Graceland. Insight Vacations gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to be Elvis in his heyday by having one of Elvis’ long-time pals, George Klein, be your tour guide. You’ll hear personal stories and enjoy a private dinner in the Car Museum.
Your stay in Mississippi is a quick but memorable one. You’ll stay overnight at the Monmouth Inn, built in 1818, and enjoy a four-course meal in the dining room. The rooms in the antebellum main house are decorated with antiques and reproductions from that time period and sit on gorgeously manicured grounds.
Before dinner you’ll learn how to make a Southern staple, the mint julep. Roosevelt Owens, a beloved staff member of the Monmouth Inn, will share his family’s recipe for making the perfect mint julep. His recipe has been shared in numerous publications around the world.
I am still dreaming of the world’s comfiest bed that I experienced at Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. The hotel is luxurious and comfortable, and home to one the coolest bars I’ve ever seen. The Carousel Bar manages to be elegant and sophisticated, and has a wonderful cocktail list. This bar was busy from open (11 a.m.) until close. It’s a popular destination in town and you can find it in the lobby of your home away from home.
The guided city tour was a great way to learn about the rich history of New Orleans, from how it was founded to how it has bounced back since Hurricane Katrina. You’ll see everything from small homes to large mansions and learn about all the neighborhoods in between. The location of your hotel makes exploring the French Quarter by foot easy, and it’s a great way to learn about the city’s colonial heritage and cultured history.
New Orleans School of Cooking
New Orleans is home to an amazing food culture. Immerse yourself in to it in your free time by taking a class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. Learn how the cuisine is defined by the French and Cajun influences of the area, and try out local favorites like pralines and gumbo.
National World War II Museum
If you are a history buff, you’ll find the National World War II Museum and many other landmarks to check out. If you are a foodie, this is your town. Plan ahead and create a free time schedule that will let you experience delicious food all over the city.
Café Du Monde
Don’t even think about skipping the beignets and café au lait at Café Du Monde. These fluffy, doughnut-like pastry pillows are totally worth the mess you’ll make with the powdered sugar. Share a plate with your new friends!