Southern delicacies include chicken and ribs, biscuits and gravy, and more curiously, Elvis' favorite Graceland snack, a peanut butter and banana concoction. But here's food for thought: Our equally eclectic travel menu of mouth-watering southern destinations, nicely sandwiched between prime left- and right-coast stop-overs. Get a taste of Texas, full servings of Memphis and New Orleans, and a naughty nibble of Las Vegas, before a final bite in the Big Apple, New York City.
Stop in both Annapolis and Philadelphia on our way to the city where it all happens, Washington, D.C. See the city all dressed up in light during tonight's illumination tour that includes views of the White House and the Capitol Building.
With two full days to explore the capital, you can visit some fascinating museums and monuments, or hang out in the city’s vibrant neighborhoods for a different feel. We’ll visit Arlington National Cemetery, where JFK is buried and thousands of US soldiers lie. You’ll see the sobering sight of endless rows of white headstones and have the chance to watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There’s a chance to cover a lot of ground and get familiar with DC by renting a bike. Get some pointers from your Tour Manager on where to go next. Get a dose of culture at the Smithsonian Museums. This is a one-stop culture spot, made up of 19 different museums. It has it all – from natural history to space, so the choice is yours, and best of all, it’s free! You can also visit the world-class Holocaust Museum and learn about one of history’s darkest moments as you honor the victims. For something fun and intriguing, head to the Spy Museum. Find out about infamous FBI cases and what it means to be a secret agent, while you listen to bugs and play around with gadgets and interactive displays. Later, hit Georgetown, D.C.’s oldest district and see how it has injected itself with new energy. 200 year-old buildings hold hip galleries and boutiques – it’s a great place to pick up something funky. It’s also a global kitchen - try something from the 50 different types of ethnic food on offer. With a university crowd, Georgetown is vibrant and young, so spend some time exploring the laid-back lounges and upscale bars. For something more upbeat, get down and funky in Adams-Morgan, another trendy district.
We leave hustle and bustle of Washington D.C. for a little Southern Hospitality. Take a break in historic Richmond, a city steeped in American history, before arriving in Raleigh.
Charleston, the birthplace of the dance craze of the same name. Here, horse and carriages are the norm and the ‘low country’ favourite of shrimps and grits are menu regulars, which should be high priority on your agenda today. Learn some facts from our Local Guide, and visit a historical rice plantation. Later, more beautiful 17th Century buildings will excite the architecture enthusiasts as we stroll along stunning Church Street and the waterside promenade, visiting the 200 year old market.
Wander the historic squares of Savannah before heading into the cobblestoned ones of America's oldest city, St. Augustine.
Today drive south and touch base with outer-space as you explore the Kennedy Space Center before arriving at the surfing capital of the East Coast, Cocoa Beach.
We'll cruise downtown, taking in the Miami Heat basketball arena and the outdoor shopping mecca, Bayside Marketplace, then why not go a little Miami Vice on a 'Thriller' speedboat tour of the Bay. Want to make it a night to really remember? Opt for our boat party and cruise around Miami harbour, spending your evening like a celeb
Tropical Miami oozes energy and a free day here means time to get into this happening hub. Head down to the boardwalk and people-watch. If you’re looking to relax, kick back among the toned, bronzed bodies on South Beach and take a swim in the warm waters of the southern Atlantic. Have a go on 2 wheels in a fun biking optional excursion with the group and get familiar with the waterfront neighborhoods. Your Local Guide will give you an insider’s view on this colorful town, and take you to many of Miami’s signature sites like Casa Casuarina (Versace mansion), the Bass Art Museum, the Holocaust Memorial before winding down with something cool to drink at Miami’s Marina. If you’ve got time to live a bit of the local Latin lifestyle, return to Little Havana and order some Cuban rice and beans, followed by some sweet Cuban coffee. Try your hand at dominoes on one of the outdoor tables on Calle 8 (Eighth Street) or pick up a Cuban cigar and some salsa music at one of the little shops. Before you hit the shops, get some pointers about where to head from your Tour Manager, who knows Miami’s ins and outs. For shopping in style, stroll through the outdoor shopping promenade of the Lincoln Road mall and for bargains, head to Espanola Way. Tonight, live a slice of the high life and party it up Miami style out on the water in our optional harbor party cruise.
Venture north, with a drive through the country’s largest subtropical wilderness- the Everglades. Then, it’s on to the entertainment hub of Orlando.
Free time means a day out in one of the many fun parks located here with some friends. There are loads of options; Disney World with its 4 parks, Universal Studios, SeaWorld and several water parks. The parks also serve up theme-bars and clubs, so if you’re keen, keep it moving tonight at one of them.
With time to relax on the coach, enjoy a siesta or get some tips for the up-coming destinations from your Trip Manager. Later, we're off to soak up some sun with an overnight stop at "The World's Most Beautiful Beaches" - Panama City Beach.
A meeting point of European style and Caribbean flavors, swinging New Orleans is busy with soul, flamboyance, festivities and a whole lot of jazz! Get your first taste of the city’s romance as the group looks into New Orleans’ spiritual heart: the historic French Quarter. See New Orleans’ main drag, the city’s original coffee shop Café du Monde, the French Market and thriving Jackson Square, with its pretty wrought iron balconies. Later, join an optional excursion on a traditional Mississippi riverboat and head out along the famous river. With a live Dixie jazz band and loads of Creole cooking, you’ll soon get into life in the “Big Easy”. Then turn the energy levels up with a visit to Bourbon street. Humming night and day, it is all about music and bars. So make sure you live the New Orleans’ motto “Laissez les bon temps rouler” - let the good times roll!
A free day means time to absorb the atmosphere and lose yourself in the energy and diversity of New Orleans. Hop on a historic street car and head to the southern end of the Garden District, where you can soak up the rundown elegance and old-world charm of the quarter’s Victorian mansions. Experience more of the stunning French Quarter, made up of hidden courtyards, soul-kitchens and jazz clubs. Hang out in Jackson square and watch musicians, fortune tellers and artists. For a taste of tradition, sit down in historic Café du Monde and order the only two things on the menu: café au lait (milk coffee) and beignets (French donut). To learn more about local flavours, sign up for the New Orlean’s Cooking School optional and have a go at making classics like gumbo (a type of stew), shrimp Creole and bread pudding. Other ideas for your free time include rummaging through the farmers and flea markets on the square, visiting the Voodoo Museum for a look into more spellbinding traditions or reliving Mardi Gras at the Mardi Gras Museum. Make sure you try some oysters or jambalaya (rice dish with meats) before you head out tonight then check out a different part of the French Quarter with a visit to Frenchman’s Street. The buzzing nightlife is as vibrant on the streets as it is in the bars and clubs. So make sure you live the New Orleans’ motto “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler” - let the good times roll!
Home of the Blues and the King. Say goodbye to the home of jazz and Dixieland as we head for the Mecca of Rhythm and Blues… Memphis, Tennessee. Join us for a night out on the street that made it famous, Beale Street.
Jump start the day with a tour of Graceland and pay homage to the King of Rock’n’Roll. Your Tour Manager will tell you Elvis’ story before you tour his 70’s style mansion and get up close to his lifestyle, gold records and jumpsuits. After Graceland, you’ve got free time to explore Memphis. Stop by at Memphis’ signature site, Sun Studios, where Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash all recorded. If you want to find out more about Memphis musical heritage, have a look around and even make your own record! If you’re hungry while your here, make sure you try out some Memphis BBQ, as this place is known for it. Later, head to Memphis’ core and former hub of African American culture, Beale Street. Birthplace of the blues, stomping ground of famous singers like B.B. King and Tina Turner, this historic street is a major landmark and a great place to listen to live music, kick back with a beer and party.
Make like a band and get the show back on the road. We arrive in Fort Worth, western style with modern vibes, ready to take on anything and everything Texan.
Dallas is well known for its oil tycoons, ranchers, millionaire tech innovators, and of course, the Dallas Cowboys football team, better known as "America's Team." Feeling like an investigation? We include a visit to the 6th floor museum where you can learn more about the assassination of President John F Kennedy and try your hand at figuring out 'whodunnit.' Back in Forth Worth, enjoy lunch and sightseeing around Sundance Square, try a craft beer on the Ale Trail or pick up some genuine leather boots and hats at the world famous Justin's Boots. You will be looking good tonight as we head to the Fort Worth Stockyards, home of the cowboy hall of fame and the world's largest honkey tonk, Billy Bob'
We journey across the Texas plains and head into the cowboy town of Amarillo for a night of real Texan culture.
Explore the exotic mix of Native American and Hispanic cultures in artistic Santa Fe before we arrive in Albuquerque.
Wind through the scenic New Mexican desert, to Colorado’s adventure capital and old-mining town, Durango, with its rugged nature and masses of trees. Get into the region’s outdoor lifestyle in an adrenaline-pumping river-rafting optional or choose to discover the back country by horse back on a trail ride to a cave.
It’s into the Wild West today as we travel past cacti, rocky plateaus and the iconic desert backdrop of Monument Valley. Packed with stone spires and mesas (flattop mountains), the valley is also home to Navajo culture. Learn about the American Indian and Navajo way of life as the group visits the Navajo Tribal Park with a Local Guide. Your jaw will drop as we travel through a narrow gorge to the Painted Desert, where colorful rock formations dot the desert. Get your camera ready for a rock shaped exactly like a Mexican sombrero (hat). We continue on to the mind-blowing landscape of the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s most recognizable natural wonders and pride of Arizona.
A day here means time to take in the immensity and spine-tingling beauty of the scene-stealing Canyon – it has got a rep for a reason! This morning get up close to this UNESCO World Heritage site on an optional helicopter ride and get another angle on the Canyon as you fly over it. Hike along the South Rim for mind-blowing vistas of the dramatic scenery. See some of the oldest exposed rocks on earth, take in the deep abyss and soak up the wildness of the area. There are trails for all levels of hiking, so take it up a notch or cruise along at your own pace. Wrap up the day with a canyon sunset and take in the stunning changes of light while the sun goes down.
Leaving behind the Grand Canyon, we stop off at Seligman, an historic Route 66 town. Get a feel for the old style as you check out 1940’s shop fronts and motels. Maybe pick up a souvenir for back home. Then following a section of the legendary Route 66, we head north. With down time on the coach, plug in your MP3, catch on some sleep or chat with your friends. Get ready to arrive in larger-than-life Las Vegas – a man-made entertainment oasis smack in the middle of the desert. Often dubbed Sin City, it’s all about glitz, neon lights, and excess. See the bright lights of this city and its world-famous casinos in a first taste of Vegas kitsch as the group heads down the main drag, the “Strip”, and your Tour Manager fills you in on the story behind Vegas. Then cruise downtown to Freemont Street and experience a slice of the spectacular at a light and laser show in a massive pedestrian mall.
With a free day, you’ve got time to get a real feel for this outrageous town, so keep an eye out for Elvis impersonators and fast-paced chapel weddings! Explore more of the Strip and check out over-the-top versions of international icons, like the Eiffel Tower, Venetian canals and gondolas, a Roman temple or the pyramid, whose nightlight can be seen from the moon. Try your luck at one of the casinos, sit yourself down at a blackjack table and watch the high-rollers or go for a ride at one of the casino’s theme-parks. If you work up an appetite, tuck into an all you can eat buffet, and lunch American style. For something different, discover Las Vegas’ trademark art at the Neon Museum and for a look into this town’s atomic heyday in the 50s, visit the Atomic Testing Museum. If you just want to relax, position yourself poolside back at the hotel and soak up the Las Vegas sun. Tonight, get some pointers on Las Vegas’ hot spots from your Tour Manager and make the most of this towns’ 24/7 action with some of your new friends.
Goodbye! It's not over quite yet! On our way back to Los Angeles you can shop 'til you drop at the outlet stores. Start planning your next Contiki tour, your day at Disney, or a reunion with your new friends before the tour's end late this afternoon.
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Trip Name: Grand Southern (Start New York City)
Duration: 26 Days
From Price: £2,234
Supplier Tour ID: GSNY/160570
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