The South so unique it could be a different country
14 Nights From €1629 (Per Person)
Fly Drive Holidays
Covington (Kentucky) - Louisville (Kentucky) - Bowling Green (Kentucky) -Paducah (Kentucky) - Memphis (Tennessee) - Nashville (Tennessee)- Smoky Mountains (Tennessee) - Chattanooga (Tennessee) - Atlanta (Georgia)
The phrase “Only in America” is a comment we have all made and heard as we explore this amazing country of contrasts and curios.
For an experience like no other, Only in Americais a new 14-night driving tour arriving in Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati and departing from Atlanta. It highlights one-of-a-kind destinations and attractions that can literally be found only in America…
Fly from Ireland and Europe via Paris (CDG) non-stop/direct and arrive at Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati Airport.
Collect your car rental and make the short transfer to your hotel in Covington, Kentucky overlooking the Ohio River and the city scape of Cincinnati.
Mileage: Airport to Covington = 14 Miles
Overnight (O/N): Covington, KY
Stroll across the Roebling Suspension Bridge (a prototype of the Brooklyn Bridge) spanning the Ohio River and take in the Cincinnati River Front with its parks, baseball and American football stadiums plus neighbouring entertainment and dining districts.
Cincinnati, founded in 1788, became an important supply point for pioneers heading west on flatboats and rafts and its population rocketed in 1811 with the establishment of a major steamboat river port. Today Cincinnati is a dynamic city with a definite European flavour rich in architecture and culture. It is also a proud sporting city, home to America’s first professional baseball team, the Reds, and the Bengals American football team.
Only in America… The banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati meant freedom to entrapped slaves and the striking National Underground Railroad Freedom Center portrays three centuries of slavery from its introduction into the Americas to its abolition at the end of the American Civil War. The exhibit describes who the enslaved were, why they were brought here, how they lived, how they worked and also who their allies were - and how ultimately they became free.
The American Sign Museum located in downtown Cincinnati is the premier institution for preserving historic signs and promoting the contributions the sign industry makes to commerce, culture and the American landscape. Signs not only show us the way and invite us in (or not!), they reflect the history, technology, commerce, and culture of our communities.
Before there was Las Vegas... there was Newport, Kentucky. Rising from the profits of bootlegging during Prohibition, Newport quickly became the premier gaming destination of the United States. What happened in Newport, stayed in Newport!
Explore the streets where the mob made their millions, gamblers lost their lives, and ladies of the night earned their reputations. Join the gangster guides for a raucous, high energy presentation inside an old casino to explain the historic significance of Newport and discover how this little town gave birth to the modern gaming industry.
It's always fun to learn the juicy secrets of a city's history. With the Newport Gangster Tour you can visit the buildings that actually housed casinos, brothels and speakeasies while learning about Newport’s connections to some of the most well-known crime figures in our nation’s history.
Newport native General John T. Thompson invented the Thompson Machine Gun, a.k.a. the Tommy gun which became the weapon of choice among gangsters.
Overnight (O/N): Covington, KY
Depart Covington and head south toward Louisville on I-65. Take exit # 23 for Petersburg and amidst the rolling hills of Kentucky is The Creation Museum which opened in 2010 and has been visited by more than 200,000 visitors annually.
Only in America…The Creation Museum is a state-of-the-art facility that brings the pages of the Bible to life, casting its characters and animals in dynamic form and placing them in familiar settings. Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden’s Rivers. The serpent coils cunningly in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Learn how the Bible has been attacked and defended throughout history. See a Gutenberg Press replica, learn about Martin Luther, and consider the far reaching effects of the Scopes trial.
Continue south to Louisville which is firmly embedded in the American national consciousness for its multimillion-dollar Kentucky Derby held each May at Churchill Downs. The Derby, known as the richest two minutes in sport, attracts 500,000 fans to this cosmopolitan and diversified city the first Saturday in May, but there is racing at Churchill Downs in April, May, June, October and November and the track is open for tours year-round. The next-door Kentucky Derby Museum is an excellent hands-on experience and has a magnificent audio-visual display that captures the Derby Day atmosphere on a 360o screen.
Downtown Louisville rolls gently down towards Main Street then abruptly lunges down to the river where the historic Belle of Louisville leaves for daily sightseeing cruises. Don’t miss the Slugger Museum and Factory and be sure to sample the Urban Bourbon Trail along Whiskey Row and around town.
Mileage: Covington to Louisville = 80 Miles
O/N: Louisville, KY
Learn about the “Louisville Lip” and travel to the heart of Kentucky horse country, Lexington, before spending the night at a historic Shaker community.
Only in America…The Muhammad Ali Center rises on the south bank of the Ohio River and has majestic views of Kentucky’s largest city where Ali was born Cassius Clay in 1942. Ali went on to boxing fame and fortune but in his heyday he was known as the “Louisville Lip” and a loquacious self-promoter responsible for some of the finest quips to emerge from a sportsman. The Ali Center is not obsessed with glory and triumph and it does not shy away from Ali’s failings, but his boxing achievements are the centrepiece and fans can watch his fights in a multimedia area as well as follow his brave and principled stand against the Vietnam War and racism.
Continue to Lexington, the Horse Capital of the World and home to more than 450 Thoroughbred and Standardbred farms with many open to the public. If you are in Lexington in April or October make an afternoon of racing at Keeneland Race Course, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For a true equine experience visit the Kentucky Horse Park, the only park in the world dedicated exclusively to the horse, which also hosts seasonal events and annual events such as the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day event.
Lexington has more than 200 years of history and nearby is Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill which is home to an impressive collection of Shaker architecture, furniture, artefacts and historians. With 34 Shaker structures, built from 1809 to 1875, the site is the country’s largest private collection of original 19th century buildings.
The Shakers were 19th century America’s largest and best-known communal society. Their movement began in New York shortly before the American Revolution, and by the 1840s, nearly 3,500 Shakers lived in communities from Maine to Kentucky. In 1805, a group of Shakers came to central Kentucky and established a village they named Pleasant Hill.
The Shakers chose a peaceful way of life. They were celibate, believed in equality of race and sex, and freedom from prejudice. A quest for simplicity and perfection is reflected in their fine designs and craftsmanship, and today the term Shaker-made is synonymous with excellence around the world.
O/N: Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill Mileage: Louisville to Pleasant Hill = 101 Miles
Among the highlights of today’s journey are Bardstown (voted America’s most beautiful small town), and the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center, driving the Bluegrass Parkway and the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville.
As I-65 heads south toward Bowling Green you are in the heart of Kentucky’s Cave Country and the region’s “karst” topography is responsible for hundreds of ancient caverns and the idyllic rolling hills seen on the surface.
Only in America…The four hundred miles of labyrinth passages and domed caverns of Mammoth Cave National Park contain amazing geological formations which are carved by acidic water trickling through limestone. There is a bewildering display of stalagmites and stalagtites, a huge cascade of flowstone known as Frozen Niagara and Echo River, 365 feet below ground, is populated by a unique species of colourless and sightless fish. Guided tours are available with varying time lengths and degrees of difficulty from a one-hour stroll to a full-day, crawling-though-tunnels experience.
Not only can you have one-of-a-kind cave and Corvette experience in Bowling Green, but this cosmopolitan university town has a flourishing cultural scene, good shopping and dining and one of the state’s most innovative distilleries.
Bowling Green’s Fountain Square is quintessentially American and reminiscent of the one in the film Back to the Future. There are restaurants, bars, a B&B and the Corsair Artisan Distillery which produces small batch whiskey, moonshine, gin and vodka.
Mileage: Pleasant Hill to Bowling Green via Bardstown + Mammoth cave = 167 Miles
O/N: Bowling Green, KY
Discover why the Corvette is “America’s true sports car” and how a small Kentucky river town is a UNESCO Creative City – one of seven in the world.
Only in America… General Motors began production of the esteemed Corvette at the Bowling Green assembly plant in 1981 and the facility has remained the exclusive home of the Corvette for more than 30 years. The guided tour of the factory shows how man and machine combine to produce137 cars a day – all on order!
The nearby National Corvette Museum features more than 70 Corvettes from classics in mint condition including Roy Orbison’s vintage ‘67, one-of-a-kind prototypes that never went into production to racetrack champions and modern-day wonders of engineering and design. There is also a display of six of the eight smashed-up cars that were swallowed by a massive sinkhole in 2014 when the roof of a cave below the museum collapsed – causing visitor numbers to double!
Creativity is the common thread that connects people from around the globe to Paducah. The world’s 7th City of Crafts and Folk Art in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, Paducah is home to the National Quilt Museum, the Lower Town Arts District and 50 life-sized panoramic floodwall murals.
Paducah’s location at the heart of America’s inland waterways (the Ohio and Tennessee rivers) has shaped its history and culture. The River Discovery Center chronicles these highways of heritage from the era of Paducah’s earliest inhabitants to the City’s modern day life on the river
Mileage: Bowling Green to Paducah = 149 Miles
O/N: Paducah, KY
Learn how quilting can produce wall-hanging masterpieces, see the family home and ancestry that inspired the classic book and TV series, Roots, and watch the glorious sunset on the banks of the Mississippi River in Memphis.
Only in America… The internationally-celebrated National Quilt Museum features the finest quilting and fibre art in the world as a portal to the contemporary quilt experience. Go behind-the-scenes on a VIP tour to discover contemporary quilts that are not the kind our grandmothers made.
Now in its 21st year, the museum has attracted visitors from over 40 countries and as well as its core collection it houses 8-10 exhibitions a year. There are about 21 million quilters in the USA alone and it’s a billion-dollar industry.
Driving south from Paducah to Memphis, make a stop in Henning at the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center,
Kunta Kinte. Kizzy. Chicken George. In the mid-1970s, these characters became household names thanks to author Alex Haley. His 1976 novel Roots: The Saga of An American Family, and the television miniseries Roots, which aired a year later, changed what many thought they knew about African-American heritage, taking the story of slavery and the quest for freedom out of dry-as-dust history textbooks and making it come alive in our living rooms. Haley often said his novel had its own roots in oral history, inspired by the stories he heard as a child from his grandmother and aunts on the front porch of the family home in Henning.
Continue to Memphis on the mighty Mississippi River and immerse yourself in the city renowned as the Home of the Blues and Birthplace of Rock’n’Roll.
Mileage: Paducah to Memphis = 178 Miles
O/N: Memphis, TN
Memphis more than matches its myth. Pilgrims flock from all over the world to find a vibrant city that while cherishing its past remains very much alive. Don’t miss the tour at famous Sun Studio and be sure to see the Stax Museum of American Soul Music as well as the Smithsonian’s Rock’n’Soul Museum and the Gibson Guitar Factory.
Discover African-American history at Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum and explore the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.
Only in America… Visit Graceland, Elvis’ beloved mansion, see his two private jets and the fantastic Automobile Museum as well as a host of other exhibits and memorabilia. Graceland is a surprisingly modest home for the world’s most successful entertainer, but when Elvis bought it in for $100,000 in 1957 it was considered one of the most desirable properties in Memphis and once was part of a 500-acre farm. Tours start opposite the mansion at the Graceland Plaza and visitors are ferried across Elvis Presley Boulevard in mini coaches for the iPad tour of the mansion and grounds.
In August during Elvis Week a candlelight vigil is held on the anniversary of his death (August 15/16) and worshippers stand in line for the opportunity to parade along the Graceland driveway and pay their respects at the King’s tomb in the Meditation Garden. January 8, Elvis’ birthday, is another special time at Graceland with events and activities plus the mansion is specially decorated during the Christmas season.
Be sure to hear live Blues on Beale Street and dance the night away at BB King’s, Rum Boogie Café, Jerry Lee Lewis’ Café & Honky Tonk or Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall.
Beale Street also offers good dining, street entertainment and busking plus festivals and special events year-round.
O/N: Memphis, TN
Leave Memphis and head east through cotton fields to Nashville via Brownsville and be sure to sample the Southern delicacies served at The Old Country Store at the Casey Jones Village in Jackson.
Only in America…At the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville peek inside the one-room schoolhouse attended by a young Anna Mae Bullock – known to the world as Tina Turner.
Flagg Grove School is now home to a collection of the Queen of Rock's memorabilia including costumes and gold records donated by Tina and her family. Even her high school yearbook is included among the treasures.
Agriculture rules the region and the adjacent Cotton Museum helps you discover how cotton has been produced and managed since the early 1800s.
Nashville may be best known for its country roots, but the word is out that it’s also home to a diverse mix of musicians (Kings of Leon, the Black Keys, Jack White) and a diverse mix of music (rock, Americana, bluegrass, blues, gospel) as well as the largest song writing community in the world. Nashville’s creative spirit has also led the way to an evolving arts, fashion and culinary scene that’s starting to share the spotlight with its music scene.
Spend an evening at the Bluebird Cafe, Nashville’s legendary hotspot where you’ll enjoy songwriters performing original material in an intimate “in the round setting.”
Or experience Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, the world’s longest running radio show, to see first-hand some of country music’s rising stars such as Taylor Swift and legends like Dolly Parton. Take a backstage tour and see the dressing rooms and famous Green Room.
The Opry is on every Friday and Saturday and Tuesdays during the summer season.
Mileage: Memphis to Nashville = 210 Miles
See Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Paul McCartney are among the various rock and folk artists who came to Nashville in the late 1960s and early ‘70s to record with the town’s best session players and this extensive exhibit explores this magical time.
Tour the Johnny Cash Museum, which features many never before seen historical documents, letters, awards, costumes and instruments that will take the visitor on a three dimensional journey through Johnny Cash’s life. Catch a concert or take a tour of the Ryman Auditorium, regarded as the “Mother Church of Country Music.” The Ryman is a National Historic Landmark renowned for its exceptional acoustics that has hosted musicians from James Brown to Patsy Cline and Cold Play, as well as current and rising stars of all musical genres.
Only in America… RCA’s Studio B, located on historic Music Row, is Nashville’s legendary recording studio and home to hits like Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely,” the Everly Brothers’ “Dream,” Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and 250 hits by Elvis Presley including “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”
The small and intimate studio, known as the “home of one thousand hits,” is now part of the music school program at the local Belmont University.
The tour, which is sold as part of the Country Music Hall of Fame ticket, involves a return mini coach transfer to Music Row from downtown and departs regularly at set times.
Go honky tonkin’ at Nashville’s world famous bars - honky tonks - including Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Robert’s Western Wear and Legends Corner to see where many country music legends got their start.
Kick up your heels to the country sounds at the Wildhorse Saloon or take a cabaret dinner cruise aboard the General Jackson Showboat on the Cumberland River.
Drive east from Nashville to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited, and just west of Knoxville at Exit 364 on I-40 is Oak Ridge.
Only in America… Oak Ridge was America’s Secret City during World War II where 75,000 workers lived in total secrecy while producing the first atomic bomb. The American Museum of Science and Energy explains the rise of nuclear energy and tells the extraordinary story of life in the Secret City and even includes a photo of guards frisking Father Christmas!
Along the banks of the Tennessee River is Knoxville and its Volunteer Landing includes refreshing waterfalls and fountains, historical markers and locally owned restaurants. Volunteer Landing is also the location of the Star of Knoxville riverboat and Three Rivers Rambler Railroad.
Continue to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited, and stretching for half-a-million acres across Tennessee and North Carolina.
Mileage: Nashville to Smokies = 225 Miles
O/N: Smoky Mountains, TN
Hike, cycle, horse-back ride, drive or rent a motorbike and explore the scenic roads of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and be sure to stand across the state line with one foot in Tennessee and the other in North Carolina at Clingman’s Dome.
The nearby towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Townsend offer a wide array of activities from to mini Nascar racing to zip-lining. Make time for the extraordinary Titanic Museum and the excellent outlet shopping.
Only in America… As unique as its namesake, Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park spans 150 acres and celebrates the heritage and people of the East Tennessee region popularised by the entertainment legend in her songs. Dollywood offers an award-winning line-up of live entertainment featuring country, Southern gospel, bluegrass, classic rock ‘n’ roll and mountain music.
From the glow of the spotlight to the thrill of the rides, Dollywood offers everything from Wild Eagle, the country’s first wing coaster which offers the sensation of flight, and the 90-degree drop on the Mystery Mine steel coaster to the chug of the 110-ton coal-fired Dollywood Express locomotive. The park also showcases the exquisite artistry of more than a dozen crafters authentic to the Appalachian region.
O/N: Smoky Mountains, TN
Drive south from the Smokies to Chattanooga and you are travelling through the ancient homeland and territory of the Cherokee Indians.
Only in America… The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum is owned and operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The museum honours Sequoyah, creator of the Cherokee alphabet, who was born in the Old Cherokee Village of Tuskegee, near the present site of the museum. The museum also interprets the history of the Overhill Cherokee towns such as Tanasi, namesake for the State of Tennessee and the Tennessee River.
Fort Loudoun was the first British outpost in the southern Appalachian Mountains and it sits across the road from Sequoyah Birthplace Museum. The fort was established in 1756-1757 at the request of pro-British Cherokee factions but the relationship between the Cherokee and British soon soured and devolved into open conflict. The Cherokees laid siege to the fort, drove out the soldiers – killing all but one, and finally burnt the fort. In the 1970’s a replica of the fort was built on the grounds and opened to the public.
Chattanooga is nestled along the beautiful Tennessee River and surrounded by spectacular mountains and scenic beauty. Chattanooga has a newly revitalised riverfront, first class attractions, a free electric shuttle, a clean and Green environment, outdoor adventures, rich American Civil War history, a thriving music scene and plenty of annual events that offer year-round entertainment.
No visit to Chattanooga is complete without a visit to the Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal Station Complex & Hotel. This 1909 train station was made famous by the song “Pardon me boy – is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?” when it became the first record in the world to sell over one million copies. But you can still tour this historic complex; ride an electric trolley; spend the night in a train carriage; have “dinner in the diner” where your waiter will take the stage and sing you a song.
O/N: Chattanooga, TN
Mileage: Smoky Mountains to Chattanooga = 125 Miles
See the scenic sights of Chattanooga before driving south to Atlanta for your evening flight back to Europe.
Chattanooga’s Native American name comes from the pointed mountain rise only 15 minutes from downtown - this “rock – coming to a point” is Historic Lookout Mountain where you’ll find a whole new arena of things to do.
Ride the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway – the steepest incline in the world, or go underground to Ruby Falls, a 145-foot waterfall deep inside the mountain, or stroll to the National Park Service’s American Civil War Battlefield at Point Park.
Only in America… Rock City Gardens - an award-winning garden and geological wonder – is located atop Lookout Mountain, just six miles from downtown Chattanooga.
Rock City is a true marvel of nature featuring massive ancient rock formations, gardens with over 400 native plant species and breath-taking "See Seven States" panoramic views. Take an unforgettable journey along the Enchanted Trail where each step reveals natural beauty and wonders along the woodland path. Experience the magic of Fairyland Caverns (an inspiration for Walt Disney), Mother Goose Village and lunch at the Big Rock Grill.
Mileage: Chattanooga to Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport = 118 Miles
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