The warm sunshine welcomes you!
14 Nights From €1489 (Per Person)
Fly Drive Holidays
New Orleans (Louisiana) - Ocean Springs (Mississippi) - Mobile (Alabama) - Gulf Shores (Alabama) - Montgomery (Alabama) - Birmingham (Alabama) - Huntsville (Alabama) - Atlanta (Georgia)
Prepare for magic! When you visit America’s southern sea coast, you’ll be mesmerized by the golden sun glistening on the sparkling water. The sky is so blue that you may think it was painted with melted aquamarines. Plan to dig your toes into the white sand, take shade under majestic oaks dripping with moss and stroll through lush flower gardens that complement timeless Old South architecture. Relax at a pace that is unrushed and unhurried. It’s sunny here more than 300 days a year. And when it does rain, it’s a refreshing burst of southern showers.
You’ll be starting your trip in New Orleans, one of the coolest cities in the US. Let your hair down, listen to the music, find some great food and generally “laissez les bon temps rouler” with the locals. In Mobile Bay, connect with the outdoors on two and a half miles of glistening white beaches at Gulf State Park. More pristine sand and fascinating marine life await at the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Ocean Springs.
Pensacola, Florida encompasses the entire history of the United States. Attractions here range from an historic district dating back to 1559 to the incredibly modern and strategic Naval Air Station. Moving on, you’ll be traveling inland to Alabama, the heart and soul of America. Relax into the genuine southern hospitality of the region, sample the wide variety of cuisines and, of course, enjoy the extraordinary music for which the south is famous. Concluding your trip in Atlanta, you’ll find more than enough attractions to fill two days, from the Inside CNN Center and the World of Coca-Cola to Centennial Olympic Park and the High Museum of Art. Enjoy it all, Southern style!
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Day 1: Arrive New Orleans, Louisiana
Welcome to New Orleans, a city that marches to the beat of its own drum. A stop at the French Quarter Visitor Center unit of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park introduces you to the traditions and life in the area. Rangers lead daily walks to tell the story of this special place and its ties to the mighty Mississippi River. Learn more at the Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum and research center dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South region. A complex of buildings in the French Quarter houses the Williams Gallery and the Louisiana History Gallery. If that’s not enough, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art at the University of New Orleans illustrates the story of the South with great art and decorative items. Relax and enjoy some live music in the French Quarter this evening.
Day 2: Explore New Orleans
Meander through the Garden District, which gets its name from the huge homes and gardens that fill block after block. It is also the location of the famous Commander’s Palace Restaurant, considered by some to be one of the finest dining experiences in the world! Also in the Garden District, Longue Vue House and Gardens was born of the aspirations of Edgar and Edith Stern, pillars of the New Orleans community. The Classic Revival house is three stories and a basement, unusual in New Orleans where most of the land is below sea level. For music this evening, try the Maison Bourbon Jazz Club, the House of Blues, or the famous Preservation Hall — here it’s real! You can get messy at the Cafe Beignet or Café Du Monde, eating wonderful warm powdered sugar doughnuts, or dine at Antoine’s or Brennan’s. Magazine Street is a great place for shopping, including antiques. Everywhere you go, enjoy the music.
Day 3: Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Ocean Springs, Mississippi earned the name “City of Discovery” for its commemoration of the French settlement of 1699, although Native Americans had been enjoying the sparkling blue waters and fertile coastal marshes long before that. More than 80% of the Gulf Islands National Seashore is submerged land, teeming with marine life. Conditions here are so tropical that the US Army established a training camp during World War II to simulate the South Seas. You can explore a Spanish Fort and a World War II Battery, or soak in more nature along the Live Oak Bicycle Trail and other trails throughout the Seashore.
Day 4: Mobile, Alabama
Founded in 1702 as the original capital of the Louisiana Territory, few cities can boast such rich history and prime location as Mobile. Visitors marvel at the sheer beauty of the city—breathtaking sunsets, lush foliage, spectacular historic and modern architecture, amazing museums, diverse arts and culture and famous seafood creations. Mobile was also home to the first known Mardi Gras in 1703 (the city’s founder later established New Orleans, which took the celebration to a new level). When you talk to the locals, remember that the correct pronunciation of the city’s name is “Mo-beel” with the soft emphasis on the second syllable by its French founders.
Day 5: Explore Mobile
One of the main attractions in Mobile, Alabama is Bellingrath Gardens, an oasis built by the president of Mobile’s first Coca-Cola bottling plant. He bought the property in 1917 and transformed the overgrown acreage into one of the top public gardens in the United States. Mobile’s other major draw is the food. Whether you want Bar-B-Q or seafood, this is the place to be. Try slow roasted ribs at The Brick Pit, authentic Creole dishes at Mary’s Place, bakery sensations at Tiny Diny, and oysters “fried, stewed or nude” at Wintzell’s.
Day 6: Gulf Shores
Taking its name from the Pensacola Indians who originally inhabited the land, the “City of Five Flags” was colonized by Spanish explorer Don Tristan de Luna in 1559. In addition to the Spanish, Pensacola has been home to both English and French colonists, and held under both the flag of the United States of America and the Confederate States of America. A number of historic fortifications can be seen at the Gulf Islands National Seashore. To get a feel for the early settlements and history of Pensacola, visit the Colonial Archaeological Trail and Historic Pensacola Village. Take a Historic Pensacola Walking Tour, and then enjoy dinner at one of many fine restaurants in the historic district.
Day 7: Explore Gulf Shores
Today, explore Pensacola’s enduring Naval heritage at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, one of the largest air and space museums in the world. Historic aircraft are displayed both inside the Museum’s 291,000 square foot space, as well as outside on 37 acres of grounds. Artifacts, including personal mementos, flight logs and vintage equipment, from each era of Naval, Marine and Coast Guard service, are on display. Stand in awe of the four Blue Angels’ A-4 Skyhawks on display in the glass and steel atrium, and fly an F/A-18 mission in the flight simulator.
Day 8: Montgomery, Alabama
When you reach Montgomery, Alabama, you’ll find a bustling New South city. A hotbed of activity during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, this is also the place where Jefferson Davis took the oath of office as the President of the Confederate States of America. The Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march ended with Dr. Martin Luther King’s moving speech from the bottom of the capitol building steps, and The Rosa Parks Museum and Civil Rights Memorial commemorates one of the movement’s most inspiring participants. Old Alabama Town, one of the South’s premier history villages, is a collection of more than 40 authentically restored 19th and 20 century buildings in the heart of the city. Nearby, the quaint Old Cloverdale historic area has been transformed into clubs, bars and restaurants. Listen to hot jazz at the 1048 Jazz and Blues club.
Day 9: Birmingham, Alabama
From Montgomery, you’ll be heading for Birmingham, Alabama’s largest city, where both riots and peaceful protests took place side by side in the racial turmoil of the 1960s. Exhibits at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute illustrate the struggle for freedom during the civil rights movement. Other options in Birmingham include the Birmingham Museum of Art, featuring the Charles W. Ireland Sculpture Garden and the Beeson Collection of Wedgwood. A drive to Vulcan Park affords a great view of Birmingham and the greatest panorama of the Red Mountains. The 67-acre Birmingham Botanical Gardens surrounds you with soothing and spectacular flowers and plants. For dinner, try the Highlands Bar and Grill on the Southside for exquisitely fine food in an unpretentious atmosphere.
Day 10: Explore Birmingham
Nature lovers will find great solace in the Birmingham area. Ruffner Mountain, a 1,000 acre nature preserve, is just five miles from the city center. Ten miles of hiking trails traverse the ridges and valleys. One trail ends at a spectacular overlook with a view of the city. Nearby Oak Mountain State Park is Alabama’s largest state park. For those who want to get the adrenalin running, you can cheer to the thrills at the Barber Motorsports Park and Talladega Speedway and splash down at the Alabama Adventure water and theme park. Golfers can play a course or two on the famous Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. The nine-story glass atrium at Riverchase Galleria is Birmingham’s number one free tourist attraction. Enjoy the structure as well as the phenomenal shopping.
Day 11: Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville is a city of great contrasts. It dates back to 1805 when John Hunt came to Alabama from Tennessee when it was still the Mississippi Territory. He built a log cabin in a beautiful wooded valley just above the “Big Spring,” which soon attracted other settlers as well. You can experience this early history of Alabama at Constitution Village, the actual site where the 44 delegates gathered to forge Alabama statehood. Contrast that early history with the US Space and Rocket Center, the world’s largest space museum, featuring a full-size space shuttle, a Saturn V rocket, the actual Apollo 16 capsule and a moon rock. Enjoy a 4 G experience in the Space Shot tower and the Space Walk motion-based simulator and take a virtual journey on the Space Shuttle. Imagine yourself as an astronaut getting ready to board the Space Shuttle. It’s out of this world!
Day 12: Explore Huntsville
Step back to an entirely different time today with a tour of Twickenham Historic District, Alabama’s largest district of antebellum homes. Although many of the homes were seized by Union troops, they were not burned, leaving the carefully preserved structures for you to enjoy today. Burritt on the Mountain is a living history museum with five 19th century farmsteads that illustrate daily life in early Alabama. Washington Square in downtown Huntsville has a mini entertainment district with live music at the Crossroads Cafe, the Jazz Factory and more. The Bridge Street Towne Center Shopping and Entertainment District has a nice open air shopping area with good restaurants and a movie theater. You can even take a gondola out on the lake!
Day 13: Atlanta, Georgia
Welcome to Atlanta, the capital of the New South. The impressive gold dome of the Georgia state capitol presides over the fastest growing urban center for hip young professionals and multicultural residents in the country. You can still find glimpses of the Old South intertwined with sophisticated shopping, great art museums, the CNN Center, the Olympic complex and major league sports. Take the Inside CNN Atlanta Studio Tour, explore a bit of Buckhead and try some of the great food the south is famous for.
Day 14: Explore Atlanta
The must-sees for today include the High Museum of Art, the Atlanta History Center and the World of Coca-Cola. The High’s light-filled contemporary galleries make the building as spectacular as its contents. True to form, the Atlanta History Center is housed in an 1845 plantation. The exception and newly expanded Georgia Aquarium, shaped like a ship, features aquatic life particular to the state coupled with beluga whales and whale sharks. Centennial Olympic Park, with its fabulous fountains and concert stage, was created for the 1996 Olympic Games. History buffs will enjoy the Margaret Mitchell house, where the author wrote Gone with the Wind, and Underground Atlanta, with its great shopping, trendy restaurants and fascinating history.
Day 15: Depart Atlanta
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