Rhythms of the South

  • Louisiana + 6 more
  • Self Drive Ideas
  • 11
from  £1,199pp
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Mississippi gave birth to another king, a certain Elvis Aaron Presley, in a 2-room, shotgun house in Tupelo. His love of music began here when his mother bought him a guitar from the Tupelo Hardware Store for his eleventh birthday. When the Presley family moved to Memphis, Elvis Presley joined forces with Sam Phillips at Sun Studio to revolutionize popular music and Rock’n’Roll was born.

But there is more than music. Memphis and Mississippi also mean the mellow way of life in the Deep South. The South of mint juleps and magnolia trees, of folklore and fable, and warm hospitality. The South of Civil War, where preserved battle sites and historic homes bear witness to the tragedy of a nation torn apart. The South of Civil Rights strife, where you can trace the African-Americans’ enduring struggle for freedom.

A Free Personalised Road Book is included as standard with our Self Drive itineraries. 


Please note: – This is a suggested itinerary only and is intended to give an overview of what is possible. All of our holiday itineraries are fully customisable and can be tailor-made to suit your own individual requirements.  If you would like to start in a different destination, use specific hotel accommodation, include an extra night here, a side-trip there and/or include tickets to an event please let your Discover North America travel specialist know. They’ll also book you the best value flights to ensure a seamless holiday experience.

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Day 1 Memphis

Arrive in Memphis, the "Home of the Blues" and the "Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll." After settling in your hotel, get yourself to Beale Street, one of America's most famous streets where W.C. Handy first penned the Blues music of the Mississippi Delta. Located downtown stretching several blocks east of the river bluffs. Nightclubs and restaurants offer a variety of food and live music including traditional Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, and Rock'n'Roll. Shops and boutiques throughout the district provide visitors with the opportunity to purchase souvenirs, t-shirts, memorabilia, and novelties. The world-famous street also features a statue of W.C. Handy, a musical "Walk of Fame," and Church Park, built by the South's first Black millionaire, Robert Church. Visit A. Schwab's Dry Goods Store at 163 Beale, a mainstay on the street since 1876, Schwab's stocks everything from voodoo potions to 99-cent neckties. Walk Beale Street west to Tom Lee Park and the banks of the Mississippi River, where you can stroll, gawk at the Riverboats and River barges, and view an awesome sunset.

Day 2 Memphis

First, go to Graceland and tour Elvis' beloved Mansion. Imagine being in the same place where the most famous musician in the world hung his hat and made music that has mesmerized the world. In addition to Elvis' home, the mansion tour includes the Hall of Gold, Elvis' private office, the Meditation Garden and the Racquetball Court with the dedicated wall of gold and platinum records and monument given by RCA Records proclaiming Elvis as the greatest entertainer and recording artist of all times. After the mansion, tour the remaining Graceland attractions at your own pace. These include: The Elvis Presley Car Museum, Elvis' Airplanes - The Lisa Marie and the Hound Dog II, and the Sincerely Elvis Museum filled with personal items and memorabilia. Of course, gift shops abound, overflowing with Elvis souvenirs, cassettes, videos and special keepsakes.
For sure, stride over to the Smithsonian's Rock 'n' Soul Museum. In the quest to identify the roots of American music, all roads lead to Memphis. Learn why Memphis was the epicenter of Rock 'n' Roll and Blues 'n' Soul music. The sounds that came from the fields, alleys, juke joints and choir lofts all collided in Memphis and something new was created: a kind of musical magic that would eventually transform the hearts, attitudes and ways of the world.
Next tour the nearby Sun Studio, the birthplace of Rock'n'Roll. Today the studio, where Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, Rufus Thomas, Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and many others launched their careers, is open to the public for tours daily while still operating as a studio by night. Sun Studio Cafe is located next door to the studio. Above the cafe is a new museum/gallery featuring hundreds of rare recordings, memorabilia, photographs, and vintage recording equipment.

Day 3 Memphis - Nashville (210mi-338km)

Depart Memphis this morning for Nashville. You will drive through Nutbush, the birthplace of entertainer Tina Turner, to Brownsville, Tennessee. Here you can visit the Delta Heritage Center where you'll discover what rural West Tennessee is all about. It provides a refreshing Southern experience celebrating the music, cotton and beauty of the Tennessee Delta. Also located here is the Tina Turner Museum at Flagg Grove school. This once one-room schoolhouse attended by a young Anna Mae Bullock (aka Tina Turner) is now home to a collection of the Queen of Rock's personal memorabilia including costumes and gold records. Even her high school yearbook is included among the treasures. Also tour the home of blues singer Sleepy John Estes. Down the road in Jackson you can tour the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and visit the Casey Jones Village and Old Country Store. Continue on the interstate to Nashville. After settling in at your hotel quickstep over to the 2nd Ave or Broadway Ave for some outstanding country music. Practice yelling "Yee HA!" and learn how to do some real country dancin' at the Wildhorse Saloon.

Day 4 Nashville

Located on the west bank of the Cumberland River just a few steps from the historic Ryman Auditorium and the authentic honky-tonks of Lower Broadway is the fabulous Country Music Hall of Fame. Through the display of stage costumes, musical instruments, artworks, film and photography, the history of country music vividly unfolds in this sparkling, new downtown facility. In a soundproof 75 seat Songwriter's Theater, songwriters regularly entertain and enlighten museum guests with in-the-round guitar pulls and song swaps, a uniquely Nashville tradition. The Country Music Hall of Fame is a shrine inspired by, and a tribute to the many country music stars that have gone before and the many yet to come. Next you'll tour the Ryman Auditorium, mother church of country music and 1940's home of the Grand Ole Opry. Like to shop? Then you must browse Opry Mills for Shoppertainment at its finest. Opry Mills combines outlet, discount and specialty retailers, themed restaurants and fun-filled entertainment venues in an energetic and exciting environment with more than 200 places to shop, eat and play including Bass Pro Shop's Outdoor World.

Day 5 Nashville - Tupelo (195mi/314km)

Departing Nashville, you will travel to Tupelo on the historic and scenic Natchez Trace Parkway, an 800-year-old path taken by Indians, outlaws and settlers. In Tupelo, visit Elvis Presley's Birthplace. This modest two-room house, where the King of Rock 'n' Roll was born, has been restored and is part of the Elvis Presley Center that also includes the Elvis Presley Museum, Memorial Chapel and Elvis Presley Park. The museum has one of the most unique private collections of Elvis memorabilia in the world.

Day 6 Tupelo - Clarksdale (110mi/178km)

Tour the great Tupelo Automobile Museum and see over 100 antique, classic and collectible automobiles, chronologically displayed, illustrate the progress of over 100 years of automobile design and engineering. Your self-guided tour begins with an 1886 Benz, representing the birth of the automobile, and culminates with a never-driven 1994 Dodge Viper. The collection, valued at over $6 million, includes a rare Tucker, a Lincoln previously owned by Elvis Presley, other movie and celebrity vehicles, Hispano Suizas, a Duesenberg and many more rare brands and American favorites.
Depart Tupelo & en route to Clarksdale stop in the beautiful town of Oxford, home of the University of Mississippi and the writers William Faulkner & John Grisham. Continue on west to Clarksdale. From the 1930's through the 1950's Clarksdale was a major blues town. John Lee Hooker, Ike Turner, Little Junior Parker and Sam Cooke were born here. Robert Nighthawk, Bukka White, "Gatemouth" Moore, Eddie Boyd, Son House, and Charley Patton all once lived in the area. Clarksdale became the center of the blues world by virtue of its location smack in the middle of the Delta, and Delta blues still come from this source.
In Clarksdale, don't miss the Delta Blues Museum. Here you can enjoy unique displays, video tape and slide/sound programs, photographs, and recordings, about the blues. Nearby on Delta Avenue is the Sunflower River Trading Company store with many unusual items for sale. Stop for lunch or evening drinks at Ground Zero Blues Club, an authentically reproduced blues "juke joint" owned by the famous actor, Morgan Freeman.Stop in Stackhouse Records, a record shop and recording studio for Rooster Blues Records. Visit "The Crossroads", the intersection of Highways 61 and 49, where legend has it that the most famous bluesman of all, Robert Johnson, made a pact with the devil. Bluesmen who knew Johnson were all astounded at how quickly he learned the guitar, and Johnson himself often claimed his extraordinary prowess as a "gift" from the devil.

Day 7 Clarksdale to Vicksburg to Natchez (216mi/348km)

From Clarksdale, head south to Vicksburg and visit the hallowed Biedenharn Candy Company, the restored 1890 building where Coca-Cola® was first bottled anywhere in the world. This museum contains a reproduction of the bottling works, Coca-Cola® memorabilia, a 1900 soda fountain, and a restored 1890 candy store. Built by slave labor in 1858, the Old Courthouse Museum is the most historic building in Vicksburg. Standing on one of the highest hills in the city, it dominates the Vicksburg skyline and Vicksburg history. The exhibits have an irresistible "grandma's attic" quality that no history book or movie can match.
Continue southward to Port Gibson, which was saved during the Civil War because it was proclaimed too beautiful to burn. Next, head off to the famous river town of Natchez. Tonight explore Natchez-Under-The-Hill, an historic district of shops, restaurants and riverboat casinos.

Day 8 Natchez to Lafayette (150mi/242km)

Tour one of the beautiful antebellum homes, Monmouth Plantation, before departing beautiful Natchez. Cross the river & stop in the small town of Ferriday and visit the Delta Music Museum which showcases entertainers Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley, evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, blues trombonist Pee Wee Whittaker, General Claire Chennault, and newscaster Howard K. Smith.

Day 9 Lafayette to New Orleans (135mi/218km)

This morning you will tour Vermilionville, Louisiana’s Cajun/Creole Heritage & Folklife Park. Vermilionville authentically portrays a way of life preserved with a distinctly French accent. Situated on the banks of the Bayou Vermilion, this Cajun/Creole heritage and folklife park recreates life in the Acadiana area between 1765 and 1890. The beautiful grounds, which are laid out as an historic village, contain eighteen structures, including six restored original homes. In most of the structures, costumed interpreters demonstrate traditional crafts or musical styles. After departing Lafayette you’ll pass through the capital city of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, then point your car towards the Big Easy: the wonderful city of New Orleans.

Day 10 New Orleans

This morning you will take a guided walking tour of Vieux Carre, the historic French Quarter, It is one of the oldest and most extraordinary neighborhoods in the U.S. Often referred to as the "heart" of New Orleans, the French Quarter is a vibrant enclave of shops, hotels, clubs restaurants and residences. Within the French Quarter is the exciting Bourbon Street, referred to as the playground of the South. Nearby is Royal Street best known for its upscale art galleries and world-class antique shops. Many of the French Quarter restaurants have become global attractions and serve incredible food, everything from oyster bars to 5 star dinning. You will also enjoy the special sounds of Jazz, Cajun, and Zydeco in addition to Rock 'n' Roll, Rhythm 'n' Blues and Gospel.

Day 11 New Orleans

Today is your final day. Enjoy some shopping or have a walk around the French Quarter before your flight