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This scenic road-trip through the Deep South states of Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana is a journey of discovery and contrasts. From the honky-tonks of Music City to the world's largest space museum in Rocket City; from the emotive Civil Rights sites in Birmingham and Montgomery to the sugar-white sands of Alabama's beautiful beaches. The denouement of your Deep South dalliance is New Orleans for jazz and jambalaya on legendary Bourbon Street.
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Welcome to Music City, USA, the home of country music!
Spend your time in this vibrant Tennessee town visiting legendary music venues such as the famous Grand Ole Opry, historic RCA Studio B and the popular Bluebird Cafe. You'll also want to check out The Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ryman Auditorium and the Johnnie Cash and Patsy Cline museums.
For a heel-kicking good time in the evening head to Broadway and enjoy the music in the honky-tonk bars that line this neon-lit street.
Distance: 135 miles
Experience small town America in Tennessee's delightful village of Leiper's Fork before you cross the border into Alabama. This northern stretch of Alabama is rich in varied history, consider a stop at Tuscumbia, the birthplace of Helen Keller and home to the fascinating Alabama Music Hall of Fame. If you're a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, a visit to the Wright Rosenbaum House Museum in Florence is a must.
Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals was the unlikely breeding ground for some of America's most creative and defiant music. The now infamous town is the birthplace of the ‘Muscle Shoals Sound’, which has been an influence on everyone from Otis Redding to The Rolling Stones. A tour of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is a fabulous way to experience the music greats that recorded here.
For a unique dining experience head the to Rattlesnake Saloon in the Appalachian Foothills. Set in 200,000 picturesque acres, this western-style restaurant is set in a cave and serves skunk rings, cowboy buttons and apple fritters!
Distance: 68 miles
Huntsville aka ‘Rocket City’ is home to the earth’s largest space museum featuring a full-size Space Shuttle, a Saturn V rocket and the actual Apollo 16 capsule. Perfect for couples and families alike, enjoy exhibits, interactive rides and flight simulators.
On July 16, 1969 at 9:32am at NASA’s Launch Pad 39A, Apollo 11’s five F1 engines on Nasa’s Saturn-V AS-506 rocket ignited to slowly lift three Americans and humankind’s dreams aboard the historic mission to the Moon. On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, Huntsville will be dancing in the streets, toasting Apollo workers and moonwalkers, and leading a rocket launch of thousands around the world as part of its celebration.
If you can't make the party Rocket City has other special events planned throughout the year Click here for further details.
If peace and quiet is more your thing head to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens where you can enjoy lunch and a stroll through 100 acres of flora and fauna. History buff? Learn more about the history of this area at the Alabama Constitution Village. Villagers dressed in period costumes will take you back to 1819 and the site where delegates gathered to forge the way for Alabama’s Statehood.
Another living history museum, Burritt on the Mountain, is a remarkable 14-room mansion built in the shape of an X and insulated with 2,200 bales of wheat straw. The Historic Park contains restored farm buildings which interpret rural life between1850 - 1900.
Huntsville hosts numerous music festivals throughout the year, including the Big Spring Jam every September. In the evening, head for the city’s downtown entertainment area to listen to live Blues, Jazz, Folk and Rock in venues such as the Crossroad Cafe or Humphries.
Distance: 101 miles
Consider a detour to the 'Unclaimed Baggage Center' in Scottsboro. All checked, unclaimed baggage from around the USA’s airports (after a lengthy, but unsuccesful reunion process) is purchased by the store and then sorted into easy-to-prowl departments. A few of the more interesting articles to have ended up here are a suite of armour and a Barbie Doll filled with $100 bills!
A visit to Alabama's lake city, Guntersville, is also a worthwhile side track. Dine on the best catfish in Alabama at the Top 'O The River Restaurant.
Downtown Birmingham boasts plenty of dining and entertainment options. Visit Jazzy's on First for great music or take your pick in the Five Points South or Uptown entertainment districts.
Distance: 147 miles
Travel through the Talladega National Forest to the tiny town of Selma where American history was made during the Selma-to-Montgomery Civil Rights March in 1965. Led by Martin Luther King, Jr. , the march was the culminating event of several tumultuous weeks during which demonstrators twice attempted to march but were stopped. As many as 25,000 people participated in this and together, these events became a landmark in the American civil rights movement and directly led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Here, you may want to visit the National Voting Rights Museum, the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge and the Museum of Slavery and Civil Rights.
Just on the outskirts of Montgomery you'll find the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site where you can learn about the brave African Americans that broke the race barrier during WWII.
It was in Montgomery that Dr.King came to preach and started the Civil Rights Movement in America. A must-do is a trip to the Rosa Parks Museum, named after the courageous lady who refused to move to the back of the bus. Stand in the pulpit of the Dexter Avenue Baptist, the only church where Dr King preached as full-time minister. See the home where he lived with his family and tour the Civil Rights Memorial. Also downtown you'll be able to visit the beautifully restored Alabama State Capitol where protesters marched to demand the right to vote.
In the evening, head for the The Alley entertainment district which is home to a baseball park, basement jazz clubs and riverfront amphitheatre. Enjoy a leisurely riverboat cruise or a meal in one of the many lively restaurants.
Distance: 186 miles
On your way to Alabama's Gulf of Mexico beaches, stop at Monroeville. This was the hometown of 'To Kill A Mocking Bird' author, Harper Lee. Tour the historic courthouse and enter the iconic courtroom that was copied for the beloved movie starring Gregory Peck.
Relaxation, sugar-sand beaches and turquoise waters await you at Alabama's best-kept secret - Gulf Shores. Kick-back and enjoy strolls along the uncrowded beaches, shopping for bargains in the Tanger Outlet, a round of golf or an offshore fishing trip.
Your home for the next four nights is one of the best resorts along the Gulf of Mexico - The Lodge at Gulf Shores. Located directly on the beach, this new, contemporary resort boasts a gulf-front infinity pool and is set within the beautiful Gulf State Park.
When you're not enjoying time on the beach, take a short road trip to nearby Mobile. Hip and historic, this coastal town was once called the the 'Paris of the South' and not only has a history dating back to the 17th century, it was also the birthplace of the famous Mardi Gras parade. From Mobile it's also possible to take the ferry to Dauphin Island, named one of North America’s best places for migratory bird watching.
Foodie? You're in for a treat on the Alabama coast! Fresh seafood, soul food, barbecue and fine dining are all on the menu.
Distance: 188 miles
Leave Alabama behind and make your way to New Orleans in time for a cocktail on famous Bourbon Street.
Enjoy walking tours of the historic French Quarter, carriage rides, plantation home visits, Mississippi jazz cruises and Cajun swamp tours - all of which we will suggest and pre-book prior to travel.