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Cut through the heart of the USA on this nine-day Lonely Planet Experience, Travel from iconic city to iconic city as you hit the road from New York to New Orleans, snaking through the Appalachian Mountains via Philadelphia, Washington DC, Nashville and Memphis. This overland odyssey is the perfect introduction to the diverse appeal of the United States. Chow down on a po’boy in the Big Easy, camp in the Appalachian Mountains and check out the Liberty Bell in Philly. Enjoy the organisational expertise of travelling expo , a local leader on hand to offer insider tips at every turn, and the freedom to follow their advice or go your own way.
Newark International Airport
3 Hours Before Flight Time
Drive south towards the nation’s capital of Washington DC, stopping at Philadelphia on the way for a look at some of the highlights of its Old City, including the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Rocky steps. After taking a look around Philly, continue onto DC. The total travel time for the day is up to 7 hours, including stops. Once arrived, your group leader will take you on an orientation walk around Washington DC to help you decide the best way to experience the city tonight, and for your free day tomorrow.
Today is free to explore Washington DC, a city best discovered on foot. Choose from any of DC’s almost 100 world-class museums – the National Air and Space Museum, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Newseum are just a few. There are also many other small fascinating museums hidden around the city. The city is overflowing with historic buildings, so be sure not miss the White House, Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, MLK Monument, FDR and Jefferson Memorials. You’ll most likely do a lot of walking today, so wear your walking shoes, and reward yourself with a relaxing evening.
Journey into the breathtaking Appalachian Mountains. Shenandoah National Park is one of the highest and most scenic portions of the Appalachians and you’ll see all its beauty when taking Skyline Drive along its crest. Weave through the woods and past spectacular lookouts and stop to stretch your legs under the impressive oak trees. Arrive at your campsite in the late afternoon. The total driving today will be around 8 hours, including stops.
Drive for approximately 6 hours further south to Nashville, Tennessee. Once settled into the hostel, the group leader will orientate you with a short walk around Broadway and Downtown. After this, perhaps visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, which contains the golden Cadillac that once belonged to the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis. Another point of interest is Music Row, where more than 50 recording studios and approximately 200 music publishing houses are located. The Wildhorse Saloon is a great spot in the evening to experience authentic southern food and live music.
Head west this morning to Memphis, which should take approximately 4 hours. Get to know Memphis over an included lunch at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. The rest of your afternoon is free, but leader will make sure you know the way around before you head out. There’s a lot to do in Memphis and you’ve got some time to explore some optional activities at your own pace. Just out of the city you can visit Graceland: Elvis Presley’s former home and the site of his tomb. Here you can see the famous jungle room, as well as his cars, private planes and much more. For those with an interest in history, there’s the National Civil Rights Museum where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated.
Wake up in Memphis and spend time exploring what you missed out on yesterday. Perhaps head to the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, which tells the complete Memphis music story. For something a bit unusual and out of place, take a visit to the Peabody hotel and experience their famous Duck Parade, which happens every day at 11 am and 5 pm. In the evening, consider heading down to check out Beale Street’s traditional blues clubs, made famous by legends such as W.C. Handy, Howlin’ Wolf and B.B. King.
Today, make the long 8-hour drive across the state of Mississippi to find yourself in a city known as the Big Easy, New Orleans. If there’s time, your group might like the chance to stop by Honey Island for a swamp tour down one of the least-altered river swamps in the country. It’s pretty much in its original condition; almost an untouched wilderness. Otherwise, head straight to New Orleans and get acquainted with an orientation walk of the city. Perhaps take a walk down colourful Bourbon Street or through the former plantation area of the Garden District, and be sure to head with your group for an included po’boy dinner at Johnny’s. It’s a quintessential New Orleans experience, and Johnny’s po’boy is one of the best.
Your Lonely Planet Experience comes to an end today after breakfast. If you want to stay on in New Orleans and explore further, speak to an Intrepid booking agent about securing more accommodation after your tour ends (subject to availability). Hanging around? Why not check out an Urban Adventures experience like the Total New Orleans Tour: a comprehensive guide on food, cocktails and the jazz scene.