If you've never been to the American South then you are in for a treat. A mix of friendly people, legendary hospitality, sensational scenery, delectable Southern cuisine and rich music and history can all be found in three of the country's finest cities. Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans offer the perfect taste of the South.
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Get a taste of the South with the 3-city itinerary…
Georgia Aquarium is home to more than 100,000 creatures from 500 species. Swimming, diving and lurking among the nearly 38 million liters of water, you’ll find dolphins, penguins, Beluga whales, sea otters, piranhas and much more.
Next door, learn all about the world’s most beloved beverage at World of Coca-Cola. Featuring a multisensory 4-D theater where viewers can join the “Search for the Secret Formula,” live-action bottling line, and an opportunity to taste more than 60 beverages from all around the world, the World of Coca-Cola entices visitors of all ages. When exploring, be sure to step inside the Vault of the Secret Formula. This immersive experience showcases the legend and lore surrounding one of the world’s most-beloved beverages. Highlights include the Virtual Tastemaker, a full-body interactive game and mobile storytelling option created with QR codes. Just across the street, The Children’s Museum of Atlanta features hands-on exhibits and activities where kids ages 8 and younger can learn and explore.
Enjoy year-round, family-friendly entertainment in Centennial Olympic Park. The home of the 1996 Olympic Games offers concerts, festivals, seasonal activities, a playground, and the world’s largest Fountain of Rings. The Park also offers seasonal activities such as Fourth Saturday Family Fun Days, free concerts April-September during Wednesday Wind Down and Music at Noon every Tuesday and Thursday. Cozy up for the holidays in December with ice skating during the Holiday in Lights.
For casual cuisine, head to nearby Ted’s Montana Grill, created by Atlanta mogul Ted Turner, for bison burgers. Lunch on classic American fare like a rock star at the Hard Rock Cafe while surrounded by authentic rock memorabilia. Mellow Mushroom started in Atlanta in 1975 and is the city’s local take on pizza.
Get behind the camera at CNN Center, the world headquarters of CNN, CNN International and HLN networks. The Inside CNN Studio Tour offers three guided tours where visitors can sit at an authentic news anchor’s desk, and go behind the scenes of their favorite daytime shows.
In the Sweet Auburn District, walk the streets where Martin Luther King Jr. grew up and where many of Atlanta’s prominent black-owned businesses were founded. The interactive podcast “In Their Words: Andrew Young on Auburn Avenue” provides an audio-guided stroll through this historically influential community. Tour the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, with the visitor’s center, King Birth Home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, the burial sites of Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, and the International Walk of Fame — a memorial made of shoe prints from influential civil rights activists. Take the GPS Ranger Tour of the MLK Historic Site for a guided walking tour at your own pace.
At Pittypat’s Porch, relax in rocking chairs and enjoy traditional Southern dishes. For seafood and an award-wining wine list, visit Ray’s In the City. Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Centennial Park serves its Signature Steak with a lovely view of the park below. New to Peachtree Street but filled with vintage conversation pieces and heirloom recipes, Meehan’s Irish Pub and Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint are two great spots to unwind, whether you’re in the mood for a pint or barbecue. Two other classy newcomers are White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails featuring upscale Southern cuisine and cocktails and modern Mexican at Alma Cocina. If handcrafted beer is your idea of the perfect dinner drink, head over to Max Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery for great food and seasonal brews.
Visit Stone Mountain Park for a view of the faces of Confederate heroes Robert E. Lee, "Stonewall" Jackson and Jefferson Davis, which are carved into the world's largest exposed piece of granite. The park also houses an antebellum plantation, composed of original buildings built between 1790 and 1845, and representing an authentic, pre-Civil War Georgia plantation. Stone Mountain Park also offers camping and hiking, and seasonal activities include the Laser show (late spring through mid-fall) and Snow Mountain — a winter wonderland of sledding, tubing and snowball fights (late fall through early spring).
Visit the Midtown Arts District and gaze at more than 12,000 works in the High Museum of Art, a division of the Woodruff Arts Center. Journey through time and across the globe with pieces from 19th century and 20th century American and Decorative, Modern, Contemporary, African and Folk art, plus photography. Also at the Woodruff Arts Center, you’ll find the Grammy Award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre.
See where the famous novel "Gone with the Wind" was written at the Margaret Mitchell House. The museum includes the restored rooms where most of the novel was penned, complete with Mitchell's writing desk, period furnishings and original leaded glass windows. Take a guided tour through the cinematic "Gone with the Wind" movie exhibition and explore the life of Mitchell.
Piedmont Park boasts more than 200 acres of lush lawns, Lake Clara Meer, a public swimming pool, scenic walking and jogging paths, playgrounds, athletic courts and an off-leash dog park. It’s also home to many seasonal activities, such as the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, Gay Pride Festival and Music Midtown.
For artisan cocktails and regional, seasonal dishes, visit Ecco. One of the city’s favorite neighborhood hangouts, Shout is a two-tier restaurant with an expansive outdoor patio that serves an eclectic, global fusion menu of the city’s favorite foods. Just two streets over, South City Kitchen is the go-to for sophisticated Southern dishes. For fresh food concepts and historic architecture, head to West Midtown. This newly revitalized district offers decadent dining and tons of walkable shopping. JCT Kitchen & Bar serves sumptuous Southern staples in a lively bistro atmosphere. For some of the best burgers and milkshakes in town, head to FLIP Burger Boutique, created by “Top Chef All-Stars” winner Richard Blais. At Miller Union, the menu changes weekly based on the week’s harvest, featuring simple ingredients in a rustic preparation.
Catch the local buzz with tasting tours of SweetWater Brewing Company and Red Brick Brewery. Both microbrewery tours feature behind-the-scenes information and a chance to taste the latest local brews.
The Fox Theatre offers live performances, including Top 40 concerts, Broadway productions by Broadway in Atlanta and Theater of the Stars, and the Atlanta Ballet’s annual presentation of “The Nutcracker.” The Alliance Theatre is one of the largest regional theaters in the nation and has produced more than 50 world premieres, bringing the world’s best talents to Atlanta.
Canvassing 33 acres in the heart of Buckhead, the Atlanta History Center (AHC) features two historic houses, six signature exhibits and the largest collection of Civil War memorabilia in the world. Great for the entire family, the AHC also offers gorgeous gardens and two delicious on-site dining options.
Visit one of the Buckhead design and cultural areas that include Miami Circle, Peachtree Decorative Arts Plaza, Galleries of Peachtree Hills and Bennett Street. The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA-GA) permanently houses more than 600 works by local artists in contemporary mediums.
At Buckhead Diner, enjoy inventive Americana dishes such as Marinated Hanger Steak & Knife & Fork Caesar and Maryland Soft Shell Crab B.L.T. Souper Jenny — an Atlanta sensation — serves, you guessed it, soups. Homemade daily from local, sustainable ingredients and heirloom recipes, this cafeteria-style restaurant has some of the tastiest soups, salads and sandwiches in town.
From luxury stores to unique boutiques, Buckhead shopping has everything for the chic, savvy and fabulous. At Lenox Square, visit more than 200 stylish stores including Kate Spade, Bulgari and Louis Vuitton.
Next door at Phipps Plaza, get the season’s hottest trends from Giorgio Armani, Jimmy Choo, Versace and more. Also at Phipps is LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Atlanta. Head to the MINILAND exhibit which re-creates landmark buildings from the Atlanta skyline. Filled with hours of hands-on, interactive fun, kids will love playing inside one of the world’s biggest boxes of LEGO bricks. At the LEGO Racers: Build & Test station, craft a car then speed down the racetrack.
After a great shopping adventure, reward yourself with an expertly executed steak dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House - Buckhead. Considered one of the most romantic spots in town, Anis Café and Bistro takes its cuisine cues from Paris, serving chic French dishes in a cozy atmosphere. The local, sustainable menus at Restaurant Eugene helped spur the city’s infatuation with farm-to-table freshness.
Sip and see in Buckhead’s lavish lounges and upscale clubs, such as Gold Room. Amp up your night with hot beats and hotter locals at Havana Club and Tongue & Groove. Looking for a high-energy evening but only want to valet once? Visit the Andrews Entertainment Complex, where you can enjoy small plates at Cellar 56, grab a drink at Prohibition, catch the latest score at Stout Irish Sports Pub and show off your moves at 8Traxx, all in one hot spot.
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On your way from Atlanta to Nashville, visit the Jack Daniel Distillery in charming Lynchburg, TN. Licensed in 1866, Jack Daniel is the oldest registered distillery in the country and a National Historic Site. Your personally guided tour of this distillery includes story-filled stops, where you’ll observe how they make Tennessee sipping whiskey — the very same way Mr. Jack made it.
Spend your evening listening to the music that made Music City! Holler & Swaller on Honky Tonk Highway or take in a songwriter in the round show and hear the stories behind the songs at the world famous Bluebird Café.
Begin your day with Nashville’s first and only Hop-on, Hop-off Trolley Tour, operated by Gray Line! Check out all the major attractions of Historic Downtown; see the Stars’ favorite hangouts and world famous Music Row; learn about the history and present day happenings of Music City as you stay on and ride along...or get off and explore on your own. With seven stops to choose from, including the historic Ryman Auditorium, the State Capitol, Bicentennial Mall and Farmers’ Market, The Parthenon, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as well as where the fun all begins at 2nd Avenue and Broadway; you can’t go wrong either way. The one-hour tour is fully narrated, and a trolley ticket is good for 24 hours.
Enjoy some great barbeque at Jack’s Bar-B-Que, Rippy’s Smokin’ Bar & Grill, the Wildhorse Saloon or Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant.
Spend your afternoon with a personally guided tour of historic RCA Studio B, Home of 1,000 Hits, where music legends recorded timeless songs. You’ll be inspired by the studio where Elvis himself stood to record over 200 songs.
Then it’s off to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where you can hear rare recordings of country’s legendary performers, see behind-the-scenes films by today’s stars, along with costumes, instruments and personal treasures from country music’s past and present.
Experience the Grand Ole Opry — Nashville’s must-see attraction and the world’s longest running live radio show. As the show that made country music famous, the Opry offers an incredible mix of talent to create an American experience like no other! Opry Backstage Tours are a must-see for everyone visiting Music City and daytime and post show tours are available.
Spend the morning visiting Nashville’s newest attraction, The Johnny Cash Museum! Officially authorized by the Estate of Johnny Cash, the museum features the most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world.
Before departing for New Orleans, make sure to walk the Music City Walk of Fame honoring the men and women who write, perform, promote and produce the Nashville sound around the world, or explore the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum, which honors the stars and studio musicians who have played on the biggest selling albums of all time.
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First things first: Beignets. Crispy, warm and sweet, these Creole doughnuts dusted with powdered sugar are technically a "square" meal, especially when combined with a café au lait (equal parts coffee & chicory and milk). Café Du Monde, open 24/7, is ready for breakfast when you are and offers the quintessential New Orleans wake up. After breakfast, a guided tour of the city allows visitors to get their bearings in several of New Orleans’ most active neighborhoods: the French Quarter, Garden District, Central Business District (CBD), the Warehouse/Arts District and Uptown.
After the tour, visitors can tuck into a New Orleans café to fill up on local flavor. A Po-Boy, whether filled with roast beef and gravy or BBQ-style fried oysters (or anything in between) is classic lunchtime fare. Offered everywhere from high-end dining rooms to value-conscious lunch counters, Po-Boys are hard to miss in the French Quarter — and who would want to? Alternately, food lovers can check out one of New Orleans’ culinary schools for a lesson in Creole and/or Cajun cuisine. Then dine on the specialty prepared by the chef. After lunch, experience a French Quarter Walking Tour and bask in the glory of 18th- and 19th- century buildings, wrought iron balconies and copious bougainvilleas (when in season!). Tired of walking? Hop on the streetcar for just $1.25 and let the good times roll.
Explore Frenchmen Street, a compact musical enclave where locals hang out. Frenchmen Street is a 2-block long entertainment district just minutes from the French Quarter. Then it’s back to the Quarter and on to St. Peter Street for an inspired session at Preservation Hall. For those with energy to spare, the good times are always rolling on Bourbon Street. Named for French royalty — not for the libation — this nighttime pedestrian thoroughfare is nevertheless a bastion of great bars and clubs. Of course, there’s live entertainment on every corner as well.
If you’re up for a half-day or full-day excursion, several historic plantation homes are within 75 miles of the city and can be considered for a day trip or even an overnight visit — some are now bed and breakfast inns and provide the ultimate in antebellum romance. Or, venture out and experience the Cajun way of life on the bayou. It’s no secret that much of New Orleans is reclaimed swampland, and with that comes the native wildlife, nutria and egrets and alligators...all of which offer great sightseeing opportunities. Visitors should head back to the water for a boat tour of Louisiana’s teeming estuaries and/or a land tour of the Jean Lafitte National Park Wetlands Preserve.
Explore the Garden District for lunch, where retro diners, eclectic bistros and fine dining establishments line Magazine Street. Or, hop on the Magazine Street bus and journey toward downtown through an odyssey of funky, hip shops and art galleries into the Central Business and Arts District for a bite to eat before checking out the galleries. Standouts here are numerous museums, some of which offer free glassblowing and printmaking demonstrations.
Get your Cajun on at one of New Orleans’ dinner and dance venues. Dance instructors teach visitors the "Cajun Waltz" while they dine on Cajun specialties and listen to live Cajun and Zydeco music. Late-night opportunities can be Cajun, bluesy or funky, thanks to a few New Orleans’ originals: Rock-N-Bowl offers Cajun, Zydeco, swing and rhythm & blues alongside late-night bowling; in the Quarter, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is an 18th-century candlelit cavern with live piano music.
If it’s Sunday, visitors should soak up the spirit of New Orleans with a "Gospel" or "Jazz" Brunch. With high-end cuisine or down-home soul food, the essence of New Orleans is captured in food, friendship and just the right kind of joyous celebration that makes the most distant visitors a part of the grand mosaic of the city.
Set your sights on the water for a cruise on a Mississippi River paddlewheeler. Several operators run two-hour excursions around the harbor or along the river and some offer a buffet spread along the way (in case you skipped the Jazz Brunch). Afterwards, walk just a few blocks to the New Orleans Audubon Aquarium or check what’s playing at the IMAX Theater. Shoppers will want to meander to the French Quarter for excellent local products and tons of jewelry, voodoo dolls, carnival masks and more, and take advantage of Tax Free Shopping for International Visitors.
Leave an hour to freshen up at your hotel because tonight is the night for a uniquely New Orleans repast. Among the Grandes Dames of Creole are several French Quarter restaurants, where locals and visitors revel in NOLA decadence. Leaving the restaurant, visitors will inevitably hear the clickety-clack of carriage horses as they make their way down the charming avenues. Take a last chance to hop in for a ride. Sated with the food, fun and friendship, visitors cannot help but understand why New Orleans is called America’s Most Unique City.
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