Our Bluegrass and Bourbon Trail self drive takes you on a rich and authentic journey through a timeless celebration of deep southern style. Combine the freedom of moving at your own pace with the expertise of our Destination Specialists; below is what we’d recommend you see, but the beauty of a self drive is it’s up to you what you do.
The first suggestion of this self drive is Memphis, the home of the blues and birthplace of rock and roll. Your first stop should be Graceland Mansion where the King of Pop, Elvis Presley himself, lived. Travel through time as you take in the musical culture of this warm old town. Stop at the world-famous studios where the blues kings recorded their hit records – celebrating the likes of B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline and more. This Bluegrass and Bourbon Trail is the perfect Deep South America tour for music and culture lovers - you’ll find bursts of musical heritage wherever you turn.
If you decide to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, you will feel like you’ve gone back in time through the history of the blues. At the world-famous B.B. King’s Blues Club, you can dine like a true Southerner to the sounds of old classic country and blues from vintage jukeboxes. And at Beale Street, visitors get lost in the old-world charm of Tennessee bursting through a modern metropolis.
Next, we suggest you move on from the home of the blues for the home of Southern whiskey at Lynchburg. Here you can tour the famous Jack Daniel distillery to learn about the age-old process that goes into making the South’s favourite tipple.
Our next recommendation is to continue to Gatlinburg and have scenic hike in America’s most popular park, the Great Smoky National Park, before heading to the home of country music - Nashville. Find the Grand Ole Opry, countless odes to musical history and a rich mix of Southern hospitality and charm.
For a real insight into the rich heritage and musical celebration of the Deep South, while having the freedom to spend your days as wish if something else piques your interest, our Bluegrass and Bourbon Trail is the experience of a lifetime.
- Take a musical trip through history in the Home of the Blues
- Witness the rugged terrains of the famous Daniel Boone National Forest
- Learn the secrets of the Southern favourite Jack Daniels in the heart of Lynchburg
- Visit the home of country music, Nashville
Start your Journey
Our Bluegrass and Bourbon Trail begins as you enter Memphis, the beloved ‘home of the blues’. Music fans will be spoilt for choice in the musical birthplace of some of the greatest artists of all time. Here you must visit Graceland Mansion, home of none other than Elvis Presley. Immerse yourself in the King of Rock’s life and career, and admire his vintage automobile collection before choosing between the Rock & Soul Museum, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, or the Gibson Guitar Factory. Take a musical trip through time at the Sun Studio, where Johnny Cash signed his first hit, Walk The Line. This is also where B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley all recorded their greatest hits. A stroll along Beale Street takes you through a melting pot of the renowned Old Southern charm, contrasted with the fast-paced metropolis of the modern world. You’ll stumble across the hugely famous B.B. King’s Blues Club, a beloved and authentic Southern restaurant and bar bursting with a rich heritage of soulful blues, rock and roll, and famous Southern hospitality. For live music, we recommend visiting one of the live concerts at the Mud Island, which is set right on the Mississippi River.
Memphis - Lynchburg
On day three of your self-drive, it’s time to leave the music behind and discover the home of bourbon in Lynchburg. If you have time, explore the famous home of the Jack Daniel Distillery in the heart of Lynchburg where you can learn the intriguing story of the Cave Spring Hollow, Lynchburg’s most important natural resource. If you have a sweet tooth, look for Nina’s Taste of Tennessee, a quaint gem in the heart of Lynchburg selling Southern sweet treats and souvenirs.
Lynchburg - Chattanooga
Leaving Lynchburg, visit Chattanooga and dive straight into local life in the fourth largest city in Southeast Tennessee. Taste the city’s favourite snack, The Moon Pie, an old time favourite since the early 1900s. Go back in time at the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo train station, which is impressively preserved with old vintage cars and old-world charm decor.
Chattanooga - Gatlinburg
Leaving Chattanooga, you’ll make your way north to quaint Gatlinburg, a resort-like village hidden in the mountains of East Tennessee. Why not start your day with a scenic hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where you’ll stumble across several winding trails among lush forests and pastel-coloured wildflowers. This is America’s most visited national park, and is bursting with bright plant life, picture-perfect waterfalls, and mountains. After lunch, take a stroll downtown to find The Village Shops, a beautiful shopping enclave of over a dozen specialty shops, coffee break spots and with a pretty water fountain at its centre.
As you say goodbye to Gatlinburg and head on a scenic two hour journey towards Kentucky, you’ll see the beautiful and unmissable Appalachian Mountains, which are majestic and covered in an evergreen forest. Break up the drive with a trip to Tennessee’s best-kept secret hidden in plain sight, the Daniel Boone National Park. The forest spans more than two million acres, spread across 21 countries, and is filled with huge sandstone cliffs and mountainous ravines. Water sport fans will love the many lakes, streams and rivers, where visitors are welcome to canoe, kayak and even scuba dive.
After a packed morning of hiking and soaking up the rugged natural landscapes of Lexington, our next suggestion is to head to the ‘horse capital of the world’ in the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region. Aptly named for being the first city outside Europe to ever host the World Equestrian Games, you’ll see 400 horse farms surrounding the 1,200 acres Kentucky Horse Park.
Lexington - Louisville
Leave Lexington and drive to Louisville, Kentucky's largest city and home to the world’s most famous thoroughbred horse race, the Kentucky Derby. On the way, pass through tree-lined roads dotted with pretty towns and luscious green fields. As you reach Louisville, visit the Derby for a fun and competitive day out. For a glimpse into old Louisville life, the town of Bardstown is just a short trip away and is home to the 200 year old mansion and plantation, Old Kentucky Home. Learn stories of deadly duels, fortunes, and horse racing as you admire the beautiful collection of fine antiques. Baseball fans have the opportunity to take an additional visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. This interactive museum is home to special exhibitions, fascinating machinery and interactive exhibits.
If Memphis is the home of the blues, Nashville is the home of country music. You have the option of heading to the Music City Walk of Fame: this wonderfully-preserved museum was built to honour the great country music artists. Here you can discover and celebrate the surviving trinkets of country music - form Elvis Presley’s Cadillac limousine to Hank William’s guitar and more than 800 stage costumes. For an evening boasting one of a kind entertainment and rich music history, we recommend a visit to the Grand Ole Opry, a huge venue dedicated to honouring the history of country legends. You can head to the Tennessee State Capitol, a national historic landmark that sits on the highest hill in the city. Take a tour through preserved exhibitions for an authentic look into the cultural and economic history of Tennesseans.
Nashville - Memphis
On the last day of your Bluegrass and Bourbon Trail, leave the capital of the country and western scene and head back to the home of the blues. Once you arrive at Memphis, a great spot for an authentic meal, Memphis-style, is the popular no-frills Leonard’s BBQ.
- International flights and airfare taxes
- Cost of accommodation (double room based on two people sharing) for a total of 9 nights (alternative but similar accommodation may be used at certain times of the year)
- Car hire and insurance
- Visa arrangements and fees
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses, such as beverages, excursions, telephone calls, laundry, camera fees, spa and business facilities in the hotel and excursions
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There’s no question too small. Start planning your dream trip by talking to our Destination Specialists.
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