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Ol' Man River - Chicago to New Orleans

The Mighty Mississippi one of the world’s most famous rivers, this tour takes you on a journey from Chicago to New Orleans going through some of the the rural heartland and delightful small towns and cities to which the river gave birth. Experience traditional blues music, with a mix of gospel and soul. Great musicians emerge and thrive in the cities from where their music first caught the world’s imagination.

Day 1 - Chicago

Arrive Chicago.

Day 2 - Chicago

This morning take a sightseeing tour of this magnificent city built around Lake Michigan. The afternoon is free to explore the city’s highlights with the curving Lakeside Drive and the stunning views of the skyline, dominated by the John Hancock Center buildings. The view from the top of the building offers a breathtaking panorama over the city and the lake beyond. Stroll the grounds of Millennium Park and take a look at the reflective Cloud Gate Sculpture or cross the Chicago River and head into downtown, with a thriving centre of boutiques, cafés, restaurants and specialist shops, lively by day and night.

Day 3 & 4 - Chicago to St Louis

Today depart Chicago and head towards St Louis. En route stop at the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, home to thousands of artefacts and memorabilia related to Route 66 - The Mother Road. Stop for lunch at Springfield, Illinois before arriving at St Louis, where you will overnight.

Day 5 - St. Louis

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before departing for the Gateway Arch where you can take a trip to the top of the arch for a magnificent view of St. Louis. While at the Arch visit the Odyssey Theatre for a larger than life glimpse of Lewis and Clark’s Great Journey West and visit the Museum of Westward Expansion which preserves rare artefacts from the days of Lewis and Clark along with exhibits of early day pioneers who helped shape the history of the American West. Enjoy lunch at the Missouri Botanical Garden before boarding the garden’s tram for a narrated tour thru the beautiful gardens. Founded in 1859 the Missouri Botanical Garden contains 79 acres of scenic landscaping and sculptures. Highlights include the Climatron® tropical rain forest; Linnean House, Japanese Garden, and the Grigg Nanjing Friendship Chinese Garden. Next, tour the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

Visit the historic stable home to the Budweiser Clydesdales and see first-hand how the world’s greatest beer is crafted in the Brew House and packaged in the Bevo Packaging Plant. After the tour sample the different brews and relax in the Hospitality Room or browse the gift shop. Select one of St Louis' great restaurants for dinner before taking in some authentic St. Louis blues music.

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Day 6 - St. Louis to Memphis

This morning view one of the largest mosaic collections in the world as we tour the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis We then depart for Memphis, the heartland of gospel and birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll where we stay at the Holiday Inn Select Downtown for the next two nights. This evening you’ll have the chance to enjoy some Memphis barbeque.

Day 7 - Memphis

Today have a sightseeing tour of Memphis before a visit to Graceland, home of Elvis Presley. Explore the mansion and grounds of his 14-acre estate, your ticket includes exploration of the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum, the Lisa Marie Jet and Hound Dog II Jetstar planes. After lunch make a visit to the famous Sun Studio where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and B.B. King first recorded. Continue to Mud Island River Park and the Swiss-made monorail affording great views of downtown Memphis, the Mississippi River and Mud Island River Park. This evening take the opportunity to experience the nightlife of Beale Street.

Day 8 - Memphis to Natchez

Continue to follow the Ol’ Man River to Natchez. Along the way make a stop at Clarksdale and the Delta Blues Museum, to give yourself the chance to explore the history and heritage of the unique American musical art form of the blues.

Day 9 - Natchez

Founded in 1716 by the French and named after the Indians who dwelt there, this unique town is recognised as the oldest settlement on the Mississippi River. This morning, visit the Frogmore Plantation, a cotton plantation of the early 1800s and still producing cotton and gin today. Learn of the early Natchez planters and their slaves, following their evolution from the wilderness to the thriving 1850s cotton plantation, beyond the ‘War Between the States’ to a struggling new way of life. Examples of authentically furnished slave quarters can be seen. Later this afternoon go on to the Antebellum Homes of Natchez and this evening enjoy some authentic blues alley entertainment.

Day 10 - Natchez to New Orleans

Today visit the Oak Alley Plantation protected as a National Historic Landmark. It is named after its distinguishing feature, an alley or canopied path created by a double row of live oaks about 800 feet long planted in the early 18th century, long before the present house was built. The alley runs between the house and the Mississippi River. After lunch we continue to New Orleans and a guided city tour. This evening take time to explore the French Quarter.

Day 11 - New Orleans

This morning take a guided sightseeing tour of New Orleans. The afternoon is the perfect way to sample the mix of cultures is to stroll along Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, where you will hear traditional jazz wafting through the air, providing a wonderful opportunity to stop and soak up the atmosphere. There are plenty of bars and restaurants for al fresco dining, perhaps sampling some of the city’s famous Creole and Cajun cuisine. The glass enclosed Spanish plaza emporium down by the riverfront is a dramatic contrast to the French Quarter and is well worth a visit.

Day 12 - New Orleans

Today take a ride on the famous St Charles Streetcar; visit the Jackson Square Katrina museums or shop at the Riverwalk. The state of Louisiana offers tax-free shopping for international visitors at over 1,000 stores, so shopping in New Orleans offers a unique opportunity. This evening board a Mississippi paddle steamer for an evening of a traditional jazz dinner cruise along the mighty Mississippi.

Day 13 - Last Day New Orleans

Transfer to New Orleans Airport for return flight home.

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