Day 1 WASHINGTON DC AREA.
Enjoy time at leisure to relax or to do some independent exploring. Your Tour Director is on hand this evening to answer any questions.
Day 2 WASHINGTON DC AREA–GETTYSBURG.
Today begins with a guided sightseeing tour that shows you the graves of American heroes, including those of John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, in beautiful Arlington Cemetery. Your guided tour of the capital continues, with photo stops at Capitol Hill and the White House, and visits to the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials. Afterward, cross the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania for a visit to the hallowed GETTYSBURG BATTLEFIELD, site of the decisive Civil War campaign and where Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg Address in November 1863. Tonight, we offer an optional outing to a local restaurant to enjoy the flavor of the area.
Day 3 GETTYSBURG–HARPERS FERRY–SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK.
Head for HARPERS FERRY HISTORIC NATIONAL PARK, where, in 1859, John Brown made his ill-fated raid on the U.S. Arsenal. En route to Shenandoah, crest the Blue Ridge Mountains for magnificent vistas of the Shenandoah Valley. Overnight in SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK.
Day 4 SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK–NEW RIVER GORGE–BECKLEY.
Travel through lumber and limestone country into wonderfully wild West Virginia. After a lunch break in Lewisburg, a Civil War battlefield, travel to Fayetteville and stop at New River Gorge Bridge, the world’s third-longest steel-span bridge, rising 876 feet above the river. Then, on to Beckley, the heart of West Virginia’s “smokeless” coal industry, for an overnight stay.
Day 5 BECKLEY–CHARLESTON–LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY.
Before entering Kentucky, we stop in the state capital of Charleston, West Virginia, one-time home of American frontiersman Daniel Boone. As you cross the state border, the scenery changes to green pastures, white-board fences, and the columned estates of Kentucky bluegrass country—backdrop for the movie Seabiscuit. Arrive in Lexington, the “Heart of the Bluegrass.” This afternoon, a fascinating visit to the KENTUCKY HORSE PARK, from where legends like Man o’ War and Secretariat conquered the racing world. (CB)
Day 6 LEXINGTON–HODGENVILLE–BARDSTOWN–LEXINGTON, KY.
Travel on Bluegrass Parkway and stop at SINKING SPRING FARM, a one-room cabin where the nation’s 16th president was born, Abraham Lincoln. A replica of the original log cabin is preserved as a shrine to one of the best-loved American presidents. Visit the LINCOLN MUSEUM, dedicated to Lincoln’s life and times. The museum features 12 historically accurate scenes from Lincoln’s life and Civil War memorabilia. Be sure to walk out to the center of Town Square for a photo op in front of the Lincoln Statue, and the Lincoln Boy Statue. Afterward, we head to Bardstown and visit the fourth-largest CIVIL WAR MUSEUM in the United States. Unlike the other museums, this one focuses mainly on the War of the Western States. Visitors move through a series of exhibits featuring artifacts from both the Union and the Confederacy. End your day by visiting a true working BOURBON DISTILLERY, and learn about the production of the very finest Kentucky Straight Bourbon, for which Kentucky is famous. Return to Lexington, where the evening is free for independent activities.
Day 7 LEXINGTON, KY–GATLINBURG.
Travel to Tennessee, with a stop at Corbin for a short visit to COLONEL SANDERS’ original fried chicken restaurant, which is now a museum. This afternoon, visit the fascinating MUSEUM OF APPALACHIA, with 65 acres of farmland and a number of historic cabins, barns, and other buildings—even a frontier privy! The next two nights are in Gatlinburg at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Day 8 GATLINBURG.
As one of America’s most popular mountain retreats, Gatlinburg offers something for everyone. You might want to spend a day at world-famous Dollywood, an 88-acre landscaped theme park inspired by Dolly Parton.
Day 9 GATLINBURG–GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK–ASHEVILLE.
Drive right through the center of the Smokies along the spectacular Newfound Gap Road, peaking at 5,046 feet. Continue into North Carolina and a stop at the 7,500-acre grounds of the BILTMORE ESTATE, built by George Vanderbilt, grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. Overnight in the Asheville area, hometown of American author Thomas Wolfe.
Day 10 ASHEVILLE–BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY–LEXINGTON, VIRGINIA.
Blue Ridge Parkway runs from the Great Smokies to Shenandoah National Park without a single traffic light along its 470-mile route. Take in a portion of the parkway today, from Fancy Gap to Roanoke. Stop at the tranquil setting of Mabry Mill, one of the most photographed spots in the country. Next up: a visit to NATURAL BRIDGE, a 215-foot-high arch in a wooded setting, once owned by Thomas Jefferson. George Washington’s initials are still visible on the cliffside, from his work here as a young surveyor. (CB)
Day 11 LEXINGTON, VIRGINIA–WILLIAMSBURG.
The day begins with a guided tour of the STONEWALL JACKSON HOUSE, where you experience the pre-war life of Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, and are introduced to the man who became a legend. This afternoon’s highlight is the graceful home of the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson. The MONTICELLO ESTATE reflects Jefferson’s skills as an artist, architect, and designer. It is the only house in the U.S. that is on the UNESCO World Heritage list of international treasures. The day ends in Williamsburg, between the James and York Rivers, where the very earliest European settlers established their first colonies. (CB)
Day 12 WILLIAMSBURG. EXCURSION TO JAMESTOWN SETTLEMENT & COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG.
A morning visit to nearby JAMESTOWN SETTLEMENT for a guided tour to learn about the first permanent English settlement in the New World. The rest of the day is dedicated to COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG, where American heritage is proudly preserved in the reconstructed buildings and historical displays. Stroll down quaint streets and browse through homes, gardens, taverns, shops, and exhibits. In the Hall of Burgesses, listen as costumed interpreters debate the controversial steps that led to the Declaration of Independence. (CB)
Day 13 WILLIAMSBURG–RICHMOND–MOUNT VERNON–WASHINGTON DC AREA.
This morning begins with a short orientation tour of Richmond, capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Stop at the Capitol Building for photographs before making our way to MOUNT VERNON, the beloved home of George and Martha Washington, overlooking the banks of the Potomac River. Time to explore the most popular historic estate in America. The final leg of your journey takes you back to the Washington DC area. (CB)
Day 14 WASHINGTON DC AREA.
The trip ends today with guests departing on individual schedules. Transfers to Dulles or Reagan International Airports are included. You can extend your vacation with extra nights and explore the nation’s capital further with a variety of exciting optional activities.