Meet up with your fellow travelers and Tour Manager in swinging New Orleans. A meeting point of European style and Caribbean flavors, this town is busy with soul, flamboyance, festivities and a whole lot of jazz! To learn more about local flavors, sign up for the New Orlean’s Cooking School optional and have a go at making classics like gumbo (a type of stew), shrimp Creole and bread pudding. Experience the stunning French Quarter, made up of hidden courtyards, soul-kitchens and jazz clubs. Hang out in Jackson square and watch musicians, fortune tellers and artists. Then turn the energy levels up with a visit to Bourbon Street. Humming night and day, it is all about music and bars. So make your first night on tour one to remember by living the New Orleans’ motto “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler” - let the good times roll!
With time to relax on the coach, enjoy a siesta or get some tips for the up-coming destinations from your Tour Manager. Travel through Southern Mississippi into Southern Alabama, where we stop in downtown Mobile, Alabama for lunch. Afterwards, we head off to soak up some sun with an overnight stop at "The World's Most Beautiful Beaches" - Panama City Beach. Please note: Departures before February 2013 follow a slightly modified itinerary, and will overnight in Tallahassee instead of Panama City Beach.
Get ready to arrive in the former farming town of Orlando. This ordinary town was transformed into the most-visited place in the state by Walt Disney’s imagination, when he created Disney World. Now Orlando is all about wild rides, fantasy and amusement parks, so get some pointers from your Tour Manager and take you pick!
Free time means a day out in one of the many fun parks located here with some friends. There are loads of options; Disney World with its 4 parks, Universal Studios, SeaWorld and several water parks. The parks also serve up theme-bars and clubs, so if you’re keen, keep it moving tonight at one of them.
Flamboyant, flashy and fabulous, Miami is hot and loud. Packed with diverse neighborhoods, each with their own character, Miami is great place to hang out. First up it's a look around the downtown. You’ll see the Miami Heat (basketball team) arena, the high rises of the financial district and the outdoor shopping area of the Bayside Marketplace. You’ll also get a feel for the city’s Latin vibe in Little Havana, with its Cuban influence and history. Then, discover stylish South Beach with its iconic art deco buildings, swaying palm trees and neon lights. Sizzling any night of the week, South Beach is where all the action is, so explore it in a night out with your friends.
Tropical Miami oozes energy and a free day here means time to get into this happening hub. Head down to the boardwalk and people-watch. If you’re looking to relax, kick back among the toned, bronzed bodies on South Beach and take a swim in the warm waters of the southern Atlantic. Have a go on 2 wheels in a fun included biking excursion with the group and get familiar with the waterfront neighborhoods. Your Local Guide will give you an insider’s view on this colorful town, and take you to many of Miami’s signature sites like Casa Casuarina (Versace Mansion), the Bass Art Museum and the Holocaust Memorial before winding down with something cool to drink at Miami’s Marina. If you’ve got time to live a bit of the local Latin lifestyle, return to Little Havana and order some Cuban rice and beans, followed by some sweet Cuban coffee. Try your hand at dominoes on one of the outdoor tables on Calle 8 (Eighth Street) or pick up a Cuban cigar and some salsa music at one of the little shops. Before you hit the shops, get some pointers about where to head from your Tour Manager, who knows Miami’s ins and outs. For shopping in style, stroll through the outdoor shopping promenade of the Lincoln Road mall and for bargains, head to Espanola Way. Tonight, live a slice of the high life and party it up Miami style out on the water in our optional harbor party cruise.
Today, we roll on to the surfing capital of the East Coast, Cocoa Beach. Our hotel is in walking distance to the beach, so hit some of the biggest waves in Florida or try out some volleyball on the beach. Watch the locals fishing off the pier and order some fresh seafood later on at beachside grill.
Hit the Space Coast, home to NASA, and visit the fascinating Kennedy Space Center, the only rocket launch point for space missions in the Western Hemisphere. You’ve got time to explore the massive series of buildings, as you learn about space exploration and get up close to pieces of the moon, mission capsules, astronaut’s gear and space shuttles. You’ll also see the launch and landing pad first hand. Back on the coach, we cruise through a wildlife reserve and journey on to pretty St. Augustine, America’s oldest inhabited city, complete with cobblestones, a laid-back harbor and small beaches. Head to the timeworn streets of the Spanish quarter with the group, soak up the Mediterranean feel with its colorful buildings and courtyards, and visit the 16th Century Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.
Free-wheeling Savannah is up next and its all about southern charm. Fall under its spell as you check out the old cotton warehouses, historic city squares and mansions. Spared from the destruction of the Civil War, you’ll see original historic buildings here. Visit stunning Forsythe Park and see gorgeous moss covered oak trees, surrounding historic homes and inns. Take in the sub-tropical plants, flowers and lush greenery that spill onto the town’s 24 public squares. Choose an optional dinner at a historic inn tonight and experience southern hospitality at its best.
En route to Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, we swing by pretty Charleston, the town that inspired a dance craze. Former Civil War hot spot, this town is all about southern charm with its wide porches, shuttered buildings and Victorian architecture. With carriage rides into the historic district, old mansions on the waterfront and palm trees dotted about, this place is stunning. If you’re hungry, try some delicious shrimp and grits (corn based polenta) before we continue on to Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina.
This morning, cross over the border into Richmond for a slice of history. After a look around the old center we head to Carytown, a young and funky district, for lunch. Next up: the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. It’s the USA’s political core, buzzing with decision makers and busy with museums, monuments and politics. Get inspired on our Illuminations Tour around D.C’s famous structures and see the city brilliantly lit up against the night sky. Your Tour Manager will fill you in D.C’s signature sites and monuments, like the Capitol Building, Washington Monument and the White House. We’ll drive along the National Mall, a traditional place of protest and of key events in the USA’s past. Enjoy an overview of presidential history with a look at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech, the Jefferson memorial with its famous columns and the Roosevelt Memorial. Remember those who died in Vietnam and Korea as you check out the memorials to those conflicts.
With two full days to explore the capital, you can visit some fascinating museums and monuments, or hang out in the city’s vibrant neighborhoods for a different feel. We’ll visit Arlington National Cemetery, where JFK is buried and thousands of US soldiers lie. You’ll see the sobering sight of endless rows of white headstones and have the chance to watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There’s a chance to cover a lot of ground and get familiar with D.C. by renting a bike. Get some pointers from your Tour Manager on where to go next. Get a dose of culture at the Smithsonian Museums. This is a one-stop culture spot, made up of 19 different museums. It has it all – from natural history to space, so the choice is yours, and best of all, it’s free! You can also visit the world-class Holocaust Museum and learn about one of history’s darkest moments as you honor the victims. For something fun and intriguing, head to the Spy Museum. Find out about infamous FBI cases and what it means to be a secret agent, while you listen to bugs and play around with gadgets and interactive displays. Later, hit Georgetown, D.C.’s oldest district and see how it has injected itself with new energy. 200 year-old buildings hold hip galleries and boutiques – it’s a great place to pick up something funky. It’s also a global kitchen - try something from the 50 different types of ethnic food on offer. With a university crowd, Georgetown is vibrant and young, so spend some time exploring the laid-back lounges and upscale bars. For something more upbeat, get down and funky in Adams-Morgan, another trendy district.
Leaving the capital behind, we continue on to New York. First up is Philadelphia. Check out Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the historic Liberty Bell – Philadelphia’s landmark that weighs in at 2080lb (944kg). Don’t forget to try a Philly cheese steak, a local speciality. We top off your travels with New York, where it’s time to say farewell to your new friends, as the tour ends here late this afternoon. Please note: It's best not to book flights before 9:00pm.