Coasts and Mountains of the South

11 Days

Starting in/Ending in: Atlanta, Georgia

Total driving distance approximately 954 miles

Overview

Approximately the size of Continental Europe, the Southern United States offers virtually any kind of holiday experience desired – from beaches to mountains; active to leisure; big cities to small towns – in any season. There are national and state parks to hike and camp, wild and scenic rivers to raft on; scenic byways for leisurely drives and state highways for those who want to get off the beaten path. Start and end your trip in Atlanta, the vanguard of the New South, with the charm and elegance of the Old – a city that balances southern traditions with sleek modernism. Continue to Tennessee and North Carolina, Home to the highest mountains in eastern North America, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the vibrant mountain towns of Asheville and Boone. Further on the Piedmond region includes Charlotte, the South’s finance center and the home of NASCAR, full of old-time Southern charm and world-class barbecue. North Carolina, in many ways, represents the very best of both the New South and old Dixie. Booming, diverse cities lie just “down the road” from quiet Southern towns where not much has changed since the Civil War. South Carolina, together with North Carolina forms a region historically known as The Carolinas. Though smaller in population than North Carolina, South Carolina boasts a rich historical legacy. This is particularly evident in Charleston, which was an important port in the colonial and post-colonial eras of the United States as well as the site of the onset of the Civil War. Along the Eastern Atlantic Coast of South Carolina are several popular tourist destinations. The most well-known area is called The Grand Strand and comprises 60 miles of mostly beachfront property. The Strand runs south from the North and South Carolina border through the towns of Little River, Atlantic Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach and Garden City (in Horry County), down Hwy. 17 south through Georgetown County including Murrells Inlet, Litchfield, and Pawleys Island. For more Southern charm continue to Savannah, GA, one of the few major cities in the South with antebellum charm and architecture remaining intact. It has one of the largest historic districts in the country!

Trip Highlights

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Myrtle Beach
  • Charleston
  • Savannah

Itinerary

Arrive in Atlanta. Tonight you can take an evening sightseeing tour and see the city at night or explore the vibrant restaurant scene.

Overnight: Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia (2 nights)

In Atlanta, spend a fun day touring the impressive Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola (be sure to enjoy free samples of Coke’s beverages from around the world). Explore the city’s rich history at places such as the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, filled with artefacts from the Civil Rights movement. Relax at an evening concert at one of the city’s many live music venues, from major concert halls to intimate clubs. Refuel with ‘hash brown’ potatoes, and waffles at the iconic Atlanta-based diner chain Waffle House. Burn off the calories with a tour around the lush Atlanta Botanical Garden, a sprawling oasis of smaller gardens.

Travel north across the state line into Tennessee, then North Carolina, to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is the most visited national park in the USA, and it is known world-wide for its rich Southern Appalachian culture as well as the beauty of the mountains in every season. Visitors will find activities for all skill and fitness levels. Some choose scenic drives such as the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where you can see waterfalls from your car. Others embark on more active adventures, enjoying hikes to spectacular waterfalls. Discover scenic Little River Road, with its many worthwhile stops, including the Sinks waterfall, which is an easy hike from the main road. It was formed where the river makes an S-turn; the natural pools here are surrounded by enormous boulders. Later, head to Asheville, North Carolina, which is an ideal place to access the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the USA’s most scenic drives. Visitors will discover beautiful mountain views, as well as opportunities to go hiking, biking and horseback riding amidst lovely scenery. The Parkway connects several Asheville-area attractions, including the Biltmore Estate, a French Renaissance-style chateau with its accompanying gardens and winery. Nearby, Asheville’s city center is ideal for experiencing a vibrant food and beverage culture, with locally owned cafés (many emphasizing organic ingredients), tucked between galleries and craft breweries.

Overnight: Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown, Asheville, North Carolina

Experience a pit stop simulation at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, in Charlotte, North Carolina, then watch a race, or drive a race car, at nearby Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sports fans also can enjoy Carolina Panthers football, Charlotte Hornets basketball and Charlotte Knights baseball. For adventure seekers, visit the U.S. National Whitewater Center, and select your choice of activities from white-water rafting, zip-lining and rock climbing. Charlotte also offers cultural opportunities such as the international Craft + Design collection at the Mint Museum Uptown, or the oral histories and other thought-provoking exhibits at the Levine Museum of the New South.

Overnight: Hampton Inn Charlotte Uptown (Complimentary Continental Breakfast), Charlotte, North Carolina

In the classic beach town of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, explore the golden sands of the Atlantic coast for seashells, then visit Broadway at the Beach, a diverse selection of open-air shops and restaurants specializing in local flavors.

Overnight: Best Western PLUS Grand Strand Inn & Suites (Complimentary Continental Breakfast), Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (2 nights)

Possible activities for today include a water park, helicopter tours and Ripley’s Aquarium, where you can glide through a tank filled with stingrays and sharks. Take one of the many tours to experience wildlife in a natural setting, such as dolphin watching cruises and wetland tours offering the possibility of alligator and bird sightings. Visitors may want to plan to stay several nights to enjoy this beachside resort area and the many activities it has to offer.

Depart Myrtle Beach and head 30 minutes south along the coast to the southern end of the Grand Strand. Here, you’ll arrive at friendly, tranquil Pawley’s Island. Famous for its cypress wood cottages, and home to large expanses of marshland, rivers, and oceanfront state parks, this is a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Continue south along the pristine coastline through Francis Marion National Forest until you arrive in Charleston, with its signature antebellum mansions painted in a rainbow of colors and featuring elaborate ironwork. Today join a walking tour for the best view of these homes, their gardens and the Battery, Charleston’s historic waterfront promenade. Shop at City Market for souvenirs, including sweetgrass baskets, an essential tool on former rice plantations. Tour a plantation at Middleton Place, featuring the 18th century House Museum and Stable yards. History also comes alive at Fort Sumter National Monument, where the American Civil War began. The site looks over Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island with wide beaches, locally owned restaurants and activities such as surfing and kayaking.

Overnight: Hampton Inn Charleston Historic District (Complimentary Continental Breakfast), Charleston, South Carolina

Travelling south from Charleston to Savannah, golf enthusiasts may wish to add a night or two at either Kiawah Island or Hilton Head Island, both in South Carolina. Kiawah Island is just 21 miles (34 kilometers) from Charleston, and it is known for its tranquility and natural beauty. Here, five championship courses challenge golfers. About a two-hour drive from Charleston, Hilton Head Island offers pretty beaches, more than 20 world class golf courses and more than 300 tennis courts. Savannah’s historic district is a collection of pretty town squares and preserved architecture.

Overnight: Best Western Savannah Historic District (Complimentary Continental Breakfast), Savannah, Georgia (2 nights)

Join a history or ghost tour to acquaint yourself. Later, linger at landmarks such as Forsyth Park, where residents and visitors have gathered for generations around a spectacular fountain. Heading toward the Savannah River, pause for a self-guided tour of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist; its towering twin steeples are a fixture on the Savannah skyline. Continue to City Market’s courtyards and squares with restaurants, shops and galleries. For a side trip, visit Tybee Island for a lighthouse tour, paddling excursion or charter cruise.

Head east today to Macon, Georgia to visit the Tubman Museum, named for Harriet Tubman, one of the USA’s most famous abolitionists and a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, which helped slaves find freedom in the pre-Civil War era. Here, visitors can learn about African American life during this time. Later, explore Macon’s art galleries and boutiques, and try some of the city’s signature dishes. After lunch head, head to Atlanta.

Overnight: Best Western PLUS Atlanta Airport East (Complimentary Continental Breakfast), Atlanta, Georgia

Day 11 :
Tour Ends

Trip Includes

  • 10 hotel nights at published hotels (or similar), local hotel taxes and resort fees (except where mentioned), travel tips, maps, and brochures. Complimentary Breakfast subject to change at the hotel’s discretion.

Trip Excludes

  • Rental car, gas, parking fees, porterage, flights, airport transfers, meals, unless otherwise specified in the tour description, park & attractions entrance fees, unless otherwise specified in the tour description, ferry charges, travel insurance.

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/ Single Occupancy Room (1 Adult)
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/ Child 17 years and under with 2 paying adults
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/ Infant 5 years and under with 2 paying adults
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/ Double Occupancy Room (2 Adults)

Trip Info