Day 1 - Arrive New Orleans / French Quarter Walking Tour
Arrive in New Orleans and make your way to the group's hotel, the Hampton Inn New Orleans Downtown. Then put on your walking shoes as we will follow in the footsteps of historic figures on our private late afternoon (4:00pm) guided tour. Stroll along the Mighty Mississippi, through the French Market and Jackson Square, then down by the quaint streets named for past saints and sinners. Learn about the Creoles that founded the city in 1718. See the old Quarter come to life as our guide explains its secrets, the architecture, courtyards, gardens, food, music, and art.
Tonight, enjoy our Welcome Dinner at a local New Orleans restaurant before we check out the nightlife on the famous Bourbon Street, where it's Fat Tuesday every day of the week. Order a hurricane from Pat O'Brien's in a "go-cup" (it's legal to drink on the streets in New Orleans), put on your beads as we take a stroll down New Orleans' most famous party street. Just walking this legendary street is bound to create a night to remember.
Day 2: New Orleans / Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery Walking Tour - Swamp Tour
Ride the famous New Orlean's streetcar from the French Quarter to the Garden District, a short ride but feels worlds apart. The Garden District, or ‘Lafayette City’, as it was once known is home to the rich, the famous, the strange and the dead! Our walking tour is not just mansions and manicured gardens, but stories of legends, tragedy, epidemics, lost causes, movie stars, celebrity chefs, and haunted spirit. Stroll the leafy, magnolia shaded streets of the Garden District and a city of the dead, Lafayette Cemetery, with about 1,000 tombs and an estimated 7,000 people buried.
New Orleans Swamp tourThis afternoon we will take a fascinating boat trip into the Louisiana Swamps & Bayous and explore this mysterious backcountry. Experience the timeless beauty of South Louisiana in a custom built swamp boat as we ride through part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park - Barataria Preserve. Native guides will reveal to us the mysteries of the swamps and bayous and the Cajun "joie de vivre". We will observe the nesting grounds of alligators, egrets, raccoons, nutria, and many species of snakes. All the animals, flora and fauna are completely protected and not exposed to any threats or interference. So the wildlife we see are all free and thriving in their natural habitat.
Tonight we get to enjoy another exciting evening in New Orleans.
Day 3: New Orleans to Memphis, Tennessee
Amtrak to MemphisYour morning is free to explore Bourbon Street and the French Quarter at your own pace or take an optional tour. Louisiana is known for plantation homes take a tour and get a feel for the Antebellum South or visit the World War II Museum (the #1 Thing to Do in NOLA). The museum's atrium has aircraft and other items suspended from the ceiling.
We depart for the Amtrak station about 1pm for our eight hour scenic train ride to Memphis. Relax in one of the nice, wide seats with plenty of legroom and enjoy views that most travelers will never see or walk around to the check out the other parts of the train, including the dining car.
Day 4: Explore Memphis and Graceland
Step inside Graceland Mansion and follow the same steps as Elvis himself, on a multimedia tour with stories by Elvis and Lisa Marie. See where Elvis lived, relaxed and spent time with friends and family. Our experience includes an audio-guided tour of Graceland plus self-guided tours of the Elvis Presley Car Museum, Elvis’ custom jets, the new Elvis: Live from Vegas and Elvis’ Hawaii Exhibits, and much more!
Our next stop, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, pays tribute to the artists who recorded there with a rare collection of over 2,000 interactive exhibits, artifacts and memorabilia. While most museums don’t encourage dancing in the aisles, this museum invites you "to shake what your mama gave you on the Express Yourself dance floor".
Then we visit Bass Pro to enjoy 10 aquariums with over 1,800 fish, a 32-story observation deck and restaurant/bar that offers views of the Memphis skyline and Mississippi River, the country's tallest freestanding glass elevator, the Ducks Unlimited National Waterfowling Heritage Center and a rustic cabin general store that sells fudge and dry goods.
Tonight we visit another famous American street, Beale Street, Three blocks of nightclubs, restaurants and shops in the heart of downtown Memphis, the Beale Street entertainment district is a melting pot of delta blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll, R&B and gospel. This National Historic Landmark was declared the Home of the Blues by an act of Congress, and with its rich history of legendary performers gracing the district (think Albert King, Louis Armstrong, Memphis Minnie, Muddy Waters and B.B. King), it's not hard to see why. With cold beer and hot music, Beale Street is one of the coolest places in Memphis.
Day 5: Explore Memphis and Overnight train to Chicago
Lorraine Motel Civil Rights MuseumThe National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel is a very special experience that takes us through centuries of history. We begin at the original Lorraine Motel and end at the Boarding House buildings. The museum has 260 artifacts, more than 40 new films, oral histories, interactive media and external listening posts that guide us from slavery, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, the rise of Jim Crow, and the events of the 20th century that inspired people around the world to stand up for equality.
Next we visit Sun Studio and take a guided tour through the birthplace of rock 'n' roll. Experience outtakes from recording sessions, touch Elvis' first microphone and hear the real story of the studio that launched the careers of not only Elvis Presley, but Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, B.B. King, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, and many others.
With so many things to see and do in Memphis, this afternoon at leisure is your choice to stroll along the Mississippi Riverfront, visit the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum or check out the shops and museums at Peabody Place. Then we will meet back at the hotel for dinner (not included) and later transfer to the train station for our overnight ride to Chicago.
Day 6: Arrive Chicago, Illinois
Chicago BeanWe arrive at the Chicago Amtrak station at 9:30am and we will transfer to the groups' hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Chicago/North Loop. Our downtown hotel is set near River North, just blocks away from the Magnificent Mile and close to the Navy Pier.
Put your walking shoes on for our full day out in Chicago with our private tour guide. Walk along Chicago’s scenic river walk, past the House of Blues, the famous Chicago Theater and visit Millennium Park. Photo opp at Cloudgate "the Bean" with the Chicago skyline in its reflection. Chicago downtown chicagoStroll along Michigan, the Magnificent Mile, known for it’s upscale shopping (Nieman Marcus, Saks, Nordstrom, Tiffany’s, Cartier, etc.). Don’t be intimidated if you don’t usually shop in these establishments, there is plenty of great shopping for everyone on the “Mag Mile”! Don’t be surprised to see street musicians, jugglers or living statues as you stroll down the avenue. Stop for a drink and catch the view at the Hancock Center's Signature Lounge on the 95th floor of the Hancock Center. Through out the day our guide will share tales of Chicago’s past and present
Day 7: Discover Chicago
Experience Chicago as it was during the 1920's and 30's and see the old gangster hot spots and hit spots. Our morning live action gangster bus tour gives us the inside story of Chicago's windiest politicians, rollicking red-light districts and most notorious vice games. We will be taken on a comfortable, interactive ride through the history of Chicago’s gangster days in the famed Prohibition Era. Learn about the wild jazz-age exploits of famous Gang members Capone, Moran, Dillinger and more.
After time for lunch we board our Riverboat and Lake cruise. This unique cruise tells the story of more than 200 years of fascinating social, Chicago Navy Pier Chicagocultural and political history, and explores more than a century of groundbreaking architecture. Our journey begins with an up-close perspective of Chicago’s internationally-known architecture as seen from the Chicago River. Then venture through the Chicago Lock on to the calm, cool waters of Lake Michigan for expansive views of Chicago’s extraordinary 26-mile skyline.
Tonight we'll enjoy our Farewell Dinner and fireworks at the Navy Pier, a 3,300-foot-long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. This 50-acre playground of entertainment, museums, activities, restaurants, and shops is the perfect place for a fun time.
Day 8: Depart Chicago
Our New Orleans, Memphis Chicago singles vacation has comes to an end this morning and It is time to say goodbye to all your travel friends. Make your way to the airport or book a late flight and continue to discover Chicago at your own pace.