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Southern Explorer

15 days Guided Tours

Virgin Holidays' view

Getting you into grassroots America, this trip may start in New York City and Washington D.C, but it soon swaps cosmopolitan and political powerhouses for the weird, wild, and wonderful sights sweeping the States’ south-east corner. Beginning with statement landmarks like the Empire State Building and Times Square, then the White House and US Capitol Building, images of NYC and D.C fill your camera before you’ve even touched the South. Moving from (relatively) contemporary to colonial, Williamsburg emerges like a veritable open-air museum, before you break into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, discovering how Appalachian farmers exist in a wilderness as far from D.C’s cut and thrust as you can feel. With a playlist of country music, blues, and jazz, this region also provides America’s bassline, with Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans in its backyard. And no visit’s complete without an invite into Elvis’s Graceland or a stroll below the ostentatious balconies of Bourbon Street. The big sights are a must, but there’s nothing quite like seeing less-mapped places, like the 65-acre gardens of Southern estate Bellingrath, horse ranch-rich Orcala, and Florida Panhandle’s sands at Pensacola (although, given you’re heading that way, we thought you’d like to check out familiar faces like Kennedy Space Center and Miami Beach too).

Itinerary

Day 1: UK– New York

Fly from the UK to New York. Arrive in New York City and meet your ATI tour director at the airport in New York who will assist you with pre-arranged seat-in transfer to your hotel. ATI welcome reception in the evening. Accommodation stay – 1 Night in New York.

Day 2: New York – Philadelphia – Washington, D.C.

Transfer from New York to Washington, D.C. via Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation, where you will stop to see Independence Mall and Liberty Bell. Accommodation stay – 2 Nights in Washington D.C..

Day 3: Washington, D.C.

Enjoy a city tour with such highlights as the U.S. Capitol Building, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, the F.B.I. Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the White House and Arlington National Cemetery, site of the JFK Memorial. Spend the remainder of the day exploring some of the many museums comprising the Smithsonian Institute or stroll the banks of the Potomac River.

Day 4: Washington, D.C. – Williamsburg – Roanoke

Depart this morning for Williamsburg, Virginia’s colonial capital. Walk along the Duke of Gloucester Street to visit some of the impressive public buildings, colonial houses and the College of William and Mary (admissions not included). Accommodation stay – 1 Night in Roanoke.

Day 5: Roanoke – Blue Ridge Parkway – Gatlinburg

Travel along portions of Blue Ridge Parkway before an afternoon arrival in Gatlinburg, nicknamed the “Heart of the Smokies”. Accommodation stay – 1 Night in Gatlinburg.

Day 6: Gatlinburg – Great Smoky Mountains – Nashville

Enjoy the breathtaking scenery as you visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Stop at the Mountain Farm and Museum to explore the life of an Appalachian farmer. Continue through Knoxville to Nashville, capital of Tennessee and home to country music. Accommodation stay – 1 Night in Nashville.

Day 7: Nashville – Memphis

Travel across the countryside and arrive in Memphis, the city known for blues music, cotton and home of Sun Records. Take a city tour including Beale Street, the heart of the blues music scene. This afternoon, fans of “The King of Rock and Roll” have the opportunity to tour Graceland, former home of Elvis Presley (optional). Accommodation stay – 1 Night in Memphis.

Day 8: Memphis – Jackson – New Orleans

Today’s tour takes you to Mississippi, the Magnolia State. Pass through Jackson, the state capital, and continue to Louisiana and New Orleans, the home of the infamous Mardi Gras celebrations. Tonight, immerse yourself in Creole culture on board an authentic Mississippi Riverboat dinner cruise and enjoy the rhythms of a Dixieland jazz band (optional). Accommodation stay – 2 Nights in New Orleans.

Day 9: New Orleans

A full day at leisure to take in the French flavor and grandeur of New Orleans. Explore the French Quarter with its trademark wrought iron balconies overlooking the narrow cobblestone streets. Stand atop one of the infamous New Orleans levees and gain the perspective of how these unique feats of architecture guard the city.

Day 10: New Orleans – Gulf of Mexico – Pensacola

Travel along the Mississippi Gulf Coast through Mobile, AL to the city of Pensacola. Visit one of the top 10 rose gardens in America at the Bellingrath Home (admission included). While visiting Pensacola Beach, walk alongside the swaying sea oats, dipping your toes in the warm waters of the emerald green Gulf of Mexico. Accommodation stay – 1 Night in Pensacola.

Day 11: Pensacola – Orlando

Travel along the Florida panhandle to Ocala, known for thoroughbred horse ranches. Continue through central Florida, heart of America’s citrus industry, and on to Orlando for an evening arrival at your hotel. Accommodation stay – 2 Nights in Orlando.

Day 12: Orlando

Day at leisure. Revitalise by the pool or visit one of Orlando’s attractions, such as Disney World, or Universal Studios (admissions not included).

Day 13: Orlando – Kennedy Space Center – Miami

Visit Kennedy Space Center, home of America’s space program (admission included). Continue to the cultural melting pot of Miami Beach. Your tour ends upon arrival in Miami where you will be dropped off at The Hall Miami Beach. The rest of the evening is at leisure for you to dine in the Miami Beach area. Accommodation stay – 1 Nights in Miami.

Days 14-15: Miami – UK

The morning is free for you to explore Miami before Supershuttle transfer you to Miami International Airport for your overnight flight home back to the UK. Arrive in the UK on day 15.

Dates & prices

The table below shows our escorted tour departure dates.

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Prices are described as Guide prices on this website and may be higher or lower due to availability and date of departure.

Prices are for departure dates listed, ex-UK and are per adult based on two adults travelling and sharing a standard room and with return economy flights where stated. Single room and flight prices are available at a supplement.

Please note some tours are subject to minimum numbers, please call our travel experts or visit your local retail store for full details as well as our latest prices.

Tour information

Please click here to download a pdf of the tour itinerary and additional tour notes.

Pre/Post Tour information

If you would like to extend your trip or make the tour part of a longer holiday, we can easily add on a pre or post night stays for you. Our Sales Team will work with you to arrange the best connecting flights and book any additional hotel stays. Simply tell us what you’d like and we can arrange it.

Time difference

  • GMT -5 hours New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Orlando & Miami
  • GMT -6 hours Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans

Tour inclusions

  • Meet & Greet at the airport
  • Pre-arranged (seat-in) airport transfers
  • Private air conditioned motorcoach transportation throughout
  • Accommodation and sightseeing as listed above
  • Service of an English Speaking guide.

Tour exclusions

  • Flight upgrades and airport transfers in the UK
  • Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, tips & gratuities, video camera fees at monuments
  • The required ESTA application
  • Anything not detailed on the itinerary.

Dining inclusions

Room Only

Included activities

Tours listed in the itinerary.

Optionals

Tours will be listed in the itinerary. Should you choose to participate in an additional excursion, payment to the tour director can be made with cash or credit card. We encourage you to request and save your receipt. Please note that optional tours cannot be booked in advance, as many require a minimum number of passengers in order to operate.

  • Washington Monuments at night with dinner in fashionable D.C.
  • Visit Elvis Presley’s Graceland home
  • New Orleans plantation visit and Jazz Brunch
  • Universal Studios in Orlando to see how movies are made
  • “All-American” Picnic at a surprise destination en route
  • Manhattan Helicopter Tour
  • Circle Line 2 Hour Harbor Cruise
  • Washington DC Night Tour with Dinner
  • Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede with Dinner
  • Nashville Country Hall of Fame and RCA Studio B
  • Graceland Platinum Tour
  • New Orleans Dinner Cruise
  • New Orleans Brunch with Oak Alley Plantation
  • Medieval Times Orlando
  • Universal Studios Florida
  • Miami City Tour and Everglades
  • Das Historische Key West

U.S. Occupancy

It is important to keep in mind that in U. S. hotels, rooms that have been booked for two people may contain one or two beds, of varying sizes. Normally, hotel rooms contain one Queen / King Size bed, or two Double beds. A room with two Double beds is considered suitable for three or four occupants. Unlike other areas of the world, it is extremely rare to find a “triple” room, or a room containing three beds. Oftentimes, hotels are able to provide an additional “roll-away” bed (for a nominal nightly fee, to be paid on an individual basis by the passenger directly to the hotel.) Please be aware that such extra beds are not available in the National Parks, in some older hotels, and in areas where fire regulations place strict restrictions on the number of guests and/or beds in a room. While requests can certainly be made ahead of time, and while every effort will be made to secure a room that meets your specific bedding needs, ATI cannot guarantee bedding arrangements at any given hotel, as these arrangements lie wholly within the discretion of each hotel.

Journey times

Please note due to long distances covered on some of the tours, there will be some days when the majority of the day will be spent on the coach, so just sit back and enjoy the view

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Your holiday may be affected by travel restrictions or cancellations

We are continually reviewing our flying schedules, taking into account the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice against all non-essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected and we’ll email you to let you know.

You’ll be away before you know it

Your next holiday is only a click away - our website has thousands of hand-picked options ready to book. But if you need more help, just let us know.

Looking for inspiration? Explore our destinations and holiday types and save your faves to your very own Wishlist. Or dive right in to our 2021 holiday offers.

For extra piece of mind, new bookings made before 31 August 2020 for travel up 30 April 2021 also have the flexibility to amend free of charge. If you need to change don’t worry, you can move your holiday as far out as 31 December 2021 subject to availability.

Latest Foreign & Commonwealth Office repatriation travel advice


Over the past few weeks, we have repatriated our customers from overseas who wanted to come home.  

Please visit this page to keep up to date with the Government’s travel advice on returning to the UK, and to register for email alerts.
 

How would you like to talk to us?

With many customers needing our help, we are prioritising those customers due to travel before 06 October 2020. Log in to Manage my booking where you can message us about your options or you can give us a call. Bear in mind you may have to wait longer than expected. We continue to review this and working to open up these options to more customers. In the meantime check out our FAQs to see if this can help answer any immediate questions.

Stay tuned for the latest updates


Rest assured; we will notify you as soon as we know if your holiday has been affected.  

We are prioritising those customers due to travel before 06 October 2020. Log in to Manage my booking where you can message us about your options or you can give us a call. Bear in mind you may have to wait longer than expected. We continue to review this and working to open up these options to more customers. In the meantime check out our FAQs to see if this can help answer any immediate questions.

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

Let’s talk


If you need to speak to us to change or cancel your booking, and you are due to travel before 06 October 2020, please log in to Manage my booking to call or message us. 

Payment flexibility


Don’t worry if you’ve missed a payment or just need a little more time to pay; we have options available to help you. If your holiday is going ahead as planned, you can continue to pay for your holiday in Manage my booking, even if travelling in less than 12 weeks. If you’re unsure, you can delay any additional payments by choosing a new time to travel by requesting a call back in Manage My booking for one of our team to look at options. If your holiday is more than 6 months away, you may wish to set up a Direct Debit to spread the cost. This can be arranged whilst rebooking or afterwards in Manage my booking.

We're flexible with your holiday plans


We understand that you may wish to change your holiday plans and we appreciate the need for flexibility. 

We'll be in touch by email letting you know how to register to change your holiday plans. You can also log into Manage my booking to find the details there. 

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

You're good to go


If we haven’t notified you of any changes, your holiday will be going ahead as planned but if you prefer to move your holiday to a later time we can help. Log in to Manage my booking to request a call back to amend your holiday. Please bear in mind we’ll work through requests in departure date order so may take longer than usual for us to get back to you

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

Thank you for your patience and understanding


Payments are being prioritised based on when the request was made, working in order from March 2020 onwards. We will always try to process refunds at the earliest opportunity, for requests before August our maximum timeframe is 120 days. As we are steadily reducing the maximum processing time for each new request, for refund requests made in August, we expect the maximum processing time to be 80 days, from the date the refund is requested. For those requesting a refund in September, we expect it to be processed within a maximum of 60 days, and then reduce to 30 days for refunds requested in October, before returning to normal levels.

We'll be in touch soon


To finalise the amendment, one of our customer advisors will phone you. We need to work through amend requests in departure date order so we can prioritise those with the most imminent travel plans, so you may have a longer wait than usual until we’re able to ring you back. We will help everyone that wants to move their holiday.

I returned early from holiday and have further questions?


You can contact our team by emailing feedback.backhome@virginholidays.com to discuss options on unused portions of your holiday. If you need to contact our team about amending an existing holiday or requesting a refund please log in to manage my booking.

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