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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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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 the government’s travel restrictions

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK have advised against all but essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected.

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.

Your holiday will not be going ahead as planned

Due to the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19, the Foreign Commonwealth Office have advised against all but essential travel. Therefore, with known airline cancellations, the following holidays will not go ahead as planned:

  • Any holidays departing before 27th April 2020.
  • Any Caribbean holidays departing before 1 May 2020.

We’re flexible with your holiday plans

We understand you may want to change your holiday plans. You can postpone your holiday to any time before 31 December 2021, and even choose a different destination. We won’t charge you to make these changes.

For now, we do ask you not to contact us. As a priority, we are currently supporting those customers whose holidays have already been directly affected by cancellations. We will contact you as soon as we can, or if there are any further changes that could affect your holiday.

We know you’ll want to get this sorted as soon as possible, and we’re very grateful for your understanding.

Please look out for an email from us in the coming days and weeks with our latest advice. See our Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for latest updates.

You’re good to go

In line with the advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK, and known airline cancellations, all trips booked from June onwards are currently going ahead as planned.

As a priority, we are currently supporting those customers whose holidays have been directly affected by cancellations.

So, for now, we ask you not to contact us. Rest assured we are contacting all of our customers by email in departure date order to support them with options, and we will absolutely let you know if your situation changes.

If your remaining balance is due within two weeks, and you’d like to know what your options are, please log into Manage my Booking for further information.

Please look out for an email from us in the coming weeks. See our Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for latest updates.

Rebook your holiday


We are sending all affected customers a voucher by email that is valid for the full value of your cancelled holiday. When you rebook, we’d like to gift you with 4,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles too.

There’s no rush. You can redeem your holiday voucher on a new booking with us any time before 31 July 2020.

We know you’ll be wanting to get this sorted as soon as possible. So please look out for our email for more details of how to amend your holiday plans.

Cancel your holiday


We're sending all affected customers a voucher by email that is valid for the full value of your cancelled holiday.  

Rather than cancel, if you’d like to travel with us sometime in the future, we would still love to find a great holiday for you (and gift you with 4,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles as a thank you).

If you'd prefer to cancel completely, we understand. We will refund you in full. We’re currently dealing with a huge volume of enquiries from our customers, including refund requests. Because of this, it’s likely it will take much longer than usual to process your refund. We’re very grateful for your continued patience, and we’ll work as quickly as we can to get to you.

We know you’ll be wanting to get this sorted as soon as possible. So please look out for our email for more details of how to amend your holiday plans.

Your holiday is in safe hands


No need to contact us. Be assured, that if the situation changes, we will contact you as soon as this happens with the options available to you.

Change it up


You can postpone your holiday to travel any time before 31 December 2021, and even choose a different destination. We won’t charge you to make these changes and our Service Team are there to help – just give us a call.

Please bear in mind our wait times are currently longer than usual due to high demand.

Your holiday is in safe hands


Your holiday is scheduled to depart as booked. Continue to pay off your holiday balance with the assurance that your money is fully protected through ATOL. Be assured, that if the situation changes, we will contact you as soon as this happens with the options available to you.

The choice is yours


No problem! To amend your holiday dates, just give us a call. Any amendments to your booking can be made for £50pp, and our Service Team can help you decide on dates, or even a different destination.

Please bear in mind our wait times are currently longer than usual due to high demand.

Register yourself as away from home


If you’re abroad and your flight home has been cancelled please let us know, as relief flights will end soon.

Register as away from home

Alternatively, call our UK Duty Office on +44 0344 472 9646 (option 3) to discuss your options for getting home.

Book online


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

Help is at hand


Looking for inspiration? Explore our destinations and holiday types online and save your faves to your very own Wishlist

If you’re ready to book but can’t find the information you need on our website, just call our travel experts who will be happy to help.

To redeem your holiday voucher on a new booking with us, just give us a call and quote your old booking reference.

How would you like to talk to us?

Important information: We are working hard to help all of our customers, particularly those already on holiday or due to travel in the next 72 hours.

Let's talk

If you still need to speak to us to change or cancel your booking, and you are due to travel in the next 72 hours, please log into Manage my Booking to call or message us. You are our immediate priority.