On this special departure visit historical battlefields at Gettysburg and colonial towns, then marvel at the scenery of the Kentucky Bluegrass Country and the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains. This special departure is highlighted by a visit to the Ford Theatre where Abraham Lincoln was shot, and a dramatic reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg, complete with soldiers, cavalry and cannon fire.
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Fly to Washington where you will transfer to your hotel for an overnight stay.
Your day begins with a visit to old town Alexandria, a quaint historic town on the Potomac River that boasts some of the finest historical architecture, galleries and shops. Alexandria's riverfront was an important port during the Colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War periods. During a guided walking tour learn about the events leading to the union occupation of Alexandria and life in the city during the civil war. Your evening is free for independent activities.
This morning, visit Mount Vernon, the beloved home of George and Martha Washington, overlooking the banks of the Potomac River. Time to explore the most popular historic estate in America. Then head to Williamsburg, between the James and York Rivers, where the very earliest European settlers established their first colonies.
Today is dedicated to Colonial Williamsburg, where American heritage is proudly preserved in the reconstructed buildings and historical displays. Take a stroll down quaint streets and browse through homes, gardens, taverns, shops, and exhibits. In the Hall of Burgesses, listen as costumed interpreters debate the controversial steps that led to the Declaration of Independence.
Head to the site of the Battle of Gettysburg where your visit will coincide with the annual Gettysburg re-enactment, one of the largest and finest of its kind, where you will learn why this was the decisive campaign of the civil war. Enjoy a number of living history events with people dressed in clothes and uniforms of the era and you will experience the cannon fire, cavalry charges and infantry battles of the Union and Confederate armies as you watch the two forces re-enact the events of July 1863.
This morning begins with a stop at the Battlefield of Antietam for a guided tour which highlights the events of the bloodiest battle during the Civil War with over 23,000 casualties in a single day. Afterwards, head for Harpers Ferry, where in 1859 John Brown made his ill-fated raid on the US arsenal. Time to stop at Luray for a guided tour of the spectacular caverns, and then up to the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains with magnificent vistas of the Shenandoah Valley.
Through lumber and limestone country into wonderful and wild West Virginia. After a lunch break in Lewisburg, a Civil War battlefield, travel to Fayetteville with a stop at New River Gorge Bridge, the world's largest steel-span bridge rising 876 feet above the river. For the more adventurous, an optional float trip down the New River, a perfect way to see the West Virginia backcountry. Then on to Beckley, the heart of West Virginia's 'smokeless' coal industry for an overnight stay.
Before entering Kentucky we stop in the state capital - Charleston, one-time home of Daniel Boone. As you cross the state border, the scenery changes to green pastures, which board fences, and columned estates of Kentucky bluegrass country and the backdrop for the movie Seabiscuit. Arrive in Lexington, the 'Heart of the Bluegrass'. This morning, it's time for a fascinating visit to the Kentucky Horse Park. Legends like Man o' War and Secretariat conquered the racing world from here. The visit includes the International Museum of the Horse, the Hall of Champions, where famous horses from the past enjoy their retirement, the Parade of Breeds, and many other exhibits and demonstrations.
Travel the Bluegrass Parkway and stop at Sinking Spring Farm, where Abraham Lincoln was born. A replica of the original log cabin is preserved as a shrine to the best-loved of American Presidents. Visit a true working Whiskey distillery, and learn about the production of the very finest Kentucky Straight Bourbon, for which Kentucky is famous. Overnight in Bardstown, Kentucky's second-oldest city. Evening is at leisure.
This morning's journey takes you along Kentucky's scenic backroads to Bardstown to visit the Civil War Museum with its story of the Civil War's Western Front and one of the largest collections of rare Civil War memorabilia in the country. After lunch it's on to Corbin for a short visit to Colonel Sander's original fried chicken restaurant, which is now a museum. This afternoon visit the fascinating Museum of Appalachia, with 65 acres of farmland and a number of historic cabins, barns, and other buildings, even a frontier privy! The next two nights are in Gatlinburg nestled at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains.
One of America's most popular mountain retreats offers something for everyone. You might want to spend a day at world-famous Dollywood, an 88-acre landscaped theme park inspired by Dolly Parton and her love for the mountains, family, and country music. Tonight's optional outing features the Dixie Stampede, an action packed evening filled with friendly North and South competition, thrilling horse riding stunts, spectacular special effects, phenomenal musical productions plus a mouth-watering four-course feast complete with a delicious dessert!
Drive right through the centre of the Smokies, along the spectacular Newfound Gap Road peaking at 5,046 feet. Into North Carolina and a stop at the 7,500-acre grounds of Biltmore Estate, built by George Vanderbilt, grandson of the famous railroad magnate, Cornelius Vanderbilt. Then onto the dramatic Chimney Rock. Take an elevator carved through solid rock up to the granite monolith for views over Hickory Nut Gorge. Overnight in the Asheville area, hometown of American author Thomas Wolfe.
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs from the Great Smokies to Shenandoah National Park without a single traffic light along its 470-mile route. Take in a portion of the Parkway today, from Fancy Gap to Roanoke. Stop at the tranquil setting of Mabry Mill, one of the most photographed spots in the country. This afternoon visit Natural Bridge, a 215-feet high arch in a wooded setting, once owned by Thomas Jefferson. George Washington's initials are still visible on the cliffside, from his work here as a young surveyor. Afterwards, head to Lexington where on a guided tour you will see the Lee Chapel, Jackson Memorial Cemetery and the family homes of confederate General Stonewall Jackson. Also visit the Museum of the Virginia Military Institute and discover its Civil War past.
This morning's highlight is the graceful home of the third President, Thomas Jefferson. The estate, named Monticello, reflects Jefferson's skills as an artist, architect, and designer. It is the only house in the US that is on the United Nations' World Heritage List of international treasures. We follow with a short sightseeing tour of Richmond, capital of the Confederacy in the Civil War. The day ends in Williamsburg, between the James and York Rivers, where the very earliest European settlers established their first colonies.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to the UK or extend your stay in Washington.
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