History & culture | Self-drive
This 15-day tailormade self-drive begins outside the state, in the music-loving city of New Orleans, where the air is filled with the sweet strains of jazz. Cross into Alabama at Gulf Shores, where miles of white sand meet the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Stop at the port city of Mobile, which hosted the first American Mardi Gras back in 1703, before driving north to Montgomery, where Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, sparking the Civil Rights Movement. Birmingham, Alabama's biggest city, boasts plenty more jazz and dance clubs. Huntsville is perfect for hiking and biking in the Appalachian foothills. Then the music continues in Muscle Shoals, home to the acclaimed FAME Studios, Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis, and Memphis, where visitors flock to the King's famous mansion, Graceland.
Day by day itinerary
Upon arrival in New Orleans, pick up your hire car and transfer to your hotel in the French Quarter where your musical themed adventure begins.
See and experience charming riverboats, intimate live music venues, exciting nightlife and Creole and Cajun restaurants in the Big Easy
Enjoy the coastal towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach with their 32 miles of soft white sand and sparkling emerald waters. Cast your line for deep sea adventure on a charter fishing trip, take a dolphin watching cruise or visit one of the classic beach bars like The Hangout or Flora-Bama.
The port city of Mobile on Alabama's Gulf Coast is famous for hosting the first American Mardi Gras back in 1703, and the tradition is still alive today. Taste the coast with delicious seafood and enjoy the diverse array of bars, nightclubs and live music venues. Take an eco-tour into America's second largest delta and visit nearby Dauphin Island.
On your way to Montgomery you can stop by Monroeville, home of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird. Located on the Alabama River, Montgomery is the birthplace of both the American Civil War and the American civil rights movement. Walk this authentic southern city and visit the Alabama State Capitol and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached. The Hank Williams Museum and the Rosa Parks Museum are also known downtown as well as the Alley Entertainment District.
Birmingham, Alabama's largest city, boasts jazz and dance clubs, theatre and fine dining. Visit the Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park and 16th Street Baptist Church to learn about the city's civil rights struggles. Birmingham is also the home of America's largest collection of motorcycles on display at Barber Vintage Motorcycle Museum.
Huntsville is home of the U.S.Space and Rocket Centre, the world's largest space attraction and America's largest seasonal butterfly house at the botanical gardens. Located at the base of some of the most beautiful mountains in North Alabama, Huntsville offers visitors outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, horseback riding and fishing along the Tennessee River.
In northwest Alabama, the small towns of Florence, Tuscumbia, Sheffield and Muscle Shoals are at the southermost leg of a music triangle that includes Memphis and Nashville. The 'Father of the Blues', W.C. Handy, was born in Florence where the annual Handy Music Festival is held each summer. Tour FAME recording studio where international superstars like Aretha Franklin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Percy Sledge and the Rolling Stones recorded some of their greatest hits.
Head west to the town of Tupelo where you'll visit Elvis' birthplace.
Memphis is the birthplace of rock 'n' roll and home of the blues. Dance your way around the Rock 'n' Soul Museum and be sure to visit Graceland, Sun Studio and Beale Street.
Head to the airport for your flight back to the UK.
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