AmeriCan & Worldwide Travel

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The Year of Alabama Food Trail

Bring a healthy appetite when you visit ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ in 2012 as the State celebrates the Year of Food! It will be hard to resist that famous southern hospitality all wrapped up in fried green tomatoes, fresh-from-the-gulf seafood and mouth watering barbecue! This 14 night tour begins in Memphis, Tennessee and winds through both the foothills of the Appalachia and vibrant Alabama cities to finish on the sparkling waters of the Alabama Gulf Coast for a relaxing end to your travels ....

Itinerary

1

Memphis

You are free to enjoy Memphis’ many wonderful attractions. First you must tour Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. The new audio tour of Graceland Mansion is full of music and interesting stories about how Elvis lived in the home he loved so much. You will see the largest privately owned collection of gold records in the world and Elvis' elaborate stage costumes and jewelry. The mansion tour ends with a quiet visit to Meditation Garden where Elvis and members of his family are buried. You can also see Elvis' famous 1955 pink Cadillac in the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum and climb aboard his custom jet the "Lisa Marie." Graceland plaza also offers fabulous shopping and restaurants.

Next we suggest you eat lunch at the legendary Fourway Grill. Rarely does a tourist find this place. The cherished South Memphis family restaurant serves the tastiest soul food in town. This is the real authentic “soul food.” Eat dessert first. Try the velvety sweet-potato pie or strawberry cake. Then dig into some juicy fried green tomatoes, pork chops, catfish, or chicken and round it out with black-eyed peas and crumbly cornbread. If he's not too busy, ask the proprietor to reminisce about the old days of this historic black neighborhood. The restaurant doesn't serve soft drinks or alcohol, so plan on ordering lemonade or iced tea with your meal.

Just a few blocks from Fourway Grill is the Stax Museum of American Soul Music located in Soulsville USA at the site of the original Stax Records. This multimedia museum celebrates the birth and life of soul music and its influence. The museum houses the definitive archives and more than 2,000 artifacts of the musical influences and international legacy of the legendary soul music label and its artists, and includes a reconstructed gospel church, records, Tina Turner’s clothing, Isaac Hayes’s Cadillac and more.

Once you are back downtown you can tour Sun Studio, the birthplace of Rock'n'Roll. Today the studio, where Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, Rufus Thomas, Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and many others launched their careers, is open to the public for tours daily while still operating as a studio by night. Sun Studio Cafe is located next door to the studio. Above the cafe is a new museum/gallery featuring hundreds of rare recordings, memorabilia, photographs, and vintage recording equipment.

Another great Memphis attraction is the Rock n Soul Museum. Finally, there’s a place that tells the story of where the beat began. “Rock n Soul: Social Crossroads”, a project initiated by the Smithsonian Institution, examines the history of Memphis music and its impact on cultural change. It tells the story of why Memphis. Why did rock n roll begin in Memphis, why did soul music begin in Memphis & why did blues music, which began in the neighboring countryside come to Memphis & Beale Street before going to the world. You will see stage costumes, instruments, recording equipment, rare film footage, photographs, and vintage jukeboxes from the 20’s – 70’s and you can listen to the recordings on your personal audio guide.

Dont forget to visit Neely's for some seriously good ribs!

3

Muscle Shoals

152 miles

Journey on to the ‘The Shoals’, a cluster of towns in the Northwest of Alabama made famous by international superstars like Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd who recorded here during the 60s. Experience sumptuous delights and an amazing view in the revolving restaurant at the Marriott Grille 360 in Florence. Swing by The Palace in Tuscumbia for a Harvey Milkshake or George’s Steak Pit in Sheffield for a Ribeye dinner. Tour FAME Studios for a fascinating insight into the role that this region played in music history. The W.C. Handy Festival celebrates the ‘Father of the Blues’ who was born here each July and his home is now a museum. The Shoals also has fascinating Native American and Civil War history, Helen Keller’s home and Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.

5

Huntsville

69 miles

A two night stay in Alabama’s ‘Rocket City’, Huntsville provides an ideal opportunity to sample some of its exciting day and night time entertainment.

Located in the heart of Alabama’s Mountain Region, Huntsville Washington Square in the city’s downtown boasts venues like the Jazz Factory, Crossroads Cafe and Humphrey’s showcasing Blues, Jazz, Folk and Rock music. Indulge your passion for food with a visit to Cotton Row, owned by renowned chef James Beard for an upscale dining experience or Greenbrier Bar-B-Que for the best down home barbecue food. For shopping and yet more dining, the new Bridge Street Town Centre features over 70 upscale shops and restaurants, a 10 acre lake with gondola rides, water craft rentals and park areas.

By day, visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, a huge space museum featuring a full size space shuttle, a Saturn V rocket and the actual Apollo 16 capsule. Families can thrill to interactive rides and flight simulators and children can also attend ‘Space Camps’ here. Another nearby attraction which is well worth a visit is the Huntsville Botanical Gardens where you can enjoy the Alabama sunshine whilst exploring 112 acres of flora and fauna.

For a different perspective, go back in time by visiting Alabama Constitution Hall, part of the Earlyworks Museum complex which shows a historic village circa 1819. Another living history museum, Burritt on the Mountain, has five 19th century farmsteads illustrating daily life in early Alabama and there are some great views and hiking here too.

7

Birmingham

102 miles

Birmingham, your next stop, is Alabama’s largest city and known for its diversity. Overlooked by Red Mountain, the city is home to grits, gravy, great culture and gracious folks! Folks in Birmingham love to eat and those who visit here will get a taste of its fabulous variety in cuisine whilst enjoying all the arts that the city offers.

Don’t miss The Hot and Hot Fish Club, owned by Chris Hastings who was recently voted ‘Best Chef in the South’ by American Food Network show ‘Iron Chef of America’. Head for the Irondale Cafe for their fried green tomatoes or Jim ‘n Nicks for their pulled pork and cheese biscuits!

Jazz still echoes from downtown nightclubs in places like Ona’s Music Room and the Blue Monkey. The Five Points entertainment district has music of all types as well as great dining. Jazz enthusiasts would do well to visit the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame which pays tribute to great artists with ties to Alabama like Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.

Aside from the music and great food, Birmingham has museums by the dozen and it’s story of Civil Rights conflict and reconciliation should not be missed. It’s told at the moving and educational Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Join a Sunday service at the 16th Street Baptist Church nominated as a World Heritage site and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere and choir. Stroll through Kelly Ingram Park home to pivotal events in U.S. Civil Rights history. The Barber Motorsports Park and Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum are a must for motor enthusiasts and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Zoo are just some of the city’s other great attractions.

9

Montgomery

92 miles

Moving south to Montgomery, Alabama’s State Capital is the birthplace of both the Civil War and Civil Rights and therefore steeped in history. Walk in the footsteps of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King who shaped U.S. history at the city’s museums and landmarks. Take a break and dine at Montgomery’s entertainment district ‘The Alley’ home to a variety of restaurants, bars and live music. Try ‘Central’ for great American dining with a lively atmosphere. The nearby Hank Williams Museum documents the life of this Country Music pioneer famous for such classics as “Hey Good Lookin” and “Cold Cold Heart”.

10

Mobile and The Bay Area

169 miles

The historic port city of Mobile which is one of the oldest cities in America is your home for the next two nights. Part of Mobile Bay, an exclusive entertaining, indulgent and relaxing destination, it boasts the original Mardi Gras which started in 1703 and is still celebrated every year two weeks before Lent.

Mobile features delicious seafood and an array of bars, restaurants and live music venues – just what you would expect from Jimmy Buffet’s hometown. The Lo Da Entertainment District has over 20 establishments with live music on different nights of the week. Stop by ‘Veets’ for a late night drink and live bands. Try oysters ‘fried, stewed or nude’ at the famous Wintzell’s Oyster House or Spot of Tea on Dauphin Street which is a favourite for breakfast. Explore the beautiful Oakleigh Garden Historic District for a look at some of the city’s finest late 19th century residences. Head for the Five Rivers Center in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta for a Delta Safari, Gator’s after Dark tour or Sunset cruise! Don’t miss the USS Alabama Battleship and over 20 rare historic aircraft at USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile Bay.

12

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach

53 miles

Today travel the beautiful Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay and visit the charming town of Fairhope perfect for unique shops, art galleries and restaurants. The Dragon Fly Food Bar here has a wonderful laid back atmosphere and unusual culinary creations! This brings you to your final stop ... the 32 miles of white sandy beaches at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Dip your toes in the sand, enjoy live music at beachside bars whilst sipping a cocktail. Visit Lu-Lu’s Homeport Marina for their famous ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ ! The nearby Original Oyster House offers more than just oysters and a wonderful vibe This is a fabulous resort region which will let you recharge your batteries before your return home. Try a Dolphin watching cruise before you leave the beautiful coast ... Cetacean Cruises are one of the best!

What's included?

  • Return flights from the UK
  • Fully insured compact car hire
  • 13 nights hotel accommodation and room taxes
  • Detailed driving instructions and maps

Optional extras

  • Cetacean Cruises dolphin watching on Mobile Bay

How to book

Departures Year Round.

We can offer this itinerary in a wide range of accommodation types including superior hotels and small inns.

Please call us on (01892) 779900 or email info@awwt.co.uk stating your travel dates and preferred standard of accommodation for a detailed and competitively priced quotation.