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Day 1: Charlotte
Arrive in Charlotte, North Carolina, whose location midway between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean makes it a convenient starting point for your tour. Check into your hotel, then head out for a short walking tour among the gleaming skyscrapers surrounding The Square. For dinner, enjoy Southern cooking at Mert’s Heart and Soul restaurant, and if jet lag hasn’t caught up with you yet, stop in at Crave Dessert and Cocktail Lounge and the Double Door Inn for live music.
Day 2: Charlotte - Myrtle Beach (175 m / 280 km)
Depart Charlotte for a morning’s drive on the back roads of South Carolina, passing through farmland, forests and attractive small towns like Cheraw, hometown of jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie. Arrive in Myrtle Beach, the center of the Grand Strand, the 60 miles (100 km) of beach along this stretch of the Carolina coast.
Day 3: Myrtle Beach
A full day to enjoy the sand, surf and resort attractions of Myrtle Beach. Spend the day relaxing on the ocean, or divide your time between the beach and holiday attractions along Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, ranked the Number 3 boardwalk in the United States by National Geographic magazine. Tonight, head for the action at the Broadway at the Beach entertainment complex, go for dinner and a show, or take a short drive up the Grand Strand to check out the ‘shag dancing’ clubs, the oldies rock ‘n’ roll dance style that originated here.
Day 4: Myrtle Beach - Charleston (125 m / 200 km)
Get up early to enjoy some more beach time, then head to the Ashley River Plantations on your way to Charleston. At Magnolia Plantation, visit the main house and the original slave cabins, then admire the garden landscapes of Middleton Place or the stately architecture of Drayton Hall. Try the Middleton Place Restaurant for fine Southern dining, or some of the area’s best barbecue at Melvin’s Southern BBQ and Ribs, on your way to Charleston for your overnight.
Day 5: Charleston
A full day to relax and tour the colonial port city of Charleston. Join a guided tour this morning, or explore on your own by foot or rental bicycle. Take in the elegant homes and gardens on your way to Charleston Harbor, where the Civil War began, then relax and enjoy the views from Battery Park. Have lunch in the old port district, and this afternoon, explore the past at the Confederate Museum and the Old Slave Mart Museum. Then browse the open-air vendors at the Historic City Market, or head for nearby Folly Beach to work on your vacation tan.
Day 6: Charleston - Savannah (170 m / 275 km)
Depart Charleston this morning for Beaufort, South Carolina’s second-oldest city and gateway to the South Carolina Sea Islands of Hilton Head and St Helena. Stop at the Penn Historic Center to learn about Gullah culture, the name given to the area slaves and their descendants who were able to preserve bits of their African heritage, especially in their language and the folk arts. Continue to Savannah, Georgia, and begin your visit on River Street, the restaurant and entertainment district along the waterfront.
Day 7: Savannah
Join a guided tour of Savannah this morning, or explore on your own with a walk along Factor’s Row, where cotton merchants built their warehouses along Savannah River and created the city’s wealth. Enjoy a walk past the fountains and statues of tree-lined Bay Street, then explore the lush greenery, homes and gardens surrounding the park-like squares of America’s largest historic district. Architecturally, Savannah has some of the most impressive homes in America, and many of the 18th- and 19th-century interiors are open for tours. Tonight, head back to River Street or City Market for the restaurants and the nightlife.
Day 8: Savannah - Macon (210 m / 335 km)
Spend another day relaxing and exploring Savannah, or head out to nearby Tybee Island for a day at beach, stopping along the way to see the haunting beauty of Bonaventure Cemetery and the pre-Civil War Fort Pulaski. Stay until the late afternoon, then have dinner on the beach or back in Savannah, before hopping on the highway to Macon for your overnight.
Day 9: Macon - Atlanta (175 m / 285 km)
This morning visit the iconic downtown district for local shopping, dining and stories about Macon's musical past or take a tour of the Rose Hill Cemetery (opened in 1840) to view the gravesites of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley of the Allman Brothers Band. Then head north on Georgia’s Antebellum Trail, a scenic drive connecting the lucky towns that escaped destruction during the Civil War. Arrive in Athens, the college town home of R.E.M, the B-52s and Widespread Panic, and still a cutting-edge American music city. Have dinner and check the calendar for a show, then continue on the short drive to Atlanta for your overnight.
Day 10: Atlanta
Begin the day in Centennial Park, with a visit to the World of Coca-Cola and a CNN Studio Tour. Have lunch at Mary Mac’s Tea Room for Southern cooking, then make a stop at the Margaret Mitchell House to see where she wrote Gone With The Wind. Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr Historic Site, where you’ll see Dr King’s grave, his boyhood home, and Ebenezer Baptist Church, built by former slaves after the Civil War. Afterwards, try Rolling Bones restaurant around the corner for some of Atlanta’s best barbecue.
Day 11: Atlanta - Cherokee (225 m / 360 km)
Depart Atlanta early this morning to beat the traffic, and head for the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Arrive in Cherokee at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and visit Oconaluftee Indian Village, an open-air museum operated by the Cherokee Indian nation. Get an insight into traditional Cherokee crafts and folkways, then drive to the top of Clingman’s Dome, the Smokies’ highest peak, to enjoy the panoramic views at sunset.
Day 12: Cherokee - Asheville (215 m / 345 km)
This morning, return to the Great Smokies for a visit to Cades Cove, an abandoned mountain village that is the park’s most popular drive. From here, continue on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a scenic afternoon’s drive to Asheville, the cultural center of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Head for the Art-Deco downtown’s galleries and restaurants, and stay for the many live music venues.
Day 13: Asheville - Charlotte (210 m / 335 km)
This morning, stop at the National Park Service’s Folk Art Center to view the exhibits and gift shop featuring regional artists. Continue on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a morning of scenic driving, and stop at two of the parkway’s highlights: Linville Falls for an easy hike past multiple waterfalls, and the twin peaks of Grandfather Mountain, connected by a suspension bridge. Stay on the parkway a short while, then pick up the highway for your return drive to Charlotte.
Day 14: Departure
A final day in Charlotte, with time to visit the Museum of the New South and the permanent exhibition, From Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers. The ‘New South’ refers to the South after the Civil War, and in this highly-regarded interactive exhibit, you can step inside a tenant farmer’s house, visit an early department store, and sit at a lunch counter for ‘whites only’. Depart for the airport, and your return flight home.
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