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Day 1: Cincinnati
Arrive in Cincinnati and proceed to Newport, Cincinnati’s playground on the Ohio River. Get settled into your hotel, then go riverside to join the locals in the Newport-on-the-Levee entertainment district.
Day 2: Cincinnati - Lexington (85 m / 136 km)
This morning’s scenic drive brings you to Kentucky’s Horse Country, the center of thoroughbred racing in the United States. Stop at Lexington’s Kentucky Horse Park - a working horse farm - for shows, demonstrations and horseback riding. Afterwards, get familiar with downtown Lexington on a self-guided walking tour.
Day 3: Lexington - Louisville (130 m / 210 km)
Start early this morning for historic Keeneland Race Track, featured in the 2003 film Seabiscut, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the racing world. You can join the trainers for breakfast in the track cafeteria, then watch them with their horses during morning workouts. Afterwards, drive the scenic country roads of Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail, stopping for tastings and distillery tours along the way. Continue to Louisville for dinner and the nightlife in the Highlands district.
Day 4: Louisville - Nashville (210 m / 335 km)
Drive through the fanciful architecture of America’s largest Victorian neighborhood on your way to Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, America’s premier racing event. Depart Louisville for Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace and a look at the humble beginnings of a revered President, then take an underground tour of Mammoth Caves, the world’s longest caverns. Arrive in Nashville and follow the cowboy hats to Broadway, beginning this evening with barbecue and free line-dancing lessons at the Wild Horse Saloon.
Day 5: Nashville
Start the day at the Country Music Hall of Fame, where Elvis’ golden Cadillac and Johnny Cash’s guitar are among the entertaining exhibits on display. Tour the legendary RCA Studio B where Elvis recorded, then visit such musical pilgrimage sites as Ryman Auditorium and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. This evening, take a paddlewheel riverboat cruise on the General Jackson Showboat, or plan ahead and book tickets for the Grand Ole Opry, country music’s biggest show.
Day 6: Nashville - Chattanooga (185 m / 295 km)
Stand in a real slave cabin this morning at The Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson’s Tennessee plantation home, before learning how Tennessee makes its whiskey on a Jack Daniel’s Distillery tour. Continue to Chattanooga, where you can see the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo, and take in a seven-state panorama high atop Lookout Mountain.
Day 7: Chattanooga - Pigeon Forge (220 m / 350 km)
Depart early this morning for a full day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Begin with the park’s most popular scenic drive to the historic mountain village of Cades Cove, followed by the views from Clingman’s Dome, the park’s highest peak. Continue to Pigeon Forge, a town busy with a wide variety of attractions, such as the Dixie Stampede, an action-packed dinner and rodeo show. Book advance tickets to ensure a seat, and consider extending your stay to enjoy Dolly Parton’s Dollywood, a well-done mix of fun and heritage, with thrill rides, live music and mountain craft demonstrations.
Day 8: Pigeon Forge - Lexington (220 m / 350 km)
Depart Pigeon Forge this morning for the one-of-a-kind Museum of Appalachia, an indoor / outdoor museum of traditional Appalachian life. Return to Kentucky for lunch at the Original Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, a stop at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, and/or a visit to the authentic craft shops of the Kentucky Artisan Center. Late this afternoon, pay a visit to Fort Boonesborough for a glimpse at life in pioneer days, then return to Lexington for your overnight.
Day 9: Lexington - Cincinnati (105 m / 170 km)
Time permitting, a final day in Kentucky to enjoy a scenic drive to nearby Frankfort, Kentucky’s small town capital, dotted with elegant government buildings, Victorian homes, and boutique shopping, or continue directly to Cincinnati for your return flight home.
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