Tennessee Tunes & Arkansas Ozarks
This itinerary is the ultimate for any music and outdoor lover. Beginning in Tennessee and the iconic music cities of Nashville and Memphis before heading into Arkansas and the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.As well as being home to Walmart, some incredible live music and the Presidential Library of Bill Clinton, Arkansas is also full of amazing landscapes and world class mountain biking trails. Round out the trip with visits to Clarksdale, Mississippi and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, small but mighty musical towns, each with their own historical story to tell.
- Nashville & Memphis
- Mountain biking in Mountain View
- Bentonville, the home of Walmart
Music and Nashville are synonymous; it’s impossible to contemplate a music road trip in America without including this Tennessee powerhouse. The city marches to its own beat where you can hope to enjoy everything from honky tonk at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge to country music legends at the iconic Grand Ole Opry. Trace the history of country music at the Hall of Fame museum and the Johnny Cash museum, which tells the life story of the world-famous musician. Of course, the Ryman Auditorium and this historic RCA Studio B are must-sees for any music lover.
Beyond the music, Nashville and its many unique neighbourhoods are full of boutiques, amazing new restaurants, relaxed coffeehouses and new breweries and distilleries. You can also tour Belle Meade Plantation, which was one of the largest and wealthiest private estates in Nashville in the 1800’s and was well known for raising the nation’s finest thoroughbred racehorses. Today, it hosts an onsite restaurant and bourbon tasting within its stunning grounds.
Memphis was of course home to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Mr. Elvis Presley himself and no visit to the city is complete without a tour of his home at Graceland. The city is also considered the birthplace of blues and soul music, with W. C. Handy writing the first blues song on Beale Street. The history of soul music in the city can be seen at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Iconic musicians such as Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis have also recorded at this historic Sun Studios, which is now a museum. Memphis is also home to a piece of civil rights history and the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in 1968 is now the location of the National Civil Rights Museum.
After a busy day of sightseeing, don’t forget to relax in the evening in one of the restaurants, bars and music venues along the famous Beale Street. You should try some of the BBQ fare that is so well known and loved across the city before you leave.
The Arkansas town of Mountain View is famous for its preservation of traditional music and the Arkansas Folk Festival, founded here in the early 1960s is testament to that. Music plays a vital role here as, historically, Saturday nights would find locals at a "pickin'" in a neighbour's house, a custom that continues today. Once the weather gets warm, musicians join locals and play music late into the night around the town square.
Take in the flavour and culture of the area at the Ozark Folk Centre State Park, which preserves Ozark heritage in music and crafts. The park is also home to Loco Ropes, a state-of-the-art treetop adventure park experience, just one of the great outdoor pursuits available here, deep in the Ozarks. Go caving at Blanchard Springs Caverns, fly fishing on the White River or take on the 50-mile Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail.
Located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Bentonville is known as the home and headquarters of world-famous brand Walmart. While here, be sure to visit the Walmart Museum, located inside the original store, which opened in 1950. Staying the 1950’s vibe, you can even grab a milkshake at the Spark Café next door.
But there is so much more to explore. Visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which spans five centuries. If art is your thing, you can truly immerse yourself here by staying at the 21c Museum & Hotel, which is home to 12,000 square feet of gallery space as well as a boutique hotel. Outside, the town is widely regarded as one of the top cycling destinations in North America with over 140 miles of trails to explore.
As the largest city in Arkansas, Little Rock is sure to have something for everyone. The hub of the place is the bustling River Market District, home to a vast array of restaurants, shops, bars and museums. A must-visit is the Clinton Presidential Centre, which tells visitors the story of the life and work of the 42nd President of the United States. The Central High Museum, the only High School located within a National Historic Site, which tells the story of the civil rights movement in the city, is also worth visiting.
The newly renovated Arkansas Art Centre will play host to an art space, live theatre performance and festivals when it reopens in 2022. Little Rock is also home to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and a vibrant live music scene. To enjoy a top-class meal and anything from live folk to jazz, stop by the Afterthought Bar & Bistro or the newly opened Ron Robinson Theatre.
Crossing the border into Mississippi, your next stop will be Clarksdale, America’s most significant blues town. Illustrious one-time Clarksdale residents include John Lee Hooker, Sam Cooke and Ike Turner. Visit the outstanding Delta Blues Museum and drive out to Stovall Plantation where musician Muddy Waters grew up. Alongside Muddy, prolific playwright Tennessee Williams also grew up here and went on to base several of his characters on people he knew here in his youth. The Tennessee Williams Rectory Museum in the town is well worth a visit or you can even attend a festival in his honour, which is held in October.
Red’s is one of Clarksdale’s last remaining authentic ‘juke joints’, playing host to live music every weekend. Its owner ‘Big Red’ is a local legend and visitor favourite! You can find live music here every night though at venues like Ground Zero, co-owned by Hollywood star and local resident Morgan Freeman, the New Roxy or the Bluesberry Café.
Located on the banks of the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals is the unlikely breeding ground for some of the most creative music in American history. Soul artists such as Aretha Franklin and rock bands like Lynyrd Skynard made some of their most famous records here at the FAME studio.
Visit the Birthplace of W.C. Handy, often called the ‘Father of Blues’ and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, which honours more than 1,200 Alabama musicians including Hank Williams and the Commodores. Visit Rosenbaum House in nearby Florence, designed by prolific American architect Frank Lloyd Wright or Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, home of Helen Keller.
Nashville & Home
Today, make your way back to Nashville for your flight home.
- Return flights from London (please ask about other departure airports)
- 14 nights hotel accommodation and room tax
- Fully insured compact car hire (larger vehicles are available)
- A travel packet with itinerary, maps, suggestions, brochures
Daily departures throughout the year.