Roots of Blues
Spend time exploring the sultry streets of the Big Easy before heading north into the vast expanse of the Mississippi Delta where blues grew up on plantations like Dockery. Here you'll feel the ghosts of Charley Patton and Robert Johnson as you drift north through beautiful Delta cotton fields and past evocative crossroads. There will be time to hear blues in authentic 'juke-joints' before moving on to Memphis, the birthplace of rock & roll and home to Sun Studios and Graceland. Then you'll fly to St Louis with its sizzling music scene before hitting the road to Chicago where Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf brought blues to the attention of the world.
- New Orleans
Arrive at New Orleans International Airport and pick up your hire car for the drive downtown. Explore New Orleans including the US Mint Jazz Museum, Jackson Square, Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. No other city in America can boast such intrigue or romance. Another full day to get to know the Big Easy and its many sights and - more importantly - sounds. You might choose to take a steamboat trip along the Mississippi or you might decide to sample the city's Creole cuisine; New Orleans is also famous for its food.
Drive from the gluey swampland of Louisiana to Jackson, state capital of Mississippi. You have one night here to explore Farish Street, where the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson II and Robert Johnson were discovered, and the city's many blues clubs.
Leave Jackson and head across the Delta to Greenwood, putting you as deep in the Delta blues as you can get. This sleepy town is the country's second largest cotton exchange after Memphis, and has a lovely Grand Boulevard lined with graceful mansions. On the way you might want to use our 'Deep Delta Guide' to find the graves of Charley Patton, Robert Johnson and others as well as a series of key blues landmarks. You'll have one night to explore the juke-joints of Greenville's Nelson and Walnut Streets or to try your luck in one of the town's many casinos.
Drive north along Highway 61 - the 'Blues Highway' - through the Delta to Clarksdale, America's most significant blues town. On the way you'll pass Dockery Plantation where Charley Patton defined the Delta blues. Illustrious one-time Clarksdale residents include John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Ike Turner. Visit the outstanding Delta Blues Museum and drive out to Stovall Plantation where Muddy Waters grew up.
Continue north along the 'Blues Highway' to Memphis, the place where blues came of age and where rock & roll was born. We recommend you park the car at your centrally-located hotel and walk over to Beale Street for a night of great music. Beale Street was a key arena in which bluesmen from BB King to Howlin' Wolf made their names. BB King's Blues Club is now one of Beale Street's best clubs.
A full day to explore Memphis. Tour Graceland and Sun Studios or visit the exceptional Rock 'n' Soul Museum in the new Gibson Guitar factory. Here you'll learn about the incredible contribution Memphis has made to blues, soul and gospel music. Another full day in Memphis - you'll find it easy to fill your time. Drive out to the Full Gospel Tabernacle where Al Green is the resident preacher or explore the city's many musical sites. You might choose to visit the National Civil Rights Museum housed in the old Lorraine Motel, the place where Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated. It's one the most moving and insightful museums in the States.
Drive north along Highway 61 - the 'Blues Highway' - to St Louis, America's great 'gateway city' or relax and take an Amtrak train. Check in at your hotel then spend the evening roaming the funky Soulard district, home to one of the best blues scenes in the US. Look out for local legends Henry Townsend and Johnnie Johnson. A day in St Louis. Ride to the top of the amazing 630-foot Gateway Arch which dominates the city's skyline. Then visit Scott Joplin's House where the ragtime innovator penned such hits as 'Maple Leaf Rag' and 'The Entertainer'.
"Fly 304 miles"
Turn in your hire car at St Louis Airport and fly across the Midwest to Chicago, the place where blues really came of age. After the journey you might want to head into the Loop for some Italian-American cooking or to a soul food joint for 'smothered pork and beans'. Where do you start? You could focus on the South Side's many blues landmarks like Muddy Waters's house and the Checkerboard Lounge or you could head for the mainstream attractions like the lakeshore or Navy Pier. Spend the day checking out the Loop and some of Chicago's great museums before a night on the town. Choose between the North Side with its world-famous blues venues or head down to Buddy Guy's club. Then there's the South Side with clubs like Lee's Unleaded where raw electric blues pounds night after night. Spend three nights in Chicago before flying 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 pack containing a full itinerary, driving instructions, maps, brochures and suggested excursions
Daily departures thoughout the year.