Today, your Southern adventure starts as you fly into Nashville the country and western capital of the USA, which will have humming to its tune the moment you arrive. Pick up your Alamo car rental after arrival and make your way to your hotel. Stay 2 nights at the Courtyard Nashville at Opryland (or similar).
It's all about slide guitars and Stetsons in the capital of country music. Well, not all, because there's plenty else going on besides: first-class museums, superb art, restful parks and historic plantation houses for starters. But for the music enthusiasts, be sure to visit the Grand Ole Opryland and the Country Music Hall of Fame to see Johnny Cash’s Guitar and Elvis’ Gold Cadillac. Tour RCA studios where Elvis and Roy Orbison recorded some of their most famous tracks, and the District Area and Lower Broadway is the place to be to experience Nashville’s vibrant nightlife and music scene.
Day 3: Nashville – Hodgenville – Bardstown (approx. 155 miles)
Today, your Kentucky discovery begins! First stop is Hodgenville, where you will arrive on Eastern Time after leaving Nashville behind on Central Time. Visit the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, and then drive on to Bardstown the ‘Bourbon Capital of the World’. Stay 2 nights at the Hampton Inn Bardstown (or similar).
Day 4: Bardstown
Located in the rolling green hills of central Kentucky’s Bluegrass Country, Bardstown is an old-world town that��s home to the state’s finest bourbon distilleries. Today is your opportunity to see first-hand how bourbon is made – take a tour of the Heaven Hill Distillery and stop by the Bourbon Heritage Center to learn about its long history. Explore Federal Hill which provided inspiration for Stephen Foster’s ballad ‘My Old Kentucky Home’. The plantation is now part of the Kentucky State Park system. Before boarding My Old Kentucky Dinner Train take time to explore the ‘Most Beautiful Small Town in America’ as recognised by Rand McNally and USA Today.
Day 5: Bardstown – Clermont – Louisville (approx. 43 miles)
Depart Bourbon Country to follow the 'Urban Bourbon Trail' in Louisville, with a pit-stop in Clermont along the way, which is home to the world-famous Jim Beam Stillhouse. If time allows, be sure to book a tour to see how this popular drink is made. Stay 3 nights at the Hyatt Regency Louisville (or similar).
Day 6-7: Louisville
This charming riverfront town offers plenty of sights to see over the next couple of days, whether it's sports, history, arts and culture, music and not forgetting amazing food tasting opportunities. Perhaps start the day on Museum Row with the Muhammad Ali Center and the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. Pick up a customised baseball bat from the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory or take a stroll down ‘Whiskey Row’ along Main Street and put your new-found bourbon knowledge to the test! If you’re planning a visit in late spring or summer, then why not take a cruise on the Belle of Louisville, or take part in the famous Kentucky Derby horse race, which takes place on the first Saturday in May.
Day 8: Louisville – Frankfort – Lexington (approx. 81 miles)
An hour east lays the historic town of Frankfort, hidden within the steep hills along the Kentucky River. One of the smallest state capitals in America, enjoy a spot of lunch and visit the Capitol and Governor’s Mansion before driving through the green countryside of Horse Country to Lexington. Stay 3 nights at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Lexington Downtown/ University (or similar).
Day 9-10: Lexington
Located in the heart of ‘Bluegrass Region’, Lexington is a true Thoroughbred town, where future Derby winners are trained and retired champions now reside in the rich green pastures that surround the city. The Kentucky Horse Park, located just outside the city is a great place to see explore the state’s love for horses. Whilst Lexington’s downtown area offers an abundance of architecture and culture to see, so park up the car and see the city by foot. Once known as the ‘Athens of the West’, take in the stately Victorian buildings that line the streets and pay a visit to the array of museums, breweries, shopping and world-class dining on offer.
Day 11: Lexington – Corbin – Middlesboro (approx. 132 miles)
Drive southwards to Middlesboro today, journeying through Berea, Kentucky’s Art Capital; then past Renfro Valley, home to the Kentucky Country Music Museum & Hall of Fame. Continue on to the famed town of Corbin where you can sample the original ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ at Colonel Sanders Café & Museum, before arriving into Middlesboro. Stay 2 nights at the Holiday Inn Express Middlesboro (or similar).
Day 12: Middlesboro
Located entirely inside a meteorite crater, Middlesboro is the ideal base to venture out and visit the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Fondly named as the ‘Niagara of the South’, the park is an adventure seekers paradise, providing plenty of opportunity to soak in the glorious views and natural scenery of Laurel Lake, as well as the captivating views over the Appalachian Mountain range. Squeeze in time to explore the Appalachian culture with a stop at Hensley Settlement.
Day 13: Middlesboro – Mammoth Cave/Bowling Green (approx. 200 miles)
Today, make an early start and head to Mammoth Cave National Park, one of the oldest attractions in North America. Be awed by the longest cave system in the world, with over 53,000 acres of natural geological wonders on show. Whilst above ground there’s horseback riding, rock climbing, hiking and zip-lining opportunities abound to see Kentucky’s finest countryside. Advanced reservations are necessary to visit the cave. After your exploration, drive on to Bowling Green for your final evening in Kentucky. Stay 1 night at Candlewood Suites Bowling Green (or similar).
Day 14: Bowling Green – Nashville - London
Your Kentucky journey ends today. Drive back to Nashville Airport where you will drop off your car rental and board your overnight flight back to London.