Expert insights from Holiday Director Jackie

Holiday Director Jacqueline O'Donoghue has travelled all around the world with our groups, but one of her favourite tours to do is The Best of the Deep South - Nashville, Memphis & New Orleans. We recently caught up with her to see why she loves this tour so much.

What makes this tour so special?

This exhilarating journey through the Deep South will immerse you in the rich, colourful, complex history as well as incredible music – country music in Nashville, Memphis the home of the Blues and New Orleans the birthplace of jazz.

Music is at the heart of this fantastic tour. It takes us to Nashville, known as Music City, and it's where people go to make their dreams come true. It’s where Johnny Cash first picked up his guitar, it's where Elvis walked into historic Studio B and recorded most of his songs – over 200. It’s where Dolly Parton crashed her car into the wall of the building because she was late for her first recording session. And it hosts the Grand Ole Opry, which is the longest running radio show performed live on stage and it’s the show that made country music famous.

And Memphis, home to the blues, the world famous Beale Street and BB King’s flagship. And then New Orleans, the birthplace of Jazz, a colourful, vibrant, multicultural city and home to the biggest street parade in the world – Mardi Gras.

What are your top 3 wow moments?

There are so many wow moments on this tour and there really are highlights every single day, but if I had to go with my three favourites I’d say… 

The Recording studios

In Nashville studio B. A lot of the greats recorded there – Elvis, Dolly of course, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Jim Reeves loads of them recorded there. And in the studio you can hear the voices of when they were recording songs and you get the chance to sit at Elvis’ piano. Throughout the tour they play songs which were recorded there and at the end they play Elvis’ ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ as the lights go down.

And then Sun studios in Memphis. It was where Elvis was discovered and they’ve got great memorabilia there. When you visit you even get the opportunity to hold the microphone which Elvis used.

Graceland

A lot of people go on this tour just for Graceland and some people even dress up as Elvis when we visit, which is really fun. The house is as it was when Elvis died but they also have an entertainment facility now which has all the different museums, so all his cars are now in one place and he had some amazing cars – all the Cadillacs and the Buicks.

Elvis’ music is played throughout Graceland, you see clips from his films, all his iconic jumpsuits and his albums. They’ve named the restaurants after his family members as well, so Gladys Diner after his mother, Vernon Smokehouse after his father and Aunt Minnie’s ice cream parlour.

And of course they’ll see the meditation garden that has all the graves. There’s Elvis, his mum, dad and his aunt and now Lisa Marie and her son.

New Orleans’ French Quarter

The French Quarter of New Orleans is another wow moment – it’s amazing, it’s like a living museum. We do a walking tour around the French Quarter and go for brunch at the historic Court of Two Sisters restaurant, which is really nice cause we sit in the pretty courtyard with the jazz group playing and the food they serve is just great.

What food would you recommend travellers try while in the deep south?

In the south they eat a lot of fried chicken foods, but Memphis is known for its BBQ and that’s always something I recommend. The ribs there are great so they should try those or pulled pork, steak, brisket all those sorts of things.

In New Orleans the food is fantastic, it’s Cajun and creole food and things like gumbo which is like a thick stew is a must try. I’d also recommend trying a mint julep, which is a bourbon-based cocktail traditionally sold in the south and also the main drink of the Kentucky Derby, so that’s a good one to try as well.

We can take you there...

  1. The Best of the Deep South - Nashville, Memphis & New Orleans

    Take a toe-tapping journey through America’s music history. From Nashville to New Orleans and Elvis to BB King, this exhilarating tour has it all.

    • Return flights
    • 10 nights in hotels of a great quality plus 1 night in flight and 8 meals

    12 days from
    £3,324
    was £3,399
  2. The Best of the Deep South - Mardi Gras special departure

    From Nashville to New Orleans, from Johnny Cash to Elvis - take a toe-tapping journey through America's Deep South, culminating in the world-famous Mardi Gras

    • Return flights
    • 10 nights in hotels of a great quality plus 1 night in flight and 8 meals

    12 days from
    £3,799