6-Day Tennessee with a Twist

Day 1 You'll See:

Day 2 You'll See:

  • National Civil Rights Museum
  • Rock and Soul Museum
  • Backbeat Tours
  • Stax Museum
  • Sun Studio
  • Orpheum Theater

Day 3 You’ll See:

Day 4 You’ll See:

  • Chattanooga
  • Tennessee Aquarium River Gorge
  • Chattanooga Choo Choo

Day 5 You’ll See:

  • Ruby Falls
  • Lookout Incline Railway
  • Battles for Chattanooga Museum
  • Point Park
  • Rock City Gardens
  • Bluff View Art District
  • Hunter Museum of American Art
  • Southern Belle

Day 6 You’ll See:

  • Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

Tennessee is a state full of rich war-torn history, music and pop culture firsts, and gorgeous natural scenery, from the Smoky Mountains to the Tennessee River. There is so much here to offer your group for an unforgettable graduation getaway like no other, from the famous recording studios of Memphis and Nashville to the history-filled train rides around the Smoky Mountains. Begin your trip in Memphis, make your way to Nashville, then end in beautiful Chattanooga, taking in all the fun, important, and historical sites along the way. Let loose, rock out, and enjoy the views on this 6-day adventure, Adventure Student Travel is just a call away to settle all the details!

Day 1

Memphis - Welcome to Memphis, the largest city in Tennessee, home of the King, the Grizzlies, and tons of cultural history. Located in the southwest corner of the state along the Chickasaw Bluff, just south of the Wolf and Mississippi River confluences, Memphis was established and founded in 1819 making it the youngest developed Tennessee city. Mississippi Row, the steamboat merchant promenade in downtown Memphis, acquired economic and cultural wealth quickly, and now stands as a mighty city ranking among the best and biggest in the nation. 

Graceland -  This 13.8 acre Colonial Revival Style mansion features majestic white columns, as well as 20 years of memories of Elvis and his closest friends and family. Upon entrance, each member of your group will receive an iPad loaded with an interactive tour narrated by John Stamos. You will see video footage on your personal iPad based upon where you are standing in the house, as well as rock and roll trivia and photos. Explore all of the on-site structures to get the full Elvis experience, seeing his gold and platinum record collection, glittering jumpsuits, and film and music memorabilia at the Graceland Plaza and Graceland Crossing.

Peabody Hotel -  Known as the "South’s Grand Hotel," the Peabody is legendary for its charm, elegance, and grandeur as a 5-star hotel. It is a landmark in Memphis that is 13 stories high, containing a famous marble-columned lobby in which an 80-year tradition takes place, the March of the Peabody Ducks. Started in 1933, the Peabody Ducks march daily in a parade from the roof to the lobby, attracting thousands of guests for this spectacle alone. A tour of the hotel will show your group several rooms, such as the Romeo and Juliet suite and the History Room, giving you plenty of information about Memphis, merchants, and music in this area and how this entertainment and culture hub affected life in this location.

Beale Street - Your last stop on day one will give you the most wonderful case of the Beale Street Blues, as you explore the 1.8 miles of America’s most iconic street, Beale Street! Today a stroll down the street will show you the best blues clubs and restaurants, as well as many frequent festivals and outdoor concerts. Visit the Hard Rock Cafe, BB King's Blues Club, the Beale Tap Room, or the original Coyote Ugly Saloon. Pretend you’re in the '20s as you pass the Monarch Club, a frequent gangster body disposal location, or the street stand Machine Gun Kelly peddled whiskey out of. Still today you can pass the Palace and Daisy theaters, which used to be packed full of Vaudeville fans, eat a "hot snoot sandwich" at the corner cafe, or see the red light district that rivaled any other in its time, Gayso.

Day 2

National Civil Rights Museum - The National Civil Rights Museum is one of the nation’s premier heritage and cultural museums, established in 1991. The museum aims to share culture and lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement and also to explore how that era still shapes equality and freedom today worldwide. The building is located in the former Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s untimely assassination in 1968. Featured on the History Channel, CNN, USA Today, and the award-winning documentary The Witness, the National Civil Rights Museum is among the top 5% of accredited institutions in America. Inside this museum, your group can walk through history and learn more about the difficult and rewarding period of change through interactive exhibits, historic collections, dynamic speakers, and special events.

Rock and Soul Museum - Next stop, the Rock and Soul Museum for a unique history lesson on the birth of rock and soul music. Created by the Smithsonian, this museum explores the lives of musical pioneers who overcame racial and socioeconomic barriers to create world-shaking music.  Inside the museum, your group will explore the impact globally of that recording studio, as well as have the chance to take a digital audio tour at your own pace of all the exhibits. Immerse yourself into the over 300 minutes of information, 100 songs, and 7 galleries that include 3 audiovisual exhibits, over 30 original instruments, and 40 costumes. 

Backbeat Tours -Let Papa Don McMinn take you around Memphis as he tells you about the music industry from the 1940s to today, as well as personal and important city knowledge. The fan-favorite Memphis Mojo tour lasts either 1.5 hours or 3 hours and will take you through the top attractions in Memphis on the nation’s only music bus (bongos and tambourines included!). You will see Sun and Stax Studios, the Lorraine, Cotton Row, Overton, as well as the homes of Elvis, BB King, and Johnny Cash through a series of live music, comedy, and narration. Get behind the scenes stories and history about the city’s musical heritage, or maybe choose the spookier side of things and take the Ghost Tour.

Stax Museum - Next your group will visit the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of American Soul Music, at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. This museum is located on the original site of the historic Stax Records Studio and serves to pay tribute to the recording artists from Stax history, as well as American soul legends. Through their amazing collection of over 2,000 artifacts, interactive exhibits, films, and galleries the Stax Museum will amaze your group and teach them all they need to know about the groovy beginnings of American Soul.

Sun Studio - The year is 1954, and a shy teenager with big hair and an even bigger voice has laid his first track at Sun Studio, called "That’s All Right." From there the rest is history, as Elvis Presley helped launched Sun Studio’s fame, and vice versa. Rock pioneer Sam Phillips began this historic birthplace of rock and roll in 1950 with the technical first rock and roll single in history, "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston. BB King followed soon, then came the million-dollar quartet of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lewis, and Carl Perkins. Sam Phillips helped musicians blend blues and country, making rock and roll, with his no-rules new style of recording that provided a non-critical, spontaneous environment to promote creativity and vision.

Orpheum Theater - Originally the Grand Opera House in 1890, the Orpheum Theater was renamed and reached the heights of popularity in 1907.  Productions such as Lion King, Wicked, Cats, and Les Mis have been performed here, as well as Jerry Seinfeld, Goo Goo Dolls, John Mellencamp, and many more talents. Orpheum sees about six to eight Broadway shows a year as well as dozens of live performances. Ballet Memphis and Opera Memphis call this premier performing arts center for the mid-south home, and a tour of the grounds will show your group why one of the few "movie palaces" left from the roaring twenties is still drawing so many crowds today!

Day 3

Nashville - Nashville is home to some of the South’s best musical, cultural, and historical destinations that will be sure to spark the interest of everyone in your group. Home and birthplace of American country music, as well as Bluegrass, there are several opportunities for your group to learn more about the origin of some of their favorite musical styles, as well as see the impact the city of Nashville has made culturally on the music and entertainment world throughout history. 

RCA Studio B -  Located on Music Row, the RCA Studio B is one of the most famous recording studios in the world, with over 35,000 songs recorded on location.  On a tour of this popular studio, your group will learn about its history, including the many innovations it has contributed to the musical world such as the Nashville number system (shorthand for chord structure). You will even have the chance to see the inside of the very studio that Willie Nelson, Eddy Arnold, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, and the Everly Brothers have all sat and recorded their top hits. The studio is now technically a part of the museum, so check out the rest of the exhibits throughout the whole complex if you have time as you leave happily from the "temple of sound" that is the RCA Studio B!

Country Music Hall of Fame - Your group will delight in the opportunity to look through the history of the most popular and influential country music stars, the very first to be inducted into the hall of fame being Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose, and Hank Williams. Your group will have the opportunity to choose from several exciting country music tours, such as the Star For a Day tour, Legends Lunch and Lyrics tour, Hatch Show Letterpress tour, or fan-favorite Cash on Cash tour, a two-hour private concert and Q&A with Johnny and June’s son. On any tour, you will see the 776 seat CMA Theater, the Taylor Swift Educational Center, and Nashville’s oldest surviving studio. The studio on this premises has seen the likes of Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, and Waylon Jennings. 

Wildhorse Saloon - Put your dancing boots on and head over to the world-famous Wildhorse Saloon, the 66,000 square foot live country music paradise located in downtown Nashville. This live music and dance paradise feature 3 floors of fun, including a restaurant, bar, concert venue, dance floor, TV studio, and catering and event space. Over 1.5 million music lovers and catering groups have visited Wildhorse since its doors opened in 1994, is one of the most popular must-do attractions in Nashville. While here your group will have the chance to watch the hottest live entertainment, learn new dance steps, or dine in the award-winning Southern Smokehouse (can you say fried pickles?). 

Ryman Auditorium - Inside the Ryman your group will have the chance to tour the halls of the historic entertainment paradise and set foot on stage and backstage, getting the full Ryman Auditorium experience. Hear the story of Earl Scruggs and how this very site became the birthplace of bluegrass, see memorabilia from the 1901 Barber of Seville opening at Ryman, and be immersed in the past as you learn about the earliest performers at this venue, such as John Philip Sousa, Harry Houdini, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, and even Theodore Roosevelt. Musically you will hear the amazing acoustic sounds of performers present and past such as Aretha Franklin, ZZ Top, and the Zac Brown Band. 

Grand Ole Opry - This, the country’s most famous stage, has launched countless music careers and is the driving force behind the Nashville nickname Music City. The first members of the Opry family included Ernest Tubb, Roy Acuff, and Minnie Pearl. Today you can see such acts as Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley, and Martina McBride. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take a backstage tour while you are here, either upon arrival or prior to a 2-hour live show. During a tour, you will walk in the footsteps of country superstars and get an exclusive look at the behind the scenes on the Grand Ole Opry stage. Your group will hear stories of backstage excitement throughout the years, as well as have the varying opportunity to see a star preparing or practicing before a big show!

Day 4

Chattanooga - Start your day out in one of the New York Times “Top 45 Places to Go in the World,” Chattanooga, Tennessee! This top southern destination is a widely popular and immensely beautiful classic Tennessee town nestled between the Tennessee River and southern mountain ranges. It is considered one of the most breathtaking cities, home to Lookout Mountain and several exquisite rock formations. You can even travel by train to the top of the mountain to spend some time looking at the most spectacular vistas of the area. Chattanooga offers exciting outdoor adventure, fine dining restaurants, live events, local art, and many other world-class attractions. 

Tennessee Aquarium River Gorge - Just two blocks away from the Tennessee Aquarium your group is going to board the high tech catamaran, the River Gorge Explorer. This classic Chattanooga excursion takes you downstream from the Chattanooga Pier into the 26 miles of River Gorge. This typically two-hour excursion is guided by an Aquarium naturalist and features relevant local history and wildlife viewing and information opportunities. A lot of Civil War history is covered, as well as geological facts about the highlight of this tour, the Tennessee Grand Canyon! The boat itself has climate-controlled cabins in which you can view the gorgeous scenery out the windows, or you can choose to hang out on the observation deck for the best 360 vistas. 

Chattanooga Choo Choo - Built-in 1908, the Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal was previously known as the Southern Railway railroad station. It is now listed on the national register of historic places and serves as a hotel and resort primarily. This 24-acre complex is a Beaux-Arts style station designed by Donn Barber. One of the most impressive architectural features is the 82-foot centerpiece dome paired with the brick arch at the entrance that is considered to be the largest unsupported arch in the world. Today this complex is used as a convention center, hotel, resort, restaurant, and shop. Your group can view the ‘rooms’ of the hotel in which guests can sleep in restored passenger railway cars.

Day 5

Ruby Falls - Within Lookout Mountain, your group will have the chance to visit Ruby Falls, America’s deepest commercial cave and largest underground waterfall all in one. This immense cavern featuring a 145 foot enclosed waterfall is considered to be one of the ten most incredible cave waterfalls on Earth! The cave in which you will be walking is over 1,120 feet below the surface and stays a comfortable 59 degrees year-round. The cave was discovered in 1928 and opened for the public’s amazement in 1930. For over 85 years thousands of visitors have annually visited to see the hundreds of gallons of water rush through here per minute, as well as the full color,  LED light show put on the fall itself.

Lookout Incline Railway - “America’s Most Amazing Mile” is also located within Lookout Mountain, experienced fully with the Incline Railway. In 1895 visitors from far and wide would pay $2 for a 4-hour buggy ride up the mountain, but in 1911 a broader gauge pass railway was built and the Incline Railway was born. Originally a coal-burning steam engine, this railway is now powered by two 100 horsepower motors. Considered to be the world’s steepest passenger railway, this ride in a trolley style car takes you up a 72.7% grade, giving you the best mountain and valley views from the observation windows along the way. At the top, your group will have the chance to see the most amazing panoramic views from the Observation Tower.

Battles for Chattanooga Museum - Another history-rich stop on Lookout Mountain is at the entrance toward Point Park, called the Battles of Chattanooga Museum. This museum provides an excellent 3D electronic battle map of the Chattanooga Civil War history. This whole map includes 5,000 mini soldiers, 650 lights, sound effects, and exceptional details of major battles. With this map, your group will be able to hear and see the “Battle Above the Clouds,” fought in November 1863. This location’s history involves General Sherman’s assault on Missionary Ridge before his historic March to the Sea. 

Point Park - Your next stop will be at the top of Lookout Mountain, at the Point Park Battle Site. This historic area is technically located within the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and is the official site of the Civil War Battle known as the “Battle Above the Clouds.” During the height of the war control of the "gateway to the deep south" was a very high priority, and in 1863 confederate and union soldiers partook in a 3-day battle for control. The fog on the mountains provided a great cover for takeover, and the full battle took place on November 24th, the union soldiers coming out victorious.  Your group will have a chance to walk around the site and also explore the Visitor Center.

Rock City Gardens - Your last stop within the Lookout Mountain Range is 1,700 feet above sea level, at Rock City Gardens. This geological wonderland is technically located in Georgia but is still only 6 miles away from downtown Chattanooga. Rock City is a unique geological and botanical wonder featuring 4,100 feet of walking trails, a 100 ft waterfall, and the famous 200 foot swing along the bridge. The park was developed sensitively over time, a combination of strange and unusual rock formations, lush gardens, and caves. The park features over 400 different species of wildflowers, shrubs, and trees and works under the motto "created by God, enhanced by men."

Bluff View Art District - Enjoy a relaxing cool off as you stroll around the historic neighborhood downtown known as the Bluff View Art District. This, Chattanooga’s original art district, sits high atop the stone cliffs above the Tennessee River, giving it spectacular scenic bluff-top views. From here your group will be able to see the Tennessee River, downtown Chattanooga, and Walnut Street Bridge. The district itself features a few restaurants, a coffee house, an art gallery, a historic bed and breakfast, several gardens, plazas, and courtyards. The whole district will give your group a sense of relaxation and rejuvenation, as you decide to stroll around the award-winning River Gallery Sculpture Garden or explore the nationally recognized artists of the River Gallery. 

Hunter Museum of American Art -  Perched atop a scenic 80 foot bluff on the edge of the Tennessee River, the Hunter Museum of American Art serves the Chattanooga community as a cultural center, historical oasis, and important skyline icon. As the museum likes to boast, “the panoramic views here are only equaled by the excellent collection of American art inside.” This museum is one of America’s finest and aims to understand American history and teach its guests about what makes us Americans today. Inside your group will see art ranging from the colonial period up to today, including paintings, sculpture, photography, mixed media, furniture, and glass pieces. 

Southern Belle - End your day in Chattanooga the right way, with a gorgeous late-night cruise down the Tennessee River on the floating restaurant, the Southern Belle. This Deluxe Excursion Vessel brings out the nostalgic Old South with an evening of relaxing entertainment and dining. The Southern Belle dinner cruise is considered the best and most unique family dining experience in Chattanooga and features live music, drinks, and fine food that changes daily, depending on the tour your group chooses to take. The boat itself is a 450 passenger ship created in 1985 with features of Easter River and Bay Boats, with Tennessee River specifications such as the large landing stage enabling easy docking anywhere.

Day 6

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum -Choose between the Missionary Ridge Local, Chickamauga Turn, Hiwassee Loop, Copper Hill Special or Summerville Steam engine as you learn about the first rail line, Western and Atlantic, in the 1850s all the way to the demise of the track after the introduction of interstates and air travel in the 1960s. Your group will be drowned in facts about the use of the railroad during the Civil War, the famous beginning of that catchy Glenn Miller Song, as well as the economic advantages of having this industrial hub in early Chattanooga. Buckle up and enjoy the afternoon as you ride the rails of essential Chattanooga history!