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From colonial settlements and Civil War sites to the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains and stunning Great Smoky Mountains, this mid-South U.S. tour features historic sites, spectacular scenery, and fun experiences all along the way. Overnights include the Washington DC area, Gettysburg, Shenandoah National Park, Gatlinburg, Asheville, and Williamsburg. History buffs will enjoy visits to the Gettysburg Battlefield, where Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal speech in 1863 and Harper’s Ferry, where John Brown made his ill-fated raid on the U.S. Arsenal in 1859. Other highlights include the Lincoln Museum and Sinking Spring Farm, a reproduction of the one-room cabin where Lincoln was born; touring the grand and historic Biltmore Estate and gardens, America's Largest Home®; Mount Airy, the real-life Mayberry and inspiration for the Andy Griffith Show; Monticello Estate, Thomas Jefferson’s home; Mount Vernon, home of George and Martha Washington; and Colonial Williamsburg, where life in the 18th century is recreated. Throughout this tour you’ll witness fascinating landscapes. Beautiful views await you in Shenandoah National Park, with its 200,000 acres of protected lands. Marvel at the green pastures, white-board fences, and columned estates in Kentucky bluegrass country. Drive through the center of the Smoky Mountains, with its winding roads, striking wildflowers, and animal diversity. In Virginia, stop at tranquil Mabry Mill, an old water-driven grist mill and often photographed spot, and visit Natural Bridge, a 215-foot-high limestone arch sculpted by nature in a wooded setting. These are just some of the many highlights of this tour which features stunning national parks, historic sites, and memorable experiences.
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*Book a select 2023 Avalon Waterways Europe river cruise to receive $750 off per person on the cruise/land or cruise only price. Booking must be made, under deposit and discount applied between August 1, 2022 and November 11, 2023 for travel in 2023. Promotional discount will apply to Groups of 8 or more who provide their Group Block Deposit within the promotion's booking dates and will apply to all individual members of the Group until the due date of the passenger names/non-refundable individual deposits. Not applicable on TBA space. Offer reliant on space availability at time of booking and may be withdrawn at any time. Offer combinable only with Welcome Back Credit. Applies to new 2023 bookings only and offer will not be applied to pre-existing bookings. Full cancellation penalties will apply. Additional restrictions may apply; see Travel Terms & Conditions for details. May be withdrawn at any time. Offer applies to participating GFOB offices only. PRMW0992 PRMW0992
WASHINGTON DCSightseeing with Local GuideGETTYSBURGVisit the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center; Guided tour of Gettysburg BattlefieldHARPERS FERRYVisit Harpers Ferry Historic National ParkSHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARKSightseeing; stay inside Shenandoah National ParkLEXINGTON, KYVisit the Kentucky Horse ParkBLUEGRASS PARKWAYScenic driveHODGENVILLEVisit Sinking Spring Farm; Lincoln MuseumBARDSTOWNVisit the Civil War Museum; Bourbon Distillery & tasting MUSEUM OF APPALACHIAVisit the 65-acre historic farmlandGATLINBURGSmoky Mountains scenic drive; Newfound Gap RoadASHEVILLEVisit Biltmore EstateBLUE RIDGE PARKWAYScenic drive; Mabry MillMOUNT AIRYVisit Andy Griffith’s hometownLEXINGTON, VA Visit Natural BridgeMONTICELLO ESTATEVisit Thomas Jefferson’s beloved homeRICHMONDOrientation tourWILLIAMSBURGVisit Colonial WilliamsburgMOUNT VERNONVisit George Washington’s homeNotes:
Enjoy the spectacular colors of the Appalachian Mountains on our special Fall Foliage departures: September 7 to September 28 (if Mother Nature permits).
World Heritage Sites are designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance. The sites are judged to contain cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.
The following UNESCO World Heritage Sites can be seen or visited on this vacation:
Private, deluxe air-conditioned motorcoach while touring with free Wi-Fi.
8 breakfasts, 3 continental breakfasts
WASHINGTON DC AREA Enjoy time at leisure to relax or do some independent exploring. Your Tour Director is on hand this evening to answer any questions.
WASHINGTON DC AREA–GETTYSBURG Today begins with a tour of the nation’s capital with a Local Guide. Highlights include visiting the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials and seeing Ford’s Theatre where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Afterward, cross the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania, and visit the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. Tonight, we offer an optional outing to a local restaurant to enjoy the flavor of the area.
GETTYSBURG–HARPERS FERRY–SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK This morning experience a guided visit to the hallowed Gettysburg Battlefield, site of the decisive Civil War campaign and where Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg Address in November 1863. Afterward, head for Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, where, in 1859, John Brown made his ill-fated raid on the U.S. Arsenal. The park shares a part of the 2,178 mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail. En route to Shenandoah, crest the Blue Ridge Mountains for magnificent vistas of the Shenandoah Valley. Overnight in Shenandoah National Park.
SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK–NEW RIVER GORGE–BECKLEY Travel through lumber and limestone country into wonderfully wild West Virginia. After a lunch break in the pre-Civil-War town of Lewisburg, travel to Fayetteville and stop at New River Gorge Bridge, the world’s third-longest steel-span bridge, rising 876 feet above the river. Then, on to Beckley, the heart of West Virginia’s “smokeless” coal industry, for an overnight stay.
BECKLEY–CHARLESTON–KENTUCKY HORSE PARK–LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY Before entering Kentucky, we stop in the state capital of Charleston, West Virginia, one-time home of American frontiersman Daniel Boone. As you cross the state border, the scenery changes to green pastures, white-board fences, and the columned estates of Kentucky bluegrass country—backdrop for the movie Seabiscuit. Arrive in Lexington, the “Heart of the Bluegrass.” This afternoon, enjoy a fascinating visit to the Kentucky Horse Park, from where legends like Man o’ War and Secretariat conquered the racing world.
LEXINGTON–HODGENVILLE–BARDSTOWN–LEXINGTON, KY Travel on the Bluegrass Parkway and stop at Sinking Spring Farm, to see where the nation’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, was born. A replica of the original log cabin is preserved as a shrine to one of the best-loved American presidents. Visit the Lincoln Museum, dedicated to Lincoln’s life and times. The museum features 12 historically accurate scenes from Lincoln’s life and Civil War memorabilia. Be sure to walk out to the center of Town Square for a photo op in front of the Lincoln Statue and the Lincoln Boy Statue. Afterward, we head to Bardstown to visit an authentic Bourbon Distillery. You’ll learn about the production of the finest Kentucky Straight Bourbon and enjoy a tasting. Return to Lexington, where the evening is free for independent activities.
LEXINGTON, KY–GATLINBURG Travel to Tennessee, with a stop at Corbin for a short visit to Colonel Sanders’ original fried chicken restaurant, which is now a museum. This afternoon, visit the fascinating Museum of Appalachia, with 65 acres of farmland and a number of historic cabins, barns, and other buildings—even a frontier privy! The next two nights are in Gatlinburg at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains.
GATLINBURG As one of America’s most popular mountain retreats, Gatlinburg offers something for everyone. The day is free for independent activities.
GATLINBURG–GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK–ASHEVILLE Drive right through the center of the Smokies along the spectacular Newfound Gap Road, peaking at 5,046 feet. Continue into North Carolina and stop at the 8,000-acre grounds of the magnificent Biltmore Estate, built by George Vanderbilt, grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. Take a self-guided tour of America’s Largest Home® and immerse yourself in the grandeur of days gone by.
ASHEVILLE–BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY–MOUNT AIRY– LEXINGTON, VIRGINIA Blue Ridge Parkway runs from the Great Smokies to Shenandoah National Park without a single traffic light along its 470-mile route. Take in a portion of the parkway today, from Fancy Gap to Roanoke. Visit Mount Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith’s hometown. Affectionately known as Mayberry, the town is the inspiration for the setting of The Andy Griffith Show that ran in the 1960s. There is time to stroll Main Street, visit Floyd’s Barber shop and enjoy a taste of the past at Walker’s Soda Fountain. This afternoon, stop at the tranquil setting of Mabry Mill, one of the most photographed spots in the country. Next up: a visit to Natural Bridge, a 215-foot-high arch in a wooded setting, once owned by Thomas Jefferson. George Washington’s initials are still visible on the cliffside, from his work here as a young surveyor.
LEXINGTON, VIRGINIA–MONTICELLO–RICHMOND–WILLIAMSBURG Visit the graceful home of the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson. The Monticello Estate reflects Jefferson’s skills as an artist, architect, and designer. It is the only house in the U.S. that is on the UNESCO World Heritage list of international treasures. Enjoy an orientation tour of Richmond, capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Then, we make our way to Williamsburg, between the James and York Rivers, where the very earliest English settlers established their first colonies.
WILLIAMSBURG. EXCURSION TO COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG Today is dedicated to Colonial Williamsburg, where American heritage is proudly preserved in the reconstructed buildings and historical displays. Stroll down quaint streets and browse through homes, gardens, taverns, shops, and exhibits. In the House of Burgesses, listen as costumed interpreters debate the controversial steps that led to the Declaration of Independence.
WILLIAMSBURG–MOUNT VERNON–WASHINGTON DC This morning, visit Mount Vernon, the beloved home of George and Martha Washington, overlooking the banks of the Potomac River. Take time to explore the most popular historic estate in America. The final leg of your journey takes you back to Washington DC, where you overnight amidst the ambiance of this quintessential political city. Cap off your memorable adventure on our optional Farewell Dinner followed by an illumination tour of the stately monuments.
WASHINGTON DC Your vacation ends this morning. You may choose to extend your vacation with extra nights and explore the nation’s capital further.
With Cosmos, there’s no better way to get to know your destination than through the eyes of your Tour Director. Averaging over a decade... we’d like you to meet a Tour Director, who is representative of the type of expert that will be with you on your vacation.
Escorting tours for more than 20 years
"An educator by trade, I hold post-graduate degrees in English Emersion and Tourism & Marketing. I speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese. I use my training and experience to bring the history and culture of each place alive. I love to share my passion, enthusiasm, and knowledge with guests while providing a unique local perspective."
Escorting tours for more than 20 years
"As a Tour Director for more than two decades, I've always had a passion for travel. At 18, I traveled solo throughout Europe. A few years later, I was one of three youth ambassadors on a cultural exchange to Burkina Faso. As a Tour Director, I enjoy showing off America's Heartland. I encourage my guests to talk to the locals and try the regional foods. Guests often tell me that their fondest memories are of their time spent in small towns with "real Americans.""
Escorting tours for more than 20 years
"During a summer in Ireland when I was 12, I was bitten by the "travel bug." I lived in Europe and became a Tour Director after graduating with a degree in European Languages. I am never as alive as when I am on the road. The haunting echo of a saxophone on a New Orleans street, the heady evening perfume of Jasmine in bloom, the sweet taste of a beignet, and the joyous "AA-eeeee!" of a Cajun dancer all need to be experienced... observing them from afar is not enough."