The beauty, joy and magic of the holidays abounded as Road Runners set off for a Smoky Mountain Christmas with stops in Tennessee, North Carolina and Alabama. Our home in Memphis was the Peabody Hotel, the city’s most legendary hotel where we viewed the famous Duck March, a 90-year old tradition. Dinner was at a cozy little joint, King’s Palace Café, serving southern and Cajun specialties with live entertainment featuring local jazz and R&B musicians. We explored everything Elvis during our tour of Graceland capturing a personal glimpse of the King of Rock n’ Roll through memorabilia, photos, personal mementos and a display of platinum records.
In Nashville we stayed three fabulous nights at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel immersed in a winter wonderland of more than three million lights and acres of magnificent holiday decorations. Included in our stay was a special dinner show packed with hits and holiday classics performed by Diamond Rio, the six-man, Grammy Award-winning band.
An entertaining tour of Nashville guided by a singer-songwriter captured the city’s colorful history, beautiful architecture and Music Row. We visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, which houses one of the world’s most extensive musical collections with exhibits and interactive displays telling the story of country music and highlighting its movers and shakers. More holiday fun was enjoyed at the three-hour Christmas production at the historic Ryman Auditorium, known as the home of the Grand Ole Opry, featuring country superstars Vince Gill and Amy Grant.
Of course no trip to Tennessee is complete without Tennessee whiskey. We stopped in Lynchburg for a guided tour of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, the oldest registered distillery in the U.S. and learned of the old-time whiskey making process. At the historic Barrel House 1-14 we lingered over and sipped five of its most popular whiskeys. We left Lynchburg for lunch at Bush’s Beans before heading to North Carolina.
Overnighting in Asheville we toured the magnificent Biltmore Estate starting with a visit to the estate’s winery for complimentary tastings of fine reserve and sparkling wines. We feasted on southern cuisine in the Deerpark Restaurant for candlelight Christmas dinner featuring estate-grown and locally sourced vegetables, meats and cheeses. We then strolled through America’s largest home on a tour of the beautifully decorated mansion decked out in all its holiday splendor.
Then on to Muscle Shoals, Alabama for an iconic music experience at FAME Studios and 3614 Jackson Highway Studio. For over 50 years songs were recorded at these studies from icons such as Tina Turner, Elton John, BB King, Zac Brown, Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin and many more. The evening was topped off with dinner at Swamper’s Grill before heading home the next day with wonderful holiday memories.
The lively hub of winter activities overflowing with fun made Smoky Mountain Christmas the picture perfect holiday trip to remember. But the memories don’t stop here. Visit Road Runners’ website at www.rrrrclub.com to discover a whole new world of travel experiences for 2018.