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Sights & Sounds of Chicago, Memphis & New Orleans

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8 days From $1,815 per person
4.0 stars(4 reviews)
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Chicago, Memphis, and New Orleans are each steeped in deep music history, each playing important roles in the jazz, blues, and rock 'n roll scenes. Learn about the history and culture, and taste the delicious foods of each of these iconic cities.

Travel on your own following a well-planned itinerary

2024 Tour code: MW-SSCS-24

About the tour

Each of these three cities has a vibrancy and electricity like no other. Begin in the Windy City, where you have the opportunity to visit popular destinations such as the Willis Tower, Navy Pier and the Shedd Aquarium. The city is full of classic Blues clubs for you to spend your night enjoying.
After your stay in Chicago head to the famous Union Station where you will board Amtrak's renowned City of New Orleans bound for Memphis. Some of music's greatest came from Memphis, and you have the opportunity to discover all about the musical legends and genres of the 50's; from B.B. King and Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis; from Blues and Gospel to Country and Rock'n'roll. Enjoy Memphis' famous barbeque and take a stroll down the illustrious Beale Street.
After your rock and roll stay in Memphis, head south to the heart of Jazz. Travel along the storied rail route through the Mississippi Delta as you arrive in New Orleans for your two-day conclusion of the tour. Spend your final days drinking in the music scene and visiting legendary attractions such as the French Market, the St. Louis Cemetery and Bourbon Street.

This vacation is also available from New Orleans to Chicago based on your travel preference.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive in Chicago
Welcome to Chicago! Upon arrival today, check into your centrally-located hotel and take time to explore the city. Visit the Art Institute, shop along the Magnificent Mile, or go to the top of the Willis Tower for expansive views of the city and its outlying areas. Tonight, you may wish to dine at one of Chicago's famous chop houses or enjoy some live music at a local Blues club. Overnight Chicago.
*There's so much to see and do in this iconic city. Speak to your rail specialist about adding additional nights or activities in Chicago.
Day 2 - Chicago Sightseeing / Train to Memphis

Take in the city on the Chicago River with an architecture tour full of storytelling and little known facts about this iconic city. Take time to indulge in some deep dish pizza or a Chicago-style hot dog, stroll along the lakefront, or visit one of the city's renowned museums. This evening, transfer on your own to historic Union Station and board the City of New Orleans for your overnight journey to Memphis. As you leave the glistening lights of the city behind and travel south past the cornfields of Illinois, enjoy a restful night in your onboard accommodations or meet fellow travelers in the glass-walled Sightseer Lounge. Overnight train.

Day 3 - Arrival in Memphis
The City of New Orleans is scheduled to arrive in Memphis early this morning. Disembark the train and transfer on your own to your centrally-located hotel. Memphis is alive with culture and history. Spend the day exploring the city, visiting its most prominent landmarks and eating your way through the city while learning about the history and food culture. Memphis is also the birthplace of rock 'n roll and home to the blues and soul movements. Don't miss a visit to Beale Street to listen to the live music putting the city on the map today. Overnight Memphis.
*Food tour and City tour day may be switched due to days offered/available.
Day 4 - Memphis Sightseeing
Spend the day sightseeing on Beale Street, voted the most iconic street in America by USA Today. Beale Street runs from the Mississippi River to East Street, nearly two miles of blues clubs and restaurants that make it one of the top tourist attractions in Memphis. Drive through Victorian Village, a historic neighborhood with homes that were built in the 1800s. Pass by the statues of B.B. King and Elvis Presley as well as the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
Take a tour of Sun Studio, where Elvis Pressley recorded his first song, and many other icons got their start. Hear the voices of musicians that still haunt this studio, as you listen to outtakes from recording sessions and feel the energy of the music created here.
The rest of the day is at leisure to explore Memphis independently. Overnight Memphis.
Day 5 - City of New Orleans to the Big Easy

Transfer to the Amtrak station early this morning to board your train bound for New Orleans. Enjoy the scenery as you travel through Mississippi and into Louisiana, arriving in the Big Easy around mid-afternoon. Check into your centrally-located hotel with your evening at leisure to grab a bite to eat and enjoy the entertainment of the French Quarter including live music at many venues. Overnight New Orleans.

Day 6 - New Orleans Sightseeing
Opt to start your day at the famous Café du Monde for a café au laits and world famous beignets. Appreciate how different the city feels in the morning before heading to a cooking demonstration at the New Orleans School of Cooking. Listen to the stories and lore of the city while sampling a few local dishes and appreciate all that sets New Orleans apart with its Creole and Cajun influences.
With the rest of your day, opt to add a Jazz Tour, continue on a Hop-on-Hop-off sightseeing tour, or explore the city at your leisure. Check out Jackson Square, see the city's famous landmarks and admire the French Creole architecture. Overnight New Orleans.
Day 7 - Bayou Country

Head out into the wild in search of alligators, turtles, snakes, herons, and more in New Orleans' wild bayou country. Enjoy the best way to explore the surrounding swamplands on an airboat ride, narrated by a local. The rest the day is yours to soak in the sights and sounds of this vibrant city. Overnight New Orleans.

Day 8 - Vacation Ends
Your tour ends upon check out of your hotel.
*There's so much to see and do in this virbrant city. Speak to your rail specialist about adding additional nights or activities in New Orleans. Or opt to return by rail to Chicago, or continue on to the West or East Coasts.

Additional information

Pricing Plans

Amtrak accommodations are available in Coach class, Roomette, and Bedroom.

Coach accommodations include a reclining seat with leg rest.

Roomette accommodations include a private cabin featuring two comfortable seats beside a picture window during the day, converting to an upper and lower berth at night.

Bedroom accommodations feature a sofa and chair by day, and upper and lower berth by night. Bedroom accommodations also include a sink and self-enclosed toilet and shower. All travelers have access to the Sightseer Lounge.

Roomette and Bedroom accommodations include all meals aboard the train. 

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Palmer House Hilton, Chicago

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Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel

Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel, Memphis

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Marriott Hotel, New Orleans

Marriott Hotel, New Orleans

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Train

Amtrak's City of New Orleans

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Reviews

4.0 stars4.0 / 5 · 4 reviews

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JENNIFER VANCE

4 stars

Submitted 23 Apr 2024

The only thing I didn't like was when we arrived in Memphis from the train it was 6:00 am and our check in time for the hotel was 4:00 p.m.. The hotel did their best to get a room ready as soon as they could. But after a bumpy night on a train it would have been nice to have a room ready upon arrival. So maybe in the future have it with the hotel for an early check in. Other than that it was a great time.

Collected by Trustpilot

Wayne T, Richmond, CA

4 stars

Submitted 28 Oct 2018

The sounds and sights tour on your own provided first class hotels and very interesting attraction coupons. Loved Sun Records tour in Memphis, guide was a character. Hop on and hop off tours in Chicago and New Orleans also were good. AMTRAK employee service is so-so, attendants aren't very helpful, happy or courteous. However the 'City of New Orleans' train was on schedule....Would highly recommend this 'Sights and Sounds' vacations rail tour.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Loren T, Woodridge, IL

4 stars

Submitted 27 Oct 2018

Our trip was planned to meet our interests and requests! All arrangements were handled completely and there was not a problem with any travel arrangements during our 8 day trip! I would not hesitate to recommend Vacations By Rail for travel service and have recommended their services to friends.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Nancy N, Hagerstown, MD

4 stars

Submitted 26 May 2017

Everything was prepared for me in a timely manner. The hotels were wonderful, with excellent service.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

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