Georgia/North Carolina
On the Road: Atlanta and Asheville, a Tale of Two Cities
This exciting itinerary connects some of the South’s most beautiful and iconic locations, from the Biltmore Estate to Atlanta’s Civil War battlefields.
Rating (4.5)
Program No. 21264RJ
7 days
Starts at
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
7 days
6 nights
15 meals
6 B 4 L 5 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Atlanta, Georgia
Hyatt Place Buckhead Atlanta

Activity note: Hotel-check in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Conference Room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Travel and transfers will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the conference room, we’ll have a catered buffet with coffee, tea, water.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Civil War, King Center, Civil Rights Center, CNN
Atlanta, Georgia
Hyatt Place Buckhead Atlanta

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Descending 8 flights of stairs at CNN; elevator available. Walking up to 1/2 mile.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the buffet offers a rotating variety of choices such as breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, French toast, oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, bagels, breads, pastries, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll gather for a presentation by a local historian and award-winning author who is a recognized authority on the Civil War. We’ll learn about Atlanta in the Civil War and in particular the burning of Atlanta. Next, we’ll set out via motorcoach for a city field trip with commentary by our local expert. We’ll see some of Atlanta’s most significant sites, learn about local history, and stop at The King Center (Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change) and Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both Martin Luther King, Sr. and Jr. were pastors. We’ll then ride to the CNN Center, a complex of 1.5 million square feet including the world headquarters of CNN (Cable New Network), TBS (Turner Broadcasting System), and a variety of businesses, restaurants, and attractions.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. The CNN food court includes casual and full-service restaurants.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll head to CNN headquarters in downtown Atlanta for an expert-led field trip that will provide an inside look at the history of the CNN News Group networks, their coverage of the events that shape our world, and the state-of-the-art studios responsible for bringing the news to more than 1 billion people around the globe. We will see actually see news travel though the newsrooms of CNN and Headline News on its way to the anchor's desk where it is delivered live right before our eyes. We’ll then ride to Centennial Park, 21 acres of urban greenspace that developed out of the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta. We’ll see The Fountain of Rings, the world’s largest interactive fountain incorporating the five interconnecting Olympic rings. Before the Olympics, this was a run-down area. It is now one of the most vibrant parts of town and a major attraction for residents and visitors alike with the CNN Center, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, Children’s Museum, Football Hall of Fame, Georgia Aquarium, and World of Coca-Cola. We’ll also visit the National Center for Civil Rights and Human Rights that connects the American civil rights movement with the struggle for human rights around the world — learning from the past, becoming empowered to transform the present, and providing inspiration for the future.

Dinner: At a favorite local restaurant a short walk from the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll gather for another presentation by our expert on the Civil War and its effects on America.

Carter Center, Atlanta History Center, Swan Mansion
Atlanta, Georgia
Hyatt Place Buckhead Atlanta

Activity note: Walking between homes and Atlanta History Center approximately 500 yards; paved and unpaved pathways.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll ride to the Carter Center, a non-partisan, non-governmental organization founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter. In partnership with Emory University, the Carter Center works to improve the lives of people in more than 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy and human rights; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. We’ll hear from a member of the Carter Center staff about its work. We’ll then have an expert-led exploration of the museum of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. We’ll be able to see photographs and historical memorabilia from the Carter presidency (1976-81), an exact replica of the Oval Office, and gifts received by the Carters. The permanent exhibit of significant events during Jimmy Carter's life and political career includes photographs with interpretative text as well as the Nobel Peace Prize he received in 2002 “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” We’ll ride to our next destination.

Lunch: At the historic Swan Coach House on the campus of the Atlanta History Center, we’ll have a plated lunch. Swan Coach House is a project of the Forward Arts Foundation, a dedicated group of Atlanta art lovers and patrons. As the name indicates, it was the coach house of the Inman estate, Swan House. Foundation members renovated the building and turned it into a working restaurant with its own art gallery that opened in 1967. We’ll also be able to view what’s on in the gallery.

Afternoon: We will then visit the historic Swan House, an Atlanta landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, for an expert-led exploration. It was built in 1928 for Edward and Emily Inman, heirs to a cotton brokerage fortune, and designed by well-known and influential Atlanta architect Philip Trammell Shutze. The house and gardens are considered Shutze’s finest work, a home for 20th century living that blended Italian and English classical styles. The interiors were decorated by Ruby Ross Wood, a transplanted Georgian who achieved notable success in New York. The dining room in particular is a highly regarded example of timeless design. Costumed interpreters bring the house’s history to life as we see how this wealthy family lived in the early 20th century. In addition to Swan House, the 33-acre Atlanta History Center campus also includes award-winning exhibitions in the Atlanta History Museum; gardens and woodlands; and the Smith Family Farm featuring the 1840s Tullie Smith House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally located east of Atlanta outside the city limits, the house survived the near-total destruction of Atlanta in 1864. The farm complex was moved to the Atlanta History Center's campus in 1969 and serves as a tangible reminder of the rural past in a metropolitan area where agriculture has essentially disappeared. Our self-directed exploration affords opportunities to see what interests you most.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. There are numerous restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, and the Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: An expert from the Atlanta History Center will join us to discuss one of the most famous books in American history — “Gone With The Wind” — and share information about its author, Margaret Mitchell. We read its expression of what has been called the personification of Southern romanticism differently today. But since its publication in 1936, and especially since the movie version premiered in 1939, GWTW has kept its place in the popular imagination. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

To Asheville – NC, Basilica of St. Lawrence, Vanderbilts
Asheville, North Carolina
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Asheville - Biltmore

Activity note: The drive from Atlanta to Asheville is about 200 miles, approximately 3.5-4 hours. Walking up/down steps at Balsam Inn. Walking through Basilica of St. Lawrence.

Breakfast: Hotel conference room.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel and board our motorcoach for the transfer to Asheville, North Carolina, with a stop en route for lunch.

Lunch: At the historic Balsam Inn, we’ll have a plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. Built in 1908, the inn is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in a beautiful mountain setting at an elevation of 3,500 feet. The innkeeper will join us for a presentation on the history of the Inn.

Afternoon: Arriving in Asheville, we’ll first visit the Basilica of St. Lawrence, built in 1905 by Spanish-born architect Rafael Gustavino who has been called “the greatest architect you’ve never heard of.” He was invited to North Carolina to work on Biltmore House. The exterior of the church is in Spanish Renaissance style. The interior displays incredible results of the ancient tile and mortar building system Gustavino essentially re-invented, and which graced nearly 1,000 buildings by the end of his life. The self-supporting elliptical dome, 58 feet by 82 feet and made entirely of tiles, is the largest unsupported dome in North America. We’ll then proceed to the hotel for check-in with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll be joined by a local expert who will discuss the Cherokee people. Before Europeans arrived, the Cherokee were the largest of all Southern tribes. It became the policy of the United States early on to encourage removal of native tribes from Eastern states. Under the Indian Removal Act of 1830, Indian lands east of the Mississippi were “exchanged” for reservations in the west. In 1838-39, most of the Cherokee were rounded up and forced to a forced march on what came to be known as the "Trail of Tears" to the designated Indian Territory in Oklahoma. Thousands died. A few who had hidden in the mountains escaped and managed to remain in the area.

Biltmore History, Thomas Wolfe, Grove Park Inn, Blue Ridge
Asheville, North Carolina
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Asheville - Biltmore

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking and standing at field trip sites.

Breakfast: At the hotel, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet that includes milk, juice, coffee, water.

Morning: We’ll gather for a presentation on legendary locals of Asheville by an Asheville native who is an historian, author, and executive director of Western Carolina University Programs at Biltmore Park. Next, we’ll ride to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial for an introductory film followed by a self-directed visit. Wolfe grew up here in what was then a boarding house called the Old Kentucky Home that he immortalized as the setting for his 1929 novel “Look Homeward, Angel.” Wolfe’s colorful portrayal of his family, Asheville, and the Old Kentucky Home earned it a place as one of American Literature’s most evocative landmarks. Wolfe also wrote about the Montford neighborhood that expresses Asheville’s architectural heritage. We’ll ride through the Montford Historic District where Richard Sharp Smith — supervising architect of Biltmore House — designed a number of houses.

Lunch: At the historic Grove Park Inn, we’ll have a plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. We'll walk around the old hotel before leaving for our afternoon on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Afternoon: We'll board our motorcoach and head out on the Blue Ridge Parkway to visit the Folk Art Center, headquarters of the Southern Highland Craft Guild that originated in 1930. The guild’s membership consists of some 900 Appalachian craftspeople who have been selected by a jury of experts for the quality of their work. The Folk Art Center, which includes a museum as well as galleries to display the works of guild members, works in cooperation with the National Park Service. We’ll then see more of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Dinner: At a restaurant outside Asheville, we’ll have a plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

Full Day at Biltmore Estate, Winery, Antler Hill Village
Asheville, North Carolina
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Asheville - Biltmore

Activity note: Shuttles from parking lot to Biltmore House. Extensive walking in house (178,926 square feet) and gardens according to personal preference; no seating in house.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Biltmore House, as it is modestly called, today comprises 8,000 acres outside Asheville. George Washington Vanderbilt II (1862-1914) conceived the idea for his country house during a visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1888. A year later, construction began on what would become the largest privately owned home in America, a French Renaissance chateau with 250 rooms covering four acres of floor space. Vanderbilt opened the finished house to family and friends on Christmas Eve 1895. The acres of beautiful gardens and grounds were designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. We’ll enter the mansion for a self-guided visit along a marked route, using audio guides that will tell the story of Biltmore, the Vanderbilts, their guests and servants, and the amazing architecture and interior decoration.

Lunch: At a restaurant on the Biltmore estate, we’ll have a plated meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, at the Antler Hill Farm and Winery, we’ll step back into the 1890s and lives of the families who lived on the estate. Then at the wine bar, we’ll enjoy some complimentary tastings and more as part of our experience at one of America’s most-visited wineries, located in the heart of Antler Hill Village. We'll also be able to view an exhibit that hosts 60 years of Vanderbilt family wedding fashion including Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil’s 1924 wedding gown and veil re-created by noted costume designers Cosprop, Ltd. of London, as well as the first-ever display of the Lee family veil which was worn by Mary Lee Ryan for her marriage to George Vanderbilt’s grandson, William A.V. Cecil, and also by her first cousin Jacqueline Lee Bouvier for her marriage to future U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Dinner: At a popular restaurant in Biltmore Village, we’ll have a plated meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends at our farewell dinner.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Transfer to Atlanta, Program Concludes
Asheville, North Carolina

Activity note: Transfer to Atlanta departs at 8:00 a.m. Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: The motorcoach will depart at 8:00 a.m. and return to Atlanta with arrival expected at approximately 12:00 Noon. We will stop first at the Atlanta Airport and then at Hyatt Place. Please make flight arrangements accordingly. For participants traveling out of Asheville to the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, please see travel information for options to get from Asheville to Charlotte. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!