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  • The crypt of Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King in Atlanta, Georgia
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    Martin Luther King’s Legacy Lives on in Atlanta, Georgia

  • Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama
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    Kings of Country Music and Civil Rights in Montgomery, Alabama

  • Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama
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    Step Back in Time in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama

  • Dating to 1948, Club Ebony, famous for bring stars to Indianola,  Mississippi
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    Visit the Home of Blues Legend B.B. King in Indianola, Mississippi

  • The Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi
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    Museums, Memorabilia and More in Clarksdale

  • The birthplace of Elvis Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi
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    Discover Elvis Presley's Roots in Tupelo, Mississippi

  • Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home in Memphis, Tennessee
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    Memphis, Tennessee: Shaped by 'Kings'

B.B. King mural in Indianola, Mississippi
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Kings of the South

  • Route distance:
    1194km
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

Tracing the steps of legendary figures

B.B. King, Martin Luther King Jr. and Elvis Presley shared more than just fame. They shared a Southern heritage that influenced their evolution into global icons. The humble beginnings of these three “Kings” stretches across the southern United States, from Georgia to Tennessee, where their legacies are now woven into the landscape. On this road trip, explore their roots, learn about their historical impact and immerse yourself into the culture of the Deep South, just like the “Kings” did.

01
The crypt of Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King in Atlanta, Georgia
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Martin Luther King’s Legacy Lives on in Atlanta, Georgia

After flying in to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, you’ll find this lively city is the perfect place to familiarize yourself with the South. Enjoy signature Southern cooking, charming neighborhoods and impressive historical sites. It’s also where the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was born. His birth home on Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue has been preserved and is now part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Take a guided tour of the house, and walk through Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he served as co-pastor. Next, walk around the block to visit The King Center, where King and his wife, Coretta, are buried near an eternal flame. Surrounding the National Historic Site, stroll the Curb Market in the Sweet Auburn district, where you’ll find several places to sample Southern specialties. Don’t forget to check Atlanta’s events calendar before you travel; the city hosts several events commemorating King.

257 km
3 hours by car
02
Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama
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Kings of Country Music and Civil Rights in Montgomery, Alabama

From Atlanta, head southwest to the historic river city of Montgomery, Alabama. Its numerous claims-to-fame include the origins of the American Civil War, the home of country music king Hank Williams and the civil rights beginnings of Martin Luther King Jr. A perfect first stop is the historic State Capitol building, where Southern politicians formed the Confederate States of America in 1861. Take a tour of the building and then go next door to visit the First White House of the Confederacy. Stretch your legs with a visit to the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church and Parsonage, where King organized a civil rights boycott from the church basement. Wind the day down with a stop at the Hank Williams Museum in the Alley entertainment district. Here, take a convenient stroll from the Riverwalk along the Alabama River to Commerce Street for dining and entertainment.

165 km
2 hours by car
03
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama
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Step Back in Time in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama

A quick drive north from Montgomery takes you to Birmingham, Alabama. Stop in downtown Birmingham to find three important civil rights-era sites: 16th Street Baptist Church, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and historic Kelly Ingram Park. After touring the sites, head two blocks over to find the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and discover music from the Kings of Jazz. When you’re feeling hungry, the Five Points South District has you covered with nationally recognized restaurants headed by celebrated chefs. After a hearty meal, drive up the hill from Five Points to Vulcan Park and marvel at the largest cast-iron statue in the USA; as a symbol of the city’s iron and steel industry history, the 17-meter statue of the Roman god of fire and forge stands on a 38-meter pedestal. Don’t forget your camera in the car; this is a perfect spot to take a photo. Back on the road, head one hour southwest to reach Tuscaloosa. Nearby, is the 130-hectare Moundville Archaeological Park, where the largest civilization of Native Americans in North America lived from the years 1000 to 1450. History buffs, rejoice!   

315 km
4 hours by car
04
Dating to 1948, Club Ebony, famous for bring stars to Indianola,  Mississippi
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Visit the Home of Blues Legend B.B. King in Indianola, Mississippi

Welcome to Indianola, home of blues legend B.B. King and your next road trip stop in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, where flat plains and social history exemplifies Southern culture. Swing by the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center to learn how he transitioned from Delta sharecropper and tractor driver to international music legend. Experiment in a real guitar studio, or check out the live music. Outside the center, take a walking tour of Indianola. Let historic markers lead you to landmarks, from the corner where King first earned money singing the blues to the iconic Club Ebony, which hosted acts like Ike Turner, Ray Charles and, eventually, King himself. Look for the statue of King in his namesake park and the mural amplifying his likeness. Then, head to Front Street to take in downtown and stop to sample Southern fare.

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100 km
1 hour by car
05
The Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi
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Museums, Memorabilia and More in Clarksdale

Dive deeper into blues history with a visit to Clarksdale. Frequently called the “birthplace of blues,” Clarksdale’s impressive music history and proximity to the Mississippi River solidifies the city’s status as a Southern culture mecca. Downtown, devote time to both the Delta Blues Museum and the Rock & Blues Museum. In the former, view the remains of Muddy Waters’ cabin and see one of B.B. King’s guitars; in the latter, find layers of signed memorabilia. While you drive through town, keep an eye out for the blue Mississippi Blues Trail markers, which highlight locations significant to music history. Before heading back on the road, stop by Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art. This famous shop is the place to find out who’s playing in town or pick up a souvenir blues CD.

182 km
2 hours by car
06
The birthplace of Elvis Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi
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Discover Elvis Presley's Roots in Tupelo, Mississippi

Ready for a snack? On your way to Tupelo, make a pit stop in Oxford, a college town known for its famous dish, “chicken-on-a-stick.” After refueling, head to east to Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ’n’ Roll. Stop by Tupelo Hardware, where Gladys Presley bought her son, Elvis, his first guitar. Next, head to the Elvis Presley Birthplace to better acquaint yourself with the music legend. Here, you can tour the two-bedroom house where Elvis was born and walk through the major milestones of his life along a paved trail that circles the home. While you’re in town, visit a couple of other relevant places; try the dough burger at Johnnie’s Drive-In, then go to the former site of Shake Rag, a stopover for African-American traveling musicians. Visiting in June? You’re in luck. The annual Tupelo Elvis Festival celebrates Presley with a slew of local, regional and national musicians, a Sunday gospel concert and an Elvis Tribute Artist Contest.

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175 km
2 hours by car
07
Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home in Memphis, Tennessee
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Memphis, Tennessee: Shaped by 'Kings'

Cross the border from Mississippi to Tennessee to arrive at the final stop on this royal road trip, the city of Memphis, where B.B. King made his name as the “Blues Boy” of Beale Street, Elvis Presley unleashed rock ‘n’ roll on the world from Sun Studio, and Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous last speech. Start with tours at Graceland and Sun Studio to discover Elvis at the beginning and end of his career. A visit to nearby Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum illuminates how of the legacies of B.B. King, Presley and others are entwined into the city’s culture. Of course, no trip through Memphis would be complete without a moving visit to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. For a fabulous end to your journey through Southern history, enjoy dinner and live music at B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street. When you’re ready to head home, catch a flight out at the nearby Memphis International Airport.

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Bustling Beale Street at night
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Destination

Memphis