One of the best elements of traveling is truly immersing yourself in a new land, its culture and its cuisine. You never want to feel rushed, shortchanged or tired out from a jam-packed itinerary.
Enter Spotlight tours from AAA Member Choice Vacations, designed to help you and your fellow travelers soak up everything about a single city or region, its people and its way of life.
On these getaways, which range anywhere from five to nine days, you get to travel at a more leisurely pace, while mixing the most popular destinations with guided tours of hidden gems only the locals know about.
Plus, with international and domestic destinations available, you can choose Spotlight travel for your dream European vacation or to see parts of the U.S. you haven’t yet experienced – without having to pack and unpack every other morning. The vacations even have activity level rankings that can help you decide based on how much built-in downtime you want during your stay.
Here are a few of the newest and most popular Spotlight tours AAA Member Choice Vacations is offering in 2020.
Spotlight on Nashville
Nashville is the home of the Country Music Hall of Fame, but virtually everywhere you go downtown, you’ll experience live music – and not just country, but also jazz and blues too.
Your Spotlight tour is a five-day trip with seven meals included at some of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants, including the Wildhorse Saloon, where executive chef Nic Erickson creates down-home delights topped with scratch-made biscuits and jam, and some of the best Southern smokehouse cuisine you’ll find in a city that has quickly become a hotbed for foodies (you’ll even get a line dancing lesson while you’re there).
You’ll stay at the state-of-the-art Drury Plaza Hotel in downtown, steps away from Nashville’s most popular attractions and music venues. Here you’ll enjoy amenities like a 24-hour fitness center and both indoor and outdoor pools with a whirlpool, as well as its trademark “5:30 p.m. Kickback” service, where you can enjoy free tasty treats like make-your-own barbecue pulled pork sliders or a fresh Caesar salad.
Highlights include a tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame (complete with iconic costumes and instruments and a tour of Elvis Presley’s recording studio), historic tours of nearby Civil War landmarks and plenty of live music. You’ll even get to experience a show at “Country Music’s Most Famous Stage,” the Grand Ole Opry.
As someone with little interest in country music, my recent trip to Nashville was an incredible surprise. The energy downtown is unlike any other I’ve experienced, the food is so flavorful and with insight from AAA travel agents, you’ll be able to experience so much in five days without feeling rushed.
Spotlight on D.C.
As the country’s capital, Washington, D.C., is the place to learn about America’s heritage and almost 250 years of history. D.C. is home to many iconic and historical structures, including memorials, monuments and museums that honor U.S. veterans, our Founding Fathers and other important historical figures.
This Spotlight tour starts in earnest at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, where a local expert-led tour will take you to the White House, the National Mall, World War II Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Korean War Memorial.
The next day begins at the White House Visitor Center, where you’ll view artifacts from the White House collection. Then, choose your adventure for the rest of the day as you decide between a visit to the National Air and Space Museum or the National Museum of American History.
The following day brings you to Arlington National Cemetery for a narrated tour that takes you to the Kennedy family gravesites and the Tomb of the Unknowns. In the afternoon you’ll visit Mount Vernon, Va., and explore George Washington’s home and plantation grounds. Next, roam the cobblestone streets of Old Town Alexandria, where you’ll find community charm, historic Colonial architecture and trendy boutiques before ending the day at Gadsby’s Tavern.
The next morning starts at the Washington National Cathedral, where you’ll take a docent-led tour around the monumental church that took over 80 years to build. The cathedral housed many important moments of U.S. history, including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last sermon and presidential inaugural Masses.
With dates spanning from late March through November, this six-day Spotlight on D.C. tour celebrates our story of democracy and those who helped build and fight for America.
Spotlight on London
Nothing will have you feeling more like a local than a trip on the “Tube” and a foodie walking tour during a seven-day, eight meal vacation to London, one of the world’s most iconic cities.
Like so many Spotlight trips, you get choices – like whether you prefer to visit the lavish Kensington Palace (where Queen Victoria, Princess Diana and Prince William once lived) or the Churchill war rooms, where Britain’s leaders plotted the path to victory during World War II.
Take a panoramic city tour on day three, where you’ll see famed attractions like St. Paul’s Square, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and more. In Westminster, you can see the Houses of the British Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, too. If those are too busy for you, take a culinary tour of London’s East End instead – fish and chips, various curries and the best pubs in the world are available to you.
Your trip also includes five nights at the Radisson Blu Edwardian, Vanderbilt, in the heart of the Royal Borough and only minutes away from the Natural History Museum and Harrods, the famous department store. Its Victorian-era staircases and stained-glass windows alone will make for beautiful pictures.
The best part about Spotlight tours from AAA Member Choice Vacations is the mix of unique guided tours and built-in time for you to explore a city on your own. And with so many cities available for 2020 bookings and beyond, there are plenty of opportunities for you to find out just how special these trips truly are.