In and Around Tunica

Visitors to Tunica have several options when they want to take a break from gaming. In addition to live entertainment, golf courses and outlet shopping, there are fascinating attractions in and around Tunica and just north of the county in Memphis.

Tourism officials in Tunica and Memphis call a combined visit to both destinations a winning combination. Those flying into or driving through Memphis may want to add a few days in the city either before or after a visit to Tunica. Tunica is also a good base for day trips to surrounding areas of interest, as well as to Memphis.

IN AND AROUND TUNICA

Right in Robinsonville, home to Tunica's casino resorts, is the Hollywood Cafe, housed in a former plantation commissary building. The cafe is a spiritual heir to the Mississippi Delta juke joints where the blues greats played. Robin-

sonville itself lays claim to the blues giant Robert Johnson, who lived here for a while, and artists like Son House, Charlie Patton and Howlin' Wolf who played in its juke joints.

The Hollywood has live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights (singer/songwriter Marc Cohn immortalized the place in his song "Walking in Memphis"). The cafe also serves distinctive Delta delicacies like catfish, shrimp, barbecue and, for

the adventurous, fried dill pickles!

The great outdoors awaits fishermen and boaters at two nearby lakes. The 2,500-acre Tunica Cutoff Lake, seven miles from the town of Tunica, is well stocked with catfish, bass, bream and crappie and also offers hunting, boating, jet-skiing and waterskiing.

Fifteen miles south of the town of Tunica, the 1,000-acre Flower Lake features boat rentals and fishing. There are local guide services to both lakes for half-day, full-day and multi-day fishing trips.

To the south of Tunica lies Oxford, home of William Faulkner and the University of Mississippi. Rowan Oak, the author's antebellum home, is open for tours. At the university, several original buildings like the Lyceum, the school's central building which survived the burning of the town in 1864, provide a glimpse of pre-Civil War society.

Near Oxford, the town of Holly Springs is another repository of Southern heritage. Its Marshall County Historical Museum contains a collection of Civil War relics, plantation tools, quilts and old dolls, as well as Chickasaw Indian memorabilia. Many of the town's antebellum homes are open for tours during an annual spring pilgrimage.

Mississippi's rich musical roots are showcased at the University of Mississippi's Center for the Study of Southern Culture. The center, which serves as a research facility for Southern music, also houses an extensive collection of blues and country music memorabilia and sponsors blues and country music festivals throughout the state.

In Clarksdale, also south of Tunica, the Delta Blues Museum tells the story of the blues and its major artists through artifacts, photos and videos. Just outside of Clarksdale is Stovall Plantation and Muddy Waters' Cabin, where this blues giant was raised.

MEMPHIS

For most people, Memphis means Graceland. The city's No. 1 attraction is, of course, the former home of Elvis Presley. Born in Mississippi, the King lived for 20 years in this white-columned mansion. Today visitors check in at the visitor center (and shopping area) across the street from the mansion. From there it's on to Graceland for the trip back in time to the Elvis era.

A variety of Graceland tours include the mansion itself and Elvis' trophy building, housing his enormous collection of gold records and awards; Elvis' private jets including the Hound Dog II and the Lisa Marie; the Auto Museum, featuring 22 cars owned by Elvis including the 1955 pink Cadillac he bought for Mom, and Sincerely Elvis, a self-guided tour offering an intimate look at the King through rare home movies, photos and offstage clothing.

Memphis' other famous musical legacy can be experienced on legendary Beale Street, called the Home of the Blues. This national historic landmark is the site of lively nightlife with live music on tap at nightclubs and restaurants, including B.B. King's own blues club.

On Beale Street is a statue of W.C. Handy, the Father of the Blues, and the W.C. Handy Museum, the musician's small wood-frame home containing artifacts and memorabilia, and Sun Studio Beale Street, a new museum tracing the collision of blues and country that led to the birth of rock 'n' roll.

The actual birthplace of

rock 'n' roll is Sun Studio in downtown Memphis. Opened by Sam Phillips in 1950, the studio recorded Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison. It is open for tours daily and still operates as a recording studio at night.

Not all of Memphis' attractions are about music. The Pink Palace Museum & Planetarium is a multifaceted facility that includes natural and cultural history exhibits, a planetarium and an IMAX Theater. The mansion itself was built in 1923 for Clarence Saunders, founder of the Piggly Wiggly stores, and the museum contains an exact replica of the original Piggly Wiggly, the first self-service grocery store.

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is Tennessee's oldest and largest museum of fine and decorative arts. It is located in a landmark 1916 building.

Mud Island, an 18-gallery Mississippi River Museum, focuses on river life, legends and folklore, while the Pyramid is a 32-story stainless-steel tribute to the city's namesake, the capital of ancient Egypt, featuring a 20,000-seat arena, used for basketball, concerts and other events, on the banks of the Mississippi.

The National Civil Rights Museum is the country's first museum dedicated to chronicling the history of the American civil rights movement. Located on the site of the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, the museum features interactive exhibits, audiovisual displays and memorabilia. n

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