As of 2006, Memphis had just less than 700,000 in habitants, making it the largest city in Tennessee. This beautiful location is known for its great music, historical presence, and culinary superiority. As a home or vacation destination, Memphis is beloved by people across the United States. No matter what your tastes may be, Memphis has events and tourist destinations that you will love.
One of the biggest events in this regions is Memphis in May, a month-long celebration of the city, its people and its heritage. It begins with the first weekend in May being the date of the Beale Street Music Festival at Tom Lee Park. This is lovingly known as The Mardi Gras of the Mid-South and features big-name performers as well as local talent. This history of this weekend can be traced back to the 1800s, but more recent performers included ZZ Top, Sheryl Crow, The B-52s, Seether, and Foo Fighters. Next, Memphis in May hosts International Week, in which a different nation is honored every year. In recent years, Spain, Ireland, Costa Rica, and South Africa have been honored. Other events during Memphis in May include the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, The FedEx St. Jude Classic (a PGA golf tournament), and a closing performance by the Sunset Symphony.
On April 4, 1968, Memphis became the final stop for Martin Luther King, Jr., a prominent civil rights activist. He was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel, and after the business was foreclosed in 182, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation purchased the property at auction and constructed a museum around it. The multiple exhibits show aspects of the civil rights fight, from the arrival of the first slaves in 1619 to the assassination that occurred on site. Whether you are passing through Memphis or moving to the area, this is a great place to visit to learn a little about United States history and African-American rights.
Founded in 1916, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is home to a very large and historic art collection. You can find this museum in Overton Park, and a visit here will allow you to view collections from the Italian Renaissance and Baroque time periods, as well as French Impressionism and 20th-century work. Local artists sometimes exhibit at this site as well. Also found in Overton Park is the Memphis Zoo, which has more that 3,500 animals and 500 different species. The zoo has 70 acres to call home and creates state-of-the-art homes for is inhabitants, which mimic the animals’ natural habitats. One of the most popular exhibits is CHINA, which is the home of two giant pandas. With 300 students, the Memphis College of Art (previously known as the Memphis Academy of Arts) is also found in Overton Park, as is the Overton Shell Auditorium.
If you are a fan of music, that you probably already know that Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley, is also found in Memphis. In 2006, the United States Secretary of the Interior designated Graceland a Historical Landmark. Presley himself purchased the home in 1957 because of its privacy and secure location. He died in the house in 1977 allegedly of a heart attack. His remains are found here, in a museum that opened to the public in 1982. You can find a number of Elvis-related artifacts here, like his musical awards, gold records, and jumpsuits.
A small peninsula on the Mississippi River, Mud Island is home to a museum, restaurants, and a water park. It is one of the hot tourist destinations for Memphis visitors, especially outdoor enthusiasts, as it is home to a number of bike trials and has areas for pedal boats and rafting. You can also see here a hydraulic scale model of the lower Mississippi River, which outlines historical facts about towns along the river and empties into the Gulf of Mexico swimming pool.
Other great places to visit in Memphis include the Memphis Botanic Garden, Beale Street, the Orpheum Theatre, and the Memphis Motorsports Park. If you like sports, you can check out a basketball game with the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum, some triple A baseball with the Memphis Redbirds (a farm team for the St. Louis Cardinals) at the AutoZone Park, or a hockey game with the Memphis RiverKings at the DeSoto Civic Center. No matter what your interests, Memphis has something for you.
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