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Right in the heart of Downtown Memphis lies the legendary Beale Street. Ever since its inception in 1841, Beale Street has always been a major locus of commerce in the city. As the years progressed and the street and the area around it built up, the street snowballed into a thriving commonplace for travelling African-American musicians to perform. With the advent of the Orpheum Theater and the Church Park, nightclubs, restaurants and shops began to brim the area. Through the early 20th Century, legendary musicians like Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters and BB King performed on Beale Street and developed the Memphis Blues sound. Today, Beale Street is a major attraction in the city of Memphis, with legendary blues clubs, restaurants and shops that have been around almost as long as the street itself. Come evening, the street and its many lanes are illuminated by myriad neon-signboards of bars and restaurants which merrily beckon tourists and locals alike. The street is also known for hosting the grand Memphis in May International Festival and the Beale Street Music Festival every year.
Standing on Union Avenue since 1950, this iconic studio has played host to everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis and to B.B King and Johnny Cash, who've all recorded multiple legendary albums here. In 1953, a certain 18-year-old named Elvis Presley walked into the studio and paid to record two songs; the rest is history. Trending even today, the Sun welcomes modern musicians to make records here, many of whom have gone on to join the studio's golden roster of world-famous musical talents. The studio has gradually transformed itself into a historic attraction where numerous artifacts and exhibits relating to its illustrious guests are delicately preserved and displayed for generations to cherish.
While speaking on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. You can relive history here by visiting the balcony and Dr. King's room, restored as it was when he was here to support the sanitation workers' strike. Through interactive multimedia exhibits you participate in the civil rights movement and learn its history from the 1600s through Rosa Parks and the freedom riders until today.
Stax Museum of American Soul Music is located on the site of Stax Records which is known to have much significance in the music industry. The company is known to have launched the careers of many successful musicians. There are around 2000 exhibits that include videos, artifacts, films, photographs, and more. Apart from the exhibits, the museum regularly plays host to events like live concerts, educational programs, and fundraisers.
Memphis' main museum is housed in a marble building completed in 1916. The architecturally beautiful rooms house an outstanding collection of medieval art and a small but worthwhile collection of Impressionist works. One room is dedicated to a "touch" exhibit for vision-impaired visitors. Temporary exhibits include a patriotic show held during the Memphis in May Festival. The restaurant, the Brushmark, is a fine place to lunch, especially when the outside patio is open, which looks out on Overton Park.
The 2800 animals from over 400 species here have cared for in environments as close to their native habitats as possible. From African veldt to Asian temple ruins, Peruvian rain forests or Jamaican caverns, the animals roam free. Young children will enjoy the "Once Upon a Farm" exhibit and the amusement rides. The whole family will love watching the apes and monkeys in Primate Canyon. Do not miss the lions and tigers in Cat Country. Trams make getting around the park easy; wheelchairs and strollers can be rented.
Once home to music legend Elvis Presley, Graceland epitomizes the flamboyant style that the unforgettable seventies packed in. Life came a full circle for the King of Rock 'n' Roll when he purchased this Colonial Revival house in Memphis from Stephen Toof, a way of honoring the city that fed his musical ambitions and set him on his way to becoming a rising star. Rumoured to be the second most-visited house in the United States, Graceland is preserved exactly as it was when Elvis lived here. Elvis Presley bought this 13.8 acre (5.6 hectares) estate in 1957 and spent a large part of his life expanding and improving the opulent property. On the boulevard named after the legend himself, a sleek entertainment complex and adjoining visitors centre feed Elvis' fans still-extant frenzy through a wealth of displays and exhibits that revolve around the musician's life. The Elvis Entertainer Career Museum highlights the main aspects of his singing career, and display his most iconic sartorial collections, while the Automobile Museum showcases the stunning fleet of cars that Elvis rode in, from the Cadillac Eldorado to the Stutz Blackhawk. On August 16, the anniversary of Elvis' death, a candlelight vigil draws worldwide fans to this exceptional monument.
Memphis Botanic Garden is a collection of gardens that covers over 96 acres (39 hectares) in East Memphis. The lovely Japanese garden, with its bridges, ponds and goldfish is a favorite with visitors, who come for the candlelight evening tours in the summer. In the spring, the Ketchum Iris Garden glows with a myriad of colors, while the Municipal Rose Garden is at its best in May, June, and September. There is even a Sensory Garden that is designed to appeal to all five senses.
Get your fishing pole ready and head to Herb Parsons Lake. This 177-acre (72-hectare) reservoir lake has a fishing pier, rental boats, and bait and tackle available for outdoor enthusiasts to use. Even if you don't fish, you can spend the day hiking around the lake or enjoying a picnic. Fish species that can be found here include the redear sunfish, yellow bass, and largemouth bass.