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Family Outings
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Historic Sites

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Weird & Wonderful

Approximate Duration: 45 min

Top Rated Attractions in Memphis

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Herb Parsons Lake

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.

Mason Temple

The Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, has been turned into the Civil Rights Museum. But the Mason Temple, where he gave his famous "I've Been to the Mountain Top" speech, is still a functional church—the headquarters of the Church of God in Christ. The church holds services on Martin Luther King Day in January in honor of his birthday. The church is included in the Heritage Tour of Historic Churches. Call church office for private tours.

Crystal Shrine Grotto

Located inside the Memorial Park Cemetery, Crystal Shrine Grotto dates back to 1937. It is the product of the imagination and creativity of Mexican sculpture Dionicio Rodriquez. Rodriquez was known to create magic out of mere concrete, and the biblical scenes painted inside these caves are testimony to this talent. After Rodriquez, many other artists also added to the beauty of the caves. A dramatic sculpture marks the entrance of the cave, as you proceed inside you will notice the ceiling which is lined with Arkansas crystals, thus the name of the shrine. The cave illustrates various scenes from the Bible, and wooden and limestone sculptures bring these scenes to life.

St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral

Builders of churches in the U.S. in the 19th and early 20th centuries tended to borrow their designs from much older European constructions. Thus, this white stone cathedral, built in the late 1800s and early 1900s has the look of a 13th-century Gothic church from a town in Bavaria. W. Halsey Wood, the architect of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, designed it. Look for the altar dedicated to the nurses who died after contracting yellow fever from their patients during the epidemic of 1878. Many were treated here, in the previous St. Mary's building.

St. Mary's Catholic Church

Considering how small the population of Memphis was in the 1860s, before the Civil War, there are a remarkable number of existing churches that date from the time. Memphis was not ravaged by the war, as were many other southern towns. So the charming St. Mary's, with its Gothic tower, survived to be completed shortly after the war. The interior of the church, built by German immigrants, features statues, stained glass, an elaborately carved altar and a lovely side chapel and garden. Weekday visitors should knock at the church office door for admittance.

First Baptist Beale Street Church

The historic First Baptist Beale Street Church, located at the end of the entertainment district, merits the "historic" tag for a number of reasons. For one thing, it was the first and largest Negro Missionary Church, built just after the Civil War. In the 1890s, Ida B. Wells used the basement of the church to publish the Free Speech and Headlights newspaper, one of the first newspapers written specifically for an African-American audience. The church is included in the Heritage Tour of Historic Churches. Call +1 901 527 3427 for information or call the church office recording and leave a message for a private tour.

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