Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Traveling with History: Memphis

By Nina Kendall

Looking for a different vacation destination? Want to immerse yourself in history? Then Memphis is a great choice for you. Memphis is the heart of the Mid-South. The position of the city on the banks of the Mississippi River creates a unique mix of agrarian tradition and economic opportunity. This city was the site of battle in the Civil War and the birthplace of Rock’ n Roll. When you visit, you will find something for everyone to enjoy.

Here are a few great places to visit:

Memphis Rock-N-Soul Museum is a fascinating Smithsonian affiliated museum with a personal audio tour. You begin with a movie and then walk through the history of music in Memphis. With each exhibit you can choose from audio narration and musical selections to enhance the exhibits. The exhibits tell the story of modern music, the role of radio in its development, and how the community was impacted by the opportunities. Learn about the challenges musicians faced and the unique way they were addressed in Memphis. You can spend hours listening to music and enjoying the exhibits.
The Memphis Rock-N-Soul Museum is one of many music attractions in the area. It is across the street from the Gibson Guitar factory which you can tour. It is also a few blocks from Beale Street the famous Music District in Memphis. Here you can here live music, visit Dyer’s Burgers, and see the statue of W.C. Handy. If you are willing to drive a little further, you can even visit Graceland.

Sun Studio is one of the most famous recording studios in the history of American music.  Here you can see the artifacts of the studio and hear early Elvis recordings. In this little building you can find the history of the million dollar quartet and the birth of rock-n-roll. From DJ booth to recording studio, you can see all parts of the story.
National Civil Rights Museum is a museum built on the site of the Lorraine Motel. Here you can learn about the movement for Civil Rights and follow the events surrounding the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr and the pursuit of James Earl Ray. You can stand in the room James Earl Ray rented and visit the room occupied by Dr. King. Interactive exhibits combine text, images and audio to immerse you in the tragedy of the place and the victories of the movement.
The Pink Palace is a museum that features both natural and cultural history of the region. You can enjoy moving dinosaurs on the ground floor before strolling through a replica Piggly Wiggly on the second floor.  You can walk through the history of the region. See a Model T and view the dress of a former Cotton Queen. What do you think your favorite exhibit will be/?
Of course, no visit to Memphis would be complete without a chance to enjoy the Mississippi River. Memphis has some great options. You can drive down to the banks of the river to take a picture, visit Mud Island River Park and Mississippi River Museum, or even choose to take a river cruise.

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