Photos: Terrific Tennessee

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  1. Showtime

    The largest showboat in the world, the historic 300-foot-long General Jackson cruises along the Cumberland River. (Heavenly Perspectives via Nashville CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Honky-tonk high

    Concert-goers enjoy an act at the 2006 CMA Music Festival June 8, in Nashville, Tenn. (Rusty Russell / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Fan favorites

    During the annual 'Fan Fair' in Nashville, Jim Hager of the TV show 'Hee-Haw' gives a fan a kiss. Thousands are drawn to the annual face-to-face meeting of musicians and their admirers. (Karen Kasmauski / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Original tunes

    Buffer Mitch Trentel finishes a guitar at the Gibson custom shop in Nashville. Gibson guitars are touted as the best in the world. (Bob Sacha / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Play it again

    Musician Tim Hadler stands holding his guitar outside Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, a country music bar in Nashville, Tenn. (Catherine Karnow / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A state of awe

    State Capitol & War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. At the memorial, a statue of a lone warrior stands high above the plaza steps. Close by, is a black marble memorial wall with the names of Vietnam veterans from Tennessee. (Walter Bibikow / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Country history

    The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum illustrates country music's story through a treasure trove of historic video clips, recorded music, exhibits, live performances, public programs, live satellite radio broadcasts, on-site dining and more. (Timothy Hursley / Nashville CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Opryland wonderland

    Gaylord Opryland Resort Atrium is noted as America's largest non-casino resort. Spread across nine acres, this wonderland includes a natural indoor atrium with rivers, walking paths, lush landscaping, and waterfalls year-round. (Barry M. Winiker / Nashville CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Beale Street

    One of America's most famous musical streets, Beale Street is located in the heart of downtown Memphis and is 3 blocks of more than 30 nightclubs, restaurants and retail shops. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

    Set in the city's historic Overton Park, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is the region's oldest and largest museum. Its collection of paintings, prints and sculptures spans the 13th through 20th centuries and represents cultures from virtually every continent. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. National Civil Rights Museum

    Located at the Lorraine Motel, site of the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the National Civil Rights Museum presents interactive audiovisual displays, life-sized replicas and actual artifacts to present an emotionally charged history of the American civil rights movement. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Legends in tune

    Taken at Sun Studio, this famous photo features some of the greatest performers in Rock'n'Roll history: Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Wall of famous faces

    More famous musicians' photos at Sun Studio. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Memphis Motorsports Park

    The Memphis Motorsports Park Hosts the NASCAR Busch Series, NASCAR Truck Series and the NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Trolley to the mall

    Restored antique trolley cars ramble along the Main Street Mall and scenic Riverside Drive, connecting downtown area attractions, hotels, restaurants, and shops. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. The Pyramid Arena

    The Pyramid Arena, situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, is one of the most uniquely designed structures on earth and hosts assorted entertainment and sporting events. A tribute to the city's Egyptian namesake in Egypt, this 32-story, 22,500-seat, is the third largest pyramid in the world. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Mississippi River Park & Museum

    This full-scale replica of the Mississippi River is just one of the many, popular points of interest found at the Mississippi River Park and Museum. The "island" also features an 18-gallery, interactive history museum, amphitheater, gift shops and restaurants. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 10/9/2006 3:12:43 PM ET 2006-10-09T19:12:43

For many people, the city of Memphis is synonymous with one of the most significant, and saddest, events in recent American history -- the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Lorraine Motel, where King was staying when he was shot, has in the years since the assassination become the National Civil Rights Museum.

Long before the civil rights movement brought King to Memphis, the city had already become one of the most important cities in the South for blacks. After the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, Memphis became a magnet for African Americans, who came here seeking economic opportunities. Beale Street was where they headed to start their search. Beale Street's most famous citizen was W. C. Handy, the father of the blues, who first put down on paper the blues born in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. W. C. Handy Park, with its statue of the famous blues musician, is about halfway down Beale Street, and Handy's small house, now the W. C. Handy House Museum, is also now on Beale Street. At the Memphis Rock 'N' Soul Museum, just a block off Beale Street, you can learn more about Handy and other famous African-American blues musicians who found a place for their music. Another museum with exhibits on famous black musicians is the Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium.

Church Park, on the corner of Beale and Fourth Streets -- once the site of a large auditorium -- was established by Robert R. Church, a former slave and Memphis businessman who became the city's first black millionaire. The park was a gathering place for African Americans in the early 1900s when restrictive Jim Crow laws segregated city parks.

Gospel music was part of the inspiration for the blues that W. C. Handy wrote, and that music came from the churches of the black community. The tradition of rousing musical accompaniment in church continues at many of the city's churches, but none is more famous than the Full Gospel Tabernacle, 787 Hale Rd. (tel. 901/396-9192), which is where one-time soul-music star Al Green now takes to the pulpit as a minister. Sunday service is at 11 a.m. Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, 930 Mason St. (tel. 901/947-9300), is the international headquarters of the Church of God in Christ and was where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his "I've been to the mountaintop" speech shortly before his death.

If you'd like a guide to lead you through the most important sites in Memphis's African-American heritage, contact Heritage Tours (tel. 901/527-3427;, which offers both a 1-hour Beale Street Walking Tour ($8 adults, $5 youths) and 3- to 4-hour Memphis Black Heritage Tours ($20-$25 adults, $15-$20 youths). Heritage Tours also operates both the W. C. Handy House Museum and the Slavehaven/Burkle Estate Museum.

Another worthwhile attraction is the Alex Haley House Museum (tel. 731/738-2240), located in the small town of Henning about 45 miles (72km) north of downtown Memphis on U.S. 51. The home place is now a museum containing memorabilia and old portraits of the Haley family. Nearby is the family burial site, where Haley and many of his ancestors, including Chicken George, are buried. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $2.50 for adults and $1 for students.

For more on what to see and do in Memphis, visit our complete guide online at

Frommer’s is America’s bestselling travel guide series. Visit to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.


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