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Top 10 Must-See Memphis Attractions

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If you are visiting Memphis or just getting to know the city, there are a few places that should not be missed during your stay. While there are certainly other wonderful attractions in the area, these ten will give you a look at the very best of Memphis.

1. The Mississippi River

Neon signs on buildings
Walter Bibikow/The Image Bank/Getty Images
The Mississippi River is the second longest river in the United States and the largest by volume. It serves as Memphis' western border and is the reason why Memphis is known as "The River City" and "Bluff City." The banks of the Mississippi provide nearly five miles of parks which are perfect for outdoor recreation. In addition, riverboat cruises, canoe rentals, and other water activities are available.

2. Beale Street

Beale Street is perhaps the most famous street in Memphis and is home to more than 25 clubs and shops. Whether you want to find Memphis souvenirs, enjoy authentic Memphis soul food, listen to live music, or party into the night, Beale Street has everything you need. Day or night, there is always something going on down on Beale.

3. The National Civil Rights Museum

The National Civil Rights Museum is a one of a kind facility that showcases the struggle for civil rights in the United States. The museum is housed in the renovated Lorraine Motel which is the very hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968. It is the unique focus of this museum that attracts thousands of visitors every year from all over the world.

4. The Peabody Ducks

The Peabody Ducks are arguably one of Memphis' most unusual attractions. Each morning, a parade of five ducks marches into the fountain in the Peabody Hotel's grand lobby to the sounds of John Philip Sousa's King Cotton March. Each evening, the ceremony is reversed and the ducks return to their rooftop home. This may sound strange, but it has been a Memphis tradition since 1932.

5. The Rendezvous Restaurant

Memphis is a city famous for its melt-in-your-mouth barbecue. But perhaps the most famous barbecue restaurant in town is the Rendezvous. In business since 1948, the Rendezvous has been featured in novels, movies, and national news stories. In addition, many celebrities have been known to dine there. In fact, in 2006, President George W. Bush and the Japanese Prime Minister visited the restaurant for lunch.

6. AutoZone Park

AutoZone Park is the baseball stadium for the Memphis Redbirds, a AAA minor league team affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals. This state of the art park is considered by many to be one of the finest ballparks in the nation.

7. Sun Studio

Sun Studio was recording home to many artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Ike Turner, and more. Today it still functions as a recording studio, but also as a tourist attraction for music lovers from all over the world. Tours of this National Historic Landmark are given seven times each day, so there is plenty of opportunity for a visit.

8. The Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo has been one of the city's most popular attractions for 100 years. Its numerous and impressive renovations over the last several years have made the zoo better than ever. The zoo now houses more than 3,000 animals on its 70 acres, including lions, bears, elephants, and most recently, giant pandas on loan from China.

9. Pink Palace Museum

If you want a glimpse into Memphis history, the Pink Palace Museum is the place to go. It is one of the largest museums of its kind in the southeast and houses and impressive collection of exhibits designed to teach visitors about the cultural and natural history of Memphis and the Mid-South. In addition, the museum also offers a planetarium and four story IMAX theater.

10. Graceland

Without a doubt, Graceland is one of Memphis' most popular tourist attractions. Visitors to Graceland are given the opportunity to tour Elvis' mansion, visit his grave, and even view his collection of automobiles and airplanes. For fans of Elvis or even music in general, there is no doubt that a visit to Graceland is a must while in Memphis.

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