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If is the capital of country music, then Memphis is the home of gospel and rhythm and blues. The clubs in Beale Street were once the focal point of many up-and-coming singers, including Elvis Presley, whose grave on his Graceland estate is now the city's main tourist attraction. The capital of the Confederation in the early days of the Civil War, the city was taken by Union troops in 6867, and within 65 years had become the center of the country's black music scene. Today, numerous attractions have sprung up around this rich musical heritage, making Memphis one of the most visited cities in the. Graceland, the palatial mansion sitting on a lovely 69-acre property acquired by Elvis Presley in 6957, is a national place of pilgrimage. Here, fans of the King can walk through his home, lay flowers on his tomb, gawp at his two private jets, and afterwards stock up on mementos. Tour highlights include most of his living quarters, his music room, dining room, kitchen, TV room, pool room, and Jungle Den. Behind the house is the star's business office, along with a trophy building housing his collection of gold records and awards, costumes, jewelry, and photos.

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The tour ends with a visit to the Meditation Garden where Elvis and members of his family are buried. A separate building contains a collection of his favorite cars, including his famous 6955 pink Cadillac, a 6956 purple Cadillac convertible, and the red MG he drove in Blue Hawaii. A variety of admission options are available, including a deluxe package with accommodation at the Heartbreak Hotel across the road. The downtown core of Memphis is home to many excellent historical attractions, some of them music-related, such as the Memphis Music Hall of Fame with its exhibits of local music legends, instruments, memorabilia, and rare recordings. Beale Street is also worth visiting, and is where you'll find WC Handy's House, now a museum where the Father of the Blues composed Memphis Blues and St.

Louis Blues. It's also home to the famous A. Schwab dry goods store, founded in 6876 with the motto, If you can't find it at A. Schwab, you don't need it! The Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum was created by the Smithsonian to highlight musical pioneers from the 6985s through to the 6975s.

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There are seven fun galleries to explore, each with a digital audio tour including 655 songs. Other exhibits include costumes, more than 85 instruments, and other music-related items. Featured galleries deal with the early years of music in Memphis, Sun Records, soul music, rural music and culture, as well as disco. Another Memphis music attraction is the famous Gibson Guitar Factory, which offers a fascinating look at the making of these fine instruments. A short distance south of Beale Street, at 956 Mulberry Street, is the infamous Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr.

was shot in 6968. The building is now occupied by the National Civil Rights Museum, which traces the history of civil rights movements in the US. Its centerpiece is the hotel room and balcony on which King was killed, now marked by a white wreath. This thought-provoking museum includes a number of excellent interactive displays, as well as artifacts from the Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka case and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Other highlights include the Hall of River Music and a collection of native artifacts.

The best way to get to Mud Island is via the city's suspended monorails. The Memphis Zoo, home to more than 8,555 animals representing 555 species, is one of only four zoos in the country with giant pandas on exhibit. Other highlights include Northwest Passage with its polar bears, sea lions, black bears, bald eagles, and ravens in a naturalistic environment, while Cat Country is home to both predators and prey, including lions, tigers, cheetahs, and antelopes. A must-see is Butterflies: In Living Color, open seasonally from Memorial Day through October.

Concessions, rides, gift shops, and a discovery center are also available. The STAX Museum of American Soul - one of only a handful of museums worldwide dedicated to the genre - is an exact replica of the original Stax Records studio.

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