Down to the Mississippi Delta and Memphis

BalaganGoldStrikeHotelClick topmost title to open and scroll 

I have always been fascinated by the Mississippi Delta with its rich musical heritage. An invitation to the Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica was all the push I needed to head to the Delta and nearby. When I got there, I wondered why it had taken me so long.  

The Gold Strike Casino Hotel Resort in Tunica, Mississippi is part of a strip that some have dubbed the “Monte Carlo of the MidSouth”. It is much smaller and less flashy than anything you will find in Vegas but it is affordable and has its own Southern charm.

The entire area from Tunica to Memphis has a friendly feel.   Family entertainment and country music headliners are the draw at the casinos. We took in the new show at the Gold Strike called BALAGAN Theatrical Circus Sensation. It is a European-style circus show.  Cirque fans will love it. I was told it was produced out of Vegas and it was very entertaining. The whole audience was spellbound.  Tickets start at only $9.95. This is crazy cheap for a show like this anywhere. Trace Adkins performed at the neighbouring casino.  

Many people who visit Tunica never leave their casino or “the strip”. The Gold Strike has access to top-notch golf and tennis, and there is a selection of restaurants. But Memphis is only about 30 minutes away and the prospect of live music and blues bars beckoned.   Memphis is a very pretty city. The downtown is nice to walk in and visitor-friendly. The six-block long Main St. Pedestrian Mall is picturesque and lined with lovely buildings. It’s reserved for people and trolley cars and closed to cars. It’s just up the hill from the Mississippi riverfront with its walkable Greenbelt Park – a fabulous esplanade – and boat tours.   Beale Street with its world of entertainment is just steps away. It’s a treat, one long stretch of live music. I don’t “pub crawl”. I like to find my spot and settle in. The Rum Boogie Café is a local favourite with really good music and a crazy cheap cover charge of $3. We lucked out with a Chicago blues band. B.B. King’s Blues Bar is less than a block away.

The city is known for BBQ but we found tempting restaurants offering fresh fish, Thai, Chinese, as well as traditional Southern cooking.    The Flying Fish is a busy casual Cajun style fish restaurant near popular Beale Street. The funky décor is fun and the food is fresh and tasty. It was a perfect spot for lunch. I had shrimp ceviche that was not traditional with its spicy tomato sauce; but it was delicious and fresh.   We were not able to get a table at Gold Strike’s Chicago Steak House so we went next door to The Horseshoe Casino’s Jack Binion’s Steakhouse. We opted for a “flight of steaks”. The three-cut combo was impeccably prepared, and the elegant but friendly service was Beltz Museum of Asianperfect for the over-the-top retro vibe of the restaurant. They delivered exactly what I was craving a perfectly done, old-school steak dinner with flair and great wine.   We also stopped in for tea and cocktails at the elegant Peabody Hotel. The downtown landmark hotel was built in the 1920s. Locals, celebrities, and tourists flock to see the Peabody’s famous ducks. The ducks live on the roof at night and stay calmly around a large fountain in the Lobby Bar during the day. You can have a full afternoon tea or cocktail. The afternoon we were dropped by, the place was packed.   An expected pleasure was a visit to The Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art during an afternoon downpour. The museum is described as “the largest and most comprehensive collection of Chinese art in the southern region of the United States”. The galleries of silk, jade, and other object d’art and furniture are breathtaking. The Judaic collection contains many unique pieces as well as a very moving Holocaust exhibit. The museum is beautifully curated with a knowledgeable docent. It is possible to arrange private tours. This is a must for art lovers.  

I didn’t go to Graceland. I adore Elvis but the Graceland tour is pricy and complicated. But that’s me – you can go.  There is so much to see, do, and hear down there. I can’t wait to go back.