APT Jasper Marion
TYS Knoxville Tyson
MEM Memphis Intl
NQA Memphis Nas
BNA Nashville Metro
TRI Tri-City Airport
UCY Union City
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The exhilarating port of Memphis, Tennessee's largest city is a magnet for music fans, as the birthplace of urban blues and long-time home of Elvis. The fine plantation homes and tidy old towns of middle Tennessee 's rolling farmland reflect the comfortable lifestyle of its pioneers; smack at the heart of this is Nashville, still country music's capital, despite upstart competition from Branson and Myrtle Beach. The mountainous east shares its top attraction with North Carolina - the peaks, streams and meadows of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Continued below)
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The centerpiece of Chattanooga's twenty miles of reclaimed riverfront is Ross's Landing (the town's original name), a park at the bottom of Broad Street. Here the splendid five-story Tennessee Aquarium traces the aquatic life of the Mississippi from its Tennessee tributaries to the Gulf of Mexico, and also shows giant IMAX movies ($12.95, IMAX $7.25, combined ticket $17; call for hours and reservations tel 423/265-0695 or 1-800/262-0695, ). A variety of different cruises on the Southern Belle riverboat (tel 423/266-4488), from the bottom of nearby Chestnut Street, include the daunting experience of bobbing around in the bottom of a huge lock on Chickamauga Lake. Prices start from $10 for a daytime sightseeing tour.
A few blocks from the river, the Chattanooga Regional History Museum at 400 Chestnut St (Mon-Fri 10am-4.30pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4.30pm; $4) takes a look at the area's rich history, with displays on its steel, soft-drink bottling and power industries, and on the Cherokee. A short walk further along are the grand old c.1900 buildings of the lively business district, such as the eye-catching Tivoli Theatre at 709 Broad St.
The further Chattanooga sprawls back from the river, the more run-down it becomes, but it's well worth heading the two miles up to the Choo-Choo complex, where the 1909 Beaux Arts-style Southern Railroad Terminal , at 1400 Market St (tel 423/266-5000), is now a Holiday Inn - the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel . The impressive high-domed waiting room serves as the lobby, leading through to the former platform area, where restored carriages act as hotel suites. Giftshops and cafés share space with a steam engine similar to the original Choo-Choo (the name given by the local paper to the first passenger train to come in from Cincinnati in 1880). You're free to roam around; admission to the world's largest model railway display, on site, is $2.75. A free shuttle runs between the Choo-Choo complex and the Aquarium.
The authentic steam trains of the Tennessee Valley Railroad offer stunning six-mile rides, crossing the river, running through deep tunnels, and turning round on a giant turntable. The two main stations, restored to their 1930s look, are at 2200 N Chamberlain Ave in east Chattanooga and 4119 Cromwell Rd (I-75 exit 4 to Hwy-153); some routes pick up at the Choo-Choo Hotel ($10.50; for schedule call 423/894-8028 or visit ).
The mile-long, heavily wooded expanse of Overton Park , three miles from downtown (#50 bus) on Poplar Avenue, holds the wide-ranging Memphis Brooks Museum of Art (Tues-Fri 10am-4pm, first Wed of each month free 10am-9pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11.30am-5pm; $5; ), and the recently modernized Memphis Zoo and Aquarium (daily 9am-6pm, last visitors allowed to enter 5pm; $9.50). Overton Square , the city's top suburban entertainment, dining and shopping district, is within walking distance. Just past East Parkway, the Memphis Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium at 3050 Central Ave (Mon-Thurs 9am-4pm, Fri-Sat 9am-9pm, Sun noon-6pm; $7) centers on the pink marble mansion of Clarence Saunders, who founded America's first chain of self-service supermarkets, Piggly-Wiggly, in 1916. Saunders went bankrupt in 1923, and never actually lived here; instead the building has acquired several new wings in the process of becoming an all-embracing museum of Memphis history, holding all kinds of stuffed animals and oddities, including a miniature circus, an IMAX cinema and the Sharpe Planetarium, as well as a walk-through model of the first Piggly-Wiggly store, complete with 2¢ packets of Kellogg's Cornflakes and 8¢ cans of Campbell's Soup.
South of Overton Square, the tiny, hip Cooper-Young intersection is as yet little more than a handful of shops: vintage stores where the city's punks and hippies burrow through secondhand psychedelic Crimplene, and richer arty types muse over retro knickknacks. It's a lively place, quite different from downtown, where you're likely to stumble across poetry readings and yard sales, art exhibits and antique auctions.
Graceland is ten miles from downtown Memphis, at 3734 Elvis Presley Blvd, on bus route #13 from Third and Union streets. The ticket office is open April-Oct Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 9am-4pm; Nov-March Mon, Wed-Sun 10am-4pm, closed Tues. The last house tour starts at the ticket office's closing time while the other attractions remain open for roughly two more hours. Combined "Platinum" ticket to all attractions (allow three hours) is $25; house tours only, $16 (closed Tues Nov-Feb); automobile museum $7; airplanes $6; "Sincerely Elvis" $5; parking fee $2. Reservations are recommended, especially in August (tel 901/332-3322, ). (Information by Rough Guides Ltd.)
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