Munching footlong hotdogs, getting a ball autographed by your favorite player, singing along with the organist -- it's all part of the action at AutoZone Park, where the class Triple-A Redbirds play during spring and summer. The stadium contains 48 luxury suites and the largest video-board in minor-league baseball. Of particular appeal to families is the leftfield bluff, where you can not only watch the game but enjoy a picnic on the grounds. Union at Third St., 721-6050
Children's Museum of Memphis
At the Waterworks Gallery of the Children's Museum, the Mississippi River comes to life as kids experiment with the flow of water, study real fish, build a bridge, and work an aquifer pump. The hands-on museum, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, is set up like a miniature city, with a bank, fire station, grocery store, and skyscraper. Newer exhibits include "Going Places," which features an airplane cockpit and flight simulator, and "Art Smart Gallery" with its visual and performing arts. 2525 Central, 320-3170
The Fire Museum of Memphis
A new exhibit at this downtown museum is "Toys on Fire," a collection of pumper trucks, ladder trucks, and other miniature fire apparatus owned by the late Chief William M. Schwartz between 1920 and 2003. Retired from the Ocean Grove, New Jersey, fire department, Schwartz was friends with Memphis firemen Dick and Bill Edelman, and his collection is on loan to the Fire Museum for the next 10 years. Among other items showcased here are a 1910 E.H. Crump steam-powered fire engine and the Hale Water Tower used by local firefighters for 100 years. Located inside former fire station No. 1, the museum also features simulated fires, a teaching room, and a play area with full-sized trucks and a sliding pole. 118 Adams, 320-5650
Memphis Motorsports Park
One of the top-10 tourist attractions in the state, this 400-acre multi-track facility with a 3/4-mile paved oval is one of only 33 NASCAR tracks in the country and one of only 22 NHRA championship drag strips to host national events. These include the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. In all, Memphis Motorsports Park boasts four venues -- including a dirt track and road course -- for its 215 race days a year. The action takes place February through October, with concerts and various family events also held at the park. 5500 Taylor Forge Dr., 354-RACE (7223)
Elephants Tyranza and Asali, born in 1964 and 1985, respectively, live at the Memphis Zoo along with 3,500 other animals from some 500 species. Built in 1906, this popular attraction has completed $77 million worth of renovations and expansions over the past 15 years, adding such exhibits as Cat Country, Primate Canyon, Dragon's Lair, Animals of the Night, and CHINA, where two giant pandas are often seen munching bamboo. The zoo is currently at work on a new exhibit, Northwest Passage, due for completion in March 2006; two black bear cubs have already been acquired for the exhibit. 2000 Prentiss Place (Overton Park), 276-9453
Peabody Place Entertainment and Retail Center
Anchored by The Peabody hotel, this cornerstone of downtown redevelopment is a one-stop shop for movies, music, dining, and shopping. Among the eateries are Jose Gutierrez' Encore, Isaac Hayes Restaurant and Nightclub, Texas de Brazil, Jillian's, and Dan McGuinness Irish Pub. Shopping and entertainment options include Putting Edge glow-in-the-dark miniature golf, a 22-screen Muvico Theaters mega-plex, Tower Records, Ann Taylor Loft, COCO & LILLY, Walsons Jewelers, and Starbucks. 150 Peabody Place. 150 Peabody Place, 261-PLAY (7529)
Ride the Ducks International
During an hourlong tour which ends with a splash into the Wolf River Harbor, these amphibious vehicles cruise the streets of downtown, while boat captains provide lively commentary about Mud Island, Beale Street, and other local sites. The boats' design is based on vintage military vehicles used in World War II, but these vehicles have been fully rebuilt using current technology and safety standards enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard. 521-DUCK (3825)
There's a bit of old and new on this famous thoroughfare that reverberates with music every night of the week. Fans pack the house at Pat O'Brien's, the Hard Rock Cafe, and B.B. King's Blues Club, while others enjoy the timeless appeal of W.C. Handy's home and A. Schwab's, a century-old dry-goods store. Gift and novelty shops also abound.
Center for Southern Folklore & Cafe
In addition to live music -- from regional jazz and blues to rockabilly and soul -- the center showcases Southern folk art, literature, and food. Music-lovers can also check out the CD "listening post" and cafe diners can sample Southern staples such as turnip greens and cornbread, then browse through the art and photography exhibits. 119 and 123 South Main, at the Peabody Place trolley stop, 525-3655
A stunning array of guitars -- along with one Stradivarius-style violin on which Elvis struck a few chords in private -- is displayed at Graceland, the house bought in 1957 by the King of Rock-and-Roll. The tour includes most rooms of the house, the racquetball building, Elvis' vintage car collection, his huge assortment of trophies and gold records, the Lisa Marie jet, never-before-seen items, such as the desk from the entertainer's personal office, and much more. Special events are held at Graceland in January to commemorate Elvis' birthday and in August, when fans remember his death with a candlelight vigil. 3734 Elvis Presley, 332-3322
Memphis Rock 'N' Soul Museum
The "Front Porch" exhibit at the Memphis Rock 'N' Soul Museum reflects sharecropper life in the 1930s and the migration of workers to Memphis and the Delta. That migration sparked new culture and music, starting with blues and gospel and evolving to rock-and-roll and soul. On this journey through the history of Memphis music, visitors can enjoy rare film footage, old photos, vintage jukeboxes, stage costumes, and a customized tour of various musical eras. 191 Beale, Plaza at FedExForum, 205-2533
Soulsville USA and the Stax Museum of American Music
Located in a South Memphis neighborhood just a five-minute drive from Midtown, Soulsville U.S.A. is rich in musical history. From this neighborhood came many famous musicians, from Maurice White, founder of Earth, Wind & Fire, to David Porter, who co-wrote such hits as "Soul Man" with Isaac Hayes. At the heart of Soulsville is the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, a 17,000-square-foot attraction with more than 2,000 artifacts primarily from Stax Records, which once stood where the museum is located; among a few Stax stars are Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and Wilson Pickett. On display are Hayes' 1972 Cadillac El Dorado, an authentic 100-year-old Mississippi Delta church, and the Hall of Records, showcasing most of the records and albums that were cut at Stax. 926 E. McLemore (942-SOUL)
In 1954, Elvis Presley cut his first single under the guidance of producer Sam Phillips -- and blazed a new trail for future musicians. Still actively recording artists, the studio also offers public tours every hour on the half-hour. Of special interest is the Sun Studio Gallery, which contains memorabilia of Sun legends, including Carl Perkins, B.B. King, and Jerry Lee Lewis. 706 Union, 521-0664
Museums of Culture and History
Chucalissa Archaeological Museum
Native American dance, costumes, and culture are celebrated at festivals held each year at Chucalissa. Located on tranquil, rolling hills, the restored village reflects the lives of those who dwelt on the river bluffs until about 500 years ago. Meaning "abandoned house," the site was inhabited for 1,000 years, mysteriously deserted in the 1500s, and rediscovered by government workers in 1939. Visitors can explore the mound group, plaza, and other earthworks created by Chucalissa's original inhabitants and see exhibits of artifacts excavated from the site. 1987 Indian Village, 785-3160
Memphis Pink Palace Museum
In the early years of the 20th century, Clarence Saunders made his entrepreneurial mark on Memphis by founding the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain. He also erected an impressive pink-stone mansion on Central in 1922 -- but due to financial losses, he never called it home. Eventually donated to the city, the mansion opened in 1930 as a museum that today is considered a regional landmark with displays on local history, culture, medicine, music, and natural science, as well as traveling exhibitions. It also boasts a miniature three-ring circus, a display of exotic collectibles, and a replica of Saunders' first Piggly Wiggly supermarket, as well as a state-of-the-art planetarium and an IMAX theater. 3050 Central, 320-6320
National Civil Rights Museum
Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stayed on the day of his assassination. Maintained as a shrine for years by the motel's owner, the room has been re-created as it was then -- down to the cigarette butts in the ashtray -- and is viewed only through a glass wall. It's just one of many exhibits at the National Civil Rights Museum, which illustrates such pivotal moments in civil rights history as the March on Washington and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The museum also encompasses the boarding house from which James Earl Ray allegedly shot King in 1968 and features an exhibit of previously classified documents and evidence. 450 Mulberry, 521-9699
The Great Outdoors
Lichterman Nature Center
Kids and adults alike get an up-close look at wildlife at Lichterman Nature Center. In addition to enjoying hands-on exhibits, visitors can take a boardwalk tour around the lake and explore nature trails lined with native plants and trees. Among the center's highlights are the Backyard Wildlife Center, with a raised platform where visitors can learn about tree-dwelling creatures, and an underwater window for viewing aquatic life. Also of interest are the Special Events Lawn, a native plant greenhouse, and an amphitheater. Donated to the city by the Lichterman/Loewenberg families, the center offers plant sales, educational programs, and guided nature walks. 5992 Quince, 767-7322
Memphis Botanic Garden
Lush beauties bloom all spring and summer at the Rose Garden, one of 23 formal gardens at this suburban oasis. In addition to hundreds of rose varieties, visitors will find areas dedicated to irises, daffodils, and many native plants and wildflowers, as well as the Japanese Garden of Tranquility with its arching red bridge and koi-filled lake. Other highlights are the Sensory Garden and the Woodland Classroom. Throughout the year, special events and art exhibitions are held at the visitors' center or on the grounds. Especially popular is the Live at the Garden series of concerts, which has featured such entertainers as Chris Isaac, Lisa Marie Presley, Herbie Hancock, and Seal. 750 Cherry, 685-1566
The Mississippi River
On the banks of Ol' Man River, several major events are held each year, including the Memphis in May Sunset Symphony and a fireworks extravaganza on the Fourth of July. Regular riverboat cruises are offered by the Memphis Queen Line, and numerous parks along the bluffs make ideal spots for picnics or family outings. Winding above the Father of Waters is the Bluffwalk, a pedestrian walkway with panoramic views.
This 4,500-acre park offers a bit of everything for nature lovers and sports buffs and is home to a variety of wildlife, including bison and longhorn cattle. Visitors can rent pavilions and paddleboats; fish in lakes stocked with catfish, crappie, bream, and bass; or simply enjoy walking, jogging, or rollerblading. Also within the park are the Showplace Arena, where equestrian and other types of events are held each year; Ducks Unlimited's international headquarters, which boasts a scenic waterfowl propagation lake; and Agricenter International, which displays advances in farming technology. 7161 Mullins Station, 382-2249
Strawberry Plains Audubon Center
This 2,500-acre nature preserve and education facility was left to the National Audubon Society by the Finley-Shackleford family. Once a cotton plantation, the property is returning to its natural state, attracting wildlife -- especially a wide variety of birds -- and humans, who enjoy hiking and bird-watching. Also on the site are two antebellum homes as well as a remodeled sharecropper's house that serves as the visitors' center. Annual events are held at Strawberry Plains, including the Hummingbird Migration Celebration in September. Off Mississippi Highway 311 north of Holly Springs, about 40 miles from Memphis
Try Your Luck
Southland Greyhound Park
The world's largest greyhound racing facility lies just five minutes from downtown Memphis. Visitors can bet on the dogs as they tear around the track and play the "Instant Racing" machines. Simulcast competition of greyhounds and thoroughbreds is also featured, as well as dining at the Finish Line Restaurant. 1550 Ingram, West Memphis, 735-3670
Now the gambling center of the Mid-South, located just 30 miles from Memphis down Highway 61, Tunica County is home to several glitzy casinos. Besides offering an array of gaming options, they also boast hotels, restaurants, gift shops, dance pavilions, and big-name entertainment.
Bally's Casino Tunica, 800-382-2559
Fitzgeralds Casino/Hotel, 800-766-5825
Gold Strike Casino Resort, 888-245-7829
Grand Casino Tunica, 800-946-4946
Hollywood Casino, 800-871-0711
Horseshoe Casino & Hotel, 800-303-7463
Resorts Tunica, 662-363-7777
Sam's Town Casino, 800-456-0711
Sheraton Casino & Hotel, 800-391-3777
Only In Memphis
Davies Manor Plantation House
Shelby County's oldest log house was built by an Indian chief in 1807, and in 1851 the structure was purchased by the Davies family and expanded into a farmhouse. Today, decorated with early family furnishings, the house is the centerpiece of a 2,000-acre plantation and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Recent improvements include a renovated tenant house and commissary. Tours of the log-and-chink dwelling are given March through November. 9336 Davies Plantation, 386-0715
The Elvis Suite at Lauderdale Courts
From 1949 to early 1953, Elvis Presley and his parents, Gladys and Vernon, lived at 185 Winchester, Apartment 328, in Lauderdale Courts housing project. The shy teenager would practice his guitar in the basement laundry room or lounge at the kitchen table and talk to his folks. Sometimes he'd sit at his bedroom window and play for passersby and later performed in the courtyard for family and friends. Today this landmark, part of an innovative new housing development known as Uptown Square, is decorated with period furniture, including a 1951 refrigerator and Presley family photos. But you'll find more than nostalgia here. Visitors who rent the suite for overnight stays can enjoy wireless Internet access, a microwave oven, plasma TV, DVD/CD player, and access to billiards, a fitness center, and media center. Uptown Square, 521-8219
Since opening in September 2004, this $250 million, 18,000-seat arena has been home to the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies -- which made it to the playoffs the last two years -- and to the University of Memphis Tigers men's basketball team; it will host the Conference USA Tournament in March 2006. Among the arena's amenities are 60 luxury suites, club level and courtside suites, several restaurant options, an outdoor party area, and a Memphis-themed plaza entry right off downtown's entertainment district, where the Memphis Rock 'N' Soul Museum is located. In addition to sporting events, including professional boxing, FedExForum hosts family shows and concerts. Among recent performances have been Destiny's Child, Kenny Chesney, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. 191 Beale St., 205-1234
Mud Island River Park
Special features at this public park and entertainment center are the River Walk, a five-block-long scale model of the Mississippi from Cairo, Illinois, to the Gulf of Mexico; and the 18-gallery River Museum, which showcases artifacts of life on the Mississippi. Visitors can ride to the museum in the monorail, hear live concerts at the amphitheater, and rent canoes, kayaks, or bikes at the Adventure Center. The Park also features a "Sleep Out" camping experience on the river once a month. 125 N. Front, 576-7241
Often called "The South's Grand Hotel," The Peabody opened at its present location in 1925, fell into disrepair in the '70s, and was restored to its former glory in the '80s, with many modern amenities. Today Memphians and tourists relax in The Peabody's spacious lobby, dine in its restaurants, party in its ballrooms, and dance on the Plantation Roof. Perhaps the hotel's main claim to fame is the twice-daily duck march that attracts visitors from miles around. Led by their very own "duck master," the birds strut down the red carpet and splash into the lobby fountain, then return to their rooftop "Royal Duck Palace." 149 Union, 529-4000
This French-Victorian mansion, with lavish architectural details such as a winding staircase and ceiling medallion, was built in the 1870s in an area then known as Millionaires' Row. Home to two prominent Memphis families, the Woodruff-Fontaine House is part of Victorian Village, where several 19th-century Memphis homes have been preserved and restored. In addition to a large collection of period textiles and furnishings, the home also exhibits Victorian clothing.
680 Adams, 526-1469
Memphis Grizzlies Basketball
The Memphis Grizzlies are an NBA team. They're now in their fifth season in Memphis and their second at FedExForum.
The Redbirds are a triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals and play home games at AutoZone Park in downtown Memphis. The 2006 season kicks off in April.
The RiverKings are members of the Central Hockey League and the affiliate team of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The season runs from October to April. The RiverKings play their home games at the DeSoto Civic Center.
Christian Brothers University
They're the Buccaneers, with women's and men's teams in baseball, basketball, golf, soccer, and track.
LeMoyne Owen College
The LeMoyne Owen Magicians compete in both women's and men's basketball.
The Lynx compete in soccer, field hockey, football, volleyball, swimming, basketball, baseball, softball, and more.
Southwest Tennessee Community College
The Southwest Saliquis include women's and men's basketball, baseball, and softball.
University of Memphis
The year 2005 ended with the Tigers football team going to the Motor City Bowl and the men's basketball team breaking into the top 10 in the ESPN/USA Today and AP Division 1 polls. The Tigers also compete in baseball, golf, tennis, track and field, and more.
Youth (ages 7-18): Registration in April, three divisions (recreation, competitive, open) compete May through July. Coed T-ball has been added for ages 6 and under. Contact Memphis Division of Park Services (MDPS), 454-5200.
The Germantown Youth Athletic Association organizes and operates recreational (ages 5-18) and competitive (ages 7-14) leagues. Call GYAA at 754-4922 or go to www.gyaa.org for more information.
Youth (girls/boys, 18 and under): Registration in September, play begins in November. Call MDPS zone office (see below). Also, Germantown operates a program open to boys (ages 7-18) and girls (ages 7-15). Call Germantown Parks and Recreation for more information (757-7389).
Adult: Registration in September, play October-January. $350 per team (10-12 players). Call the MDPS at 454-5220. Adults may also participate in the Germantown adult league at the Germantown Centre (757-7389).
Youth (14 and under): MDPS offers flag football for both boys and girls, in six age groups. Registration in August, play begins in late September. For more information, contact your local zone office. The Germantown Youth Athletic Association organizes and operates recreational leagues for boys ages 6 to 12. Registration in July, play begins in August (754-4922).
MDPS operates seven public courses:
Audubon (4160 Park, 683-6941); Davy Crockett (4270 Range Line Rd., 358-3375); Fox Meadows (3064 Clarke Rd., 362-0232); Galloway (3815 Walnut Grove, 685-7805); Overton, 9 holes (2080 Poplar Ave., 725-9905); Pine Hill (1005 Alice Ave., 775-9434); Riverside, 9 holes (465 South Parkway West, 774-4340). Contact the golf department of MDPS for more information (454-5260).
Youth: The Memphis Youth Hockey League (MYHL) is composed of three divisions for kids ages 6 to 18. Competition from October through March. For information, call MYHL president Russ Beatse (861-3600) or go to www.memphisyouthhockey.com.
Youth (K-8th grade): Memphis Lacrosse runs a youth program in spring and winter. Registration for the spring is in January, and the season runs from February to May. The winter indoor league holds registration in September and plays in October and November. Contact Pat Demento (820-0145).
Grades 8-12: Clubs compete under Tennessee Scholastic Lacrosse Association (there are currently 8 teams). Fees vary; call Ed Reynolds (277-2991).
Youth: The Germantown Soccer Club runs recreational and competitive soccer programs for boys and girls. Registration for the fall recreational league is from May to August, with the season running from September through November. Teams are open for children age 4 to 18, and there is a sign-up fee. Tryouts for the competitive league, which is split into two divisions (Arsenal and Fury), are held in May and June for ages 8 to 18. Please call the soccer office (755-6688) or go to www.gscfury.com for sign-up fees and more information. Can register online for recreational league.
The MDPS runs a Youth Soccer League with three divisions (12 and under, 10 and under, 8 and under) during the spring. For fall, MDPS offers a league for youths ages 6 and under. Participants can pick up registration materials at any zone office in mid-July. Team roster deadline is early August. Play will begin August 27th and continue into the fall. For more information contact your local zone office.
Adult: The Greater Memphis Soccer Association plays regulation seasons in fall and spring and has a seven-on-seven summer league. Games are played at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex, and 50 to 55 teams are divided into four men's and three coed divisions. Players ages 16 and up are welcome; individual registration will take place in July. The average cost is $90 per person per season. Access the GMSA at www.memphissoccer.com or call Curt Rogers (321-3333).
The Hispanic League, founded in 1997, is made up of around 50 teams of mostly Hispanic membership. They play every Sunday year-round in Memphis city parks; in the winter, games are held indoors. For more information about playing, contact Ivan Lopez (603-2982).
Youth: Four divisions compete from May to July, with registration in early spring. Girls ages 18 and under create their own teams and play in the MDPS fall and spring leagues. For fees and more information, contact your local zone office.
The Germantown Youth Athletic Association offers recreational (ages 5 and up) and competitive softball (ages 7 and up) teams for girls (754-4922).
Adult: Approximately 300 teams compete from April through July, followed by a citywide tournament. Games are played every night except Saturday. The fall softball league starts registration in August. The cost is $250. The season begins in September and ends with a tournament. To register or get information about organizing a team, call the MDPS (454-5220).
Youth (ages 5-18): Club teams swim competitively year-round and offer practices for novice through Olympic hopefuls. Fees vary. Memphis Thunder Aquatic Club, 1880 Wolf River Blvd., St. George's High School, Collierville (www.memphisthunder.com). Germantown Swim Team, 1801 Exeter Rd., Germantown Centre (757-7390). Memphis Tiger Swimming, 620 Echles, University of Memphis (678-2809). Bartlett Xtreme Swim Team, 7700 Flaherty Place, Bartlett Recreation Center (385-6470).
Adult: Memphis Thunder, Germantown Centre, Memphis Tigers, and Bartlett Xtreme offer masters practices for adults ages 18 and over year-round. Fees vary. Contact coaches for information.
The MDPS (454-5200) operates several city pools, which are all free to the public; each pool offers swim lessons for all levels and swim teams.
MDPS pool locations: Bickford (indoor; 235 Henry); L.E. Brown (617 S. Orleans); Douglass (1616 Ash); Fox Meadows (3064 Clarke Road); Ed Rice (2907 N. Watkins); Gaisman (4223 Macon); Gooch (1974 Hunter); Hickory Hill (indoor; 3910 Ridgeway); Lester (Tillman at Mimosa); Tom Lee (328 Peach); Charlie Morris (1235 Brown); Orange Mound (2430 Carnes); Pine Hill (973 Alice); Raleigh (3678 Powers); Riverview (182 Joubert); Westwood (810 Western Park); Willow (4777 Willow).
The MDPS operates seven local tennis centers: Leftwich, 8 outdoor courts, 4 indoor (4145 Southern Ave.); Wolbrecht, 6 outdoor, 2 indoor (1645 Ridgeway Rd.); Roark/Whitehaven, 8 outdoor, 4 indoor (1500 Finley Rd.); Bellevue, 4 outdoor, 2 indoor (1310 S. Bellevue Blvd.); Frayser, 8 outdoor (2907 N. Watkins); Wooddale, 8 outdoor (3391 Castleman Rd.); Raleigh, 8 outdoor (3680 Powers Rd.).
Many parks contain tennis facilities as well: Bert Ferguson (8505 Trinity), Gaisman (4221 Macon), Glenview (1813 Southern), Hickory Hill (3910 Ridgeway), Martin Luther King Jr. (South Parkway at Riverside), University (University at Edward). The MDPS coordinates a variety of tennis-related activities including the Memphis Area League Tennis (MALT), a citywide adult program; adult and youth clinics; private lessons; and a Junior Development Program. For more information call the Tennis Center (374-0603).
Germantown also coordinates leagues, lessons, and camps. Contact Bryan Rogers, head tennis professional (212-5583), for more information.
Youth: In the spring, MDPS serves up volleyball to 18-and-under girls and boys. Registration will start in January and play in April. Zone offices have more information.
The Germantown Parks and Recreation Department also coordinates leagues for youth and adults. All games are played at the Germantown Centre (757-7379).
Parks and Recreation Offices:
MDPS Administrative Office: 2599 Avery, 454-5200
North Zone: 2893 N. Watkins, 353-9532
North East Zone: 4575 Raleigh-LaGrange, 388-5911
East Zone: 4585 Willow, 767-4580
West Zone: 4376 Horn Lake, 789-5665
Germantown Parks and Recreation Administrative Office: 757-7375
Germantown Centre: 757-7370
Major Sporting Events
AutoZone Liberty Bowl Football Classic
Post-season Conference USA game held on New Year's Eve at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Stanford St. Jude Classic
The FedEx St. Jude Classic became the Stanford St. Jude Classic last fall when Stanford Financial Group took over as title sponsor and FedEx moved on to a larger role in the PGA tour. This year's tournament will be held May 21-May 28, 2006.
Regions Morgan Keegan Tennis Championships
This annual tournament played at the Racquet Club of Memphis has drawn big names such as Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras. This year, Andy Roddick will return to the tournament, being held February 17-26, 2006.
Southern Heritage Football Classic
Held every September, the Southern Heritage Classic pits Jackson State University against Tennessee State University. But the game is only one part of a week of events including a golf tournament, a fashion show, concerts, and more.
Compiled by Elizabeth Brandon