Tunica, Mississippi: MS Delta Tour (Part 2)

(If you missed the previous segment of my article where we toured Desoto County, you can click here for —> Part 1 of my MS Delta Tour )

DAY 2 – Later that Afternoon

After our tour of Desoto County, our next stop was Tunica, Mississippi. The trip down Highway 61 to Tunica takes approximately thirty minutes, so I didn’t have much time for my usual daydreaming….

Looking out the bus window

As the conversations around me dissipated, the steady beat of highway lines played like a metronome in my mind. I wandered back through my memory banks eliciting images of my brother’s vinyl records. Like domino’s flipping through time, the song Cotton Crop Blues came to mind.

Cotton Crop Blues

It made sense as I was thinking about blues artists who were born in Tunica, Mississippi. And it was blues harmonica legend James Cotton where my thoughts took me…

The Gateway to the Blues Museum

The museum is located in a restored 1895 train depot that was relocated to Tunica from Dundee, Mississippi. I was familiar with the outside of the building through online images, but you really have to be there and feel the vibe to really appreciate it.

Gateway to the Blues Museum

Everyone gathered in the foyer of the museum where Tunica Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO Webster Franklin, spoke about the history and development of the facility. Franklin said that the $2.8 million dollar project includes artifacts from blues musicians donated from the private collections of Caesars Entertainment. Guitars from Robert Johnson and B.B. King were just some of the nearly 700 items on display. The museum had its grand opening in February 2015, and now proudly serves as a true Gateway to the Blues as it continues along the Mississippi Blues Trail.

As I made my way through the museum I could see first-hand the gorgeous interior and the amount of dedication it must have taken to develop a facility like this. There are interactive exhibits that play blues music and videos – all teaching you about the roots of slave music and the influence of church hymns and juke joints as breeding grounds for blues legends. The interactive displays also guide you along the many other blues trail markers you’ll see throughout the state…

The museum really struck a chord with me and I didn’t want to leave!

Needless to say while my time there was brief, I was extremely impressed with the layout and educational trip through blues history it signifies. If you’re ever planning a trip through Mississippi on a journey to learn, re-discover or just honor the music that changed popular music worldwide, then you’ll want make this a must stop.

Gold Strike Casino Hotel

Gold Strike Exterior

While not one of the more bluesy moments on my trip, it sure was one of the most elegant… The Gold Strike, one the tallest buildings in Mississippi, offers a trendy choice of dining options: Chicago Steak House, Atrium Cafe and the Buffet Americana. There is also a food court if you’re looking for something more familiar.

The check-in was simple and painless. The room was very comfortable with a tasteful layout and a dazzling view of the Mississippi River. While the bed looked really inviting, I only had enough time to get changed for dinner. There was no messing around on this tour. It was a jammed packed itinerary!

I would spend the next two nights at the Gold Strike and loved every minute of my stay.

Jack Binions Steak – Horseshoe Tunica Resort & Casino

During the Evening of my Second Night

all the writers got together for a spectacular dinner at the upscale Jack Binions Steak in the Horseshoe Casino & Hotel. There were plenty of extraordinary choices to get our evening started. Signature cocktails, a wide range of wines or any number of specialty beers. Of course great company along with a fantastic vibe and attentive serving personal helps to compliment any dinner.

Jack Binions

On this particular evening I decided to go with the 6oz fillet Mignon. While trying to decide what I should have as a side dish, the waitress whispered for me to try the Mac N Cheese. Her subtle words of suggestion were right on the money – It was the most fabulous Mac N Cheese I’ve ever tasted and the steak was cooked to perfection.

I nonchalantly watched as everyone’s food orders lined the table. Items that passed through my senses were jumbo lump crab cakes, an incredible looking lobster bisque, apple-wood bacon-wrapped scallops, grilled lobster tail, seafood platters and of course steaks cooked to impeccable excellence. Those were just a few of the tantalizing plates…

As I mentioned in Part 1 of my Delta Tour, I am not a food blogger, so I will once again give you a link to Mikes Road Trip review of Jack Binions. This will assist in a more visual sense of the evening’s affair. All in all Jack Binions Steak was a charming and memorable dining experience

That put a close on Day 2 of my MS Delta Tour

A fun and feature packed day. I walked back to the Gold Strike Hotel to go to my room for the night. It was raining lightly, but what a perfect time for the rain to begin. It would also be the only precipitation for the remainder of the trip…

DAY 3

I Received my Wake-Up Call

and immediately opened up the window blinds. The sun was starting to rise. “Ahh yes, good morning old Mighty Mississippi…” The day was young and there was plenty to do.

The Blue and White Restaurant

There’s nothing like starting off your morning with a big Southern style breakfast. Not many places serve up a morning feast like they did in the good old days, but the Blue & White Restaurant has been doing it since 1937.

Blues and White Exterior

Most of our orders ranged from omelets, hotcakes, sausages, grits, and of course biscuits and gravy. I wondered if anyone was going to order the famous Donut Tower? While it was perhaps a little too early for that, we were all served the traditional fresh made donut to start, along with a tasty cup of coffee served in a classic ceramic blue and white mug. (A souvenir I took home and drink from every morning) Breakfast was delicious! And together with the atmosphere it made for a really pleasant experience.

Tunica County Museum

Tunica Museum

Our next stop was The Tunica Museum. Through educational programs, research and collections, The Tunica Museum offers a comprehensive window into community history and life of Tunica County, Mississippi. The museum is a fair size and all the displays are well labelled and documented.

I really enjoyed Dick Taylor’s brief overview of the museum and Tunica County. Very nice and informative staff! Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

Tunica River Park & Museum

This was the first time I really noticed just how immense the Mighty Mississippi truly is. The museum sits on the edge of the river presenting amazing views! I took a quick stroll along the river-walk and then went inside up to the beautifully constructed observation deck. I could have spent the whole day just looking out at the river and getting lost in thought…

The museum has a number of short films, videos, authentic artifacts and extensive interactive exhibits which offer historical information on the Mississippi River, history of the area, nature and various cultures. The River Park also has nature trails and riverboat cruises on the notable Tunica Queen…

This was a very relaxing several hours… I will definitely be returning to spend more time on my next visit… If you’re interested, you can click here for a museum tour map.

And please check out the video above my friend Mike from MikesRoadTrip.com put together on the Tunica River Park & Museum. It gives you a brief visual of the breathtaking view and facility.

The Hollywood Cafe

If you had to pick a place that characterizes a down to earth classic dining experience in Mississippi, it would have to be The Hollywood Cafe. A staple since 1969, this establishment was eternalized by John Grisham who mentioned the cafe several times in his best seller “A Time to Kill.” And of course was one of the central themes in Marc Cohn’s Grammy winning song“Walking in Memphis.”

The hollywood cafe

The Hollywood Cafe claims to be the creator of the fried pickle and I must say after having a taste, it was out of this world. The fried green tomatoes were really flavorsome as well. A parade of plates surrounded the table – Catfish hoagies, frog legs, cheeseburgers and grilled shrimp with hush puppies.

While for the most part I concentrated on my grilled chicken salad – the ambiance, drinks and all the great conversations at the table, made it a really cool and memorable scene.

Back On the Bus  – Early Afternoon

After a wonderful lunch, we were all ready to move forward… What an incredible day so far, and it was only just beginning. Robert, our driver for this tour, closed the bus doors and once again we headed south down Highway 61.

Well that’s it for this time! Please make sure you visit again for Part 3 of my MS Delta Tour – And our next stop Clarksdale, Mississippi; the birth place of the blues.

Have you been to Tunica, Mississippi? Where are some of your favorite spots to visit? I’d love to hear from you… So please feel free to add your comments below.

Be Back Soon,

The Blues Blogger

 

 

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