discounted hotels
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Miracle of Tunica

Once considered to be the nationís poorest county, Tunica discovered a new cash crop to go with its cotton, soybean and rice fields ... casino gambling. Since its inception in 1992, Tunica now sees its ten casinos raking in $1.1 billion in revenue annually. For gambling destinations, that puts it third behind Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and ahead of Reno, Lake Tahoe and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As a result, unemployment has gone from 26.2% to about 5%.

An estimated 50,000 people flock daily to Tunica County, which boasts only 8,500 residents. On weekends, most of the 6,000 hotel rooms are taken, and itís 1 a.m. before thereís even a noticeable subsiding of activity on the gambling tables. 18 miles south of Memphis, Tunica attracts tourists from all over the south and midwest. Many are members of Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation, arriving in cars, campers and tour buses.

The Tunica area has 50 restaurants, some typical of the small-town South, and thereís fast food as well. But for something different, try the Hollywood Cafe. In his hit "Walking in Memphis" Mark Cohn sang about Muriel who "plays piano every Friday at the Hollywood." This is that Hollywood. Muriel has passed on, but the spirit of her music remains. Music is offered every Friday and Saturday night until about 11, currently from a one-man band. Famous for its fried pickles, the menu includes hubcap burgers, a plate-lunch special, catfish and hoagies.

Another favorite for a "meat and three" plate lunch is the Blue & White Restaurant in Tunica, about 10 miles from the casinos. The down-home breakfasts include biscuits, grits, country ham and authentic red-eye gravy

Itís not all gambling in Tunica's casinos. The Grand and Gold Strike have spas and pools. Several others have swimming pools. The Grand has its own golf course, Cottonwoods, designed by Hale Irwin. Harrahís, Hollywood and Samís Town have their own golf course, River Bend Links, which has fewer amenities.

The Grand also offers sporting clays at the Willows. Sporting Clays, often referred to as "golf with a shotgun," is the fastest growing shooting sport in the country. Unlike the regulated games of trap and skeet, sporting clays simulates a realistic hunting environment, presenting shooters with varying targets in a safe controlled atmosphere.

For fishing, there are guides who will take you on the river from a landing near the casinos.

The Blues & Legends Hall of Fame, part of the Bluesville complex of the Horseshoe Casino & Hotel. The hall of fame is just inside the hotel, and any music lover will be entertained. Thereís Stevie Ray Vaughnís last guitar, harmonicas donated by Bob Dylan, B.B. Kingís 1996 "Lucille" guitar, and memorabilia from such greats as Buddy Guy, Albert King and Bonnie Raitt. A section follows the timeline development of the blues from W.C. Handy through Robert Johnson to todayís stars. Itís a stunning array, and Horseshoe paid for its development, which was conceived by the Blues Foundation in Memphis.

Some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry fill the theaters and showrooms of Tunica. Joe Walsh, the Everly Brothers, Foreigner and CCR are among the acts appearing in the next couple of weeks. The Gold Strike features magician Brett Daniels who is under contract for the next several years. While not quite producing the magic of an act like Seigfried & Roy, Daniels has many fans.

Oxford, where Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner lived, and the home of the University of Mississippi, is a couple of hours away. Its about a thirty minute drive to Memphis, where one can visit Graceland to see if Elvis is still dead.

With its combination of non-stop action, world class facilities and a relaxed Southern atmosphere, Tunica offers gamblers an experience like no other.

Hotels in Tunica
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