Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Memphis, TN

Welcome to Memphis, Tennessee, a vibrant city known for its rich history, soulful music, and mouthwatering cuisine. Whether you’re a music lover, history buff, or food enthusiast, Memphis has something for everyone. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, here are some top-rated tourist attractions you shouldn’t miss when visiting Memphis.

No visit to Memphis is complete without a trip to Graceland, the home of the legendary musician Elvis Presley. Step inside this opulent mansion and immerse yourself in the life and legacy of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Explore the rooms filled with Elvis’ personal belongings, walk through the Meditation Garden where he is laid to rest, and view his collection of cars and planes. It’s a truly memorable experience that will transport you back in time.

For music enthusiasts, a visit to the Sun Studio is a must. Known as the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” this iconic recording studio has seen the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Take a guided tour and learn about the studio’s rich history, listen to the stories behind the famous recordings, and even have the chance to hold the legendary microphone used by Elvis himself. It’s a place where music history comes alive.

Another must-see attraction in Memphis is the National Civil Rights Museum. Located at the site of the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was tragically bad guyated, this museum tells the story of the American Civil Rights Movement. Through interactive exhibits, powerful photographs, and personal stories, you’ll gain a deep understanding of the struggles and triumphs of the movement. It’s a poignant and educational experience that will leave a lasting impact.

No trip to Memphis would be complete without indulging in some finger-licking barbecue. Head to world-famous Beale Street and visit one of the many barbecue joints that line the street. From succulent ribs to tender pulled pork, you’ll satisfy your cravings for authentic Southern barbecue. Pair your meal with some live music and soak in the lively atmosphere of this historic street.

From the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll to the home of soulful barbecue, Memphis offers a unique blend of culture, history, and mouthwatering cuisine. Whether you’re exploring iconic landmarks or discovering hidden gems, you’re sure to fall in love with this vibrant city.

Beale Street Historic District

The Beale Street Historic District is one of the most iconic and vibrant areas in Memphis, Tennessee. Known as the “Home of the Blues,” Beale Street has a rich history and is a must-visit destination for music lovers.

The district spans several city blocks and is lined with colorful buildings and neon signs. It is filled with a variety of music venues, restaurants, shops, and clubs that offer live entertainment every night of the week. Whether you’re a fan of blues, jazz, or rock ‘n’ roll, you’ll find something to suit your taste on Beale Street.

One of the highlights of Beale Street is the Beale Street Music Festival, held annually in May. This three-day event features a lineup of renowned musicians and attracts visitors from all over the country. The festival is held in Tom Lee Park, which is located along the Mississippi River and offers stunning views of the city skyline.

In addition to its music scene, Beale Street also has a number of historic landmarks. The Beale Street Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 and is home to several important sites, including the Beale Street Baptist Church and the W.C. Handy House Museum. These sites provide a glimpse into the cultural and musical heritage of the area.

Visiting Beale Street is like stepping back in time, as the district has preserved much of its original character. As you walk along the street, you’ll find brass notes embedded in the sidewalk, paying tribute to the many musicians who have performed there over the years. Be sure to stop by the W.C. Handy statue, which honors the “Father of the Blues” and is a popular spot for photos.

Whether you’re a music enthusiast or simply looking for a lively atmosphere and great food, Beale Street is a must-see attraction in Memphis. It’s a place where you can experience the soulful sounds of the blues, enjoy delicious Southern cuisine, and immerse yourself in the history and culture of this iconic street.

Graceland

Graceland is the former home of music legend Elvis Presley and is one of Memphis’ most famous tourist attractions. Located on Elvis Presley Boulevard, this iconic mansion is a must-visit for fans of the King of Rock and Roll.

The mansion is a sprawling estate that was purchased by Elvis in 1957 when he was just 22 years old. It served as his primary residence until his death in 1977. Today, Graceland is preserved as a museum and offers visitors a glimpse into the life of one of the most influential musicians of all time.

Inside the mansion, visitors can explore the rooms exactly as they were when Elvis lived there. The tour includes the iconic Jungle Room, the Trophy Building, and the Meditation Garden, where Elvis and other members of his family are buried.

Graceland Visitor Information:

  • Address: 3734 Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 9 am – 4 pm, Sunday 10 am – 4 pm
  • Admission: Ticket prices vary, check website for details

Graceland Tour Highlights:

  • Explore the mansion’s opulent rooms and décor
  • View Elvis’ collection of cars, motorcycles, and costumes
  • Visit the gravesites of Elvis, his parents, and his grandmother

In addition to the mansion tour, visitors can also explore the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum, which houses his impressive collection of cars and motorcycles. The museum features vehicles such as his famous pink Cadillac and his customized Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Graceland also offers several dining options, including the Elvis Presley-inspired diner called “EP’s Bar & Grill” and a food court with various menu choices.

Whether you’re a die-hard Elvis fan or simply interested in learning more about his life and legacy, a visit to Graceland is a must for anyone visiting Memphis.

Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo is a top-rated tourist attraction in Memphis, TN and is one of the best zoos in the United States. It covers over 70 acres of land and is home to more than 3,500 animals from around the world. The zoo is known for its diverse collection of animals, which includes mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

One of the highlights of the Memphis Zoo is the Giant Panda exhibit. Visitors can see these rare and endangered animals up close and learn about conservation efforts to protect them. The zoo also has a large cat exhibit, where visitors can see lions, tigers, and cheetahs in a naturalistic habitat.

The Memphis Zoo offers a variety of interactive experiences for visitors, including animal feedings and behind-the-scenes tours. Visitors can also attend educational talks and shows to learn more about the animals and conservation efforts.

In addition to the animal exhibits, the Memphis Zoo has beautiful landscaped gardens and outdoor spaces for visitors to enjoy. There are several picnic areas, as well as a large playground for children. The zoo also has a gift shop and several dining options for visitors to grab a bite to eat.

Overall, the Memphis Zoo is a must-visit attraction for animal lovers and families visiting the area. Its wide range of animals, interactive experiences, and beautiful outdoor spaces make it a fun and educational destination for all ages.

Stax Museum of American Soul Music

The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is a must-visit attraction for music lovers in Memphis. Located at the original site of Stax Records, this museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of American soul music.

Inside, visitors can explore exhibits that showcase the history and impact of Stax Records, which was responsible for launching the careers of legendary artists such as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, and Aretha Franklin. The museum displays a collection of memorabilia, including instruments, costumes, and recordings, that tell the story of how Stax Records shaped the soul music genre.

One of the highlights of the Stax Museum is the replica of the original Stax recording studio, where visitors can experience what it was like to record music in this historic space. The museum also offers interactive exhibits, allowing visitors to learn about the different instruments used in soul music and even try their hand at playing them.

In addition to the exhibits, the Stax Museum hosts live performances, lectures, and educational programs that celebrate the rich history of soul music. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of soul music or simply interested in learning more about this influential genre, a visit to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is a must during your time in Memphis.

Mississippi River Park

The Mississippi River Park is a beautiful green space located on the banks of the iconic Mississippi River in Memphis, TN. This park offers stunning views, recreational activities, and a serene atmosphere for both locals and tourists to enjoy.

One of the main attractions of the Mississippi River Park is the Riverwalk, a scenic path that stretches for miles along the river. Visitors can walk, jog, or bike along the Riverwalk and take in the breathtaking views of the river and the surrounding landscape. The park also offers picnic areas where visitors can relax and enjoy a meal with a view.

In addition to its natural beauty, the Mississippi River Park also offers a variety of recreational activities. Visitors can rent paddleboards or kayaks and explore the river at their own pace. For those who prefer a more leisurely experience, there are riverboat cruises available that offer guided tours and live entertainment.

The park is also home to the Mississippi River Museum, which provides visitors with a fascinating insight into the history and ecology of the river. The museum features interactive exhibits, educational programs, and displays of artifacts that tell the story of the river and its importance to the region.

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful spot to relax and enjoy nature or an opportunity to learn more about the Mississippi River, the Mississippi River Park is a must-visit destination in Memphis. Its combination of stunning views, recreational activities, and educational opportunities make it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Memphis, be sure to add the Mississippi River Park to your itinerary. You won’t be disappointed!

Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum

The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is a must-visit attraction for music lovers and history enthusiasts. Located on Beale Street, this Smithsonian-affiliated museum tells the story of the birth and evolution of Memphis’ rich musical heritage.

The museum explores the deep roots of blues, gospel, and soul music, and how these genres influenced the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Through interactive exhibits, artifacts, and audiovisual presentations, visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant history of Memphis as the “Home of the Blues” and the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

One of the highlights of the museum is the “Memphis Sound” exhibit, which showcases the iconic musicians who contributed to the Memphis sound, such as B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, and Johnny Cash. Visitors can listen to their music, watch rare performance footage, and learn about the social and cultural contexts that shaped their music.

Another noteworthy exhibit is “Sun Studio: The Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which tells the story of the famous recording studio where Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other legendary musicians kick-started their careers. Visitors can see original instruments, recording equipment, and listen to the groundbreaking recordings made at Sun Studio.

Overall, the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum offers a comprehensive and immersive experience that celebrates the musical legacy of Memphis and its impact on the world. Whether you’re a fan of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, or soul music, this museum is a must-see attraction that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the city’s transformative role in shaping modern music.

Mud Island River Park

Mud Island River Park is a unique and interactive outdoor attraction located on a small peninsula in the Mississippi River in Memphis. It offers visitors a chance to explore and learn about the history and culture of the mighty river.

One of the main highlights of the park is the River Walk, a scale model of the lower Mississippi River. Visitors can walk along the miniature river and see various landmarks and cities that line its banks, including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Memphis. Informational signs provide details about each location.

Another popular feature of Mud Island River Park is the Mississippi River Museum. The museum showcases exhibits on the history and ecology of the Mississippi River, as well as the people who have lived and worked along its shores. Visitors can learn about the river’s role in trade and transportation, as well as its impact on the environment.

For those looking for outdoor recreational activities, the park offers kayak and paddleboat rentals. Visitors can explore the river and enjoy stunning views of the Memphis skyline. There is also a sandy beach area where visitors can relax and soak up the sun.

Mud Island River Park also hosts various events and concerts throughout the year, making it a popular venue for entertainment. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or simply enjoying the outdoors, Mud Island River Park offers something for everyone.

National Civil Rights Museum

The National Civil Rights Museum is located at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. It is one of the most important historic sites in the United States and serves as a powerful tribute to the Civil Rights Movement. The museum tells the story of the struggle for civil rights in America, with a particular focus on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The museum is housed in the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was bad guyated on April 4, 1968. Visitors can see the balcony where Dr. King stood at the time of his elimination, which has been left exactly as it was that day. The museum also includes exhibits on the history of the Civil Rights Movement, including the events leading up to Dr. King’s elimination, as well as the aftermath and the continuing struggle for equality.

One of the highlights of the National Civil Rights Museum is the Montgomery Bus Boycott exhibit. This exhibit tells the story of the boycott, which was a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement. Visitors can learn about the history of segregation on public transportation and the courageous actions of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus.

Another important exhibit is the March on Washington exhibit, which commemorates the historic march in 1963 where Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Visitors can see artifacts from the march, including signs, banners, and photographs, and learn about the impact it had on the fight for civil rights.

The National Civil Rights Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning about the history of the Civil Rights Movement. It offers a powerful and educational experience that honors the brave individuals who fought for equality and justice. Plan a visit to this important site and gain a deeper understanding of the struggle for civil rights in America.

Sun Studio

Sun Studio is a must-visit attraction for music lovers and history buffs alike. Known as the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” this historic recording studio played a pivotal role in shaping the sound of American music.

Founded in 1950 by Sam Phillips, Sun Studio became a hub for aspiring musicians, including the legendary Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins. These artists, along with many others, recorded their early hits at Sun Studio, laying the foundation for rockabilly, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the studio and learn about the rich history of Sun Studio. The knowledgeable guides provide fascinating insights into the recording process and share stories about the iconic musicians who passed through its doors.

One of the highlights of the tour is standing in the same room where Elvis Presley recorded his first song, “That’s All Right,” in 1954. The studio has been preserved to reflect the era, allowing visitors to experience the magic and nostalgia of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.

Aside from the guided tour, Sun Studio also houses a museum that showcases memorabilia and artifacts from its heyday. Visitors can see vintage recording equipment, original records, and photographs of the artists who recorded there.

Whether you’re a fan of rock ‘n’ roll history or simply appreciate the cultural significance of Sun Studio, a visit to this iconic attraction is sure to be a memorable experience.

Shelby Farms Park

Located on the eastern edge of Memphis, Shelby Farms Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country. With over 4,500 acres of land, it offers a wide range of recreational activities for visitors of all ages.

The park is home to a network of trails, perfect for walking, jogging, or biking. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll or a challenging run, there are paths for every fitness level. The trails wind through various landscapes, including forests, meadows, and wetlands, providing an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature.

If you’re a fan of water activities, Shelby Farms Park has you covered. The park features a 20-acre lake where you can go boating or fishing. You can rent a paddleboard, kayak, or canoe and explore the serene waters. For those who prefer a more relaxed experience, there are picnic areas by the lake where you can enjoy a meal with family and friends.

In addition to outdoor activities, Shelby Farms Park offers various recreational facilities. The park boasts a disc golf course, horseback riding trails, and even a playground for children. There is also a dog park where your furry friend can run and play off-leash.

Shelby Farms Park is more than just a recreational space – it is also dedicated to conservation and education. The park aims to preserve the natural habitat and promote sustainability. It houses the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, which organizes educational programs and initiatives to raise awareness about environmental issues.

Whether you’re looking for a place to exercise, enjoy nature, or spend quality time with loved ones, Shelby Farms Park is a must-visit destination in Memphis. With its wide range of activities and dedication to conservation, it offers something for everyone.

The Dixon Gallery and Gardens is a hidden gem in Memphis, TN. This beautiful museum and botanical gardens offer a peaceful and serene setting for visitors to enjoy art and nature.

Located in the heart of East Memphis, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens is home to an impressive collection of European and American art, with works by masters such as Monet, Renoir, and Degas. The museum showcases both permanent and temporary exhibitions, providing an enriching experience for art lovers of all ages.

In addition to the art galleries, the Dixon also features stunning formal gardens that span over 17 acres. Visitors can stroll through the beautifully manicured lawns, vibrant flower beds, and peaceful ponds, taking in the natural beauty that surrounds them. The gardens are meticulously maintained and change with the seasons, offering a different experience each time you visit.

The Dixon Gallery and Gardens also offers a variety of educational programs and events for both adults and children. From art workshops and lectures to garden tours and botanical classes, there is always something interesting happening at the Dixon.

Whether you are an art enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens is a must-see attraction in Memphis. Plan your visit today and discover the beauty that awaits you.

Memphis Botanic Garden

The Memphis Botanic Garden is a beautiful destination for nature lovers and garden enthusiasts. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, this garden covers 96 acres and features a variety of stunning landscapes and attractions.

Visitors can explore a wide range of garden areas, including the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and the herb garden. The Japanese Garden offers a peaceful atmosphere with its traditional design and tranquil pond. The Rose Garden, on the other hand, showcases a stunning collection of roses in a vibrant and fragrant display. The herb garden is perfect for those interested in learning about different herbs and their uses.

One of the highlights of the Memphis Botanic Garden is the Butterfly Garden, where visitors can see a variety of colorful butterflies and learn about their life cycle and behavior. The garden also offers educational programs and workshops for children and adults, making it a great place for learning and discovery.

For those looking to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature, the Memphis Botanic Garden offers several walking trails and picnic areas. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the gardens, or find a quiet spot to enjoy a picnic surrounded by the plants and flowers.

Opening hours: The Memphis Botanic Garden is open from 9am to 6pm, seven days a week. Admission prices vary depending on the season, with discounted rates for children, seniors, and military personnel.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a garden enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful and beautiful place to visit, the Memphis Botanic Garden is a must-see attraction in Memphis, Tennessee.

Orpheum Theatre

The Orpheum Theatre is a historic theater located in downtown Memphis. Built in 1928, it has been a prominent venue for live performances and entertainment for decades. The theater is known for its stunning architecture, which combines elements of Beaux-Arts and Italian Renaissance styles.

One of the main attractions of the Orpheum is its grand lobby, which features marble floors, ornate chandeliers, and a beautiful grand staircase. The theater itself is equally impressive, with its plush seating and impeccable acoustics. It has a seating capacity of over 2,300, making it one of the largest theaters in the region.

The Orpheum Theatre hosts a wide range of performances, including Broadway shows, ballets, concerts, and more. It has been a popular venue for touring productions of some of the biggest Broadway hits, as well as performances by renowned musicians and comedians. The theater also hosts special events, movie screenings, and educational programs.

Visitors to the Orpheum can enjoy not only the performances but also the rich history of the theater. The walls are adorned with photographs and memorabilia showcasing the theater’s past, including famous productions and notable performers who have graced its stage.

Whether you’re a fan of the performing arts or simply appreciate the beauty of historic architecture, a visit to the Orpheum Theatre is a must when in Memphis. It offers an unforgettable experience that combines cultural enrichment and entertainment in a truly stunning setting.

AutoZone Park

AutoZone Park is a premier baseball stadium located in downtown Memphis. It is the home of the Memphis Redbirds, the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The stadium was opened in 2000 and has a seating capacity of 10,000.

AutoZone Park not only hosts minor league baseball games, but it also serves as a venue for concerts, soccer matches, and other events. The stadium features state-of-the-art facilities, including luxury suites, a club level, and multiple concession stands.

One of the unique features of AutoZone Park is its location in the heart of downtown Memphis. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the city skyline while watching a baseball game. The stadium is surrounded by restaurants, bars, and other entertainment options, making it a perfect destination for a fun-filled day or night out.

In addition to hosting sporting events and concerts, AutoZone Park also offers tours for visitors. These guided tours give visitors the opportunity to explore the stadium, learn about its history, and go behind the scenes to see the locker room and press box.

Whether you’re a baseball fan, a music lover, or simply looking for a unique experience in Memphis, AutoZone Park is a must-visit attraction. With its central location, state-of-the-art facilities, and exciting events, it is sure to impress visitors of all ages.

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is the oldest and largest art museum in Tennessee. Located in Overton Park, the museum features an extensive collection of artwork from around the world, spanning a wide range of periods and styles.

Founded in 1916, the museum’s permanent collection includes works by renowned artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mary Cassatt, and Michelangelo. The collection also includes significant pieces of African, Asian, and Native American art, as well as European and American art from various periods.

In addition to its permanent collection, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art also hosts temporary exhibitions, showcasing both groundbreaking contemporary art and thought-provoking historical pieces. These exhibitions provide visitors with an opportunity to experience a diverse range of artistic styles and themes.

The museum offers a variety of educational programs and events for visitors of all ages. From lectures and workshops to guided tours and art classes, the museum aims to engage and inspire the community through art and culture.

Visitors to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art can also take advantage of the museum’s beautiful park setting. The museum’s outdoor spaces, including the Dorothy K. Hohenberg Auditorium Terrace, offer stunning views of the surrounding park and provide a peaceful retreat for visitors to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or simply looking to explore something new, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is a must-visit attraction in Memphis. With its diverse collection, engaging exhibitions, and beautiful surroundings, it offers a truly enriching experience for all.

For art lovers or those interested in cultural experiences, a visit to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is a must-do when in Memphis. With its extensive collection, engaging exhibitions, and beautiful setting, it is sure to captivate and inspire visitors of all ages.

Pink Palace Museum

The Pink Palace Museum is a must-visit attraction in Memphis, TN. It is a fascinating museum that offers a diverse range of exhibits and interactive displays.

Originally built as a private residence in the 1920s, the Pink Palace is now home to a wide array of historical artifacts and cultural exhibits. The museum covers various aspects of Memphis’ history, including the city’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, its musical legacy, and its rich cultural heritage.

One of the highlights of the Pink Palace is the replica of the Piggly Wiggly store, the first self-service grocery store in the United States. Visitors can step back in time as they walk through the store and learn about its revolutionary concept.

The museum also includes a planetarium, where visitors can explore the wonders of the universe through stunning visuals and educational presentations. From the Big Bang to the latest discoveries in space exploration, the planetarium offers a mesmerizing experience for visitors of all ages.

For those interested in natural history, the Pink Palace boasts a large collection of fossils, minerals, and prehistoric artifacts. From dinosaur bones to ancient mummies, there is something for everyone to marvel at.

Before leaving, be sure to stop by the museum’s gift shop, where you can find unique souvenirs and gifts to commemorate your visit.

Overall, the Pink Palace Museum is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Memphis. With its wide range of exhibits and educational opportunities, it offers a captivating glimpse into the history and culture of the city.

FAQs

What are some popular tourist attractions in Memphis, TN?

There are several top-rated tourist attractions in Memphis, TN. Some of the most popular ones include Beale Street, Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Memphis Zoo.

What can I do in Memphis if I only have a day?

If you only have a day in Memphis, there are still plenty of things you can do. You can visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, take a stroll along Beale Street, explore the National Civil Rights Museum, and enjoy some delicious Memphis-style barbecue.

How much does it cost to visit Graceland?

The cost of visiting Graceland varies depending on the type of tour you choose. General admission prices start at $41.75 for adults and $17.00 for children ages 7-12. There are also upgraded tour options available at higher prices.

Is it worth visiting the Memphis Zoo?

Yes, visiting the Memphis Zoo is definitely worth it. The zoo is home to a wide variety of animals, including pandas, polar bears, lions, and elephants. It’s a great place to spend a day with family or friends and learn about different species from around the world.

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15 Top Attractions in Memphis 2022

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Felicity Long

Felicity Long, a seasoned travel journalist with 15+ years of experience, specializes in exploring Europe, family travel, and skiing, as evident in her book "Great Escapes: New England" (The Countryman Press). She edits the Europe eNewsletter and contributes significantly to TravelAsker's destinations sections. Felicity has received esteemed awards, including the Cacique and Yo Leonardo Awards, in recognition of her outstanding international travel writing accomplishments.

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