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The Mississippi Delta
Ride the blues highway

From the March 26, 2001 Issue of New York

It's been said many times that the Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of the Peabody Memphis hotel. This historic haunt of Delta planters and boozy novelists is the perfect base for day trips throughout this storied pocket of the Deep South. Drive an hour south on Highway 61 to Clarksdale, Mississippi, home of the Delta Blues Museum, which provides maps to blues landmarks throughout the state. Early fall is the best time of year to catch a blues festival (the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, is the first weekend in October, and Greenville's rollicking Mississippi Delta Blues Festival is in mid-September). Finding a nice restaurant among the cotton gins might seem as hard as tracking down the Soggy Bottom Boys, but actor Morgan Freeman recently opened the surprisingly chic Madidi in downtown Clarksdale. Twenty minutes north, in Dundee, is Uncle Henry's Place, a fine Louisiana Creole restaurant located in the old Moon Lake Casino, made famous by Tennessee Williams.

The Delta Blues Museum, 662-627-6820; King Biscuit Blues Festival, 870-338-8798; Delta Blues & Heritage Festival, 888-812-5837; Madidi, 662-627-7770; Uncle Henry's Place, 662-337-2757; Peabody Hotel, 800-PEABODY or www.peabodymemphis.com (rooms start at $190).

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