Pros: Visit the Las Vegas of the south...Tunica, Mississippi! Gambling and shows abound here!
Cons: The smoke in the casinos and restaurants! They need more non-smoking areas.
What do you mean, you never heard of Tunica, Mississippi? (Tunica is located just about 30 minutes due south of Memphis, Tennessee.)
Tunica used to be just sleepy farming country that no one ever heard of until the enterprising citizens of Tunica County legalized gambling.
A Floating Casino?
Now there are casinos (technically floating on the Mississippi River) with restaurants and hotels and well-known entertainers who often come to town. The once 2-lane road has been replaced by new 4-lane highways, lined with billboards touting the various casinos with their loose slots, huge jackpots, and fabulous entertainment.
The huge casinos are required to float on river water, so canals are dug for the Mississippi to flood and the huge casinos float into town. You'd never know you were on a barge except for walking across the moats to go inside. The hotels are on solid ground and you can still see plenty of evidence of soybean and cotton fields around.
Much Progress, But No Vegas
Tunica has made definite progress in the past few years and now boasts several casinos and hotels. There are roads going everywhere and buses bringing gamblers in by the droves.
The Grand Casino has three hotels and a very nice golf course. It is the closest casino to Memphis and attracts visitors from all around. It is one of the largest (if not the largest) casinos. It has also added an RV park and a skeet shooting range. There is also a kids' arcade where parents can drop off the little ones while they go gambling or to a show.
The Grand has one hotel adjacent to the casino and two newer hotels w-a-a-a-a-y across the street (a shuttle bus runs every 5 minutes between the hotels, the arcade, and the casino). The Grand Terrace is my favorite hotel -- it has a great spa... wonderful massages and a steam room! The rooms are very comfortable and spacious and many have mini-bar with refrigerator and coffee maker.
The Grand Veranda is also nice and is closest to the Cottonwoods Golf Course. The green fees are pretty pricey, but you get substantial discounts if you are a guest. My husband loves the course -- I haven't played there yet, I'm too busy losing my money.
The Grand has hundreds of slots in a variety of denominations. It also has a small non-smoking area upstairs, along with a very large buffet. There are plenty of poker and roulette tables from which to choose, as well. There is also a high stakes slot area that is restricted to people who like to gamble with a lot more money than I do!
The Grand also has a separate "convention" building with several meeting rooms. They frequently host shows here, as well.
There is a small strip of casinos further down the road. There you will find The Sheraton, The Horseshoe, and The Gold Strike. Each of these has both a hotel and a casino. The Horseshoe often features well-known entertainers in their Bluesville Lounge. Beware - the smoke can choke you in there!
The Gold Strike has a very nice theatre where Cirque is now performing. They have nice rooms, several restaurants and a good buffet.
Between these three establishments you will find some very nice restaurants, lavish buffets, and a great number of slot machines and gaming tables.
Another area where the casinos are clustered contains The Hollywood, Sam's Town, Harrah's, and the Isle of Capri. Each has a hotel and a variety of restaurants. There is also a links golf course in this area. The Hollywood has elaborate displays of props from a wide variety of movies. It is very entertaining to view the displays.
Sam's Town has a western theme and recently opened a new, larger buffet. Harrah's is very colorfully decorated in a Mardi Gras theme, and the Isle of Capri,the smallest of the group, has a tropical theme (features a free pull to win $1 million) and has the newest hotel. (I was not very impressed by their hotel, however, in a recent stay. The Grand has a much "grander" clientele.)
Bally's and Fitzgerald's each have casinos in separate areas to themselves. Fitzgerald's has an adjacent hotel and a new covered parking garage. They also seem to have more nickel slots than anyone else, with very few gaming tables. It has an Irish theme, but unfortunately I haven't found my Pot o'Gold there yet.
Bally's, with a western theme, is usually the quietest of any of the casinos. I personally have never won a single nickel in their slots, so I haven't been there in a long time. There is now a bus running between the Grand Casino, Bally's and The Sheraton, so it's possible they are getting more activity there now.
There are usually several bands and entertainers playing in Tunica. Bill Cosby, Jay Leno, Wynonna, Hermit's Hermits, Andrew Dice Clay, The Doobie Brothers... you name it, they usually have it somewhere!
Some casinos will have some oldies groups playing for free in the casino. Others are good about comping you with show tickets. Depending on where and how much you gamble, you can get coupons redeemable for cash at the casino, free or reduced hotel rooms, free buffets, and some very strange gifts you can earn with slot points. Elvis chocolates, t-shirts, fanny packs, collapsible chairs, stuffed animals -- whatever the marketing people think will catch on.
The hotels are usually packed on the weekends, but you can get deals Sunday-Thursday nights. I like to go to the casinos early in the morning before they get crowded, gamble until I'm tired (or broke), then eat lunch and head home. They're usually really crowded around the holidays.
There are always plenty of tour buses bringing in gamblers from all around the area. It seems to be popular with all age groups (as long as they're over 21).
There is a pretty nice, new outlet mall just across the highway from the Grand Casino entrance. On the few occasions I win in the casino, I go across the street and shop!
One way or another, I never bring home any cash from Tunica. However, I always find plenty to keep me occupied and have a good time.
Note: This was moved from the generic Mississippi category.