Great Southern Drives: Delta Blues Highway
The soul of the Blues Highway―which follows the Mississippi River from Tennessee to the Gulf of Mexico―lies along the blacktops that connect Memphis, Tunica, Clarksdale, Mound Bayou, and Merigold. These are the places where the blues was born―and where you’ll find down-home restaurants, back-to-basics lodgings, one-of-a-kind shops, and (of course) blues clubs. Follow our map to this trip along a river filled with history, mystery, and―most of all―music.
- Trip Time: 2 Full Days
After you‘ve hit Beale Street, head to this speakeasy-inspired restaurant above B.B King’s Blues Club. It’s more upscale than down-home but worth a stop for the Blues Berry Martini.
145 Beale Street, Memphis; (901) 578-3031. See who’s playing and what’s cooking at ittabenamemphis.com.
Housed in an 83-year-old commissary, this spot serves Tunica-raised catfish and claims to have invented the fried pickle.
1585 Old Commerce Road, Robinsonville; (662) 363-1225. Watch a video about the restaurant and see a menu at thehollywoodcafe.com.
0 Blues Alley, Clarksdale; (662) 621-9009. Live music until 11 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday and until 1 a.m. Friday-Saturday. Visit groundzerobluesclub.com for a schedule of musicians.
001 Commissary Circle, Clarksdale; (662) 624-8329. Room rates start at $60. Visit shackupinn.com for availability and reservations.
305 South State Street, Clarksdale; (662) 624-9887. If you don’t like tamales, try the barbecue ribs and sandwiches. Visit hickstamales.com.
The three Woods brothers apprenticed under Mississippi master potter Lee McCarty before going out on their own. They use local clays and handmade glazes for their earth-tone rabbits, ducks, candlesticks, and crosses.
301 Fortune Avenue, Mound Bayou; (662) 741-2283. Prices range from $15 to $500. Visit peters-pottery.net.
Owner Willie Seaberry (aka Po Monkey, shown here) makes you feel at home in his juke joint near Clarksdale.
Just outside of Merigold. There isn’t a phone number, a Web site, or a road marker. Just head south down State 61 from Clarksdale, and turn right at the Pemble Farms sign. Take the immediate left fork onto a gravel road, and go about 1 mile; Po Monkey’s is on the left.