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Memphis, Tennessee is the spitting image of its namesake in Memphis, Egypt. In both locations you will find an astonishing man-made pyramid, a long and winding river, and plenty of blues and barbecue…Okay, maybe the last two are a hard sell in Egypt.

But either way, the stateside Memphis is a great destination for travelers who want to eat, drink and party—which also makes it college students’ paradise if they can find a way to afford it. So here are the best things to do in Memphis if you’re traveling cheap.

See the Great Pyramid of Memphis

A broke student’s guide to doing Memphis on the cheap

The Lookout at Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid. Photo credits: Allen Gillespie and Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau

We weren’t kidding—there’s actually a pyramid downtown. And admittedly, it’s one of the weirder things to do in Memphis. The iconic structure did a stint as a sports stadium and a concert venue, but its unique shape made it difficult for the building to find success (as it turns out, pyramids do not have very good acoustics). Locals say this modern-day replica of its distant Egyptian cousins sat empty for years before it finally found its true calling: becoming a Bass Pro Shop.

Now, the 32-story steel pyramid is home to the United States’ tallest free-standing elevator, hundreds of live animals, and even a hotel. All of this is surrounded by a countless racks of outdoor merchandise, including yachts and boats that actually float in the stream that winds through the store. In this stream you can see native fish that will astound you with their size and willpower to not eat the smaller fish. A stroll around the store also offers tropical fish aquariums, actual alligators, and an impressive array of “stuffed” animal specimens… not the kind you want to hug and cuddle with.

After seeing the indoor zoo and walking through the heaps of merchandise, make your way to the enormous 28-story freestanding elevator—it’s pretty hard to miss. For just $10, you can take the tripup to the lookout and see Mississippi like those who built the Egyptian pyramids saw the Nile during their (probably awful) work day.

Pro Tip: There’s a General Store in here, too. Before heading to the elevator, stop in for some sweet treats like roasted nuts or gourmet fudge for the trip up. There’s a restaurant at the top, and this will help keep you from being tempted to sit down for a steak.

Where’s the party?

A broke student’s guide to doing Memphis on the cheap

A broke student’s guide to doing Memphis on the cheap Crowds on Beale Street. Photo credits: Andrea Zucker and copyright Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2011, all rights reserved.

Beale Street, that’s where, and it has been since the birth of blues music. This cobblestone street, located in the heart of downtown Memphis, dates back to 1841. It’s where you’ll find three blocks of restaurants, nightclubs, live music and museums, as well as street performers that can really rock it, and without you having to pay a dime in cover charge.

But beware: Recently, Memphis put a $10 cover charge on Beale Street, which takes effect at 10 p.m. every night. Although this might be a bit of a bummer, entrance to the street is free before 10 p.m. and you’ll likely want to leave around then anyway…

Pro Tip: Beale Street security might be enforced at 10 p.m., but there is a larger crowd at this time, making it easier for thieves and pickpockets to maketheir way through. Stay alert and consider leaving before it becomes overcrowded.

Discover the Home of the Blues

And the Birthplace of Rock’n’Roll. Meaning the bars along Beale Street are far from the only places to catch some live music here. Memphis has plenty of other options for great music and a good time.

For instance: Right on Beale Street and 3rd is Handy Park. Here, you can find free concerts in the afternoons that are open to the public. There’s also Bluesday Tuesdays in Overton Square, where every Tuesday is a chance to enjoy free authentic blues and breathe in some fresh air. And from June to September, the Memphis Blues Society hosts an evening of blues music in the Tower Courtyard at Overton Square.

Indulge in an all-American sport

A broke student’s guide to doing Memphis on the cheap

The Triple-A Memphis Redbirds play baseball at AutoZone Park. Photo credit: Craig Thompson

Memphis is home to the bat-swinging, base-running, baseball-playing Redbirds. There’s almost nothing as nostalgic as a good old-fashioned baseball game. And even if you’re far from local, the friendly hometown crowds here can make you feel like you belong.

As a bonus, tickets for a Redbirds game can cost as low as $20. Meaning you don’t need to feel guilty about splurging on some peanuts, cracker jacks, hotdogs, nachos, beer and whatever else you might require to enjoy this American pastime.Pro Tip: People-watching at sporting events can give you some excellent insight into what it means to be from that city. And it’s always fun to play along, if you’re up for it.

You can’t miss the Mississippi River

A broke student’s guide to doing Memphis on the cheap

Aerial View of Mud Island River Park. Photo credits: Jack Kenner and copyright Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2011, all rights reserved.

If you’re looking for some history and culture beyond great music and great food, head to Mud Island River Park.

On the Mud Island Riverwalk, which is free to the public, you can see an exact scale model of the Lower Mississippi River. You can also enjoy the life-sized version of the river just by walking around the grounds of the park.

The park itself is made up of 18 galleries and exhibits that cover 10,000 years of Mississippi River history. For $10 you can have access to all of these exhibits, a guided tour of the park and a round-trip ride on the monorail.

The food is totally worth the money

If you’re going to splurge on something in Memphis, we highly recommended that you splurge on food. Specifically, the city’s famous barbecue. Your taste buds, and your tummy, will thank you.

The best part about this “splurge” is that it is not even a huge one. Many barbecue joints in Memphis are very reasonably priced, and beyond that, they’re completely worth theprice you pay. That said, don’t be surprised if the meal is served on paper plates with plastic utensils.

Which restaurants should you try? Well we’ve got a shortlist right here: Tops Bar-B-Q, Central BBQ and Charlie Vergos’ Rendevous.

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Tips & advice

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Primary season is in full swing, and the batch of remaining presidential hopefuls is hitting the campaign trail hard. If your political blood is boiling and you’ve caught the campaign fever, why not turn your trip to all those heated debates and rallies into an enjoyable getaway. Gerrymander through some of the best destinations along the campaign trail, caucusing with locals about the best place to grab a post-rally brew or nominating your favorite continental breakfast to fuel your discussion-filled day. Here are our elections for some of the best destinations on the road to the White House, in chronological order:

Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: ADTeasdale – Flickr.

Las Vegas, Nevada: Although the majority of folks you are likely to run into on the Vegas strip probably aren’t even registered to vote in Nevada, the city is drawing attention leading up to the Democratic and Republican caucuses on Feb. 20 and 23, respectively. The Nevada State Democrats are hosting a town hall event in Las Vegas on Feb. 18 to discuss issues affecting the Latino community. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both said they will attend the event, which will be hosted by MSNBC and Telemundo. A prime opportunity to mingle your daily dose of politics with a little Vegas fun.

 

Donald Trump

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump is scheduled to appear at Myrtle Beach later this month. Photo: , Gage Skidmore – Flickr

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Donald Trump is set to make an appearance at the Myrtle Beach Sports Center at noon on Feb. 19, the day before the Republican Primary. In this cold, desolate month, why not route yourself to a beach destination during your political travels? Republican nominees are blitzing the state the week before, as well, if you arrive early. And if you aren’t quite ready to leave the South, stick around — the Democratic Primary isn’t until Feb. 27.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton has been hitting the campaign trail in Tennessee on behalf of his wife, Hillary. Photo: Susan Ruggles – Flickr

 Nashville, Tennessee: SUPER TUESDAY. Continue your tour south of the Mason-Dixon Line and head on over to Tennessee. Early voting in the state began Feb. 10 and runs through Feb. 23, ahead of the March 1 primary, so Republicans and Democrats alike are focusing hard on the state. Bill Clinton campaigned ahead of his wife in Memphis earlier this month. Hillary is set to open campaign offices in Nashville and Memphis, two of the state’s largest Democratic hotbeds. Planting yourself in a Democratic area inside a state that usually votes red would provide a certain lively nature to your trip. Both parties vote on Super Tuesday, which falls on March 1 this year.

 

Detroit, Michigan

Presidential candidates have their eyes on Michigan. Photo: Bryan Debus – Flickr.

Detroit, Michigan: Before the dust cleared from the Iowa Caucus, campaign staff members were heading for Michigan. Pick a major city in the state,and you’ll likely find a campaign office has popped up there. The whole Clinton family has already peppered the state, the Republicans have all hired firms to help them plan different events, Sanders offices are springing up in Flint, Lansing, Detroit, Ann Arbor and Traverse City, and CNN is holding a Democratic debate in Flint on March 6. The Democratic and Republican primaries take place on March 8.

 

Columbus, OHio

Columbus, Ohio. Photo: ChevySXSWCbus – Flickr

Columbus, Ohio: Ohio is a swing state and draws the eyes of the world during election season, and this year, its Gov. John Kasich is making a showing in the Republican race. Plus, with a university in Columbus boasting more than 50,000 students, most of whom are eligible voters, Ohio State University often gets blasted with impromptu campaign events. Plenty of appearances are already planned ahead of the March 15 primary: Sanders and Clinton are both scheduled to speak at the Ohio Democratic Party Legacy Dinner at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on March 13 (bleacher seats will run you $50).

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: Las Vegas, Tips & advice

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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then some landmarks should be downright charmed. If you don’t have the time or money to see the real thing, then opt for one of these faux versions of tourists attractions that are often imitated and nearly duplicated.

 Related: 5 stunning U.S. scenic drives 

Leaning Tower of Pisa replica in Niles, IL

Italy isn’t the only place where you can eat great pizza and take a selfie in front of an off-kilter landmark. At 94 feet tall, this suburban Chicago knockoff stands at about half the size of the actual Italian treasure. Built as a utility tower in 1934, in the late ’90s the tower added a fountain, reflection pool and other upgrades just in time for a visit from its sister city, which is—you guessed it—Pisa, Italy.

Leaning Tower is Pisa replica in Niles, Illinois. Credit Jimmy Thomas/Flickr.

Leaning Tower is Pisa replica in Niles, Illinois. Credit Jimmy Thomas/Flickr.

Trevi Fountain replica in Las Vegas, NV

What happens in Vegas… originally happened in Rome, Italy. Sin City is home to several clones of the Baroque masterpiece. The best-known sits outside Caesars Palace, where you can dine at—wait for it—Trevi Italian Restaurant. There’s also a lesser-known version of the ornate fountain inside the Fendi boutique at Crystals at CityCenter, where the handbags are legit but the fountain is most definitely a knockoff.

Trevi Fountain replica at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Credit Bert Kaufmann/Flickr.

Trevi Fountain replica at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Credit Bert Kaufmann/Flickr.

Statue of Liberty replica in Birmingham, AL

About 2 million tourists flock to Ellis Island each year. Skip the lines and ferry ride by heading south to this bronze duplicate that’s one-fifth the size of the real statue. Like the New York statue, Birmingham’s version of Lady Liberty was made in France and has a continuously burning flame. In 1958, businessman Frank Park Samford commissioned the clone to sit atop the building of his company, Liberty National Life Insurance. Today, the statue stands in Liberty Park.

Statue of Liberty replica in Birmingham, Alabama. Credit Wikipedia.

Statue of Liberty replica in Birmingham, Alabama. Credit Wikipedia.

White House replica in McClean, VA

You can’t buy an election, but you can buy the White House—or at least a private home just outside Washington, DC, that’s modeled after the real thing. The 15,000-square-foot replica has six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, compared to the actual White House’s 55,000 square feet, 16 bedrooms and 35 bathrooms. In 2012, the foreclosured property sold for just $865,000.

Eiffel Tower replica in Paris, TX

Not everything’s bigger in Texas. This iron structure stands at 65 feet tall, compared to the French icon, which boasts a staggering 986 feet. But the Texas version is topped with a giant red cowboy hat, which makes for a kitschy photo op as you stretch your legs along U.S. Highway 82. The Boiler Makers Local #902 in built it there in 1995, more than a century after the French landmark was erected.

Eiffel Tower replica in Paris, Texas. Credit Kevin/Flickr.

Eiffel Tower replica in Paris, Texas. Credit Kevin/Flickr.

Parthenon replica in Nashville, TN

This Southern gem was built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition—which sounds old, until you realize that construction on the actual Parthenon in Greece began in 447 BC. But Nashville’s full-scale replica is more than just a pretty facade; it also houses the city’s art museum.

Parthenon replica in Nashville. Credit Will Powell/Flickr.

Parthenon replica in Nashville. Credit Will Powell/Flickr.

Stonehedge replica in Maryhill, WA

While the purpose behind England’s Stonehenge remain a mystery—altar? astronomical observatory? burial site?—the origins of this knockoff are more certain. In 1918, land developer Sam Hill erected his version of Stonehenge as a memorial to the fallen soldiers of World War 1. The Druids used actual stones, but 5,000 years later, Hill opted for the convenience of reinforced concrete slabs.

Stonehenge replica. Credit Wikipedia.

Stonehenge replica. Credit Wikipedia.

Tagged: International, Las Vegas

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In this age of online shopping, it’s easy to forget that our favorite goods come from actual, you know, places. See where everyday items are born during one of these made-in-America factory tours.

Crayola Factory in Pennsylvania

Photo courtesy of Frances MacLeod

Crayola Experience, Easton, PA

Let your imagination run wild through four floors of colorful fun at this attraction about a 90-minute drive from Philadelphia or New York City. Watch a live-action theater show that explains how crayons are brought to life, create custom crayons and run wild in the two-story color-themed playground.

Photo courtesy of Darah Thomas

Photo courtesy of Darah Thomas

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory Tour, Louisville, KY

This bat factory will score a home run with baseball fans. As you enter the building, you’ll walk past the world’s largest bat—a 120-feet-tall replica of Babe Ruth’s own Louisville Slugger. Then it’s onto the factory and museum, where you can watch bats being made, hold bats used by Major League Baseball legends and test out the batting cages. At the end of the factory tour, take home a free miniature bat or order a full-size personalized Slugger.

Photo courtesy of Jelly Belly Candy Company

Photo courtesy of Jelly Belly Candy Company

Jelly Belly Factory Tour, Fairfield, CA 

You’ll feel like a kid in a candy store at this factory located between San Francisco and Sacramento. See what goes into making jelly beans that taste like buttered popcorn, toasted marshmallow and A&W Root Beer, and discover why it takes up to 20 days to create a single bean. But don’t fill up on the free samples; save room for bean-shaped burger or bean-shaped pizza in the Jelly Belly Cafe.

Stuffington Bear Factory Tour, Phoenix, AZ

Before there was Build-A-Bear, there was Stuffington Bear. Watch bears and other stuffed animals come to life as they are cut, sewn and stuffed, and learn about the history of teddy bears. After the tour, stop by the retail store to take home a cuddly companion of your own.

Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour in Vermont

Photo courtesy of Nick Caruso

Ben and Jerry’s Factory TourWaterbury, VT

How could an ice cream factory tour not be fun? Learn about the history of the company, watch as sweet treats come to life on the factory floor and, yes, indulge in free samples. Find even more sweet treats in the Scoop Shop, which offers traditional ice cream treats and specialty desserts. 

Photo courtesy of: linearclassic | Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of  linearclassic | Flickr Creative Commons

Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, DC, and Fort Worth, TX

Anyone can make money, but not everyone make money. In each of these tours, you can stand above the production floor as millions of dollars roll off the printing press, watch a video about the production process and, ironically, buy souvenir currency in the gift shop.

Photo courtesy of Becky Musgrove.

Photo courtesy of Becky Musgrove

Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory Tour, Avery Island, LA

The hottest tour in the South starts with a visit to this lush Louisiana island. Watch a film about the history of the spicy condiment, see where Tabasco is aged in white oak barrels and look on as the sauce is bottled and packaged to begin its journey to kitchen tables across America.

Photo courtesy of Harinder Singh

Photo courtesyof Harinder Singh

Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing TourEverett, WA

Take your knowledge of air travel to new heights during this rare public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant just north of Seattle. Interact with exhibits, walk through tunnels and ride a freight elevator to a balcony high above the factory floor as you watch 747s and other aircraft being assembled.

Photo courtesy of Tillamook.

Photo courtesy of Tillamook

Tillamook Cheese Factory, Tillamook, OR

Tillamook ages its cheeses for up to three year,s but you won’t need to wait that long to sample the goods during a self-guided tour of its Pacific Coast factory. Get a bird’s eye view as milk is transformed into 171,000 pounds of cheddar, pepper jack and more every day. After the tour, nosh on grilled cheese sandwiches, ice cream and other dairy delights in the on-site restaurant.

Photo courtesy of: ooitschristina | Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of ooitschristina | Flickr Creative Commons

Gibson Guitar Factory Tour, Memphis, TN

First come the instruments; then comes the music. Watch and listen as the legendary guitars are bound, neck-fitted, painted, buffed and tuned on at this famed Beale Street factory. After the tour, stop by the retail shop for a guitar of your own, and start singin’ the blues.

Photo courtesy of: Matt Lehrer | Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Matt Lehrer | Flickr Creative Commons

Budweiser Brewery Tour, St. Louis, MO

Before the craft beer phenomenon took off, there was good ol’ Budweiser. Learn about the company’s century-old brewing process as you walk through its historic building. Save room for a cold one at the end of the tour. Additional tours are available at these Anheuser-Busch factory locations: Fort Collins, Colorado; Jacksonville, Florida; Merrimack, New Hampshire; and Fairfield, California.

Tagged: California, Family, Food & drink