Isle of Capri Casino -- at least the food's great!
On Sunday morning, unless you're planning to hear gospel music at a church service (which, by the way, is highly recommended by the locals), there is absolutely nothing to do in Clarksdale. We woke up late and had no idea what to do with ourselves, so we took a road trip in the direction of Helena, Arkansas (home of the famous "King Biscuit Flour Hour" blues radio program) and chanced upon the Isle of Capri Casino in Lula, just before the bridge across the Mississippi River.
We were hungry and decided to pull off the highway and try our luck at finding something to eat. The parking lot was an endless sea of pickup trucks with Arkansas license plates. I'd worked in a casino long enough to know what to expect here, so I immediately approached the security guard and asked the best route to a restaurant without bringing Nathalie too close to the gaming floor. Unlike the juke joints of Clarksdale, minors in casinos are a strict no-no!
Unique Suggestions: The Isle of Capri is flashy and glitzy and everything Clarksdale is not. It has a tropical paradise theme to it. If you're a serious blues purist coming to Mississippi to chase down the location of all three of Robert Johnson's gravestones, then this is not the place for you. Put your rolls of quarters back in your pocket and spend them somewhere else like Cat Head Folk Art!
Meanwhile, we had no complaints whatsoever about the meal we enjoyed at Calypso's Buffet. It was reasonably priced and offered a wide array of selections which would please almost anyone, including eye-catching desserts with no sugar added. There was a station where a chef would prepare either omelettes or pasta bowls to order. We chatted as he prepared a tasty omelette for me, and he was very helpful with local suggestions!
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There IS one reason to visit the Tunica casinos
About 45 miles north of Clarksdale and 10 miles north of the actual town of Tunica is the town of Robinsonville, where the so-called "Tunica" casinos are really located. Robinsonville is an old plantation town where Robert Johnson and other blues musicians once worked before they hit the road seeking fame and fortune. Nowadays, this once impoverished area has received a massive shot in the arm from the development of nine high-rise casinos. The new resort is the third largest casino region in the United States, just behind Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
Unique Suggestions: If you've come to Clarksdale to learn about blues history, then your trip won't be complete until you take a ride up to the Horseshoe Casino and see their blues museum exhibit. I thought it would be a hokey tourist trap at first, but when I saw the incredible rarities on display there, I was totally awed. I guess only casinos can spend the type of money you truly need to track down such ancient artifacts.
Fun Alternatives: Next door to the Horseshoe Casino is the Hollywood Casino, so be sure to take a stroll around their lobby level and see some really neat movie memorabilia!
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