Memphis, Tennessee is a destination most famous for its association with music greats such as Elvis Presley, B.B. King and Johnny Cash. It’s also known for its authentic soul food and fascinating nightlife. If you’re interested in exploring the southern part of the U.S., Memphis is a city you won’t want to miss.
Leading Attractions in Memphis
When it comes to Memphis, many of the highlights are related to music. There are, however, also some notable natural, historical and architectural sites as well. Here are a few attractions you won’t want to miss.
- Graceland - The former home of music great Elvis Presley is Memphis’s most iconic place to visit. You can take tours of the mansion every day and also see the Elvis Presley Car Museum and other exhibits that are on display. If you’re an Elvis fan, you’ll want to spend a whole day here absorbing all of the information and looking over the artifacts.
- Sun Studio -This is another mandatory stop for Elvis fans, as it’s where the King of Rock n’ Roll recorded his first album. There are daily guided tours of this music studio that last for about one hour.
- Memphis Zoo -Many people don’t realize that Memphis has one of the nation’s finest zoos. You can observe more than 3,500 animals here, as well as special exhibits such as Zambezi River Hippo Camp, Giraffe Feeding Adventure and Animals of the Night.
- Mud Island River Park -An unusual park and walking area that’s actually on its own island. This park of more than 50 acres also has its own museum, the Mississippi River Museum as well as places to dine and have drinks.
- Stax Museum of American Soul Music -Another of the great music-related attractions of Memphis, this museum celebrates the tradition of Soul music. Full of exhibits and memorabilia covering the careers of singers and groups such as Al Green, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Ike & Tina Turner and hundreds of others.
Dining and Nightlife
Memphis has no shortage of places to dine, drink and have fun at night. The following are just a few recommendations.
- Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken -Gus’s is famous for its spicy and delicious fried chicken. It began in one location near Memphis over a half century ago and now has branches in many southern cities. The Memphis location is downtown on S. Mendalhall Road.
- Central BBQ -Barbecue is one of the things Memphis is known for, and this is one of the best places to find it. There are three locations, one downtown on E. Butler, one midtown on Central and another in East Memphis on Summer, so you’re never too far from great BBQ in the Memphis area. Menu highlights include Combo Pack, pulled pork and BBQ ribs.
- Flying Fish -This seafood restaurant is downtown on S. Second St. and is the perfect place to grab some po boys, catfish or shrimp. They also have many other selections, including fish tacos, snapper, gumbo, oysters and hush puppies. They’re open every day from 11 am to 10 pm.
- Paulette’s -This restaurant was originally downtown but moved to Mud Island. They offer an elegant atmosphere and diverse menu that draws from American and European traditions. They have a variety of appetizers, soups, sandwiches and entrees such as grilled salmon, crab cakes, chicken supreme crepe and ham palacsinta, a Hungarian specialty.
Because Memphis is inseparable from music, you have countless choices for going out and hearing great music. A few of your choices include B.B. King’s Blues Club, where you can eat as well as listen to some great blues. Blues City Cafe on Beale Street is another landmark club where you can experience the blues.
The Orpheum Theatre, downtown on S. Main St. is a beautiful old theater where you can see concerts and plays. The aforementioned Mud Island River Park also frequently holds events such as concerts. If you’re in Memphis over the summer, you might check out the free concert series at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park.
Where to Stay
Memphis has many historic as well as newer hotels. The Peabody Hotel on Union Ave. is one of the city’s oldest and most famous hotels. It’s worth visiting even if you aren’t staying here. Many people visit in the morning to see the parade of ducks. It’s also close to Beale Street and other attractions.
If you want river views, one of your best choices is River Inn of Harbor Town at Harbor Town Square. This hotel, which is close to Mud Island River Park, is equipped with amenities such as a fitness center, business center and free Wi-Fi.
Residence Inn Memphis Downtown, on Monroe Ave., offers a great location and good value for the money. You can get suites with a kitchenette, free breakfast as well as access to a fitness center, business center and laundry room.
Budget choices in Memphis include Days Inn Memphis at Graceland on Elvis Presley Blvd., which offers basic but satisfactory accommodations and a location that is literally right across from Graceland.
If you prefer an inn or B & B, you also have lots to choose from, such as Talbot Heirs Guesthouse, downtown on S. Second St., a comfortable guesthouse very close to Beale Street and many attractions.
The James Lee House offers comfortable accommodations in a beautiful historic mansion on Adams Avenue.