Memphis is a cultural hotspot and a pivotal intersection of American music history. It’s the home of the blues and the birthplace of rock and roll.
1. Hop On The Mystery Train To Graceland
Every year, thousands of people from across the globe descend on Graceland to tour the estate of Memphis’ most celebrated former resident, Elvis Presley. Graceland is the ultimate museum/attraction, not just for Elvis devotees but for anyone who has an interest in rock music history and popular culture. It is one of the most visited private homes in America, with more than 600,000 visitors annually.
2. Where Rock Was Born
Take a tour through Sun Studio and see where music history was made. Opened by visionary record producer and executive Sam Phillips in 1950, Sun Studio played a pivotal role in the development of rock and roll music. Some of the tracks that were recorded at the fabled studio served as a blue print for an exciting, new music genre that forever changed popular music. Elvis recorded his first record at the studio, and The Sun Sessions recordings of 1954-55 are considered some of the most important in rock music history. Sun Studio is one of Memphis’ most sacred landmarks and is a must-see attraction for people who have an interest rock music history.
3. Take A Gander At Some Marching Mallards
The Peabody Duck March at the Peabody Memphis is a long-standing tradition dating back to 1933, and it is one of Memphis’ most popular attractions. Every day at 11:00 am and 5:00 pm, the Peabody Ducks march to and from the Grand Hotel Lobby. The marching mallards even stop at the lobby’s marble fountain for a brief dip. The world-famous Peabody Ducks have even appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
4. Revisit An Important Chapter In American History
Source: Flickr user Carl Wycoff
Get a crash course in American history at the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum is dedicated to educating the public on the importance of the American Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s and its impact on human rights causes all over the world. It’s located at the site of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
5. Please Don’t Stop the Music
Source: Flickr user Lindsey Turner
Heading into its 38th year, the Beale Street Music Festival remains one of the most popular annual music events in Memphis. The three-day festival always offers an eclectic mix of top music talent from a wide range of music genres. The event takes place on historic Beale Street. Every year, thousand of music enthusiasts from all over the country attend the event.
6. Southern Soul
Many legendary soul artists’ careers were launched at Stax Records, including Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, Booker T. & the MGs and Rufus and Carla Thomas. The label ignited the Memphis Soul sound, also known as Southern Soul. The Stax Museum of American Soul Music pays homage to this seminal record label and all the amazing talent it helped bring to the world stage. The museum boasts more than 2,000 interactive exhibits, galleries, films, artifacts and items of memorabilia, including Isaac Hayes’ gold-plated, peacock blue 1972 Superfly Cadillac El Dorado.
7. Sink Your Teeth Into Some Mouthwatering Barbeque
Source: Flickr user Lindsey Turner
Drop by Central BBQ and treat your taste buds to some of the best barbeque in Memphis. Central BBQ is one of the city’s top rib joints, a local favorite that is also popular with out-of-towners. And forget Santa”s eight reindeer. Pigs fly at the Central BBQ during the Christmas season.
8. Head Out To The Memphis Zoo For A Day Of Family Fun
Source: Flickr user Andrew Steele
The Memphis Zoo is a great place to take the entire family to watch exotic animals and enjoy exciting exhibits. The 70-acre Zoo has more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 different species.
9. A Little High Culture Is Good For The Soul
Source: Flickr user Jeff Stvan
The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts is not just for stuffy longhair types but for anyone who wants to be enriched by great art performed by talented professionals. The 2,100-seat multipurpose venue hosts a slew of events, including concerts, theatrical production tours, opera, ballet, children’s shows, and more.
10. Learn While You Play
Source: The Children”s Museum of Memphis via Facebook
The Children’s Museum of Memphis is great place for the whole family to visit. It’s designed to make learning a fun and memorable experience through hands-on interactive and educational exhibits and programs.
11. A Tale Of Two Tigers
Every year, college football rivals Jackson State University’s Tigers and the Tigers of Tennessee State University go head-to-head in an epic showdown known as the Southern Heritage Classic. It’s one of the biggest sporting events in Memphis and attracts not just sports fanatics, but people who want to be part of the huge celebration and participate in the wild tailgate parties. Other related festivities offered by the three-day event include a celebrity golf tournament, music concerts and more. The game is held at the Liberty Memorial Stadium, which is located at the Mid-South Fairgrounds in Midtown Memphis.
12. Chow Down On Some Tasty Burgers
Source: Flickr user atrujillo
Dyer’s Burgers has long been a staple on Memphis’ historic Beale Street. The famous burger joint has been in operation for more than 100 years and is known for founder Elmer “Doc” Dyer’s famous cooking grease and its delicious burgers.
13. Take In Mother Nature’s Beauty
Source: Flickr user Dana Kamp
Shelby Farms Park Conservancy is a great place for nature lovers and outdoor types. The park spans 4,500 acres and is located in Shelby County in Memphis. It has trails for running, hiking, horseback riding and biking; and along these trails, visitors can observe the beautiful natural surroundings and wildlife. The park houses a wide assortment of wildlife. Its meadows, forests and pinewoods attract more than 200 species of birds, deer, bobcats, reptiles, rabbits, minks, fish, muskrats, beavers, squirrels and foxes.
14. Put On Your Boogie Shoes
Source: Flickr user Memphis CVB
Paula & Raiford’s Disco is the perfect spot for people who like to get their groove on to old-school R&B, pop, and disco tracks from the 1970s and ’80s. The club also mixes in some more contemporary tracks with the old-school stuff, so everyone stays happy and hits the dance floor. The two-story nightclub is located in downtown Memphis and has a retro ambience: disco balls, fog machines and a dance floor that lights up. The club even has a dance pole for the more adventurous patrons. Paula & Raiford’s is considered one of the hottest nightclubs in town. So next the time you get a hankering for some old-school dance moves, check out Paula & Raiford’s Disco.
15. Candy Lovers Rejoice
Source: Flickr user Memphis CVB
Bring your sweet tooth to Dinstuhl”s Fine Candy Company, Inc., one of Memphis’ top confectioners. The menu offers a myriad of delicious sweet treats. The ace candy makers were recently listed in People Magazine’s 2014 Valentine Gift Guide.
16. A Hunk Of Burning Love Set In Stone
Source: Flickr user dehub
A statue of Elvis Presley in all his swivel-hipped glory sits nearby the Orpheum Theatre on historic Beale Street. It’s an attention-grabbing attraction that has many Memphis visitors clicking their camera phones.
17. Hoops Madness
Source: The Memphis Grizzlies via facebook
The NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies dazzle home crowds with their stellar ball-playing skills at FedExForum, located in downtown Memphis. So get a jump on things and watch the Grizzlies rule the court.
18. Gladiators Of The Grill
Source: The World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest via facebook
Memphis is known for its great barbeque, so it’s not surprising that the annual World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest is held there. Every May, thousands of grill masters head to Tom Lee Park in Downtown Memphis to pit their culinary skills against one another. The contestants cook up pork, beef and poultry dishes in hopes winning one of the top cash prizes.
19. In The Mood For Some Blues
Source: Flickr user Alan Levine
Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall is a great place to hear some amazing live blues. Located on Beale Street, this cozy little joint is a favorite among blues aficionados as well as music lovers in general. The club books some of the top blues talent in Memphis and has a full bar.
20. Southern Cuisine At Its Finest
Source: Restaurant Irs via Facebook
For a memorable dining experience, stop by Restaurant Iris. You won’t be disappointed. Chef Kelly English serves up some of the best French-Creole cuisine that Memphis has to offer. For four years running, Restaurant Iris was voted Memphis’ “Best Restaurant,” “Best Chef,” and “Best Service” by Memphis magazine readers. Additionally, the restaurant received a four-star review from Memphis daily newspaperThe Commercial Appeal.
21. Broadway Memphis Style
Source: Flickr user Joe Mazzola
The Orpheum Theatre is one of Memphis’ top entertainment venues and one of the city’s most iconic and beloved landmarks. The theatre has a rich history and offers a diverse selection of top-tier talent. The fabled venue presents popular Broadway musicals, concerts and other great entertainment.
22. Take A Bite Into A Yummy Dessert
Source: Muddy’s Bake Shop via facebook
Family-owned and operated Muddy’s Bake Shop serves a wide variety of delicious desserts, including cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pie, brownies, pudding, and much more. Try their tasty coconut cloud pie or bite into one of their moist strawberry cupcakes. You won’t regret it.
23. The Roots Of Rock And Soul Music
Source: Flickr user Memphis CVB
The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum pays tribute to the River City’s rich music history. The museum’s exhibition is about the birth of rock and soul music and the talented pioneers who played an integral part in the development of these genres. It has an audio digital tour guide with more than 300 minutes of information, including over 100 songs. The museum also contains more than 30 instruments, 40 costumes, as well as other artifacts and memorabilia. The museum is located on historic Beale Street.
24. Take Me To The River
Source: Flickr user Jamie Bernstein
Come view the Mighty Mississippi during your stay in Memphis. It’s worth seeing up close at least once. The Mississippi River serves as Memphis’ Western border, hence the nickname the River City or the Bluff City. Approximately 2,300 miles in length, the Mississippi River is one of the longest rivers the world. There is nearly five miles of public land in Memphis that banks the Mississippi. So there are many spots to get a great view of it.
25. Do The Salsa
Source: Flicker user Brendon
Rumba Room is a really fun nightclub with a lot of Latin flavor. It’s the first Salsa club in downtown Memphis. The club features live Salsa bands, dance competitions, and specializes in Latin food. The club even has a dance instructor who gives Salsa lessons.
26. Serenade By The Water
Source: Flickr user digosoreos
Watch a gorgeous sunset while being serenaded by an orchestra as you relax down by the river. It doesn’t get much better than this. This is what Sunset Symphony is all about. It’s part of the Memphis in May International Festival, which has all kinds of cool events throughout the month.
27. Take A Stroll Down Beale Street
Source: Flickr user ChaseGordon
World-famous Beale Street is always buzzing with activity. Clubs and shops line the streets, and there’s always music, often performed live. It’s fun place for both locals and guests to the River City. And it’s one of Memphis’ most recognized landmarks, with a rich, interesting history.
28. Where The Fun Never Stops
Source: Flickr user Bryan Kemp
There’s no chance of getting bored at the Pink Palace Family of Museums, because there are so many things to do. The museum family has a slew of cool attractions, including the Pink Palace Museum, CTI 3D Giant Theater, the Sharpe Planetarium, the Lichterman Nature Center and the historic Mallory Neely and Magevney Houses.
29. Rollin’ On The River
Source: Flickr user Gary J. Wood
The Memphis Riverboats offers 90-minute sightseeing cruises on the Mississippi River. It also offers special dinner cruises, field trips for teachers and students, college specials, and more.
30. Art And Nature
Source: Flickr user Debbie Ramone
Take a tour through the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, which is a fine art museum and public garden in Memphis. The Dixon is known for its unique and innovative programs in the arts and horticulture. Its garden is 17 acres, which includes woodland tracts, formal spaces, and cutting gardens. And the gallery houses a permanent collection of more than 2,000 objects, including French and American Impressionist painting, as well as significant holdings of German and English porcelain.
Source: Movo Insider/movoto.com/Ken Davis