Things to Do In Memphis
Memphis Travel Guide
Get Your Bearings in Memphis
Where to Stay
Downtown Memphis offers a full array of hotel choices including the venerable Peabody, the slick Westin Beale Street and the budget-friendly Hampton Inn Beale. The main advantage to staying downtown is the ability to walk to Beale Street's live music clubs and sights such as the Cotton Museum, the Mississippi River and the National Civil Rights Museum. Business travelers with appointments further afield will want to stay on the city's east side with easy proximity to FedEx world headquarters and International Paper. Whether staying for business or pleasure, downtown or anywhere else, a car is essential for exploring Memphis.
Caution: Most downtown hotels are crowded and loud during the annual Beale Street Music Fest, the first weekend of May; if you want to stay near the action, indulge at the Peabody, Madison or River Inn.
Hot Tips: Best chance to have your child named honorary duckmaster at the Peabody is to arrive early, and to be engaging; the best child-led duck marches are those with kids who are a bit of a ham.
What to Eat
While barbecue is king in Memphis, the city has come a long way in the last few years in terms of its dining scene with loads of chic local eateries steered by the surprisingly confident hands of young chefs opening. Cooper-Young - a neighborhood in Midtown - has become a dining hot spot and is a must-hit for restaurant-hopping and people-watching. Start with small plates at Alchemy and move on to a main meal at The Beauty Shop or Sweet Grass. Downtown's offerings vary from the historic, diner-ish Arcade to the opulent, French-infused Chez Philippe.
Hot Tips: What to wear to dinner in Memphis? Think snappy casual for most restaurants - nice jeans paired with a jacket for men, a cute dress or jeans and a pretty top for women.
Be Sure to Sample: The pulled pork nachos at Central Avenue; they're worth every calorie and fat gram.
Things to See
Memphis has become synonymous with Elvis Presley - and Graceland draws about 600,000 visitors annually. There are plenty of museums dedicated to the city's musical roots (before and after Elvis), history and the arts to fill your time. Green space is abundant with plenty of parks, especially along the Mighty Mississippi. And for children, an excellent zoo and children's museum - both in Midtown - promise hours of fun.
Avoid: The Graceland area during Elvis Week, around the 16th of August; the annual week of festivities marking the King's death creates crowds and traffic jams.
Hot Tips: A number of attractions, including the Brooks Museum and the Memphis Zoo, offer free admission days.
Places to Party
Live music is everywhere one turns in Memphis, primarily centered downtown and around Beale Street, but also found throughout the city at one of the dozens of live music clubs. Since the clubs on Beale are open until the wee hours of the morning, many of the dance clubs follow suit - again, these are located primarily downtown. For those looking for chic places to unwind with a cocktail, try the outer neighborhoods of Cooper-Young and East Memphis.
Caution: Beale Street is 18-and-up only after 11 pm.
Hot Tips: For a real taste of Memphis nightlife, be sure to hit Ernestine & Hazel's for a late night soul burger and eyebrow-raising people watching.
Where to Shop
Upscale boutiques and locally-owned favorites are clustered in East Memphis, while downtown offers a variety of shops, from the funky Tater Red's on Beale to the hip Lansky Brothers in the Peabody Hotel. One of our favorite neighborhoods for uniquely Memphis finds is South Main, where historic buildings bustle with local and regional art, boutique clothing and jewelry stores.
Hot Tips: The last Friday of the month is Trolley Tour night on South Main - a great shopping and people-watching experience.
Best Local Souvenir: Anything Elvis (from one of the Graceland stores) or a piece of folk art from a South Main gallery.
Memphis Is Known for...
Five of Memphis's most unique features and characteristics.Music
While Nashville lays claim to the auspicious title "Music City" further to the east, the reality is that Memphis lays claim to two original forms of American music - rock 'n' roll and the blues - and offers a grittier but equally rich history of grass roots music that's engrained into the fabric of the city's present day state. Historic, world-famous Beale Street boasts the apt nickname "Home of the Blues," and even on weeknights you'll hear timeless blues refrains drifting in the air around this district. The Beale Street Music Festival (during Memphis in May) features a delightful, eclectic mix of big-name stars performing side-by-side with local acts. When it comes to rock and soul, no city can match Memphis; home to Elvis Presley's Graceland, Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Smithsonian-curated Rock 'n' Soul Museum, Memphis is a must-visit destination of fans of American music.Food
Memphis is best known as one of a handful of pinnacles of barbecue. Memphis in May, one of the largest and most vibrant festivals in the South, is host to the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, widely known as the largest competition of its kind in the world, and affectionately called the Superbowl of...
Read the full list of five »