The strains of live blues music pour out of the clubs along Beale Street all day long - but Beale really comes alive at night, luring Memphis natives and visitors to old brick street that was once the center of African American business and life. Playing the blues at Mr. Handy's. — Photo courtesy of Mr. Handy's Blues Hall
Besides being one of the country's most historic streets, Beale is also one of America's best streets on which to bar-hop. Home to a mash-up of clubs, bars, and live music venues, Beale is known as the home of the blues; it was on this street that W.C. Handy, B.B. King and other blues legends got their start.
Pacing is the key to an evening of bar hopping on Beale; since most clubs don't close until the wee hours of the morning - somewhere between 1 and 5 a.m., there's no rush. Beale Street at sunset. Most bars close by 5 a.m. — Photo courtesy of Stephanie Jones Alcoholic beverages may be carried from bar to bar, provided they are in a plastic cup.
B.B. King's club on Beale Street. — Photo courtesy of ProfPRSites.com King's eponymous club is a real local treasure, featuring an excellent and soulful house band, and a collection of up-and-coming blues artists. Situated at the west end of Beale, it's a good place to start the evening, with a heavy meal of ribs and a live blues soundtrack.
One of our favorite spots is Mr. Handy's Blues Hall, pictured above - it is a small, true juke joint that's been around forever and gives an authentic vibe .
It's always a treat to hit Silky O'Sullivan's, the Irish dueling piano bar featuring not only dueling pianos, but live goats. Since Silky himself is often in the house, usually perched on a stool, you can ask him to tell you the goat tale. In the warmer months, Silky's has the best patio on Beale, and the people watching is truly hilarious as the night goes on. Across the way, another great patio - this one roof-top- can be found at Alfred's, where a good cover band takes over on the weekend nights, followed by a D.J. after hours.
Club 152 is where to go if you're looking to get your groove on, on the dance floor. The hip Band Box - part of the Blues City Cafe - is another good live music spot, especially for Elvis fans; the bar's current featured band is an Elvis cover band that takes the King to a more soulful level.
Rum Boogie is a great spot for downing a beer and viewing the incredible collection of guitars from their guest artists, which range from blues to rock to country groups. Superior is a great little spot for soaking up some of the alcohol you've downed, thanks to a menu loaded with Southern favorites – and it is an excellent bar as well. Wet Willie's is an iced drink delight, featuring dozens of frozen concoctions to help you hang on (all of which are made with grain alcohol - don't say we didn't warn you!)
If you want to be on Beale but escape from it all, then hit the Westin Beale Street's upscale, quiet, and gorgeous bar - it's an oasis in the night.