Think three days when visiting Memphis–that’s a good time frame for a tour of a city that rocks. Start at the main natural attraction, the Mississippi River, where steamboat passengers and cotton bales once crowded the docks. From April through October, Mud Island River Park and Mississippi River Museum are open, giving an excellent history of the river and its importance. In the hot summer, cool off at the Mud Island River Park fountain — Photo courtesy of Mud Island River Park
Just a few blocks from the river in the South Main neighborhood, the National Civil Rights Museum tells the story of Memphis’ most notorious crime: the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was gunned down on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.
The South Main neighborhood is an excellent spot to browse through unique boutiques or grab a quick meal at one of the city’s iconic restaurants, The Arcade.
Don’t leave downtown before checking out the duck march at The Peabody. Catch the 5 p.m. march and relax with a cocktail in the hotel's gorgeous lobby bar for the perfect way to wind down a day of exploring downtown. Be sure to get there early to snag a good spot to watch the parade.
You could devote an entire day to exploring America’s musical roots in Memphis. The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum does a fantastic job of explaining the birth of the blues and its impact on every other form of music.
From there, move on to Graceland to check out the 1970s splendor of Elvis Presley’s home, not to mention his bejeweled jumpsuits, and be sure to make a stop at Stax, which explores the rise of soul music and the Memphis sound.
Finish the day on Beale Street, and wander from club to club to catch the blues. You can hit the funky A. Schwab’s Dry Good Store for a Memphis souvenir or a whoopee cushion.
For families, the Memphis Zoo is a must, as one of the top-rated zoos in the country. Not too far from the zoo, the Children’s Museum of Memphis is where the kids can throw themselves into all kinds of play, from getting doused in the splash park, to pretending to fly a plane or exploring the wonders of the river. The Twilight Sky Terrace at the Madison Hotel in downtown Memphis is a great place to toast the river — Photo courtesy of Lisa Buser
For a final glimpse of the river before you go, head to the rooftop lounge at the Madison Hotel downtown or the River Inn on Mud Island to watch the sunset over the Mississippi–the perfect conclusion to an enlightening stay in Memphis.