When the American city of Memphis, Tennessee gets thrown around at social gatherings, it’s usually followed with tales of legendary musicians. However, despite having a renowned music tradition, Memphis is a character of many faces.
Memphis isn't just the ‘Home of the Blues’ or the ‘Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll’. In fact, it needs a new nickname: The Eclectic Soul of Tennessee. In a single day you can go from feeding grizzly bears to discovering the Civil Rights Movement, before cruising down the Mississippi in a steamboat.
Greeting the range of Memphis attractions grants you access to unique personas that add a fresh and exciting element to the city. Here's a rundown of Memphis' five personalities, and five must-see attractions that go hand-in-hand.
The Rock Star
The Rock Star is Memphis’ most charismatic personality, and who better to embody it than the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley? The King’s illustrious life ended in Memphis within the confines of his colonial revival-style mansion, Graceland. It’s fitting that Graceland is now an elaborate shrine to one of music’s biggest influencers; a man who had as many talents as he did demons.
What Graceland does better than any other Elvis Presley attraction is give you valuable insight into the rather enigmatic character of Elvis. From the carpeted ceilings in the Jungle Room and the private jets outside, to Elvis’ gravesite in the Meditation Garden, each step takes you through the King’s unforgettable journey, with intimate details on his passions and fears.
This world is defined by the people that pass through it and believe enough in themselves and their cause to leave behind an ageless legacy. Dr Martin Luther King was one such individual. Born into a society where African Americans were oppressed, Dr King had a dream to see everyone freed from mistreatment.
The National Civil Rights Museum explores the highs and lows of the Civil Rights Movement; starting with the harsh life under the Jim Crow laws of racial segregation, before progressing through prominent moments such as boycotts, Dr King’s prison sentence and the misunderstood Black Power movement.
The Museum ends with an event that transformed the world: the assassination of Martin Luther King. You can stand in the exact hotel room where Dr King was killed and look through the same window that James Earl Ray rested his rifle on before firing that world-shattering shot.
The Riverboat Gambler
Picture coasting down the Mississippi River on a steamboat, with the sound of blues floating through the elegant cabins while other passengers laugh over drinks at the bar. This was the everyday scene of a riverboat gambler, who relied on his/her wits and skills to manipulate the stakes for a big payday. The American Queen Steamboat Company, running out of Memphis, is one of the best ways to recapture this classic environment without the dangerous card shark element.
The American Queen runs regular cruises along the Mississippi in a classic steamboat with modern luxuries such as spa treatments, fine dining, extravagant suites and workout facilities. Onboard entertainment varies from the traditional river music, known as ‘jug music’, to the Vegas Rat Pack Show. Themed cruises include Southern Culture, Music of the 1960s and Baseball Legends.
From the ones you want to cuddle all day long to the ferocious beasts that make you question your bladder control, animals are nature’s gift to the world and the zookeeper is the individual responsible for allowing us to play a role in their lives. The Memphis Zoo is one of the world’s leading animal sanctuaries, home to more than 3,500 animals.
Animals from around the globe abound in the Memphis Zoo, including giant pandas from China, African lions, flamingos, lowland gorillas and vampire bats. You can do a lot more than just look, with interactive shows, camel rides, and giraffe and grizzly bear feedings.
The athlete needs to be strong and fit, but most of all they need to be passionate towards their sport and towards the city they play for. Sport in Memphis isn't just a side dish on an evening’s entertainment platter; it’s a three-course meal. Memphis’ basketball team, the Memphis Grizzlies, plays in the NBA and is the only team in the city that performs in a major professional North American sports league.
The Grizzlies carries the national sporting dreams of Memphis on its broad and muscular shoulders. Although the team has never won a championship, they have made the playoffs in the last four consecutive seasons, falling just short of the finals in 2013. With big name players such as Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph lining up for the Grizzlies, now is the best time to catch a game.