Nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River in the mid-south US state of Tennessee is the city of Memphis. For lovers of blues, jazz and rock’n’roll it is also known as Mecca. The historic downtown area lures pilgrims with its neon lights and never-ending jazz-band hum.
For food lovers, another major drawcard to the city is the local specialty fare, barbecue. Famous and infamous in equal parts, this no-frills traditional cuisine has deep historic roots and is characteristic of the area.
Fuel your passion for history at…
- The National Civil Rights Museum
- Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum
- Memphis’ Rock n Soul Museum
As to be expected there is no lack of attractions for musos in Memphis. There’s Elvis’ incredibly maintained former residence, Graceland. Tacky in a very good way, you can gain a deep insight into the King and admire the heady ’70s decor, his cars, private jets, and pay homage at his grave out by the swimming pool.
You can visit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, where a reassembled 1900s gospel church is among the comprehensive collection. Stand where Elvis, B.B. King and Johnny Cash recorded albums at Sun Studio, or pound the cobblestones in Beale Street with its abundance of live music clubs.
Another site of significance is the National Civil Rights Museum located at the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jnr was fatally shot in 1968.
Eat and Drink
You won’t need to venture far beyond the South Main Historic Arts District or the Downtown area of the city to find some barbecue to satisfy your hunger. Don’t expect five-star dinning at these barbecue joints, the rough-and-ready atmosphere is all part of the fun.
Beale Street is hard to hard to pass up for nightlife options. You can while away the hours hopping from jazz bar to blues club, with food and drink options in abundance. The Cooper-Young Historic District has coffee shops, restaurants and bars with live music too.
Feel that rocking beat at…
- The historic Handy Park Pavilion bar
- The Blues City Cafe
- Hi-Tone with its underground vibe
Where to Stay
If you want to be close to the action, some Downtown digs are your best option. There’s everything from five-star chains to three-star condos on offer. The historic districts are within walking distance, the main sights of the city can be easily reached by bus and the airport is nearby.
Memphis is not a destination for the retail fiend. But if you want kitsch collectables and souvenirs, then you are in luck. The Cooper-Young District and South Main District are good for antiques, vintage clothes and giftwares. A. Schwab’s historic department store is a Memphis institution and an absolute must-stop on Beale Street.
Memphis Like a Local
If you are in town for the third weekend of the month you can head to the Memphis Flea Market at the Agricenter east of the city. Known as “The Big One”, locals come to get new and used clothes, jewellery and homewares for bargain prices.
Catch a ball game at AutoZone Park in Downtown Memphis, where you can sit among the families on the grassy Bluff and cheer on the Redbirds. It is also well worth venturing out to greater Memphis to sit in with the congregation at a local gospel church. You will be welcomed with open arms and blown away by the talented choirs.
Get festive during…
- Beal Street Music Festival in May
- Carnival Memphis in June
- The Cooper-Young Festival in September