The largest city in Tennessee, Memphis is a must-see destination for lovers of Elvis, music, history and barbecue.
This vibrant and colorful destination offers everything from museums and galleries, to theatre and nightlife, and it is super easy to navigate by riverboat, trolley car or on foot. From Beale Street with the best live blues to B.B. King's and many more restaurants and bars – Memphis continues to seduce travelers with its culinary specialties and, of course, its rhythm!
Memphis’ Music Attractions and Tours
Memphis offers great attractions, especially for all things musical! This is the birthplace for some of the biggest artists in blues and rock music.
Visit Graceland, the former home of Elvis, the King of Rock n’ Roll. Elvis Presley lived here for more than 20 years, and everything is furnished like it was when the King resided here. Directly adjacent to the house is the trophy building, where you can marvel at the many gold records that Elvis won, as well as his famous jump suits.
From Graceland, drive to the equally legendary Sun Studio and visit the place where Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash recorded their first records in the ’50s. At the end of your tour, take a picture with the original microphone that Elvis and Johnny Cash used.
Continue to soak up the music history of Memphis with a visit to the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Representing one of the most important production companies for soul music, the STAX record label developed artists like Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes. Interactive exhibits, a dance floor and Isaac Hayes’ 1972 gold-plated Cadillac await you inside. At the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, get educated on the history of these two musical genres.
National Civil Rights Museum
To learn more about the cultural history of Memphis and the US, visit the National Civil Rights Museum. The many exhibits cover five centuries of civil rights history. Outside the museum, you can see the balcony where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
The heart of Memphis’ musical scene is on Beale Street, where any day of the week you will enjoy almost any kind of live entertainment you can imagine.
Beale Street is also where you’ll find the Gibson Guitar Factory. Take a guided tour and learn about its history and witness the fascinating process of making electric guitars. Johnny Hallyday is one of many famous musicians who had a guitar made here, and you can see all the collectors’ items signed by the biggest names of the music industry.
Back on Beale Street, it’s like a festival every day. Restaurants and bars line the street, and live music and Southern barbecue invite so many people to join in the fun every day. At night, the street becomes like a night-time parade of people having fun. With beer in hand, wander around the street to hear almost every kind of music you can imagine: blues, rock, soul, even side-street performers that haven’t hit the big time (yet). Don’t miss the famous street acrobats known as the Beale Street Flippers in the neon lights, for a full “Memphis” experience.
Memphis Food – Barbecue and Beyond
Beale Street is also a central place for shops and barbecue restaurants. The South is known for its barbecue and Memphis has more than 100 barbecue restaurants. Visit BB King’s for a fun ambiance and drinks. Or, check out Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous Ribs. This spot is famous for its barbecue and even boasts Princes Harry and William as recent guests.
Another favorite is Restaurant Iris, led by multi-award-winning chef Kelly English, who creates his own twist on Southern food. Treat yourself at this venue with a fantastic wine list in a cozy villa. Not just an experience, but a real culinary journey.
If it’s a casual local favorite you’re looking for, be sure to try Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken. This restaurant has become locally famous in its 60 years in business. There is always a line for the delicious fried chicken. The menu doesn’t complicate things, either. Just fried chicken and a few side dishes.
Other favorite restaurants are Cozy Corner and Central BBQ.
Riverboat along the Mississippi River
If you feel like taking a little break in order to relax from all the fun festivities, enjoy a riverboat ride on the Mississippi River. Boats embark from the area right next to the Memphis Queen II, which was built in 1955 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Tour guides join you to share historical facts and fun stories along your journey. Prepare to learn about the history of Memphis with some good laughs.
The World-famous Peabody Ducks
Before you leave Memphis, don’t miss the world-famous Peabody duck parade at the Peabody Hotel. A nearly 80 year tradition, the ducks march to and from the lobby fountain at 11 AM and 5 PM every day. Check out their daily march and learn about this unique bit of local history.
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