Memphis, Tennessee

After visiting the Graceland mansion and Whitehaven church, we were full of positive feelings and impressions. Now we went to Memphis to get even more.

We started with Beale Street, Memphis’ entertainment district. Plenty of expensive clubs, restaurants, souvenir shops, and neon signs exist. The blues clubs and restaurants that line Beale Street are major tourist attractions in Memphis.

Beale Street has been playing the blues for more than half a century. The street is named after an unknown military hero. But Beale Street’s heyday was in the 1920s when the area took on a carnival atmosphere, and gambling, drinking, prostitution, murder, and voodoo thrived alongside the booming nightclubs, theaters, restaurants, stores, pawnshops, and hot music. We walked on Beale Street in the daytime, but still, it was noisy and full of music. Between the 2nd and 3rd streets, there was a Walk of Fame—musical notes embedded in the sidewalk with the names of blues artists.

Gibson Showcase, Memphis

Behind Beale Street, we found the Gibson Guitar plant, where world-famous guitars are manufactured. There was a museum of Rock’ n’ Soul within the plant, but we did not visit it. We spent time in the factory shop and bought some souvenirs for our son, who had just started showing interest in guitars.

Sun Studio

We stopped our car at the most famous recording studio in the world—Sun Studio. This is where it all began—when 18-year-old Elvis walked into the legendary Sun Studio for the first time, he was asked who he sounded like. And he said, “I don’t sound like anybody.” And he sang “That’s All Right Mama” like nobody ever had… After visiting Graceland, it was enjoyable to think about that.

16 Unmissable Things to Do in Memphis, Tennessee

  1. Visit Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley. This iconic mansion is a must-see for any music lover and offers tours of the house and grounds, as well as a look into the life of the King of Rock and Roll.
  2. Explore the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. This powerful museum offers a sobering look at the civil rights movement and its impact on American history.
  3. Take a stroll down Beale Street, the heart of Memphis’ music scene. This historic street is home to various music clubs and bars, where you can catch live blues, jazz, and rock music performances.
  4. Visit the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, which explores the city’s rich musical heritage. The museum features a variety of interactive exhibits and artifacts, including vintage record players, guitars, and other musical instruments.
    Visitors can listen to audio recordings of some of the city’s most famous musicians, such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and B.B. King, and learn about the impact they had on the music industry. One of the highlights of the museum is the “Memphis Music Hall of Fame,” which honors some of the city’s most influential musicians, including Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and Al Green. Visitors can see personal artifacts and listen to their music in the Hall of Fame.
    The museum also offers a “Soul of Memphis” film, which tells the story of how Memphis music evolved from the early days of gospel and blues to the rise of rock ‘n’ roll and soul. The film includes interviews with some of the city’s most famous musicians. It provides a unique perspective on the history of Memphis music.
  5. Take a Memphis Riverboat Cruise on the Mississippi River, where you can enjoy views of the city’s skyline and learn about the river’s history.
  6. Visit the Memphis Zoo, one of the most renowned zoos in the country, which is home to a wide variety of animals from around the world.
  7. Take a tour of Sun Studio, where Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other musicians recorded their hit songs. Sun Studio is considered the birthplace of Rock n Roll. Check out the “Million Dollar Quartet” exhibit, which tells the story of the famous recording session at Sun Studio in 1956 featuring Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins.
  8. Check out the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, home to an impressive collection of art from around the world, including works by Monet, Cezanne, and Degas.
  9. Visit the Memphis Pink Palace Museum, which tells the story of the city’s history and natural environment.
  10. Head to Overton Park, a 342-acre park that offers hiking, picnicking, and a variety of other outdoor activities.
  11. Visit the Memphis Botanic Garden, which features a variety of gardens and exhibits, including a Japanese garden and a rose garden.
  12. Take a tour of the historic Peabody Hotel, known for its grand lobby and elegant decor, as well as its famous parade of ducks, a tradition that dates back to the 1930s. The tradition began when a group of guests placed live ducks in the hotel’s rooftop fountain as a joke. The hotel staff, not wanting to disappoint the guests, decided to keep the ducks in the fountain, and thus, the famous “Peabody Duck March” was born.
    Every day, at 11 am and 5 pm, the hotel’s rooftop ducks, led by the “Duckmaster,” march from their rooftop palace to the grand lobby, where they spend the day in the hotel’s ornate fountain. At the end of the day, they march back to their palace in a ceremony known as the “Duck March.” Visitors can watch the march from the grand lobby and take photos with the ducks. The hotel also offers a “Duckmaster Tour,” which provides a behind-the-scenes look at the ducks and their care and a brief history of the hotel.
    The Peabody Hotel is a National Historic Landmark. Over the years, it has hosted many famous guests, including presidents and celebrities. Visitors can tour the hotel and see the grand lobby, ornate decor, and elegant guest rooms.
  13. Visit the Memphis Museum of Science and History, which features interactive exhibits and educational programs on space, technology, and natural history.
  14. Take a bike tour through the city, where you can see historic sites and landmarks while exercising.
  15. Visit the Memphis Cotton Museum, which tells the story of the city’s cotton industry and its impact on the region.
  16. Enjoy some of the city’s famous barbecue, known for its slow-cooked meats and tangy sauces. Some of Memphis’s most popular barbecue spots include Rendezvous, Central BBQ, and Corky’s. Rendezvous, located in downtown Memphis, is famous for its dry-rub ribs and has been serving up barbecue since 1948. Central BBQ, with multiple locations in Memphis, is known for its slow-smoked meats and homemade sauces. Corky’s, also with various locations, is known for its pulled pork and baby back ribs, and it’s a popular spot among locals and tourists alike.

The story continues at Natchez, Mississippi.

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