What’s the first thing that you think of when you think of Memphis, Tennessee?
Us too! Up until a few weeks ago, our knowledge of Memphis was very limited. We knew it was in Tennessee (because #obviously), we knew it’s where Graceland is located (because #iconic), and we knew it’s the birthplace of Justin Timberlake (because #priorities) - but beyond that, Memphis was somewhat a mystery to us! And that’s our favorite way to enter a new city - with limited knowledge and preconceived ideas/expectations. It gives us the ability to fully immerse and explore the destination, and come to conclusions on our own. Well, after spending three full days in the “Home of Blues, Soul, and Rock n’ Roll”, we’re happy to say that we love Memphis. It’s a city full of heart, history, mouth-watering food, and really incredible music… It’s safe to say that if you love those things, you’ll love Memphis too!
Here’s our Top 10 Not-To-Miss Memphis spots!
10. BASS PRO SHOPS AT THE PYRAMID: Sure, you’ve probably been inside a Bass Pro Shop or two in your life, but this one is NEXT LEVEL. What used to be “The Pyramid Arena” (a sports complex inside a giant pyramid) has now turned into a Bass Pro Shops superstore, with ample shopping, restaurants, aquariums, a bowling alley, a hotel, and more. Kinda hard to wrap your mind around, huh? You have to see it to believe it! You could easily spend hours exploring inside, and the store is dog-friendly, too!
9. CROSSTOWN CONCOURSE: Speaking of giant indoor metropolises, you have to see the Crosstown Concourse! What once was a Sears mail-order processing warehouse is now a 1.5 million square foot urban village. (Say what?!) There’s a grocery store, fitness center, health clinics, charter school, restaurants, offices, apartments, and MORE! It’s the coolest, biggest, and most revolutionary live/work spaces we’ve ever seen… and a perfect place to spend the day if you’re wanting to stay indoors!
8. CENTRAL BBQ: Ask any Memphis local where to eat, and chances are they’ll send you to Central BBQ. This award-winning BBQ restaurant specializes in “fall-off-the-bone meat”, southern hospitality, and good times, and we can most definitely say they delivered just that! No matter what you order, we guarantee you won’t be disappointed… and make sure you try their famous banana pudding for dessert!
7. SUN STUDIO: Known as the “Birth Place of Rock n’ Roll”, Sun Studio is not only the recording studio where 18 year-old Elvis Presley recorded his first song, but it’s also where iconic artists like Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others started their musical career. You’ll get to hear fascinating stories, see the original recording room, and listen to some legendary BTS clips from when Elvis was recording. Make sure you book your tour in advance! (You can do so here.)
6. NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM: Built around the site of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. (the former Lorraine Motel), this extensive and beautifully done museum traces the history of the Civil Rights Movement from the 17th century to today. It’s powerful, raw, and incredibly moving. You can even see Room 306, the hotel room in which Dr. King spent his final hours.
5. THE PEABODY: Dating back to 1869, the historic Peabody Hotel has become a main attraction for Memphis visitors, not only for its stunning architecture and award-winning restaurants, but also for their resident ducks! Everyday at 11am and 5pm, onlookers can watch the “Peabody Duck March” where the resident ducks march to and from the lobby fountain. It’s basically the cutest thing ever. (And if you visit Memphis and don’t visit the Peabody ducks, we’ll be very disappointed in you.)
4. BEALE STREET: If you love live music, you’ll love Beale Street! Named the “Home of the Blues” by an act of Congress, it’s a street packed with restaurants, bars, and live music venues that will have you laughing, dancing, and singing all day (and night) long! Our suggestion? Grab a drink to go and leisurely explore the three blocks of musical entertainment bliss… and make sure you catch the famous Beale Street Flippers in action!
3. B.B. KING’S BLUES CLUB: Our favorite live music venue on Beale Street, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include B.B. King’s Blues Club on our list! It’s a restaurant and bar, dance floor, and music venue all in one - and their soulful performers are unparalleled. Wear comfortable shoes, as you’re bound to be dancing all night long!
2. GUS’S FRIED CHICKEN: We can’t stress how absolutely phenomenal Gus’s Fried Chicken is (hence why it’s #2 on our list). We’ve tasted a lot of fried chicken over the years, and Gus’s puts them all to shame. Go in the mid-afternoon when the lines are short, order fried chicken (you can choose whether you want white or dark meat), their famous mac n’ cheese, and whatever other sides you’re craving. All it takes is one bite, and you’ll know exactly why we’re so obsessed.
1. GRACELAND: We’ll just say it now. You can’t go to Memphis without visiting Graceland. Not only can you tour the place that Elvis once called home, but you can walk through his gardens, board his aircraft, and admire thousands of legendary artifacts and personal mementos of the king of rock n’ roll. The rooms are captivating, and beautifully preserved. It's a must-see. AND the audio tour is voiced by John Stamos - absolutely genius! *Little known fact: Elvis fans can now get married at the new “Graceland Wedding Chapel in the Woods”! (They’re even making a Hallmark movie featuring the chapel!)
So, there you have it. Our Memphis Top 10. Honestly, we could’ve easily written a blog on our “Memphis Top 20” because of all we saw, did, and ate, but we figured that might be pushing it. ;) For those that might be wondering, we stayed at the Hotel Indigo Memphis Downtown - and we loved it. It’s clean and modern and walking distance to all of the downtown sights. And very dog friendly, too!
Did we miss anything on this list? We’d love to hear your favorite Memphis spots, for when we return again.