Our flexible rule for these weekend jaunts is to pick a destination with plenty to do but we won’t feel heartbroken if we’re unable to see every last thing. We identify a few Must-do’s and let the rest unfold as it will. But this time Memphis knocked us off our feet and we’re already talking about a return visit to explore even further.
Instead I’ll share just the highlights and a few tips/observations.
But first, to get us in the proper frame of mind, I recommend you get yourself a tall glass of the cold beverage of your choice and hit the Play arrow on our Memphis playlist.
All of the musicians have a Memphis connection, either their birthplace or as pivotal to their career.
Pay special attention to a couple of tracks from local musician Eric Hughes who is a tour guide by day and a rockin’ bluesman at night. We caught his Saturday night set at the King Palace Café and can attest – he’s the real deal.
Experiences: Ultimately that’s what you’re there for, right? There’s no shortage of things to do, and we had to pick just a few - Graceland; Peabody Ducks; Beale Street; Civil Rights Museum; Mojo Bus Tour - but wait until next time: Stax Museum; Overton Park; Gibson Guitars, etc.
- Recommend the Mojo Bus Tour with local musicians as the tour guides, interspersing tunes with interesting tidbits about the city’s culture and history. We don’t usually do group tours/bus things, but this was a good way to get an overview of Memphis and tap into the musical tradition right away.
- Highly recommend carving out several hours for the National Civil Rights Museum, located in the old Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. The well-designed museum has plenty of interactive, multi-media displays covering enormous swaths of history from before and after Dr. King’s assassination. We were there for 3 hours and could easily have spent 2 more – but it’s intense. Be ready.
- BBQ: We went to Rendezvous – famous for their dry rubbed BBQ style – and to Central Barbecue. Both were messy and delicious and I won’t say No to second helpings at either establishment. Highly recommend.
- We had a terrific dinner at McEwen’s in the Downtown neighborhood, just a few blocks away from Beale Street. A little fancier than the BBQ joints but not at all stuffy, the menu was creative yet familiar with many tantalizing options.
- BB King’s has a slicker stage/production set-up than most and highly engaging cover bands. Silky O’Sullivan’s has a large patio plus goats that climb a tower. There are clubs galore too numerous to mention.
- As mentioned above, we really enjoyed hearing the Eric Hughes Band at the King Palace Café. It’s a large club with only a small crowd that night. Hidden gem on Beale Street?
- It’s going to be hot. We had mid-90s in late September. Be prepared.
- Also be prepared for long lines, aggressive photo sales, and way more gift shops than necessary at Graceland. We went about 2:00, avoiding peak times right when it opens and at noon, and still spent a good 40 minutes before setting foot in Graceland.
- People line up super-early to see the Peabody ducks do their red carpet parade twice a day. Mezzanine level viewing is the way to go, and even that was crowded.
- Memphis has a nice trolley system, and the Downtown area is totally walkable. We saved money by not renting a car and only used a taxi/Uber for trips to Graceland and the airport.
Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
One thing’s for sure, wherever this Fearless Foursome travels to next, we’re going to find the fun, food, music, and good times that makes the city special and then we’ll tell you all about it. Stay tuned, travel safely, and tell us all about your favorite travel destinations in the Comments.