Best Things To Do in Memphis
Take a look at just about any list on the internet and Memphis will be named somewhere in the Top Ten Music Cities in the U.S. Elvis Presley recorded his very first song (“That’s Alright, Mama”) in 1954 at Memphis’ Sun Studio, which became, for all intents and purposes, the birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Music is still the heartbeat of the city, but that isn’t all that Memphis has to offer. Here is MySitti’s list of Best Things To Do in Memphis. We should know. It is, after all, our hometown.
1. Graceland- While Elvis went on to become the world’s first true rock ‘n’ roll star, he kept his home in Memphis, living at a total of nine different addresses around town. His most famous home, of course, is Graceland. It is also Memphis’ most visited attraction, receiving about 650,000 visitors annually. You can find Cheap Hotel Deals starting at about $69 per night.
2. Lorraine Motel- The Lorraine Motel is home to the National Civil Rights Museum. Its exhibits trace the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the 17th century to the present. The Lorraine Motel was the site of the assassination of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968. Two other buildings and their adjacent property, also connected with the King assassination, have been acquired as part of the museum complex.
3. Memphis Zoo- The Memphis Zoo is rated as one of the Best Zoos in America and is one of only 4 zoos in the US to see giant pandas. While we love our pandas, Ya Ya and Le Le, Memphis Zoo boasts spectacular natural habitats from the Northwest Passage that highlights playful polar bears to the Herpetarium, a.k.a. the reptile house. See our komodo dragons as they bask in the sun or get a laugh at the chimps in Primate Canyon. The little ones love the petting zoo and camel rides.
4. Bass Pro Shop- This Bass Pro megastore is located in a 32 story glass pyramid that was originally dubbed the Great American Pyramid. In addition to the retail store itself, Bass Pro at the Pyramid is home to an archery range, shooting range, and laser arcade. The building also includes an Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill with a bowling alley and a saltwater aquarium. The tallest freestanding elevator in America takes visitors to The Lookout at the Pyramid at the apex of the building, where they can take in the view on an indoor and outdoor observation deck or dine and drink at the “Sky High Catfish Cabin”, a restaurant, bar, and aquarium at the top of the building. At the base of the Pyramid is a 100-room hotel known as the Big Cypress Lodge. Bass Pro at the Pyramid contains 600,000 gallons of water features and the largest collection of waterfowl and hunting related equipment in the world.
5. Beale Street- Beale Street is considered the Home of the Blues and is a National Historic Landmark. Here you will find three blocks of nightclubs, restaurants and shops in the heart of downtown Memphis. The Beale Street Entertainment District is a melting pot of delta blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B and gospel. All you need to do is take a stroll down Beale Street’s neon row. Hear music spilling out of clubs and restaurants like Rum Boogie Cafe,B.B.King’s Blues Club,Silky O’ Sullivan’s or the Hard Rock Cafe. Beale Street is serious about its music, and jam sessions at many of these clubs go deep into the night. For a good time, grab a drink, soak up the sounds and throw a few bucks in the tip jar for the Beale Street Flippers. On the North end of Beale St, you will find The New Daisy Theater which hosts many popular alternative and rock shows. The opposite end of Beale is home to the historic Orpheum Theater. Here you can catch everything from touring Broadway productions or re-runs of classic movies. The famous Beale St Music Festival happens the first weekend every May.
6. Stax Museum of American Soul- Around town, it is referred to as Stax Museum. This museum was built in the former location of Stax records and celebrates the legacy of its artists such as Isaac Hayes, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MGs, Albert King, and Johnnie Taylor. Because this museum is dedicated to all things soul, it also pays homage to other soul music labels such as Motown, Atlantic Records, and Hi Records. Stax showcases more than 2,000 videos, films, photographs, original instruments used to record Stax hits, stage costumes, interactive exhibits, and other memorabilia. Here you can find Isaac Hayes’ restored 1972 gold-trimmed, peacock-blue Cadillac El Dorado. With gallery exhibits changing 5 times a year, there is always something new to see.
7. Sun Studio- Sun Studio is a recording studio opened by rock-n-roll pioneer Sam Phillips. As we mentioned already, this is where Elvis recorded his very first song and the era of Rock N’ Roll was born. It is the discovery location of musical legends and genres of the 50’s from B.B. King and Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis; from Blues and Gospel to Country and Rock’n’roll. Other famous artists to record here include Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, Ray Harris, and Warren Smith. When you visit Sun Studio, you can stand where legendary musicians recorded history.
8. Metal Museum- The Metal Museum is located on a 3.2 acre site overlooking the Mississippi River just south of downtown Memphis. The museum property contains three historic buildings that were once part of a United States Marine hospital. The buildings are now the museum, housing for resident art students, and a library. The museum has over 3000 items in its permanent collection, and also hosts travelling exhibitions. There is also a working smithy and foundry on site. In addition to displaying metalwork inside the museum they also offer hands-on classes in the museums workshops.
9. Peabody Hotel- This Memphis hotel has made appearances in notable movies such as The Firm, Walk the Line, 21 Grams, and Great Balls of Fire. Although this historic luxury hotel in Memphis is most notably known for its ducks. Yes, you read that correctly: Ducks. As the story goes, General Manager in the 1930’s, Frank Schutt, had just returned from a weekend hunting trip in Arkansas. He and his friends found it amusing to leave three of their live English Call Duck decoys in the hotel fountain. The guests loved the idea, and since then, five Mallard ducks (one drake and four hens) have played in the fountain every day. n 1940, a Bellman by the name of Edward Pembroke volunteered to care for the ducks. Pembroke was given the position of “Duckmaster” and served in that position until 1991. As a former circus animal trainer, he taught the ducks to march into the hotel lobby, which started the famous Peabody Duck March. The ducks march into the lobby everyday at 11:00am via red carpet and they march back to the elevators that take them back to their penthouse home at 5:00pm. The Peabody rooftop parties are the place to be on Thursday nights in the summer to hear live music. This beautiful hotel has two options for fine dining in Memphis: Capriccio Grill and Chez Philippe. In addition to being the only Forbes Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond rated restaurant in the Mid-South, Chez Philippe has been named among Food & Wine magazine’s “Top 50 Hotel Restaurants,” described as “worth a special trip” by The New York Times and included on Open Table’s list of Top 100 “Most Romantic Restaurants in the U.S.”
This list is just our “Top Picks” of things to do in Memphis. This music city is well worth a weekend trip to experience the rich history and music culture here. MySitti makes it easy to find affordable hotels, Cheap Rental Cars, and plenty of flight deals.