Memphis, Tennessee

welcome to our magical memphis, TN travel guide

Memphis, Tennessee is the throbbing heart of music. The vibrant Mississippi River city is where the birth of rock-and-roll, soul, and blues happened on the streets of Memphis, often referred to as the “Cradle of American Music.” Iconic legends like Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, and Isaac Hayes all performed in the city’s music studios and bars. Use our Memphis travel guide to help you experience the city to its fullest. 

Within the city’s heart and history, the fight against terrorism was fought on busses, bridges, and in the streets, and at the height of Martin Luther King’s leadership of the Civil Rights Movement, his life was taken in front of his motel room at the Lorraine Motel. The battle continues today. 

Whether your passion is music, history, or superb southern food, Memphis offers something for everyone. It can be supremely educational if you are searching for perspective. 

Isaac Hayes Gold Cadillac at Stax Museum
Isaac Hayes Gold Cadillac at Stax Museum
Photo-Credit-f11 Beale St Memphis
Photo-Credit-f11 Beale St Memphis


Memphis was one of the most educational stops on our travels so far. There are so many museums in Memphis, from musical staples like Graceland to social justice icons like Slave Haven and the National Civil Rights Museum. I felt my soul awaken as I stood in the power of exhibits depicting hardships that target people of all colors. Through our travels, I continue to be educated about our countries’ history of terrorism, which is often revised within a deep web of lies and misdirection.

The Memphis music scene on Beale Street was enriching. We moved and swayed to the music that makes the city’s soul come alive in the mid-night hours.

Tennessee Welcome Center– Plan your vacation at the Tennessee Welcome Center, take pictures with the bronze statues of Elvis and BB King, and enjoy the views of the river and bridges. Be sure to pop over to the nearby Pyramid for lunch or dinner with amazing views.

Graceland– Explore the home of the King of rock-and-roll – Elvis Presley. Learn about his life, how he changed music history, and formed the foundation for today’s rock sound. You can also pay your respects at the music legend’s grave, which sits on the Graceland grounds. Graceland skillfully tells the interesting and inspirational story of Elvis’ life, and how, by being his authentic self, he changed music, fashion, and the minds of generations. 

Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum– At the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum we witness the act of those who fought for their humanity to be recognized while simultaneously risking their lives running from the bonds of slavery, and the risks others took to facilitate the Underground Railroad to help them to freedom.

Memphis Rock N Soul Museum– The comprehensive story, told by the Memphis Rock N Soul Museum, details the struggle of African Americans to have their freedom be recognized formed the music that was defined by that experience leading to the birth of soul and rock-and-roll music.

National Civil Rights Museum– Detailing the history of slavery, the National Civil Rights Museum begins with the abduction from Africa, terrorism and forced field work, rights won but not given, the impact of Martin Luther King until his assassination, and the struggles of present-day trafficking.

Shelby Farms Park– An outdoor family adventure land, Shelby Farms Park includes bike, boat, water board, and horse rentals plus zipline and obstacle course for all day fun.

Stax Museum of American Soul– The Stax Museum of American Soul tells the unique story of the Stax recording studio and label that produced a significant portion of Memphis’ music like Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MGs while breaking prejudicial barriers of the time.

Beale Street– By day Beale Street was the epicenter of black services in segregated Memphis, and by night the limitless music capital where all colors wanted to be to experience the soul-capturing sounds. Today music emanates from the restaurants and bars as some of today’s most talented artists entertain.

Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art– You’ll explore the most extensive collection of Chinese Art in America’s south at the Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art.

Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid– An experience for everyone in the 28-story Bass Pro Shops Pyramid including a wilderness style hotel, full bar, museum of waterfouling and wetland conservation, aquarium restaurant, observation deck with skyline viewing, bowling alley, “live fire pistol and archery ranges”, and fish feeding.

Lichterman Nature Center– Three miles of trails, nature exhibits and animal education programs are on display at the Lichterman Nature Center. 

Sun Studio– Sun Studio is known worldwide as “The Birthplace of Rock’n’roll”. “It is the discovery location of musical legends and genres of the 50s from B.B. King and Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis; from Blues and Gospel to Country and Rock’n’roll.”

Edge Motor Museum– Twenty-two specifically selected cars tell the history of the American sports car mania at the Edge Motor Museum. 

Old Dominick Distillery– An interesting story dating back to the 1800s, is one of dedication, family legacy and inspiration with delicious spirits at the Old Dominick Distillery.

The Peabody Ducks– Five ducks live atop the historic Peabody Hotel, in a $200,000 palace and are cared for by the Duckmaster who escorts them to the main hotel fountain for daily viewing.

Graceland Bedroom
Graceland Bedroom
Graceland Living Room

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The roots of Memphis reach into the Mississippi Delta and the Deep South. You’ll find the city’s culinary creations complement the history of the region. You can pick soulful barbecues such as pork or slow-smoked ribs covered in spicy dry rubs and tangy sauces.

Central BBQ– It’s a no sauce zone, with a secret dry-rub combo at Central BBQ. I can’t wait until you visit Memphis to taste their BBQ ribs or just have them shipped to you!

Cozy Corner BBQ– They will BBQ anything, including Bologna at the Cozy Corner BBQ!

The Rendezvous– Enter The Rendezvous through an alley, and you’ll find a coal chute converted into a world-class smoker from 1948 making ribs served and shipped world-wide.

Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar– Ranked #4 in the US for fine dining, the Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar, offers multi-level seating, sexy food, served as “flights” or small servings, wine, entrée, salad, and dessert flights make eating fun and exciting.

Gus’s World-Famous Fried Chicken– The hot & spicy fried chicken at Gus’s Wold-Famous Fried Chicken will light your fire and make your lips buzz with their traditional recipe in an always-packed, simple café style restaurant.

Catherine & Mary’s– Sibling chefs, Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, celebrate their grandmothers’ authentic Italian meals made with love, and regional ingredients at Catherine & Mary’s.

The Lookout at the Pyramid– The Lookout at the Pyramid offers a picturesque view of the river and the Memphis skyline, with an aquarium bar and a nautical theme.

Mississippi Terrace at the Pyramid– A casual scene at the Mississippi Terrace at the Pyramid is coupled with an amazing view, craft cocktails and small plates.

The Four Way– This soul-food has roots in the Civil Rights Movement, and The Four Way is still cookin’ southern home-style meals today. 

Evelyn & Olive– Authentic Jamaican cuisine is served with fresh local ingredients at Evelyn & Olive where life’s mantra is simple: Love. Food. Music. Soul.

Bass Pro Shop at the Pyramid
Bass Pro Shop at the Pyramid

The ideal places to stay in Memphis, are as unique as the city. There are many brand hotels throughout the city to choose from, but I recommend unique experiences that define Memphis.

places to stay in memphis, Tennessee

Big Cypress Lodge –  “Located inside the Bass Pro Shops Pyramid with views of the Mississippi River…. with over 100 unique accommodations, experiential dining options, spectacular shopping”. The Big Cypress Lodge is an experience not just lodging. 

The James Lee House –  A unique blend of 1900s historical mansion turned Bed and Breakfast, with classic modern luxury and exquisite dining make The James Lee House a must on any vacation. 

The PeabodyThe 1869 historical Peabody Hotel defines new world luxury with expertly appointed accommodations, fine dining and viewing of the infamous Peabody Ducks.

Duckmaster at Peabody Hotel, Memphis, TN
Duck Master at Peabody Hotel

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AccommodationThe James Lee House – Built in 1848, The James Lee House maintains its old-world charm with a modern renovation that sought to revive the elements of the past with care and opulent luxury, custom amenities, and a spa-like bath experience.

Food The Lookout at the Pyramid – The views while dining at The Lookout at the Pyramid and the Mississippi Terrace at the Pyramid are unparalleled in the city, with accommodations and activities for the entire family in close proximity.

Things to Do The Civil Rights Museum – The Civil Rights Museum was so impactful to me, uncovering deep ignorance and mis-education. I wondered why it’s not a required field trip for every school in North America. I believe the authentic story of slavery should be told to be understood, so real change can begin. 

National Civil Rights Museum MLK Quote
Exhibit From the National Civil Rights Museum- Quote from Martin Luther King Jr.
Santa Maria National Civil Rights Museum
Exhibit From the National Civil Rights Museum- Woman and Child Sold Into Slavery- Photo Credit Gino Santa Maria
National Civil Rights Museum Exhibit 2
Exhibit From the National Civil Rights Museum

Alise’s Favorites and Suggestions

– If you want to learn about yourself, visit the many African American history exhibits throughout Memphis that tell the story of slavery from every aspect. Having access to these exhibits helped me uncover truths omitted from school history books and how those omitted facts shaped how I previously saw the inflicted terrorism, changing the way I see how the construct of enslavement is in place today. It also helped me to better understand how I have unknowingly upheld that construct by believing the story I was taught. 

Day Trips

Franklin, TN A historic town alive with activity and things to do. This Franklin, TN Travel Guide, will paint the picture of unique shops, decadent eateries, and wide-open spaces to lay your head. Franklin is just a short drive from Nashville, and steps back in time to a historic time forgotten pace.
Humboldt, TN The perfect location for your West Tennessee vacation, Humboldt is 12 miles from Jackson, 77 miles from Memphis and 124 miles from Memphis. In this middle-of-everything small town you will find upscale stores, delicious food that rivals any large city in America, and things to do for couples and families. The people were so welcoming, making our time there unforgettable. 
Jackson, TN The mid-point between Memphis and Memphis, Jackson, TN is a little big-town with all the creature-comforts of home. Enjoy great shopping and activities for the entire family.
Nashville, TN Learn how the old-world history of whiskey making and country music sounds meets new-world modern luxuries and the transformation of the Nashville, TN honkey-tonk.

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