Beale Street, Graceland, and Sun Studios are some of the attractions from Memphis’ musical history which are visited by people from around the world. Memphis also has a number of museums and a riverboat ride which make it a good idea for a weekend getaway.
Things to Do
Where to Stay
Climate: The summers are usually very hot, with temperatures regularly going above 90° F (32° C). Unless you’re an Elvis fan who must be there for Elvis Week in August, I would advise against visiting Memphis between mid-May to mid-September for this reason. The best seasons for Memphis are the spring and the fall. The winter is worth considering as a time to visit. Although it gets cold, snow and ice are rare.
Airports: Memphis International Airport is the main airport. It’s in the southern part of the city itself, and about a ten-minute drive from Graceland. Unlike most major airports, this one isn’t miles away from the city it serves. General DeWitt Spain is a general aviation airport located in downtown Memphis near the Mississippi river.
Getting around in Memphis: Although Memphis has a public transportation system, it’s hard to get around without a car. There aren’t a lot of taxi stands, and if you call a taxi company, it can take hours to turn up, if it turns up at all. Ironically, the same taxi companies have been fighting a battle to stop companies like Uber from offering services in Memphis.
Things to Do
Graceland: Memphis’ main tourist attraction which attracts visitors from around the world is the one must-see sight in the city. The Southern colonial mansion is still decorated with the furnishings from when Elvis lived there. The tickets are sold across the street from the house, and the visitors are driven to the mansion in shuttle buses. An audio tour first leads you past Elvis’ living and dining rooms, before taking you into a mirrored TV room and then past the jungle room.
Once you leave the house, you’re shown a number of other buildings on the property, one of which houses a biographical exhibit , and another one which houses an indoor racquetball court. The tour ends in the garden where Elvis and a number of his relatives are buried.
There are numerous Elvis atttractions across the street from Graceland. Two of his private jets are on display, along with a large new entertainment complex with more exhibits.
3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, TN 38116
Sun Studio: Elvis made his first record and was discovered here. Many other famous musicians also recorded here in the 50s, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Roy Orbison. If you travel between downtown Memphis and Graceland, you’ll go past Sun Studio on the way.
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103
Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum: Located in the FedEx Forum stadium in downtown Memphis, this museum chronicles the history of Memphis music from the 1930s to the 1970s.
191 Beale Street, Memphis, TN
Pink Palace Museum: This science and history museum in midtown Memphis is housed in a mansion which once belonged to the man who invented supermarkets. One of the exhibits is a replica of the first self-serve supermarket. Some of the other exhibits are about the yellow fever epidemic that hit Memphis in the 19th century, circuses, and dinosaurs. The museum also has a planetarium and an Imax theater.
3050 Central Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art: The largest art museum in Tennessee features works from the Renaissance to the 20th century. It has over 7,000 works by both European and American artists. As it’s located in Overton Park, it might be an idea to also plan a visit to this museum if you’re visiting the zoo.
1934 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 39804
Dixon Gallery & Gardens: This museum combines Impressionist paintings with 17 acres of surrounding formal gardens containing a collection of outdoor sculptures.
4339 Park Avenue, Memphis, TN 38117
Where to Stay
The new Guest House at Graceland is the closest hotel to Graceland, being literally next door. However, there was a health scare there in the summer of 2017, and one of the people who fell ill died. The other hotels which are within walking distance of Graceland are the motel-style Memory Lane Inn and Suites and the aparthotel Inland Suites.
The Peabody Hotel: The Peabody Hotel is a Memphis classic. Known for the Mallard ducks which make a daily march through the lobby, the Peabody is the hotel which normally hosts notable guests from out of town. The Peabody has both a French restaurant and an American one, and has a rooftop ballroom which offers panoramic views of downtown Memphis. It’s also within walking distance of Beale Street and most of the other attractions downtown.
149 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103
Sheraton Memphis Downtown: This hotel is located right next to the Memphis Convention Center, and the historic trolley stops right outside the door. Some of the rooms come with river views.
250 North Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
The Westin Memphis Beale Street: This comfortable and well-reviewed 4-star hotel is just around the corner from Beale Street and within easy walking distance of most of the attractions in downtown Memphis. If you’re coming to Memphis for a sporting event, the FedEx Forum is right across the street.
170 Lt. George W Lee Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103
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