Y’all need to come on down to Memphis for some good ‘ole Southern hospitality. “Blues City” is perhaps best known for Graceland but has a number of other incredible attractions. Home to the Mississippi River, which is the second longest river in the US and the largest by volume, giving Memphis it’s title as “River City.” It’s about a 3½ hour drive from Nashville (210 miles), 4½ hours from St. Louis (280 miles), 7 hours from Dallas (450 miles), 6 hours from New Orleans (400 miles), 4 hours from Birmingham (240 miles) and 6½ hours from Atlanta (380 miles).
Top 10 Attractions
1. Graceland – Visit the iconic place that Elvis once called home. We actually found to funny that Elvis didn’t have granite or marble in his kitchen – that cheapskate had the basics! Obviously times have changed in what’s in style and not, but this mansion is by all means, well worth the visit. An absolute must-see for anyone in town. See the airplanes Elvis flew, the automobiles he drove, pay your tributes to Elvis’s grave site, and discover all of his timeless memorabilia. Graceland is the second most visited celebrity home in the country, right after the White House. The mansion tour is $34 for adults and $15 for children.
*Tip: Graceland actually has a meditation garden that is open free of charge every morning from 7:30 am to 8:30 am.
Taylor in front of Graceland.
2. Beale Street – Perhaps the most famous street in Memphis, it is home to more than 25 clubs and shops. Whether you want to find Memphis souvenirs, enjoy authentic Memphis soul food, listen to live music, or party into the night, Beale Street has everything you need.
3. The Memphis Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum – Their exhibition, created by the Smithsonian Institution, tells the story of musical pioneers who overcame racial and socio-economic barriers to create the music that shook the world. The museum offers a refreshing Memphis music experience from the rural music of the 1930s, through Memphis’ musical heyday in the 70s, to its global musical influence. Discounted tickets to this attraction are available for purchase at Graceland. Admission is $11 for adults and $8 for children.
4. Sun Studio – This was the recording home to many artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Ike Turner, and more. Today it still functions as a recording studio, but also as a tourist attraction. Tours of this National Historic Landmark are given seven times each day. It’s ranked on TripAdvisor as the #1 attraction in all of Memphis. Admission is $12 for adults and children are complimentary.
5. Mud Island River Park – Escape from the hustle bustle of the city at this one-of-a-kind facility. Learn about the influence the river had on Memphis’ development at the Mississippi River Museum. If you’re visiting in the summer you can catch a concert at the Mud Island Amphitheater; everyone from Jimmy Buffet to the Zac Brown Band has played here. Bikes, kayaks and paddleboats are available for rent here, plus there are several eateries and plenty of picnic. Mud Island River Park is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m from the end of May to early September; throughout the rest of the year, the park closes at 5 p.m. General admission and skybridge access is free, while roundtrip monorail access is just $4.
6. The Memphis Zoo – It has been one of the city’s most popular attractions for 100 years. Its numerous and impressive renovations over the last several years have made the zoo better than ever. The zoo now houses more than 3,000 animals on its 70 acres, including lions, bears, elephants, and most recently, giant pandas on loan from China. It’s one of only four US zoos to house the giant panda and definitely considered one of the best zoos in the country. General admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children.
*Tip: The zoo actually offers free admission for Tennessee residents on Tuesday afternoons from 2 p.m. through close, from April through February
7. The Pink Palace Museum – As one of the largest museums of its kind in the southeast, it houses an impressive collection of exhibits designed to teach visitors about the cultural and natural history of Memphis and the Mid-South. In addition, the museum also offers a planetarium and a four story IMAX theater. General admission to exhibits is $11.75 for adults and $6.25 for children.
8. AutoZone Park – This is the baseball stadium for the Memphis Redbirds, a AAA minor league team affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals. This park is considered by many to be one of the finest ballparks in the nation.
9. The National Civil Rights Museum – The National Civil Rights Museum showcases the struggle for civil rights in the United States. The museum is housed in the renovated Lorraine Motel which is the very hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968. It is the unique focus of this museum that attracts thousands of visitors every year from all over the world. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children.
10. Stax Museum – This American soul music museum happens to be the world’s only soul music museum. It includes features from Otis Redding, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Ike & Tina Turner, Johnnie Taylor, and Albert King, including more than 3,000 videos, films, photographs, records, interactive exhibits, musical instruments, a dance floor, gift shop, and so much more. Located just 10 minutes from Graceland. Admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children.
Silky O’ Sullivan’s – Located in the heart of Beale street, this Irish pub offers some great beer and good ‘ole barbecue. But the real show stopper, which is even cooler than their dueling pianos, is their goat pen that lines their outdoor-seating area. They actually let you share your beer with their goats, who can also be seen climbing their goat tower, which is one of only four in the world.
The Rendezvous Restaurant – Arguably considered the most-famous restaurant in town for barbecue – and unless you’re a vegetarian, every Memphis visitor has to try their melt-in-your-mouth barbecue. This place has been a huge hit since it first opened in 1948. It’s even been featured in novels and national news stories, and it has has hosted dignitaries including the Japanese Prime Minister and President George W. Bush.
Kooky Canuck – Located in the heart of downtown Memphis, Kooky’s is dubbed as the “home of the 4 pound burger.” They even have a 7.5 pound burger and will give you a free meal if you can finish it in one hour. Log cabin themed decor and the surrounding of hunting trophies all comes together for an out-of the-ordinary dining experience.
The Hard Rock Cafe – What better place for an Hard Rock Cafe than Memphis! Set in the heart of Beale Street, this cafe has done time as a recording studio and a saloon, and includes a complete Elvis collection on display upstairs!
Heartbreak Hotel – Owned by the same people that own Graceland, this hotel has a trendy, modern take on the personal style that the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” was known for. It has 128 rooms and it is conveniently located across the street from Graceland.
Pay your respects to the king at Elvis’s grave, beside Graceland.
The Peabody Memphis – Whether you are staying here or not, I highly recommend stopping by to get a look at the famous Peabody Ducks, who are a parade of five who trot down the elevator each day to march through the lobby daily at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m, before heading back up to their rooftop home. This is a tradition that dates back to 1933. Best of all, it’s free!