Memphis

Memphis is renowned as the home of the Blues and the birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but Memphis is perhaps best known for Graceland, Elvis’ longtime home and shrine to millions of visitors.

Elvis was just 22 when he paid $102,500 cash for Graceland in 1957. A self-guided audio tour leads you through the ‘wild’ interior reflecting the 70’s décor. At the end of the mansion tour, visitors enter The Meditation Garden where Elvis is buried alongside his father, mother, grandmother and twin brother, who died at birth. Opposite the Graceland mansion is the Visitors Centre with Elvis’ cars, Harley Davidsons and his customised airplane, the “Lisa Marie”, as well as gift shops and restaurants.

Memphis Museums

The city offers a multitude of other exciting activities and attractions too. Sitting on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River visitors will love Sun studio, STAX, Rock n Soul Museum, the National Civil Rights Museum and Beale Street. Beale Street is one of the most important districts in African-American history. It was part of an area that after the abolition of slavery provided a safe haven. It was also a melting pot of musical styles and many musicians, Elvis among them, learned their trade on Beale Street. A historic street that today, lives the legacy of the Blues, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Soul everyday and night of the year.

The STAX Museum of American Soul Music celebrates great Memphis Soul music made famous by the likes of Otis Redding, Booker T and the MGs, Isaac Hayes, the Bar-Kays, Al Green and Aretha Franklin. The award-winning introductory documentary film is worth the visit alone. The Smithsonian’s Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum on Beale Street tells the story of why Memphis is a root of nearly all American music from Jazz to Blues to Soul to Rock ‘n’ Roll. Also on Beale Street, the Gibson Guitar Factory offers tours to see how these handcrafted pieces are made.

 

Not far from Beale Street is the legendary Sun Studio. Elvis was 18 when he recorded his first song at Sun, whilst others such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and BB King also made their ‘start’ at Sun Studio. The Studio is still recording by night, but by day it is a tourist attraction with tours every hour. The National Civil Rights Museum is located at the historic Lorraine Motel where Dr Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated in 1968. The museum trails the long history of the Civil Rights movement from slavery to modern times, and a new annex to the museum explores the conspiracy behind Dr King’s murder.

Graceland

Walk in the footsteps of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll at Elvis’ home, Graceland. The full Graceland experience will take you from Elvis’ humble beginnings through his rise to superstardom. See how a rock ‘n’ roll legend lived and relaxed with family and friends. The Graceland experience includes an interactive iPad tour of Graceland mansion, plus a self-guided tour through the new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis! The complex houses Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, which is the largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum in the world, and Presley Motors, the new automobile museum. While you’re there, check out Discovery Exhibits that cover everything from Elvis’ service in the U.S. Army to artists who were influenced by him. 

Live Music

After exploring the musical history, see what the current Memphis music scene is like. For the blues, Beale Street is the place to go. B.B. King’s is the most upscale, Blues City Cafe is usually the most festive, and the Blues Hall most approximates a juke joint vibe. Speaking of, head to Wild Bill’s on Friday and Saturday nights to experience one of our last surviving juke joints. Ernestine & Hazel’s always has jazz on Sundays. Down in Overton Square, Lafayette’s books live music acts of all flavours every single night of the week. The Hi-Tone, Growlers, and Bar DKDC are the places to go for late-night, indie acts. The Levitt Shell in Overton Park has free concerts Thursday through Sunday throughout the year and is family-friendly. Take a blanket or chairs. You can also bring your own food and drinks, or buy some there.

Memphis Food Scene

Eating in Memphis is an experience for the soul, not just the stomach. The speciality may be barbecue, and Memphis is home to more than 100 barbecue restaurants, but make no bones about it dining out here doesn’t stop there. There’s Southern-style soul food, fine dining, authentic Italian and Mexican cuisine, burger joints, award-winning chefs, breweries, bars and local eateries serving everything from American classics to eclectic dishes.

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