A small-town vibe seems to contradict the expanse of this big city. Memphis is friendly, energetic and filled with things to do. Whether you’re looking for live entertainment, or rock ‘n’ roll nostalgia, festivals or karaoke bars, a museum or just a stroll in the park, you will find it here. If you stay at the Peabody Hotel, you can experience the “March of the Ducks;” what began as a prank almost 80 years ago became one of the signatures of this city. Twice each day, a parade of live ducks marches from the rooftop of the hotel to lobby’s fountain!
The music scene is huge in Memphis; think Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and B.B. King to start. These notorious rockers left their mark on the city, and the melodious vibe continues there today. Learn about Memphis’ music history at the Smithsonian’s Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. Tour Sun Studios to see how pop stars made their magic.
Visit Graceland to get a sense of Elvis’ over-the-top lifestyle. Levitt Shell, an outdoor amphitheater in Midtown, showcased those famous entertainers and still puts on concerts today. Music lovers can relax on lawn chairs or blankets while listening to music emanating from this famous cornucopia of sound. The 1.8-mile cobblestone stretch of Beale Street puts you back where it all began. Stroll beneath the neon lights or pop into a bar for a cold drink and some smooth jazz.
The music scene in Memphis is not the only thing to feed the soul. Finger-licking good “dry-rub” ribs await you at more than 100 barbecue restaurants. You can fill up at the famous Rendezvous or try unique barbeque creations, like Interstate Barbecue’s spaghetti soaked with the legendary sauce. Every year, the renowned “Memphis in May” festival hosts the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. If you’ve never had good barbecue, you’ll never feel deprived again after making the rounds at this international competition. But you might need to wash your shirt. Or wear a bib.
Although it’s a bustling city, Memphis surprisingly has its fair share of green space. Midtown is home to Overton Park, a 342-acre expanse that houses an art museum, zoo, golf course, and lake. Retained in the park is the Old Forest Arboretum of Overton Park, one of the last primeval forests left in Tennessee.
Shelby Farms Park is a 4,500-acre nirvana for anyone who can appreciate so much as a blade of grass. This huge park offers trails, a disc golf course, horseback riding, and a real live buffalo. Its Woodland Discovery Playground is an innovative playscape for children, with six themed play “nests” that combine discovery, adventure and nature.
Visitors and residents can also stroll in the sun along the Mississippi River. The Mud Island River Walk is a unique way to learn about the geography of the river. It takes you along a path made by an exact scale model of the Mississippi, where you can walk “in” the river from its source to the Gulf of Mexico.
Memphis is much more than southern twangs and blues. Although so much of its musical mystique is packed into the short stretch of Beale Street, its ambiance stretches far beyond the downtown area. In this seemingly conventional southern city, there are peculiarities lurking around every corner. From the 32-story Pyramid Arena jutting into the sky above downtown Memphis to Graceland’s Heartbreak Hotel; Memphis’ offbeat atmosphere is endearing and unforgettable.