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Howdy from Memphis, Tennessee, a city known for its vibrant music scene, delicious food, and rich history. Memphis is the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll and the home of blues music. From Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley, to the National Civil Rights Museum, there is so much to see and do in this exciting city.
I just spent 4 days exploring this Home of Blues and here’s my guide on top things to do in Memphis, from exploring the city’s museums to enjoying live music and dining on delicious barbecue. Get ready to experience a page of out the history book!
Table of Contents
Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley, is one of the most popular attractions in Memphis. We could have spent hours here! Located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard, you can take a tour of the mansion, car collection, private jets, and a museum collection of his famous jumpsuits and memorabilia from his music career. The tour also includes a visit to the Meditation Garden, where Elvis and his family are buried.
Admission prices for Graceland vary depending on the tour package selected, with prices starting at $41 for the Mansion Only Tour and going up to $174 for the VIP tour that includes access to exclusive exhibits and attractions.
3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard, graceland.com
Sun Studio is a must-visit destination for any music fan traveling to Memphis. Known as the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” the recording studio was where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other legendary musicians recorded some of their most famous hits. We took a tour of the studio and got to see where these iconic songs were recorded, as well as learn about the history of Sun Records and the impact it had on the music industry.
Admission prices for Sun Studio start at $15 for the basic tour, with additional tour packages available for an additional fee. The studio is open seven days a week, and visitors are encouraged to book their tours in advance to ensure availability. Don’t miss your chance to step into music history at Sun Studio.
706 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103, sunstudio.com
National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum is located in the Lorraine Motel, the site where civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The museum features interactive exhibits that explore the history of the civil rights movement in America, as well as artifacts and memorabilia from this important time in history.
Beale Street is one of the most iconic landmarks in Memphis and is known as the “Home of the Blues.” The street is lined with restaurants, bars, and music venues that feature live blues music every night of the week. Visitors can explore the street’s many attractions, including the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, A. Schwab, and the Blues Hall of Fame. Beale Street is also home to the famous Beale Street Music Festival, which is held annually in May.
- B.B. King’s Blues Club
- Rum Boogie Cafe
- Blues Hall Juke Joint
- Silky O’Sullivans (don’t forget to take a peek at the goats outside!). Beale Street’s newest spot is also the street’s first brewery –
- Ghost River
Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103.
The Peabody Memphis
The Peabody Memphis is a luxury hotel that’s famous for its daily duck march. Every day at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., a group of ducks march from their rooftop palace to the lobby fountain, where they spend the day swimming. Visitors can watch the duck march for free or enjoy a cocktail in the hotel’s lobby bar. The hotel also features several restaurants, including Chez Philippe, a five-star French restaurant.
149 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103
Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is an interactive museum that tells the story of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and soul music in Memphis. The museum’s exhibits include a collection of rare artifacts, photographs, and audio recordings that highlight the city’s rich musical heritage. Visitors can also enjoy live music performances in the museum’s courtyard. Admission pricing for the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is $15 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, and $10 for children aged 5-17.
191 Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103
Mud Island River Park
Mud Island River Park is a 52-acre park that’s located on an island in the Mississippi River. The park features a scale model of the lower Mississippi River, where visitors can walk along a replica of the river and see the landmarks and cities along its banks. The park also features a museum that showcases the history of the Mississippi River and the role it played in shaping Memphis’ culture and economy.
Admission: $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and children aged 5-11, and free for children aged 4 and under.
125 N Front St, Memphis, TN 38103
The Memphis Pyramid is a large pyramid-shaped arena that’s located on the banks of the Mississippi River. The arena was originally built as a sports and entertainment venue and has since been converted into a megastore for outdoor retailer Bass Pro Shops. Visitors can take a ride on the world’s tallest freestanding elevator to the top of the pyramid and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the Mississippi River.
1 Bass Pro Dr, Memphis, TN 38105
Memphis Botanic Garden
Escape the hustle and bustle of city life at the Memphis Botanic Garden, a 96-acre garden that offers a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city. The garden features a wide variety of plants and landscapes, including a Japanese Garden, a butterfly garden, and a herb garden. Take a stroll through the garden’s various trails and paths, or sit down and relax on one of the many benches throughout the grounds.
The Memphis Botanic Garden is also home to various events and activities throughout the year, including the Spring Plant Sale, the Summer Concert Series, and the Memphis Wine + Food Series. Admission to the garden is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (age 65+), and $5 for children (ages 2-12). Children under 2 are free.
Other things to do in Memphis
- Memphis Brooks Museum of Art – The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is a must-see for art lovers. The museum features an impressive collection of art from around the world, including works by Picasso, Monet, and Van Gogh.
- Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium – The Pink Palace Museum is a fun and educational museum that is perfect for the whole family. The museum features exhibits on science, history, and culture, including a replica of a 19th-century general store and a planetarium.
- Stax Museum of American Soul Music – The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is a great place to learn about the history of soul music in America. The museum features exhibits on the legendary Stax Records label, as well as interactive exhibits that allow visitors to explore the music and culture of Memphis.
- Blues Hall of Fame – The Blues Hall of Fame celebrates the rich history of blues music in America. Visitors can see exhibits on the genre’s most famous artists and inductees, as well as memorabilia and artifacts from some of the biggest names in blues music.
- Mississippi River – The Mississippi River is an iconic part of Memphis’s landscape and a great place to take a riverboat tour. Visitors can see the city’s skyline and enjoy the beautiful scenery while learning about the river’s history.
- Shelby Farms Park – Shelby Farms Park is one of the largest urban parks in America and is a great place to explore nature in Memphis. The park features several lakes, biking and hiking trails, and even horseback riding.
- Memphis Zoo – home to over 4,500 animals from around the world and is a great place to visit with the whole family. The zoo features several exhibits, including the African Veldt and the Northwest Passage, as well as a Children’s Zoo.
- Overton Park – 342-acre park that offers plenty of green space for visitors to explore. The park features several hiking trails, a nine-hole golf course, and even a dog park for your furry friends.
- Orpheum Theatre – a historic theater that’s located in downtown Memphis. The theater opened in 1928 and has hosted performances by some of the world’s most famous entertainers, including Elvis Presley and B.B. King. Visitors can see a Broadway show, a concert, or a movie at the Orpheum Theatre, which features a beautifully restored interior that’s reminiscent of the theater’s golden age
- Big River Crossing – a pedestrian and bike-friendly bridge that connects Memphis to Arkansas. The bridge offers stunning views of the Mississippi River and is a great place to take a walk or ride a bike.
Best restaurants in Memphis
- Hustle & Dough – beautiful coffee shop with pastries inside the Arrive Hotel
- Comeback Coffee – airy coffee shop with a cute plant shop next door, Golden Hour
- By The Brewery – Southern breakfast & lunch spot with amazing chicken & waffles (get it as a bowl)
- Sunrise – eclectic diner specializing in classic breakfast favorites and house prepared artisan meats
- Bedrock Eats and Sweets – healthy high protein waffles that are really, really good. I had the waffles with sausage and gravy!
- Iris – Memphis take on classic creole dining (live music on Fridays)
- Payne’s – OG spot for over 50 years that’s known for their pulled pork sandwiches with mustard slaw
- Central BBQ – local favorite that serves up delicious smoked meats, including pork ribs, beef brisket, and pulled pork but is especially known for their ribs & wings
- Catherine & Mary’s – one of the best restaurants in Memphis that’s a Southern take on Sicilian & Tuscan grandmother cooking
- Bishop – beautifully designed French brasserie inspired restaurant with southern influence inside the Central Station Hotel
- Good Fortune – hip Asian restaurant, the chicken wings were heavenly
- Sugar Ghost – cutest ice cream & bubble tea shop (I got the taro milk tea milkshake and it was SO good)
Other restaurants in Memphis:
- Rendezvous – Memphis institution and has been serving up barbecue since 1948. The restaurant is known for its dry-rubbed ribs and signature sauce.
- The Bar-B-Q Shop – serving up Memphis-style barbecue since 1987 and is known for its pulled pork and ribs.
- Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken – While not barbecue, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken is a must-try when in Memphis. The restaurant serves up crispy fried chicken with a spicy kick that will leave you wanting more.
- 8 and Sand – located inside of Central Station Hotel with live music every Thursday
- Ghost River Brewing –
- Railgarten – outdoor bar with shipping containers, outdoor movie screen, kid playground, volleyball court, food, and drinks that’s kid-friendly and dog-friendly
- Crosstown Arts Art Bar – craft cocktails, art, music, and more
- Paula Raifords Disco – 2-story nightclub with disco balls (it gets bumping after midnight, cash only)
- Inkwell – moody cocktail bar
- Rum Boogie Cafe – blues club with live music every night and 2x award-winning seafood gumbo
FAQs about things to do in Memphis:
What are the top things to do in Memphis?
The top things to do in Memphis include visiting Graceland, Sun Studio, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Beale Street Historic District.
What is the best time of year to visit Memphis?
The best time of year to visit Memphis is during the spring or fall when the weather is mild.
Where should I stay in Memphis?
There are many great places to stay in Memphis, including The Central Station Memphis a Curio Collection by Hilton, the Peabody Hotel, and Caption By Hyatt Beale Street Memphis
What is the best way to get around Memphis?
The best way to get around Memphis is by car. However, there is also a public transportation system that includes buses and streetcars.
What are some of the best restaurants in Memphis?
Some of the best restaurants in Memphis include Central Barbecue, Payne’s Bar-B-Q, Gus’s Fried Chicken, and The Beauty Shop.
What are some of the best bars in Memphis?
Some of the best bars in Memphis include Cameo, Alchemy, Bog & Barley.
What are some of the best things to do for free in Memphis?
Some of the best things to do for free in Memphis include Graceland that offers free-admission walk-up visits to the Meditation Garden, world-famous Beale Street, South Main Trolley Nights and countless “free days” to Memphis museums.
What are some of the best things to do with kids in Memphis?
Some of the best things to do with kids in Memphis include visiting the Children’s Museum of Memphis, the Memphis Zoo, and the Pink Palace Museum.
What are some of the best things to do for couples in Memphis?
Some of the best things to do for couples in Memphis include taking a walk along the Mississippi River, visiting the Peabody Ducks, and enjoying a romantic dinner at one of the city’s many great restaurants.
What are some of the best things to do for groups in Memphis?
Some of the best things to do for groups in Memphis include visiting Graceland, Sun Studio, and the National Civil Rights Museum. You can also take a riverboat cruise, visit the Memphis Zoo, or enjoy a concert at the Overton Park Shell.