Nestled on the bustling banks of the Mississippi River, Memphis, TN, is unlike any other city in the South. Its uniqueness has attracted short- and long-term visitors from all over the world, inspired some of the most iconic songs in history, and created a rich, diverse, and welcoming culture. With such a resume, it’s not a surprise you’re itching to visit for yourself. Follow this Memphis travel guide to get the most out of your bus trip.
Where to Stay
As with every big city, chain hotels are a dime a dozen in Memphis. Yet there are also plenty of properties that go above and beyond standard lodging. From historic charm to modern convenience, you’re sure to find an option that suits your budget and tastes.
Founded back in 1819, the city offers a huge selection of historic properties to experience during your stay. One of the top spots is The Peabody Hotel. Since opening its doors in 1925, the famous spot has welcomed visitors from around the world with its lavish décor and high-end furnishings. Even if you don’t end up staying, stop by to catch the daily duck march.
For a more laid-back atmosphere, opt for Memphis’ many historic bed-and-breakfasts. The James Lee House is one of the most mesmerizing buildings in the city. The breathtaking Victorian architecture is beautifully complemented by a mix of traditional and modern furnishings. The Roulhac Mansion, on the other hand, stays true to the past with old-world, cozy décor.
If convenience is at the top of your wish list, there are plenty of accommodation options from which to choose. For downtown activities, The Westin Memphis Beale Street is a perfect spot. The modern hotel is just a block away from Beale Street and offers an on-site restaurant as well as a coffee shop. On the south side of town, the Guest House at Graceland offers both luxury and functionality as it’s within walking distance to the mansion and only a short drive to downtown.
What to See
Dubbed both the “Home of the Blues” and the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” music history is a staple of any Memphis travel guide. For most travelers — especially Elvis Presley fans, Graceland is at the top of the list.
The landmark has grown significantly over the last few years with a new entertainment complex that features an automobile and career museum, along with a specialty collection of exhibits. However, if you’re short on time or on a budget, stick to the basic mansion and airplane museum tours. The self-guided experiences provide plenty of insight into Elvis’ life and career without breaking the bank.
Speaking of Elvis, if you want to see where the musical magic happened for the King and other groundbreaking musicians, like Johnny Cash, head to Sun Studio. The historic location offers tours seven days a week. Other important spots to visit include the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum the Blues Hall of Fame, and, of course, beloved Beale Street. For the latter, there’s no entry fee — you simply stroll in the footsteps of legends past.
What to Do
Regardless of age, taste, or interests, there’s something for everyone in Memphis. While the list of opportunities is virtually endless, there are three types of activity every first-time visitor needs to explore: music, food, and drinks.
Catch Live Music
With such a rich musical lineage, it should come as no surprise that the city offers an impressive live music scene. For blues enthusiasts, there’s no better place to catch a show than Beale Street. There are often buskers and stage setups throughout the district, but B.B. King’s Blues Club offers unrivaled entertainment as well as food and drinks. If you’re a sucker for the old-school tunes, catch the cover bands at Alfred’s.
Taste the Famous Barbecue
From fried catfish to meatloaf, Memphis serves up some of the best comfort food in the south. However, its true claim to fame is barbecue, and, luckily, there isn’t a shortage of flavorful options in the city. Dating back to 1948, Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous is one of the most famous spots in the area, with each dish prepared in the eatery’s on-site barbeque pit. Blues City Café on Beale Street offers up a sharp yet sweet sauce while Leonard’s Pit Barbecue is known for its fiery dry-rub.
Prefer a plant-based diet? You don’t have to miss out on delicious Memphis fare. Imagine Vegan Cafe offers a plethora of vegetarian and vegan-friendly comfort-food dishes, like barbeque nachos, “chicken” drumsticks, and gumbo. RP Tracks Restaurant and Bar, on the other hand, serves up mouthwatering veggie melts and spicy tofu covered in delicious buffalo sauce.
Sip the Unique Brews
While it’s music and barbeque is known worldwide, Memphis has another inviting feature — delicious water. The city’s sand aquifers not only provide incredibly clean drinking water, but the natural filtration process also creates a subtle sweet flavor. While it makes staying hydrated a breeze, this characteristic also produces amazing beers, which has resulted in breweries and brewpubs all over the city.
In Memphis, it’s all about craft beer, and Ghost River Brewing Co. was one of the first on the scene back in 2007. Located downtown, the family-friendly taproom is open daily and offers a selection of year-round and seasonal brews. The new kid on the block, Memphis Made Brewing Co., has quickly made news for itself by offering unique flavorings, like ginger and peppercorn. If you’re a sucker for a tour, Wiseacre Brewing Co. offers a tour and tasting every Saturday.
Find Budget-Friendly Rates on Memphis Bus Travel
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