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Enjoy Memphis' barbecue, blues and Beale Street

Enjoy Memphis' barbecue, blues and Beale Street


Head down Interstate 55 and just listen for the blues music. OK, so maybe we shouldn’t be quite so literal, but with all the cool sounds coming from Memphis, it certainly seems to ooze from the town.



Graceland, the Memphis home of Elvis Presley

Graceland: Elvis Presley’s 14-acre estate in Memphis is on every Memphis must-do list. Visitors can tour Presley’s 23-room mansion, where he died in 1977, as well as outbuildings and the grounds. The Music Room, with its black baby grand piano and a 1950s-style TV, and the famed Jungle Room are highlights in the house that looks as it did when Presley lived there. New at Graceland is an interactive iPad tour hosted by John Stamos. Guests can also visit the meditation garden where Presley and family members are buried as well as a museum across the street from the mansion. VIP tours are $80; basic (iPad) tours are $38.75 for adults.

The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis

People gather at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on March 22, 2014, where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. The National Civil Rights Museum, which is located at former motel, has reopened after a two-year, $27.5 million renovation. Photo by Lynden Steele,

National Civil Rights Museum: On the site of the Lorraine Motel, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, you’ll find a museum that will likely move you to tears. You’ll start with the stories of slavery and move on to exhibits where you can sit at the lunch counter with three-dimensional figures, or on a bus with Rosa Parks. Exhibits take you through time, with chilling photos from Ferguson toward the end of the museum. The culmination of the self-guided tour takes you to the room at the Lorraine Motel where King stayed in his final hours. You can also tour the Legacy building across the street where the assassin’s shot was allegedly fired. $15 for adults.

Beale Street: Walk down Beale on a Monday morning, and it’s just a trash-riddled street with a few storefronts and shut-down neon lights. Walk it any night of the week, and you’ve got a few blocks of music heaven. From BB King’s Blues Club to the Jerry Lee Lewis Cafe & Honky Tonk to the stage at Handy Park, find live music, dancing and lots and lots of drinking. This isn’t a family atmosphere, but it’s a whole lot of fun.


Peabody Duck March

Peabody Duck March in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis

The Peabody: One of the most legendary hotels in the country, the Peabody sits just a few blocks off Beale Street. But the draw here isn’t the AAA Four-Diamond status, the richly appointed rooms or the swanky bar. It’s the ducks. The famous Peabody ducks march down (from their rooftop home, via the elevator) to the lobby to frolic in the fountain twice a day. They’ve been doing it since 1933. Rooms start at about $165.

Memphis Pyramid seeks old glory with new Bass Pro Shops

In this April 27, 2015 photo, a room in the 105-room hotel designed like a hunting lodge is seen in the Bass Pro Shop store in Memphis, Tenn. The 32-story, pyramid-shaped structure was last used for basketball games and concerts in 2004 before Bass Pro Shop took it over. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)

Big Cypress at the Bass Pro Pyramid: For some outdoors fans, dreams don’t get better than this: an upscale, rustic hotel nestled within a 535,000-square-foot Bass Pro shop in Memphis’ iconic pyramid. Some rooms even look like tree houses. You’ll also find the signature outdoors shop, a bowling alley, alligator ponds, fish tanks and feedings, restaurants and “the world’s tallest freestanding elevator.” Rooms start about $215.


Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken: Yes, you can get your Gus’s here in Maplewood now (and several other places across the country), but if you are in Memphis, you should make a stop at the place that started it all. Made famous by the Food Network and endless best-of lists, it’s the perfectly spiced, perfectly crispy chicken that keeps fans coming back. The original shack is just outside of Memphis in Mason, but the downtown location is just as famous. And don’t forget the fried pickles.

Felicia Suzanne’s: Felicia Suzanne Willett, a former student of Emeril Lagasse, is known for her Southern, low-country flair with dishes such as Mushroom Dumplings, Shrimp & Grits and Chicken Crepes. The dining room downtown is full of bright windows and history.

Central BBQ: Memphis is known for its barbecue, and the most famous of those famous places is Central BBQ, with three locations. The meats are slow cooked with a dry rub. The smoked hot wings and pulled pork nachos are a favorite.


Beale Street Music Festival: April 29-May 1,

World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest: May 12-14,

Brooks Museum of Art — Party of the Century (100th anniversary): May 7,

Moon River Festival at the Levitt Shell: Oct. 7-9,

Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid Outdoor Expo: Oct. 7-15 (tentative)

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