Having been born in Memphis has made me slightly biased to the benefits of this city located on the bluff of the Mississippi River. After moving away, however, and returning to visit family, I now see it as a tourist would. Memphis is rich with history, full of family activities and attractions, music and some of the best food you will ever eat. All of the sights and attractions are too many to list, but consider the following top 10 reasons when planning your next family vacation.
- Beale Street. Beale Street has been the place to soak up the best of blues, jazz, and rock & roll for as long as I can remember. There are a number of clubs, bars, and stores that you can stop in or soak in the energy of street performers and food vendors as you stroll up and down the street. Such celebrities as B. B. King, Isaac Hayes, and Calvin Lockhart have been associated with venues in the Beale Street district.
- The Rendezvous. Known world-wide for its barbeque, you’ll be disappointed if you miss it, The Rendezvous is within walking distance of Beale Street. Located in an alley, the restaurant still remains in the basement of the establishment where it started many years ago.
- Memphis Rock n’ Soul Museum. Digital audio tours are available with over 300 minutes of information, including 100 songs, as you walk through seven galleries showcasing instruments, costumes, and other musical treasures. The museum catalogs Memphis music from the rural field hollers (1930s) to Sun, and Hi Records (1970s) to the music of today.
- Sun Studio. The Sun Studio is still located in its original building a short way from downtown. This is the recording studio where Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Ray Perkins held an impromptu jam session in 1956 that drew crowds of fans outside the studio.
- Graceland. The mansion with the musical notes on the large wrought iron gates is a fulfillment to a promise made by Elvis to his mother when growing up. Tours of Graceland and the tourist center across the street are offered daily. Two of Elvis’ airplanes are also located directly across the street from Graceland, one being named after his daughter Lisa Marie.
- National Civil Rights Museum. Housed at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, the museum features over 250 artifacts and interactive media spanning five centuries starting with the resistance of slavery through the 20th century and the stand for equality among all men.
- Music Galore. As you stroll down Beale Street the draw of the music all around will have you mesmerized. The night clubs and bars are everywhere including Alfred’s, featuring rock n’ roll; B. B. King’s House of Blues; the Coyote Ugly Saloon; and Rum Boogie Cafe, to name a few. If you would rather stay outside, street performers are usually located along every block of Beale Street.
- Memphis Peabody Ducks. Though the actual ducks have changed through the years, the tradition remains alive from as far back as 1930. The Peabody Ducks, housed on the top floor of the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, ride the elevator downstairs twice a day and parade, through a crowd of picture-taking fans, to the large stone fountain located in the lobby of the hotel.
- Memphis in May Festival. Every year, Memphis honors a different country during its’ annual Memphis in May Festival with events scheduled throughout the month. The most notable are the live musical performances held on Mud Island’s Amphitheatre and the famous Memphis In May Barbeque Cooking Contest and the Catfish Cooking Contest, with contestants from all over the world.
- Memphis Queen Line Riverboat. Providing riverboat tours and dinner cruises ranging from 90 minutes to 2 hours, the Memphis Queen Line Riverboat has been ferrying tourists up and down the Mississippi River since 1955. Music is provided by the house band playing selections from R&B, Blues and Jazz.
These are but a few reasons to visit Memphis but by far are some of my favorites. Memphis’ attractions are very kid-friendly and ideal for families. There are shuttle services to take you between several attractions and guided tours available upon request. I hope you will consider Memphis when planning your next trip.