Don’t let the six years I spent living in the Carolinas + Texas fool you, I’m a Memphian born + breed. Like most Memphians, I grew up in the suburbs, but I have spent that last year or so exploring all my city has to offer. This post is the perfect guide to any traveler who wants to experience all the Memphis-y things the city has to offer. Consider it a Memphis 101. I’ll be pinning some other pieces to dive deeper into certain neighborhoods + aspects of Memphis culture, but for now, this is everything you’re going to want to do when you visit the 901.
What to see in Memphis
When you think Memphis, you HAVE to think of Elvis. That’s why Graceland is one of the top tourist attractions in the city. Keeping with the music theme, the Stax Museum + Sun Studio are definitely places you’re going to want to hit up. BB King’s on Beale or Ernstein & Hazel’s also has that blues-y music charm we know you came here for.
Another notable (more like notorious) thing we’re is known for, is the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting to support a strike of sanitation workers, Dr. King was shot at the Lorraine Motel. The Motel has been preserved + converted into the National Civil Rights Museum + is worth the visit.
Down the trolley line from the Civil Rights Museums, you’ll find yourself near the Peabody Hotel. Grab a nice cocktail from the lobby bar + watch the Peabody ducks splash around! While downtown, you’d be amiss not to check out the pyramid which is now a large Bass Pro Shoppe with a view of the city you don’t want to miss.
What to do in Memphis
Speaking of animals, we have an AMAZING zoo. The Memphis Zoo is consistently ranked one of the best in the country + features all the large cats, monkey, and bears (including panda + polar) your heart could desire. It also has a petting zoo which is fun for all ages + they have great seasonal events!
If the zoo isn’t your idea of fun, perhaps sports are. Memphians love their sports. We may only have one (two-ish) professional teams, but we’ve got pretty much every sport covered, especially if you count the U of M Tigers which play most sports but are best known for basketball + football.
- Basketball: Grizzlies (NBA), Memphis Hustle (G League)
- Football: Memphis Express (AAF)
- Baseball: Redbirds (triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals)
- Soccer: 901 FC (USL)
If your favorite sport isn’t in season, maybe you can enjoy a little time outside. Shelby Farms has great trails to walk, kayaking, and bison. You should also check out the Wolf River Greenway or the Greenbelt. If you want outdoors + culture, the Licterman Nature Center, Dixon Gallery + Gardens, and Memphis Botanic Gardens are all great options.
I don’t think you technically allowed to say you visited Memphis without spending some time on Beale. Whether you’re going out for the night to Silky O’Sullivan’s or 152 Beale or checking out shops like A. Schwab, you’re in for some fun. Honorable mentions for fun nights out go to Railgarten + Loflin Yard.
Where to eat in Memphis
When it comes to what to do in Memphis, the real question is where should you eat. The food scene is ruled by BBQ. I could go on + on about the different rules of thought that determine the best place to get pulled pork or ribs in Memphis, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll just give you a brief list of the best places IMO to get food in each category.
- BBQ: Central BBQ
- Breakfast: Gibson’s Donuts
- Brunch: Majestic Grille
- Burgers: Huey’s Restaurant
- Chicken: Gus’s Fried Chicken
- Pizza: Aldo’s (post on this to come)
- Tapas: Babalu
- Mexican: Molly la Casitas
- Dessert: Muddy’s Bakeshop (cupcakes) Jerry’s Sno Cones – get a supreme, it’s worth it
- Sushi: Osaka
No matter where you go, the food will be great! This food list + post is by no means comprehensive of all the amazing attractions + activities in teh Bluff City. They are just a small taste of what to do in Memphis. Let me know if you come visit + I will 100% give you some tailored recommendations!