The Best Cultural Tours In Memphis That Go Beyond Graceland

Stephanie Chang Avila

Memphis, TN is known as Blues City and is the home of Elvis’ famed Graceland, as well as legendary Memphis recording studio Sun Studio. We round up 10 of Memphis’ best city tours that guide visitors through some of the city’s unique culture and history.

Graceland Tour

No trip through Memphis can be complete without a stop at Graceland, Elvis’ famed mansion. Enter the world of rock ’n’ roll’s greatest star on the Graceland Platinum tour, which takes you on an audio-guided tour of Elvis’ Memphis mansion, including his living room, music room and the Jungle Room. The Platinum tour also gives visitors access to the Elvis Presley Car Museum, as well as exhibitions that take you through his musical career and greatest hits including his stage suits, never-before-seen concert footage and more.

Address: Graceland, 3734 Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116, +1 901 332 3329.

Memphis Music Tour

Memphis, as the home of the blues and the King, is a music lover’s dream, with highlights including Sun Studio, the Stax Museum and the Rock ’n’ Soul Museum. Blues City Tours guides visitors through the key sites that make up the cultural backbone of Memphis’ music scene. Offering sightseeing trips throughout Memphis, visitors can choose from various tours to suit their tastes. The City of Memphis Tour gives visitors a good idea of all that Memphis has to offer, from its historical Beale Street, ‘Home of the Blues’, to Graceland and Sun Studio. The ‘After Dark Dinner on Beale Street’ gives visitors a taste of Memphis-style blues and jazz along with a local meal.

Address: Blues City Tours, 325 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103, +1 901 522 9229.

Sun Studio Tours

Sun Studio, the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll, is the legendary home of Memphis’ music industry, which saw the rise of some of America’s greatest recording artists including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and B.B. King. Tours at Sun Studio run hourly throughout the day and take visitors back in time to the heyday of blues and rock ’n’ roll in America, while giving them the chance to see some of the original equipment used to record some of the greatest names in music history.

Address: Sun Studio, 706 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103, +1 901 521 0664.

Memphis HOP City Tours

Memphis HOP tour offers one of the best ways to explore the city’s vibrant culture at your own pace and allows visitors to choose the sites they want to spend more or less time at. With over ten stops on the Memphis sightseeing tour, from the Stax Museum of American Soul Music to the National Civil Rights Museum, as well as child-friendly sites like the Memphis Zoo and the Children’s Museum of Memphis, the Memphis Memphis HOP tours offer visitors the chance to discover the city’s unique intersection of history, arts, music and more.

Address: Memphis HOP, Multiple locations in Memphis, +1 901 577 5467.

South Main Art Trolley Tour

The South Main Art Trolley Tour is a favourite among Memphis locals, and gives visitors a chance to explore the vibrant art scene in downtown Memphis’ South Main Art District, which is home to many of the city’s art galleries featuring works by local, regional, national and international artists working in a wide range of different media. On the last Friday of each month, the South Main Historic District puts on this lively free arts event. Between 6-9pm, visitors can travel on the city’s trolley for free through the district to discover the many art galleries, local shops and restaurants in the area.

Address: South Main Art Trolley Tour, South Main Street, Memphis, TN.

Historic Memphis Walking Tour

The Historic Memphis Walking Tour follows an itinerary that guides visitors through historical Memphis’ cultural lore, full of colourful figures and legendary characters that have passed through the city. Visitors emerge with a richer view of Memphis, from its river town frontier genesis to its blues city billing. Step back in time and trace the city’s history as it was shaped by “Confederate soldiers and Civil War spies; gamblers, speculators, and fancy ladies who arrived by steamboat and train; gangsters and machine bosses fueled by Prohibition-era greed.” The tour takes visitors through downtown Memphis, including the Peabody Hotel, Beale Street, Civil War sites and other historical locations.

Address: Historic Memphis Walking Tour, Beale and 2nd Street, Memphis, TN 38103, +1 901 572 9415.

Memphis Dishcrawl

Dishcrawl Memphis brings together food, travel and fun by creating a communal dining experience catered to locals and visitors alike. Explore Memphis through a unique culinary lens as Dishcrawl Memphis takes you on a tour through not one, but four, of the city’s best restaurants in a single night. Originating in San José, California, Dishcrawl set up in Memphis in spring of 2013. The restaurants on the tour are kept under close wraps, which adds to the fun and anticipation of the night. Follow Memphis Dishcrawl on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news on upcoming tours.

African American History Tour

Located at the nexus of North and South, Memphis has a rich African American history dating back to before the Civil War. The African American History Tour takes visitors into the cultural history of the city through the lens of the African American experience, from the influx of newly freed former slaves from the southern states following the Civil War to its development into a vibrant African American community where, at the turn of the century, Memphis’ Main Street was dubbed the ‘Main Street of Black America’. The tour also traces the 20th century of African American in Memphis, from their integral role in the Memphis blues and the Civil Rights movement.

Address: See Memphis, 378 South Main St., Suite 3, Memphis, TN 38103.

Tastin’ ‘Round Town Culinary Tour

Memphis enjoys a rich culinary heritage given the city’s unique location at the intersection of Southern, African-American and Mississippi Delta culture. Tastin’ ‘Round Town Culinary Tours offers something for every palate with its appetite-whetting tours. Unsurprisingly, the BBQ Tasting tour is a favourite, as visitors are guided through Memphis’ numerous BBQ hotspots to savour delicious Memphis-style BBQ, as well as pulled pork, pork nachos and BBQ spaghetti and more. Another unique tour is the Sweet Life Downtown Dessert tour, which is a walking tour that takes you to the sweet spots of downtown Memphis.

Address: Tastin’ ‘Round Town Culinary Tour, 276 Patterson St, Memphis, TN 38111, +1 901 310 9789.

Memphis Riverboats

Cruise up and down the Mississippi River on this authentic Memphis riverboat tour and learn about the culture and history of the Mississippi Delta and River. The 90-minute Sightseeing riverboat guided tour offers visitors a different view of Memphis, and provides historical commentary about the past and present of life along the Mississippi River. The Dinner and Music cruise is a two-hour long cruise that comes with a Memphis-style meal of pulled pork BBQ, grilled chicken breast, coleslaw, buttered corn, dessert and sweet tea.

Address: Memphis Riverboats, 251 South Riverside Drive, Memphis TN, 38103.

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