The Best Landmarks to Visit in Memphis, Tennessee

Be sure to visit Elvis Presleys home and museum at Graceland
Be sure to visit Elvis Presley's home and museum at Graceland | © Danita Delimont Creative / Alamy Stock Photo
Claudia Glover

From Elvis’s Graceland estate to Sun Studios, where he recorded, not to mention memorials to stars such as BB King and Johnny Cash on every corner, Memphis is a music lover’s dream. But there are many other sights that are worth a visit, from the Underground Railroad Museum to the Mississippi Mud Museum. Culture Trip’s local insider rounds up the best sights to see.

1. Mud River Park and Mississippi Mud Museum


NA, USA, Tennessee, Memphis, Mud Island Park, Fountains and River Map
© Danita Delimont Creative / Alamy Stock Photo
At Mississippi Mud Island – actually a peninsula to the west of the city – you can experience the magic of the bayou – the marshy, slow-moving wetland part of the mighty River Mississippi. The parks on the island are spectacular, there’s a nautical museum worth visiting, and even traveling to and from it feels like stepping back into the 1800s. Head to the riverbank for a boat tour.

2. Graceland


If you don’t visit Graceland when you’re in Memphis, have you even really been? Just to stand outside and look up at where Elvis Presley, the king of rock’n’roll, lived out his days of fame and glory, is humbling. Head inside and visit the museum where you can read up on stories about his past and take in the stacks of Elvis memorabilia. To find it, go to the renamed Elvis Presley Boulevard.

3. Stax Museum of American Soul


Marquee sign outside the STAX Museum of American Soul, Memphis, Tennessee, USA and its Satellite record shop,. Image shot 10/2010. Exact date unknown.
© Elizabeth Leyden / Alamy Stock Photo
This is the landmark former Satellite Studios, where Tina Turner and Isaac Hayes were among those who recorded albums that were going to shake the world. Inside, you’ll find exhibits dedicated to the musical greats and some cool artefacts, including Tina’s famous gold dress. To get to the Stax Museum, head to Washington Heights, then onto East McLemore Avenue.

4. Memphis Zoo


This zoo is well worth a visit when you’re in town. Located in Midtown, it is home to more than 3,500 animals, representing more than 500 different species. The landmark was opened in 1906 and is spread across 76 acres (31 hectares). It’s located in Overton Park, so even if you don’t want to visit the animals, you could just enjoy a stroll around the fabulous park itself.

5. Underground Railroad Museum


Take a journey through America’s history of slavery as you read about the lives of those who suffered during the decades of the slave trade in Tennessee. The museum is on the site of part of the underground railroad; reading about the struggles of the black people freed, as you look at the places where they hid in their bids for freedom, is a powerful experience. The building is located on North 2nd Street.

6. Sun Studio


Sun Records Music Studio Elvis Presley Memphis Tennessee TN. Image shot 1000. Exact date unknown.
© Dennis MacDonald / Alamy Stock Photo

Known as the birthplace of rock’n’roll, Sun Studios is where some of the first acts that put Memphis on the music map cut their records. Elvis and Johnny Cash both recorded here. From blues to gospel, and country to rock’n’roll, Sun Studios recorded them all, and today there’s plenty of memorabilia with accompanying information so visitors can get a taste of the thrill of those early days of rock’n’roll.

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