Whether you’re visiting Memphis or you’re house hunting, there are certain parts of town you should be sure to check out. Here are some of the coolest places to go for food, drinks, meeting new friends and getting a strong grasp on what Memphis is all about.
Home to the Beale Street Entertainment District, downtown Memphis is popular with tourists and locals. With bustling nightlife, iconic restaurants and picturesque landmarks, the downtown area sits in stark contrast to the more central, slower-paced neighborhoods. Many young professionals live downtown to take advantage of the condo lifestyle. Some of the most frequented bars and blues clubs include B.B. King’s Blues Club, Silky O’Sullivan’s, Rum Boogie Cafe and Club 152. Beale Street Landing offers a river cruise boat dock with sweeping views of the Mississippi River and has the only public playground in the area.
Cooper-Young is a mostly residential neighborhood with a diverse mix of progressive families, artists and LGBTQ residents. The area features 1920s-style bungalows, as well as mom-and-pop coffee shops and trendy restaurants that give Cooper-Young a laid-back, relaxed vibe. Restaurants include the popular Imagine Vegan Cafe and Young Avenue Deli, which serves award-winning French fries. Be sure to stop by artist Jill Turman’s Cooper Young Trestle, a 150-ft. steel sculpture, created in 2000, that sits along an abandoned rail track and features tiny homes based on actual houses in the neighborhood.
This up-and-coming arts district expanded in August 2017 when the Sears Crosstown building underwent renovations. Known as the Crosstown Concourse, the mixed-use development comprises commercial, residential and retail partners, including restaurants, a grocery store, an art center and a charter high school. You’ll also find Memphis’ only hula-hooping fitness studio and Midtown Crossing, a local bar that hosts art shows and comedy nights. Catch nightly punk music shows at Hi Tone with your new neighbors, mostly young professionals and lower-income families.
Wealthy millennials are flocking to South Main, also known as the South Main Arts District. The area features boutiques, galleries, upscale restaurants and Memphis’ largest farmers’ market, as well as eateries, such as Max’s Sports Bar, Spindini and Japanese-fusion burger joint Oshi. A few blocks from South Main Street is Loflin Yard, a rustic outdoor bar with a waterfall. The last Friday of every month is South Main Trolley Night, when shops and galleries stay open late and host special public events.
Harbor Town is on the Northern edge of downtown on Mud Island. The area features upscale townhomes and condos overlooking the Mississippi River. Empty-nesters and upper-class families make-up a large portion of the residents in this relatively small area that is somewhat isolated from downtown. Food and drink offerings are a bit lacking, but you will find coffee shop Cafe Eclectic, and Miss Cordelia’s grocery. Residents enjoy Mud Island River Park, a free public park with a river walk that is an exact scale model of the lower Mississippi River, where visitors can wade in the water or ride pedal boats.
You’ll find middle-class families in Cordova’s range of homes from midsized to massive, as well as some apartment complexes. The two-story shopping mall, Wolfchase Galleria, includes most major retailers. Eateries include locally owned restaurants and chains, such as the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, Casbah Restaurant and Chang’s Bubble Tea Cafe, as well as the mainstays Chili’s, Applebee’s and On The Border.
The University District is home to the University of Memphis, so you’ll find college students and recent graduates here. Highland Row is where the action happens, including Newby’s, which has been dubbed “The college bar you never graduate from.” Brother Juniper’s is a popular brunch spot, and residents get their caffeine fix at Avenue Coffee.