Memphis is a well-rounded city—similar to a Renaissance city. As the home of the blues, rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis Presley and a metallic pyramid, Memphis is full of things to do and see. Follow our guide to discover how to get the very best out of this fascinating city.
Beale Street Historic District
This district is about two miles long and is historic for its impact on the blues. Many blues musicians—and those from the late 19th century—called Beale Street their home. Later, during the 1920s—1940s, monumental bluesmen such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Louis Armstrong all played on Beale Street. Now, the area hosts bars, restaurants, and shops dedicated to preserving the district’s history. You can take a walking tour of the area, and while there, make sure to take a picture with the Elvis statue.
Elvis fans should head to the Elvis booth at the back of this retro restaurant, which was apparently his favorite. If you want to sit in this highly coveted seat, then be sure to get there early, but even if you don’t get it, you can still enjoy the restaurant’s sweet potato pancakes and other Southern breakfast goodies.
The Crystal Shrine Grotto is a man-made cave located in Memphis’s Memorial Park Cemetery. The aesthetically stunning cave, built by Dionicio Rodriguez, depicts several biblical scenes. You can find the cave near the back of the cemetery.
The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum focuses on both the rock ‘n’ roll and soul genres. Since it’s based in Tennessee—and dedicated to Elvis—the Rock ‘n’ Soul hosts rare and exclusive Elvis memorabilia. The museum, established in 2000, is the first of its kind created by the Smithsonian. With reasonably priced entrance fees and flexible hours, Memphis’s Rock ‘n’ Soul is an eventful activity. Buy your tickets here.
Graceland was Elvis Presley’s 14-acre mansion, and today, it is open for tours and exhibitions. Owned by Lisa Marie Presley, it offers a close and intimate look at the life of Elvis Presley, plus it’s the closest a fan could ever get to the King himself because he’s also buried there. The property also features a swimming pool in the shape of a guitar. Purchase a tour of this property here.
Sun Studio is a legendary recording studio located in downtown Memphis. As the “birthplace of rock n’ roll,” it was a recording haven to some of the biggest artists in the music industry, including Little Milton, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley. Sun Studio, located in the previously mentioned Beale Historic District, captured (and still does) the blues and rock ‘n’ roll sound formed on Beale Street. Buy your tickets for a guided tour here.
In addition to being a musical icon, Elvis was also an impeccable style icon, known for his jumpsuits, sequins, and bold color combinations. To get that Elvis-inspired look, stop by Lansky Bros, the clothing store that designed styles for The King and helped him develop his unique fashion. Located in the Peabody Hotel, the store carries high-end menswear and some original Elvis designs.
It’s not Egypt, but this singular, metallic pyramid in the middle of Memphis will do. Formerly known as the Great American Pyramid, it’s now a Bass Pro Shops megastore, but it’s somewhat historic and extremely shiny.
This botanical garden lies within an even grander park, Audubon Park, and occupies almost 100 acres of space. Visitors will find multiple types of gardens, including the butterfly garden, Asian garden, and the “Cactus and Succulent” garden. Memphis Botanic Garden is a big space for an active and environmental day.
The Cotton Museum, established in 2006, dedicated itself to historical and cultural preservation. It now occupies the former Memphis Cotton Exchange, located in downtown Memphis. The museum essentially explains how Memphis became, well, Memphis. Offering up elaborate details about the Mississippi Delta, the Cotton Museum is a one-of-a-kind museum. Purchase your tickets and walking tour here.