Things to Do at Night in Memphis, Tennessee

Head a night you won't soon forget at Rum Boogie Café and Mr Handy’s Blues Hall
Head a night you won't soon forget at Rum Boogie Café and Mr Handy’s Blues Hall | © Rum Boogie Cafe and Mr Handy's Blues Hall alamy
Photo of Claudia Glover
22 July 2020

At night, Memphis comes alive. This city is famous for not only being the Home of the Blues, but also the birthplace of rock’n’roll. Head out for a night of live gigs to take in the real sounds of the city on the iconic Beale Street, famous for its live jazz and blues, or visit one of Memphis’s many dive bars for authentic southern rock.

Earnestine and Hazel’s

Bar, Cafe, American, Pub Grub, Beer, Wine, Cocktails
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If you like finding out where the locals got to drink, then this is the perfect joint for you. Ernestine & Hazel’s used to be a brothel and now trades as a local’s bar, playing jazz and rhythm and blues. Billed as a dive bar, this is a modernized juke joint with a haunted jukebox to boot. Go for a whisky and see if you come across any other spirits in the venue by the end of the night.

Rum Boogie Café and Mr Handy's Blues Hall

Cafe, Pub Grub, BBQ, American, $$$
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If you want to get the real experience of Beale Street, then head for a night at Rum Boogie Café and Mr Handy’s Blues Hall. These interconnected bars are two of the oldest juke joints in Memphis. Here, you will find artwork of iconic musicians all over the walls and a billed blues performer every night, as well as cajun barbecue served from the kitchen until late. The motto here is to “eat, drink, boogie, repeat” and when you’ve experienced a good night just doing that, you’ll want to return to do it all over again the next day. To find Beale Street, follow the music to the riverbank.

The Orpheum Theatre

School, Theater
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This restored vaudeville palace puts on Broadway shows and is home to the Memphis Ballet, which performs classics such as the Nutcracker and contemporary hits like the works of Trey Mcintyre. Unlike many theaters, the drinks here are very reasonably priced, meaning you can enjoy a tipple guilt-free while partaking in a little of the city’s culture. Book ahead to get the best tickets. To find the theater, head to the banks of the river on St Front Street.

Wild Bill's Juke Joint

Restaurant, American
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If listening to the blues in an authentic environment is high on your bucket list, this is the place for you. The customary juke joint atmosphere of Wild Bill’s is offset by the bar’s Delta Blues history. Wild Bill’s is also a museum, so you can learn about the history of blues music and its historical significance in the area, while you took into one of its legendary hamburgers. To get to the bar walk away from the harbor towards the college to Jackson Avenue; you can also get the 52 bus.

B.B. King’s Blues Club

Bar, Restaurant, South American, $$$
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B.B King’s Blues Club is a must if you’re in Memphis. One of the stars of Beale Street, this venue was actually founded by BB King himself. The All-Star Band make for an entertaining house band, but there are touring soul artists who stop here when they’re in town. Apart from the entertainment on offer, this club also offers the best in some other Memphis staples – Cajun barbecue, strong cocktails and whisky.

Silky O'Sullivan's

Pub, Restaurant, American, $$$
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This place needs a visit just so you can tell the stories afterwards. It is an Irish dueling piano pub, with the added thrill of drunken goats, who stay out on the patio. The food is wholesome and the blues is not, which is just one of the reasons why it’s a favorite of the beloved Beale Street party scene. If you’re feeling brave, why not try something from the bar’s dangerous sounding cocktail menu, which includes drinks such as the Screaming Margarita, Hurricane and the extremely potent Diver.
These recommendations were updated on July 22, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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