A spectacular city for music lovers, Memphis is Mecca for fans of rock, soul, and the blues. While its unique history is memorialized in museums and other attractions, the city remains a lively cultural destination. If you're planning a trip to Memphis any time soon, keep in mind that it can get very hot and humid in the summers and the sound of music continuously fills the sultry air.
Memphis is known as the "home of the Blues," and Beale Street is where the voices of the Mississippi Delta and the cotton fields converged years ago to sing their songs of love and life and hardship. A night time attraction for couples, Beale Street in downtown Memphis is home to clubs where the blues is performed live and visitors can pick up recorded music and mementoes in adjacent stores.
The dirt-poor hillbilly with the incredible voice and mesmerizing performing style went on to gain millions of fans around the world. And when he wasn't on the road or performing, he retired to Graceland, the 14-acre estate he built for his family and friends. The facilities are open for tours year round.
The historic Peabody Memphis is an AAA Four-Diamond hotel located in the heart of the city. It first began welcoming guests in 1925 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. But what this attraction's best known for are The Peabody Ducks. Five live mallard ducks march to and from the Grand Lobby on a red carpet twice daily in a show of Southern hospitality that even extends to the web-footed. The hotel also has a noteworthy Sunday brunch.
A place of peace borne out of a site of tragedy, the National Civil Rights Museum began at the Lorraine Motel, a small minority-owned business in downtown Memphis where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. State and local support helped to convert it to a museum dedicated to helping visitors better understand the history and lessons of the American Civil Rights movement.
Elvis was almost as famous for his costumes as he was for his voice, and the former were provided by Lansky Brothers clothiers of Memphis. More than an attraction, Lansky Brothers remains a huge draw for men who like to dress expressively. Lansky Brothers maintains a shop in Memphis' Peabody Hotel that features popular brands for women, too.
A park that pays tribute to the Mississippi river, Mud Island contains the Mississippi River Museum, a monorail, and the River Walk, a representation of the river from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans. Visitors can rent bikes or board canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats to navigate the harbor. The Memphis skyline is visible from the park. Be aware that Mud Island is a popular destination for school field trips, so couples stand a better chance of enjoying the location on weekends.
Located on the original site of the legendary Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee, this attraction is dedicated to keeping the memory of Stax soul music legends who include Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave, the Staple Singers alive. Stax also recorded discs by comedians Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, and Moms Mabley. The 17,000-square-foot site holds more than 2,000 pieces of musical memorabilia, video footage, and items that reflect the greatness of American soul music.
On 70 acres in Overton Park, the Memphis Zoo is an attraction that is home to some 3,500 animals from more than 500 different species.
If you want to see where Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, and other seminal rock'n'roll performers first recorded their voices, put Sun Studio, "the birthplace of rock n'roll," on your tour of Memphis attractions.