Must be MEMPHIS!
Memphis Blues! Memphis in May! Elvis’ Memphis! I never thought I would fall in love with Memphis so hard and so fast. But boy, did I ever! I found myself saying, “Must be Memphis” just like the locals do before our first day of touring was through.
How you can get there?
Arriving in Memphis either by plane or by car is pretty easy. We drove from our new home in Alabama as it was just a four-hour drive. Most major airlines fly into the Memphis International Airport, like Delta, United, and American. Smaller airlines like Southwest, Frontier, and Southern Airways Express fly there as well.
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Where to stay?
We stayed right downtown at a new hotel, the Moxy. This Marriott property is hip and cool and is looking to attract millennial travelers. We were greeted with a complimentary cocktail at the front desk and received coins for future drinks as well. Newly renovated, they have parking on the facility with valet service.
Right behind the hotel or, I guess it used to be the front of the hotel is a trolley. The Memphis Main Street Trolley is a part of the mass transit system of Memphis. I super duper loved how they kept the old trolley design. The route is basically just up and down Main Street and is an inexpensive ride. IT only costs $1 each way! If you are tired of walking from Beale Street back to the hotel it stops right in front.
The Peabody & those ducks
Our friends Megan and Robert came with us to visit this great town and they actually lived here for quite a while. Megan worked at the famous Peabody Hotel so she was quite familiar with the entertaining ducks that brought tourists from all over the world. One of the first stops we made and within walking distance of our downtown digs.
You may decide to stay at The Peabody, smaller rooms begin at about $129/night and go up to $1200/night for suites. A popular honeymoon or romantic anniversary splurge weekend in the Presidential or Romeo & Juliet Suite will require a separate email and a price quote depending on the time of year you book. It is quite luxurious and would be a special treat as there is a lot of history here too.
The beauty of Memphis BBQ is there are no two alike!
Memphis is a BBQ lovers dream. There are so many BBQ joints and restaurants around every corner. We visited Memphis for three days and we had BBQ EVERY SINGLE DAY! This was not a hardship. My Jon loves BBQ, like BIGLOVES it. Whether its ribs, brisket, butt, you name it. We tried it all. Here are a few we just had to sample ~
One of the oldest and most famous BBQ restaurants in Memphis, we tried this fan-favorite first. It seems like not much has changed over the years at Rendezvous in their set-up and menu. Luckily we were visiting in early, early March and were able to walk in without a reservation.
Make a reservation! The Rendezvous is busy all the time. We also were just a party of four, anything bigger and we would have had a wait. These charcoal ribs have a distinct flavor and are just a bit different than others around town. So be prepared for “huh, o.k. those are different.
Central BBQ is located right next to the Civil Rights Museum we stopped in here for lunch after a very emotional visit. I was thankful for the LIVE Blues Band on the back porch. Central BBQ was amazing and they are also famous for their BBQ NACHOs which of course we had to try. The ribs and banana pudding were awesome too. Here are a few pics from our lovely lunch!
The live band really gives you the “back porch” a party feeling and sitting at long tables with strangers really gives you the feeling like you are at a neighborhood block party.
So our little group agreed to try a sampling of the menu and it’s quite extensive and Central does not make it easy for you to choose. We tried the dry rub chicken wings, pork rinds and ribs, and BBQ Nachos.
After our large lunch at Central, we were all pretty much in a BBQ coma and decided to take a nap, yea, that happens to the best of us.
People in the south are obsessed with barbecue and they are passionate about their favorites. They will defend their BBQ endlessly, just go with it. Of all the BBQ we tasted all weekend, The Commissary in Germantown was our absolute favorite. The no-frills restaurant (that is tiny) although they now have a second location is very down-to-earth.
Smiling faces greet you at the door of this bustling little restaurant and there’s a line, even on a Monday at 11:00.
Just like the restaurant, the BBQ was simple, tender, and understated. To me, it was just about perfect. Sometimes the sauce or rub is so powerful you can’t taste the meat, sometimes, there’s not enough and all you can taste is the meat. The commissary seems to “get it right!” A little off the beaten path, but definitely worth the stop!
Civil Rights Museum
Visiting the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis is incredibly powerful and moving. It really is one of the best museums I have visited around the world. Comprehensive in detail and a poignant and true representation of the civil rights movement.
Group discounts begin at twenty people and visitor parking is located right next to the museum. We took an Uber and didn’t want to worry about driving. I had researched that Central BBQ was located within walking distance so we had already planned on catching lunch there after our tour.
Visiting the museum will be an emotional day. Know this. I hope a visit will help educate, learn, and understand our American history. Flawed, imperfect, and important to understand.
Yea, it’s Beale Street
One of my favorite songs from the 90s is from Marc Cohn and I drove my little party crazy singing this every few minutes as we were hittin’ one of the most famous Blues streets in America.
Walking up and down Beale Street you can hear the sounds of laughter and music of all different genres. It is definitely a cool thing to experience. At night it turns into a pedestrian-only area which I think is probably for safety too.
A visit to Memphis would not be complete without visiting Graceland! Elvis’ nostalgic Tennessee home, is quite the tourist attraction today. I am incredibly glad we visited during an “off-season” in early March. I can’t imagine how busy pre-COVID during the other seasons it must be.
We opted for the mid-priced tickets or the Elvis Entourage Ticket at $100/person which included the
- Graceland Mansion Audio-Guided Tour with New Orientation Film
- Self-guided tour of Exclusive VIP Exhibit
- Self-guided tour of Elvis’ Custom Jets
- Full Access to all-new Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex, which includes:
- Self-guided tour of Presley Motors Automobile Museum
- Self-guided tour of Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum
- Self-guided tours of Elvis Discovery Exhibits
- Front-of-the-Line Mansion Access
- Keepsake Backstage Pass
We were especially interested in the exhibit when Elvis was in the Army because we lived near Friedberg where he was stationed.
Absolutely fascinating museum and of course, I also found myself singing Paul Simon’s Graceland. As my son, the musician says, “music is strong in this family.” I am really glad we added Graceland to our tour, I think it is a one and done visit though. You are totally wiped out after 3 to 4 hours, it is quite a lot to take in and learn, but I can tell you Elvis really lived his life.
To wrap it up, it has taken me a few months to finish writing this blog, I was so moved by the city of Memphis, I kind of didn’t know where to begin. A few things I learned, I definitely want to visit again and I want to share Memphis with others. So yea, it must be MEMPHIS!