Memphis, Tennessee, is a city located along the Mississippi River. This unique musical city is well known for the blues, rock and roll, and soul music, which not only originated in Memphis, but grew and thrived here as well. Visitors to Memphis simply must stop at Sun Studio, where musical legends such as Elvis, Johnny Cash, and B.B. King all recorded some of their music, as well as Graceland Mansion, which belonged to Elvis Presley and is the most popular tourist attraction in Memphis. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.The Peabody Memphis
2.The River Inn of Harbor Town
3.The Guest House at Graceland
4.The Madison Hotel
5.The Hotel Napoleon
6.The Big Cypress Lodge
7.The Talbot Heirs
8.The James Lee House
Where to Stay in Memphis - 8 Best Hotels and Inns
- The Peabody Memphis, Photo: The Peabody Memphis
- The River Inn of Harbor Town, Photo: The River Inn of Harbor Town
- The Guest House at Graceland, Photo: The Guest House at Graceland
- The Madison Hotel, Photo: The Madison Hotel
- The Hotel Napoleon, Photo: The Hotel Napoleon
- The Big Cypress Lodge, Photo: The Big Cypress Lodge
- The Talbot Heirs, Photo: The Talbot Heirs
- The James Lee House, Photo: The James Lee House
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of sframe - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Beale Street
Beale Street is located in Memphis, TN and is known as the “Home of the Blues.” Visitors to historical Beale Street will get to enjoy a variety of events, clubs, restaurants, and other attractions that make the street infamous. Beale Street was the big scene in Memphis during the roaring 20’s with its carnival atmosphere. Theaters, nightclubs, stores, pawnshops, restaurants, and hot music flourished together with vices such as drinking, prostitution, gambling, voodoo, and murder. Nights would catch Stetson hats and boxback suits socializing with overalls.
Youthful women strutted down the street, while gamblers waited inside the bars for an easy mark to walk in. If the person marked by the gambler escaped from the cards and dice, he might become Little Ora’s next victim. The woman known as Little Ora was the best pickpocket from St. Louis to New Orleans. If he escaped her, he might spend his evening at PeeWee’s visiting with the musicians, playing pool or securing voodoo protection from Mary the Wonder.
The street was packed by mid-evening. Just walking one block might mean a detour around a medicine show and stopping to listen to the bluesman wandering the street, playing for nickels and pennies. Bottled whiskey was sold from a laundry basket by Machine Gun Kelly before he climbed the ladder of organized crime. The Monarch, a club on the street was called “The Castle of the Missing” because of the ability of gunshot victims to be gotten rid of at the undertaker in the back alley.
The Palace and the Daisy hosted huge burlesque shows, the corner café sold hot snoot sandwiches, Memphis jug bands could be found playing at the park, and on Gayoso, a block over, the red-light district matched Storyville of New Orleans.
Things to Do/Attractions
Beale Street is home to several night clubs, and historical attractions in Memphis, TN.
Beale Street Brass Notes Walk of Fame- The sidewalks of Beale Street are marked with plaques with the names of composers, disc jockeys, musicians, music supporters, and promoters that were important to the history of the street and its Music scene. Some of these famous people include Peter Guralnick, Alberta Hunter, Elvis Presley, Lillie Mae Glover (Ma Rainey II), B.B. King, Justin Timberlake, Rev. W. Herbert Brewster, Johnny Cash, and the Blues Brothers.
Handy Park- The public park can be found on Beale Street at Third Street. It contains a large stage and smaller area for performances. These areas are used for concerts of several thousand or smaller groups. The events here are free and open to anyone who wants to attend.
Ernest Withers Collection and Museum- Ernest Withers was from Memphis and a famous photographer. He spent his life taking photos of the city he loved. This museum honors his priceless photograph collection. The educational and cultural archive found at the museum offers an accurate view of America’s African-American history of the twentieth century through photos. The photo collection spans over sixty years of history in the twentieth century and is used as a tool for teaching and learning for both instructors and students.
W.C. Handy Home and Museum- “The Father of Blues” whose real name was W.C. Handy was one of the greatest influential songwriters in the country. The writer’s home offers visitors a view into his beginnings.
Night Clubs- Some of the night clubs on Beale Street visitors will enjoy, include BB King’s Blues Club, Club 152, Club Handy, and the Coyote Ugly Saloon.
Beale Street hosts a variety of events for the whole family to enjoy throughout the year.
KIX on Beale- This is a summer concert series that is age appropriate for the whole family and takes place in Handy Park.
International Blues Challenge- This is held in the winter months of the year and includes performers from all over the world. It takes place in the large variety of clubs on Beale Street culminating in the finale at the Orpheum Theatre.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade- Beale Street hosts the St. Patrick’s Day parade every year.
Beale Street Wine Race- Local restaurants and bartenders compete in four events on Beale Street.
Fright Nights on Beale- Beale Street hosts costume contests at its clubs and then the winners from each club compete for a grand prize at Handy Park at midnight. Beale Street also host the annual Memphis Zombie walk to collect food for the food bank.
Beale Street offers shops that will interest all visitors. Some of these shops include the Blues City General Store, Beale Street Gift Shop, A. Schwab, Tater Reds and many more unique shops.
Beale Street offers a variety of restaurants for visitors to enjoy. Some of these include Lew’s Blew Note Bar and Grill, Blues City Café, and the Hard Rock Café.
203 Beale Street, Suite 300, Memphis, TN 38103, Phone: 901-526-0974
Attraction Spotlight: Memphis Rock n Soul Museum
The Memphis Rock n Soul Museum, located on legendary Highway 61 in Memphis, Tennessee, inside the FedExForum Complex, gives visitors a comprehensive overview of rock and soul music from the 1930s through the 1970s in Memphis and its influence internationally.
The Memphis Rock n Soul Museum opened on April 29th, 2000 and has since welcomed in over 200,000 visitors from around the globe. Founded by the Smithsonian Institution and National Museum of American History in 1996, the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum was the first exhibition to be developed by the Smithsonian in collaboration with another institution.
The idea for the collaboration came about in 1990 when the NMAH pursued an idea to develop a traveling exhibition about the development and history of American music with roots in Memphis. The exhibition would feature work songs, blues, gospel, and the origins of country music, urban sounds of the 1930’s and 40’s, jazz, and soul music. The funding for the traveling exhibition never came to fruition; however, a group of dedicated volunteers raised the necessary funds to acquire artifacts and do the research along with completing construction of a museum.
In 2004, the museum found a permanent home inside the FedExFOrum Complex, a premier sports and entertainment venue in Memphis at the corner of “The Blues Highway”, Highway 61 and Beale Street. The Memphis Rock n Soul Museum is open daily from 10am-7pm with special closures listed online.
The Memphis Rock n Soul Museum features 7 permanent galleries that take visitors through the last century of music history in America, touring the roots of rock and soul music with roots in Memphis Tennessee.
Rural Culture- This gallery focuses on backwater communities of the Mississippi Delta where hard work and segregation were a part of everyday life. Deep religious faith could be found here where gospel music rang from the fields that many music icons worked their hands in before there were studios. Visitors can see what life was really life for some of the poorest people in the region.
Rural Music- The origins of blues, country, and gospel music that grew from the delta and started a revolution in the music industry can be experienced in this gallery. Battery powered radios, Victrola’s, and record players are also popular items to be seen here.
Coming to Memphis- River City attracted many different types of people. This gallery explores the merging of sharecroppers, construction workers, millers, doctors, bankers, and merchants. Also, the history of segregation and how music blurred the color barriers.
Sun Records & Youth Culture- This gallery was made possible through the Kemmons Wilson Family Foundation and features exhibits related to Sun Records, a recording company that recorded blues and rock n roll legends such as BB King, Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley when they were in the early stages of their careers. There are also exhibits that explore how rock n roll influence youth and pop culture in the mid-20th century.
Soul Music- Soul music labels are the highlight of this exhibit which also focuses on the black community and some of its stars. Exhibits that explore African American cultural identity through soul music and the social changes of the 1960’s are also found here.
Social Changes- This gallery focuses on the social changes of the 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis with exhibits that tell the history of Martin Luther King Jr. and how music played a part in the cultural revolution in Memphis.
Bravo Gallery- This gallery sprung from a donation from the First Tennessee Foundation and highlight the accomplishments of performers and producers from Memphis that make great contributions to civil rights that also involved the music industry.
The Memphis Rock n Soul Museum was created by the Smithsonian Institute to be an educational experience in itself as an exploration and historical lesson in the makings of rock and soul music in America over the last century. The Smithsonian also developed the Sound Education Program for educators with classes in grades k-12. This 72-page curriculum guide breaks down various lesson plans by grade level that address origins of music, racial and economic barriers in Memphis, and its influence on world culture and politics. Some of the programs offered are:
· Creating Music- Elementary Age
· Give That Group a Grammy- Grade 5-12
· Musical Picture Book- Grade 3-8
· The Themes of These Tunes- Grade 6-12
· Musical Basketball- Grade k-5
· Tonight’s Top Story-Celebrating Black History- Grades 6-12
School groups are welcome to tour the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum for a more in depth educational experience. Field trip rates can be addressed by contacting the museum directly.
191 Beale Street, Suite 100, Memphis Tennessee, 38103, Phone: 901-205-2533
Back to: Best Things to Do in Memphis
Attraction Spotlight: Dixon Gallery & Gardens
Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens is committed to diversity and enriching the lives of all people. Visitors will experience a rich and colorful display of works from all kinds of cultures, traditions, and peoples. Visitors will witness a wonderful blend of elegantly displayed fine artwork combined with the expertly designed and crafted public gardens. It is an experience not to be missed.
The Dixon Gallery and Gardens is a fine art museum and public garden that was founded in 1976 by Hugo and Margaret Dixon. The gallery now has more than 2,000 objects on display, which are organized between 8 and 10 exhibitions a year.
The collection of fine artwork ranges from French Impressionist paintings to English porcelain. The highly reputable public gardens are spread throughout a 17-acre campus and include formal sitting areas, woodland trails, and even cutting gardens.
Fine Arts Collection: The fine arts collection features a series of paintings from the late 19th and early 20th century, sculptures, and works on paper. Works by Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Edgar Douglas are on display. Some of the great graphic artists of the 1800s and 1900s are also represented.
Decorative Arts Collection: The decorative arts collection features one of the largest holdings of the museum, with nearly 600 works of porcelain. The collection includes Meissen tableware, Hochst figurines, and lots of 18th and 19th-century French pieces. There is also a large collection of United States and European pewter from four different centuries.
Dixon Gallery & Gardens, 4339 Park Avenue Memphis, TN 38117, Phone: 901-761-5250
Back to: Things to Do in Memphis