Q: What do you do when you only have a few hours to see a city with so much to offer?
A: As much as you can!
and that’s exactly what we did when we touched ground in Memphis, Tennessee – home to blues, soul, rock n’roll, tasty barbecue, and everything Elvis. Memphis is one of those cities where you need to spend a couple of days. To drive by and take a quick look at historical places and gorgeous river walks made us so happy to be here. But, knowing we wouldn’t have the time to fully enjoy and appreciate them the way one should was disappointing. Of course, you do what you can so until our next meet up, here’s a peek at our “teaser trip” which is what we’re calling our experience in Bluff City.
Elvis Meditation Garden
A visit to anything Elvis didn’t make anyone’s list but mine. Museum tours started at 9am which was a no-go for our itinerary, but I was in for a surprise. Looks like Elvis was a mindful soul and had a Meditation Garden on his property where he would gather his thoughts in a quiet and peaceful setting. Elvis and his entire family, including his twin brother who died at birth (did you know he was a twin?) are buried on the estate and today, thousands of fans visit the property before the museum tours start. One is allowed to enter the grounds and walk to the garden to enjoy, pray, pay respects, think, etc. The garden is free and open to the public starting at 7:30am which gave me just enough time to at least see and step foot on Graceland which I wanted to. I mean, did you check out my blue suede heels in the photo above?
National Civil Rights Museum
The one place we took our time and didn’t rush. There’s just so much to see, read, discuss and take in. We’ve been to a lot of museums in our time and I have to say that this museum is at the top of my list. The museum captures the history of slavery, civil rights and basic human rights. It has a nice balance between old and modern and does a beautiful job at tying in how the fight still continues and how we’re ALL connected.
The tour leads you to the room where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and it was so moving and sad. You’re also able to go across the street and visit the exact location where the shot was taken from. Kind of eery and leaves you feeling a great deal of sadness. However, the museum leaves you with a call-to-action because there is so much that is happening now and can be done. An absolute MUST while in Memphis every time you visit.
Now Memphis has good bbq. There’s no doubt about that, but when you can only go to one place… just ONE, which do you pick? After speaking to a few locals we kept hearing the same three names over and over which didn’t make choosing any easier, but our deciding factor was based on convenience. So we found ourselves at Central Barbecue which is located directly across the street from the National Civil Rights Museum and who’s motto is slow, smoked and Memphis style. This was exactly what we wanted and the food was GOOD! We had brisket, pulled pork, ribs, corn bread, greens, etc. The meal lived up to exactly what we thought good ole southern bbq would be. Damn it was delicious! On our next trip we’ll be sure to try the other two establishments.
Located in Souleville is the studio that had a major hand in the creation of southern soul. This Memphis institution was home to many such as Rufus and Carla Thomas, Otis Redding and Issac Hayes and houses lots of memorabilia. Check out Issa Haye’s sweet ride below.
Where it all happens! Beal Street has the music, the food, and some serious people watching. The street was lined up with restaurants that offered live music and a comfy setting to sit back, sip on something good and enjoy. We even stopped by a charming retro soda fountain and ice cream parlor that had all the feels of back in the day. Check out by A. Schwab where tons of notables have stopped by to get their sweet fix and where you should go too. Trust me when I say it will come in handy, especially on those hot days.
And in case you’re wondering…
Q: Why is it called “Bluff City”?
A: Because Downtown Memphis originally sat on a bluff that overlooked the Mississippi River. The views must’ve been insane!
Already on the list for our next trip is more BBQ, Sun Studios (where Elvis first recorded), A thorough visit to Graceland and maybe even stay on the grounds, Memphis Zoo, check out some cute coffee shops, experience nightlife on Beal Street and really take in some Blues and Soul, and of course, some more BBQ. Any other suggestions?
Thank you to the Memphis CVB for helping us get familiar with the area. As always, all opinions are our own.