When it comes to music, Nashville may be the go-to destination for country music enthusiasts, but for fans of blues and rock ‘n’ roll, Memphis is the place to be. This vibrant city is not only famous for its musical heritage but also holds a significant place in history, particularly regarding its connection to slavery and the civil rights movement.
A must-visit attraction in Memphis is the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, the site where the revered civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was tragically assassinated in 1968. Today, the motel has been transformed into a powerful museum that chronicles the history of civil rights in the United States. The museum’s centerpiece is King’s former hotel room and balcony, marked by a solemn white wreath.
For a taste of authentic Memphis blues, take a leisurely stroll down Beale Street, affectionately known as the “Home of the Blues.” This iconic street is home to various attractions, including the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. Another notable stop is WC Handy’s House, now a museum dedicated to honoring the “Father of the Blues” who composed timeless classics like “Memphis Blues” and “St. Louis Blues.” Don’t forget to visit the A. Schwab dry goods store, a historic establishment founded in 1876.
Immerse yourself in the soulful sounds of American soul music at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. This unique museum, one of the few in the world dedicated to soul music, is an exact replica of the original Stax Records studio. Explore the detailed exhibits showcasing the stars, the music, and the history of soul. With over 2,500 artifacts on display, including instruments and costumes, you’ll feel the rhythm of this influential genre. The museum also features a century-old Mississippi Delta church, which showcases the roots of soul music in gospel, and even the iconic dance floor from the Soul Train TV show.
If you’re a music enthusiast, make sure to visit the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. Created by the Smithsonian Institution, this museum pays tribute to the pioneers of music from the 1930s to the 1970s. Explore seven captivating galleries, each equipped with a digital audio tour that highlights 100 songs. Admire the costumes worn by music stars and over 30 musical instruments. The museum’s galleries delve into the early years of music in Memphis, the rise of Sun Records, soul music, rural music and culture, and even the disco era.
For a moment of tranquility amidst the bustling city, take a walk through the beautiful Memphis Botanic Garden. Spread across 96 acres, the garden features more than 20 distinct gardens, accessible via scenic trails from the visitor center. The Tennessee Bicentennial Iris Garden, with its mesmerizing iris goddess sculpture emerging from a reflective pool, serves as the centerpiece. With blooming flowers from spring through summer, it’s no wonder this garden is a popular choice for enchanting weddings.
Sports enthusiasts should pay a visit to the FedEx Forum, an impressive 18,000-seat arena. This is where the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies basketball team and the Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team call home. Additionally, the forum hosts a variety of events, including wrestling matches, boxing bouts, professional bull riding, comedy shows, and live performances. Located on Beale Street, it immerses visitors in the heart of the vibrant entertainment district.
No trip to Memphis would be complete without a visit to Graceland, the former estate of the legendary music icon Elvis Presley. Purchased by Elvis in 1957, this 14-acre property is a mecca for fans of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Take a tour of his former home, explore the extensive collection of memorabilia, and pay your respects at his tomb in the serene Meditation Garden.
Delving into Memphis’s history, the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, also known as the Burkle Estate, offers a poignant experience. Built in 1849 by German immigrant Jacob Burkle near the Mississippi River, this site was a haven for enslaved individuals during a time when Memphis was the largest slave-trading city in the state.
Finally, Memphis is a haven for food lovers, particularly those who crave mouthwatering barbecue. Make sure to indulge in the city’s renowned barbecue scene and savor the flavors of Memphis to the fullest.
In summary, Memphis offers a captivating blend of music, history, and culinary delights. From exploring the legacy of the civil rights movement at the National Civil Rights Museum to experiencing the soulful sounds at the Stax Museum and indulging in delectable barbecue, this city has something for everyone. Discover the cultural riches and vibrant spirit of Memphis, a destination that continues to leave a lasting impression on its visitors.