Memphis, Tennessee, is a mecca for rock, soul and country musicians from around the world. Fantastically, its culture and attractions reflect this rich musical heritage. However, this vibrant city offers much more than just world-class music. From historical sites to natural wonders, vibrant nightclubs to quiet walking tours, this wonderfully diverse city has a little something for everyone. If you're planning a trip to Memphis, be sure to check out these must-see attractions in Memphis.
Memphis was home to the King of Rock 'n' Roll, and no visit would be complete without a visit to his famous home. Booking a tour of Graceland lets you follow in the footsteps of Elvis Presley himself - literally. Learn about his life and music while seeing the place he called home. The attached exhibition center hosts an ever-changing array of exhibits on pop culture and related subjects.
While you're seeing how Elvis lived, check out Sun Studio. This unassuming brick building is often called the birthplace of rock 'n' roll. Many famous artists who got their start there, including the King himself. Today, local artists offer regular tours to educate visitors about the history of the studio as well as recording techniques and other trivia. Best of all, you can even take your turn behind the mike.
The mighty Mississippi River runs through Nashville, and it is a sight to see. One of the best ways to get a feel for the size of this mighty river is to stroll across the Big River Crossing, a mixed-use biking and walking bridge that connects Memphis to Arkansas. If you prefer to explore the river itself, book a riverboat tour from one of the operators in the area. These lively tours include dining, music, and information about the past and present of this lively city.
If you want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a more meditative experience, head to the Crystal Shrine Grotto. It may seem a bit morbid at first as this man-made cave in the midst of Memorial Park Cemetery, but no one is buried here. An artist named Dionicio Rodríguez created it and designed to create a beautiful and peaceful place for visitors to enjoy. Crystal outcroppings, a vivid blue pool, and lifelike cement trees come together to create a surprisingly realistic yet surreal experience.
The Memphis Pyramid, also sometimes known as the Great American Pyramid, is a massive glass structure that towers above the surrounding landscape. It was originally built as a sports arena and concert venue, but today its a massive Bass Pro Shop and outdoor-themed hotel. In addition to shopping and dining, you can explore aviaries and aquariums full of live waterfowl and fish, take a turn at the indoor archery and shooting ranges and ride the 28-story elevator to the top for a stunning view of the Memphis skyline.
Memphis thrives thanks to its live music scene, and the best place to go to see a show is the famous Beale Street. This vibrant corridor is home to numerous venues that have a diverse range of music every night. As you stroll along the sidewalk, you may hear everything from exotic world music beats to old-fashioned blues or rocking bluegrass. Even if you don't feel like catching a show, the vintage neon signs and fantastic street performers make this a must-see attraction.
The Civil Rights Era was a volatile time, filled with both triumph and tragedy. The life of Martin Luther King, Jr., exemplified this. King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, and the hotel was subsequently turned into a museum about his life and the struggle for equality. The National Civil Rights Museum features an array of exhibits about slavery, sit-ins, and African-American resistance movements during that era and beyond, as well as special events.
One of the quirkiest traditions in Memphis may be the daily Peabody duck parade, held at the luxurious Peabody Hotel. The famous ducks spend their evenings in a luxurious penthouse aviary designed especially for them. Every morning at about 11 AM, they stroll down to the hotel's ornate outdoor fountain. This parade is done with plenty of fanfare, making it a fun event for all ages. Afterward, enjoy a bite to eat at the top-notch French restaurant on the grounds, but don't order duck. It isn't on the menu out of respect to the hotel's most famous residents.
Memphis is home to two fantastic music museums, the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Both are must-see attractions for music lovers visiting the city. The Rock 'n' Soul Museum is a Smithsonian affiliate and features permanent exhibits tracing the history of blues, rock and soul music from its roots in African-American folk songs to its modern popularity. Conversely, the Stax Museum has detailed exhibits about recording equipment and individual artists who were represented by Stax Records.
Memphis wasn't always all about music. It got its start as a cotton city, where slaves grew the crop. The Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum offers a window into those times. Take a tour through the antebellum mansion, which is furnished as it would have been in those times. Learn how the antislavery movement worked towards their freedom in the years leading up to the Civil War.