Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock n’ Roll, Memphis is where you can find some of the biggest legends and iconic landmarks in American music history.
It is also a hub for cultural experiences, from visiting Elvis Presley’s home, to stepping back in time at the National Civil Rights Museum. And, of course, you can’t talk about Memphis without mentioning their famous BBQ and Southern-style food. Memphis has so much to offer, it’s hard to narrow down the highlights. After my incredible trip, I feel that every traveler should check out these three experiences:
My first stop in Memphis was legendary – a visit to the home of The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll - Elvis Presley. Touring through Graceland was fascinating; I gained a whole new appreciation for who he was. Each room shares more about his life and the unique décor tells its own story. The Jungle Room was my highlight – I think the name speaks for itself! Another highlight of my visit was seeing the newly opened and enormous entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis, which houses an insane amount of Rock n’ Roll memorabilia. I loved looking at Presley’s cars and motorbikes, and I wasn’t surprised to see velvet and gold décor as the decorating theme for his plane, The Lisa Marie.
If you really want to soak in the Elvis experience you should stay at the new luxury resort the Guest House at Graceland. It’s gorgeous and decorated with Elvis’ most iconic stage outfits. When you are ready for a meal, pop into Gladys’ Diner, one of two nearby restaurants honoring his parents. I loved the classic feel of the diner. It felt like I had been transported back to the 1960’s – all I was missing was my beehive hairstyle!
Entrance to the entertainment complex at Elvis Presley’s Memphis at Graceland
National Civil Rights Museum
A truly historical spot, the National Civil Rights Museum is housed inside the former Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The museum showcases five centuries of civil rights and human rights history through interactive exhibits, historic collections, dynamic speakers and special events. Its mission is to share the culture and lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement and explore how this significant era continues to shape equality and freedom globally to this day. The museum offers a very immersive and moving experience, it was often chilling walking through the rooms where Martin Luther King Jr. spent his last days. Try and make time to head across the street to the spot where James Earl Ray made history with his fatal shot. They’ve turned the building into a sister museum that explores the details and conspiracy theories around the assassination. It’s incredibly interesting and thought-provoking. The entire experience is powerful, and a memory that will stay with me.
Memorial wall outside the National Civil Rights Museum
There’s a great night scene in Memphis with Beale Street at its heart. The two-mile strip is where Blues music made its home over 150 years ago and is lined with bars and restaurants showcasing live bands at almost every spot. The street bustles with one of the most eclectic crowds I’ve encountered and buzzes with phenomenal music - you’ll want your dancing shoes for sure! For a quieter night, I loved sipping cocktails on one of the many rooftop bars in Downtown Memphis. The warm air and stunning views of the city make for an intimate but invigorating evening.
Memphis has a unique charm to it. I’ve never been anywhere like it. It’s welcoming to everyone and there’s so much to do, whether you are young or old you’ll be entertained. If you enjoy music, history, culture and food, Memphis should definitely be on your bucket list.