Hello travelers! For Labor Day weekend 2014, I took a trip to Memphis, TN with my husband and best friend, two of my favorite people to hang out with. I couldn’t wait to leave town again, especially after returning from Italy that summer…it seems like I was so antsy to get away and have another break from life and work. We were trying to pick a place that was only a few hours away and that we haven’t been to a dozen times, like Dallas, so my husband chose Memphis.
What to eat…
The first thing we did when we got there was eat BBQ, of course! We didn’t have enough meals in 3 days to try all the “best” BBQ joints according to Google, but we did make it to Central BBQ and got a whopping half pound pulled pork sandwich that was topped with coleslaw….It was legit! We also tried some fried chicken at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken….not a huge fan of fried chicken, but it had good flavor and crunch. I would recommend both of these places.
Where to go…
Memphis definitely had a wide variety of activities to keep us busy. On our first full day in town, we went downtown and checked out the Peabody Hotel, a fancy historical hotel built in 1869 and home of the cute little Peabody Ducks. Twice a day the Peabody Hotel puts on a ceremony (literally with red carpet and ropes) to bring the ducks back and forth from the roof top to the fountain at the center of the hotel. They even have a special designated “duck elevator” that the ducks use. I could tell it was obviously a big deal. We got there about 5 minutes after the big shin-dig, so we missed it, but you can still take an elevator up to the roof of the hotel and get a bird’s eye view of Memphis. Pretty!
After that, we took a stroll down Beale Street, but it was raining so it wasn’t as much of a happenin’ place as we had seen the night before. Beale Street is a jazzy couple of blocks in downtown Memphis filled with music and bars. I heard people compare it to Bourbon Street in New Orleans…definitely not! I thought it would be a lot bigger than it was, but it seemed like a cool little place to hang out after hours. Later that night, we went to a Mary Poppins Broadway musical at The Playhouse on the Square, which was my favorite part of the entire trip! I was soooo good…even my husband loved it. The Playhouse was a great find, and I was surprised at how nice and how close you were to the show because it only had about 20-25 rows of seats and a few more rows in the balcony. If anyone is headed to Memphis, I highly suggest catching a show there.
On our next full day in Memphis, we visited the Memphis Zoo. It was definitely another highlight of our trip…they even had pandas! A highlight was definitely the primate exhibits. It was about $15/person, so not a bad price either, and you can spend a good half day there.
We also heard about the National Civil Rights Museum at the historic Lorraine Motel, where MLK was shot and killed in 1968. Not going to lie, I really didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was one of the nicest museums I have ever seen…very nice displays and really modern and interactive. You basically walk through the maze of the museum and get lost in the civil rights movement. It was about $15/person, and we spent a good couple of hours inside. The museum ends with getting a look inside the preserved room where MLK stayed at the motel and also the buildings across Mulberry Street. It was a very thought-provoking place to be that really made you take a step back and examine some of our country’s history.
Another one of my favorite places in Memphis was Sun Studio, “the birth place of Rock & Roll.” WOW! Visit the studio where Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded. The bottom floor is a little cafe where you can chill and have a shake or soda, and the tour upstairs and through the studio is a must! That little studio is packed full of music history, and it’s surreal to stand and see where stars have been and recorded. The tour is $12/person, and only lasts about 15-20 minutes, but totally worth it! At the end, you even get to pose and take some pics with an old school mic that Elvis supposedly used when he recorded there. *Note my stud husband below*
The only thing I would suggest skipping in Memphis is Graceland…hate me if you want, but overrated…ugh…and the biggest money pit I’ve seen. Pay to park, then stand in line for hours, pay to be taken onto the property just to see the outside of the house, but pay more if you even want to go inside. You can see the house from the street, but can’t really get any decent pictures because of trees. I think it’s a better deal to go to Sun Studio where he recorded his music than visit where he lived. Check Memphis out for yourself or let me know your favorite place if you’ve been!