What Travel Writers Say

Memphis - mainly about the history of music and soul!

© By Mary Martin
Memphis Has Music

For the epicure, Memphis marinates its own southern taste from sizzling barbecue (wet or dry) to greens and cornbread to Mississippi Mud Cake. There's fragrant azaleas in the spring, Mississippi River sunsets and sweet accents year-round, but don't forget the history of music and soul.
     With over 60 sizzling attractions, here's a must-see list:

Map Lat/Lon: 35.1° N 90.0° W
Click for Memphis, Tennessee Forecast
     Beale Street is one of America's most famous musical streets, located in the heart of downtown Memphis with 3 blocks of more than 30 nightclubs, restaurants and retail shops. Music includes traditional Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz and Rock 'n' Roll. Catch a concert at Handy Park or attend one of the annual festivals or parades. Discover the distinctive flavor of "Beale-by-day," enjoying the W. C. Handy House Museum, Handy Park, and A. Schwab's 19th century dry goods store.
     At the Rock 'n' Soul Museum, you can feel the beat and discover the story of Memphis music and its unique impact on worldwide culture. Told as only the Smithsonian can, you'll hear the soundtrack of your life. Personal CD audio guide with every admission to the museum.
     Take a factory tour of the Gibson Guitar Factory where you can witness hand-craftsmanship at its best while on the factory floor with $4 million of guitars. A narrated tour takes you through 16 workstations where solid blocks of wood are transformed into legendary musical instruments. See it all from fitting, sanding and painting to electronics installation, tuning and packing of American-made World-played Gibson guitars.
     Take a look at Sun Studio, the roots of Rock'n'Roll in this tiny, unassuming space that is the birthplace of the genre. The first Rock record, "Rocket 88," was recorded here as well as hits by superstars including Elvis, B.B. King, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, and Roy Orbison.


     The Stax Museum of American Soul Music celebrates great Memphis soul music made famous by Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MGs, Isaac Hayes, the Bar-Kays, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Earth, Wind & Fire and others. Memphis' downtown arena the FedExForum, is one block off Beale Street with seating capacity of 18,400. This state-of-the-art multi-level facility offers a wide variety of event and meeting space, a food/beverage opportunity and a window into the musical roots of Memphis. Home to the NBA team, the Memphis Grizzlies.
     The Center for Southern Folklore showcases and celebrates the wonders, lifestyles, people, history, and cultures of the South and at the Children's Museum of Memphis, spark your imagination! Children play while adults simply learn how to play again!

Sun Recording Studio  Rock and Roll Museum  STAX Marquee   BB King Blues Club, Beale Street  Civil Rights Museum  Cooper Young Tressel  Cotton Museum

     The Cooper-Young Entertainment District is notated by a unique train trestle that you drive under just as you are entering the historic district where you will find artists and galleries alongside innovative restaurants serving a variety of cuisines. Memphis was and is the world's center for "spot cotton" or cash crop trading. Learn all about it at the Cotton Museum. And since 1852, Elmwood is the oldest, active cemetery in Memphis.
     Spanning the Mississippi River and adorned with more than 200 high-intensity lights, the "M" or Hernando DeSoto Bridge serves as a welcoming beacon to Memphis visitors arriving from the west.
     Set in the city's historic Overton Park, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is the region's oldest and largest museum. Its collection of paintings, prints, and sculptures spans the 13th through 20th centuries and represents cultures from virtually every continent.

Memphis Riverboat  Memphis Zoo  Peabody Place  Pyramid  Elmwood Cemetery  Fedex Forum

     Try a riverboat adventure in Memphis where large paddlewheel and showboats operate or opt for the Memphis Zoo which welcomes visitors through its Egyptian-themed gates to view more than 400 species of animals, birds, and reptiles. Speaking of Egypt, take view of the Pyramid from Tom Lee Park. A tribute to the city's Egyptian namesake in Egypt, remarkably, it's the third largest pyramid in the world.
     Located at the Lorraine Motel, site of the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the National Civil Rights Museum presents interactive audiovisual displays, life-sized replicas, and actual artifacts to present an emotionally charged history of the American civil rights movement. Exploring the Legacy takes visitors forward to the history that followed King's assassination. It includes the renovation of the boarding house where the fatal shot was fired.
     For comic relief, ducks parade through the Peabody's Grand Lobby twice daily, 11am and 5pm. Peabody Place, conveniently located in the heart of vibrant downtown Memphis, is known as the cornerstone of renaissance for the downtown area. Surrounded by key attractions and restaurants including Primetime Sports Bar.
     For a uniquely Southern experience with world-renowned attractions and entertainment, there's simply no better place than Memphis. Good times. Good food. Good people.

Mary Martin is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is interested in and writes about world travel.

Photo Credits
Courtesy of Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau

If you go
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Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memphis
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Memphis
About.com: http://memphis.about.com/od/thingstoseeanddo/tp/free.htm
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau: http://www.memphistravel.com/

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