I grew up in a small town in Arkansas, but one of the perks of my location was that I was just a short hour-ish drive from Memphis, Tennessee. I've fallen in love with that city over the years and done so many fun things there. I wanted to share a few of my favorite places in a Memphis, Tennessee travel guide, so you can get a vibe of what to do when you visit.
I'm adding addresses, prices, and hours to this list for some attractions. Somethings are subject to change. Make sure that you check out the website listed for these places for more information.
So, let's go exploring the city of Memphis, TN with today's travel guide!
PS: Want to visit another fun southern city? Check out my Atlanta, Georgia Travel Guide!
What To Do In Memphis
Here are some of the awesome things I have done time and time again that I love doing:
Walk Down Beale Street
Oh my goodness! If you are in Memphis for just a little bit, I encourage you to walk down Beale Street. You can go at night, but you don’t have to. It’s just as fun during the daytime in my opinion, and that’s when I usually go.
There is always something going on there. I encourage you to get some (probably overpriced but great) drinks from the vendors that line the streets. The fishbowls are the best thing, and you will have drinks for a while.
It’s a little crowded, but I usually never feel pushed or shoved too much while on Beale Street which is nice. I have a lot of anxiety in huge groups, but I never really felt that way on Beale Street.
There are street performances usually happening all down Beale Street, and the atmosphere is just so fun. Everyone is drinking, having a good time, eating at all the Beale Street restaurants, watching street performances, listening to random music, etc.
Parking is a huge issue if you want to do this, though. You have to park your car in Memphis if you're going to get around Beale Street. This can become problematic if you go on a really busy day like a game day or a concert day. It can be hard to plan your travel around that, though, especially if you are coming to the city during the weekend. Parking can be reasonable, but if it’s a special event day, expect to pay a little more for parking (I am talking $15-$20.) It sucks, but the lack of most cars helps Beale Street stay fun and relatively safe.
Go To The National Civil Rights Museum
Address: 450 Mulberry St, Memphis, TN 38103
Website | Hours: Closed Tuesday: Open Wednesday-Monday from 9 AM-5 PM
Admission: $16 for adults; $14 for seniors & those with a Student ID; $13 for Children 5-17; Free for children 4 & under as well as active military members
If you have some time I highly, highly, highly encourage you to check out the National Civil Rights Museum. This museum is HUGE and filled with so many great pieces of Civil Rights history. I have gone to this museum multiple times, and it never ceases to amaze me.
It's a lovely museum. It's interactive, and you could get lost in it for hours. The main building is enormous, but there is also the Legacy Building which is across the street where the person who assassinated MLK was when it happened. This building is full of information about the future of civil rights, and it's a beautiful end to the experience at the main building.
The National Civil Rights Museum is such a great visit because you are taken through everything from the beginning of slavery to now. They pack so much into this museum that it's almost insane. They tell you to dedicate at least two hours for a good visit, but I would devote closer to three. Pace yourself so you can enjoy everything, and also get a lot from the Legacy building too. Most times I have gone I spent so much time in the main building that I wasn't able to get as much from the Legacy building.
I would also encourage you to have some money for the gift shop because both times I have gone recently, I wound up getting something from it. They have tons of cool things to commemorate your time in the museum!
Brooks Museum Of Art
Address: 1934 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104
Website | Hours: Monday/Tuesday: Closed; Wednesday: 10 AM – 8 PM; Thursday/Friday: 10 AM – 4 PM; Saturday: 10 AM – 5 PM; Sunday: 11 AM – 5 PM
Admission: $7 for adults; $6 for seniors over 65; $3 for students with a student ID; $3 for youth 7-17; Free for children 6 and under, St. Jude patients and family, teachers, and veterans; Admission is donation only on Wednesday so you can get in based on the donation you can give to the museum.
If you are looking for a fantastic activity to do in Memphis that will inspire you, I encourage you to check out the Brooks Museum Of Art. This three-story museum is filled with art from various periods. We recently visited this museum for the first time and spent hours getting lost in all the art they have on display. The collection at this museum is quite sizeable. What I love even more about this museum is how affordable it is. I honestly had no idea how I missed this gem.
If you are going to this museum, I'd be a little wary of the parking situation here. Parking is free, but it's all street parking, so you have to be careful when parking here. If you don't know how to parallel park, I suggest you let someone who knows how to drive you here.
See A Show At The FedEx Forum
Address: 191 Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103
The FedEx Forum is an amazing place to see a show. I have seen multiple concerts there, but I think my all time favorite was when I saw Kings of Leon and Band Of Horses there in 2011. It was an 18th birthday/high school graduation gift for me.
The FedEx Forum is also where the Memphis Grizzlies play so if you are interested in going to an NBA game, FedEx Forum is the place to be! I recently got to see an NBA game at the FedEx Forum after a picked up tickets to a pre-season game via Ticketmaster.
I love going to shows at the FedEx Forum. It's got excellent seats, but also a floor for most concerts. I usually sit in the stands though for the shows I have been to. I also saw an American Idols show at the FedEx Forum once which was pretty awesome.
Great venue all around and there is a lot of food and stuff inside the venue as well.
Enjoy The Mississippi River Views
Memphis is right on the Mississippi River! You can easily see the Mississippi River from many locations across Memphis, and it's a beautiful sight. I love crossing the bridge into Memphis and seeing how peaceful the river looks. If you like rivers, I highly encourage you to check out the Mississippi while you are in Memphis.
Tom Lee Park
Address: Riverside Dr, Memphis, TN 38103
Website | Hours: 6 AM to 10 PM
If you want to see the Mississippi River as closely as you can, besides being on Mud Island (which I have never done, so that's why it's not on this list), then I encourage you to head to Tom Lee Park when you are in Memphis, TN next. The picture below was taken while I was in Tom Lee Park for a day of the Beale Street Music Festival which also takes place in Tom Lee Park.
Tom Lee Park is open year round, not just when the Memphis In May festivities happen (obviously), and you can see the Mississippi River prominently from the park no matter what time of year you go.
Check Out An Impromptu Concert At WC Handy Performing Arts Park
Address: 200 Beale Street Memphis, TN 38103
Website | Admission: Things happening at WC Handy Performing Arts Park are always FREE!
This is a part of Beale Street, but I feel like it needs a little spot on the list. I love the WC Handy Performing Arts Park in Memphis, and I always find myself going there when I am in Memphis. The best part about this venue? The entertainment is FREE. People perform there all the time, and they usually pass around a tip bucket if you want to tip them, but you don't have to pay to get in this venue.
Whenever we are in Memphis, TN and on Beale Street, we always manage to find our way to this place.
Other Impromptu Performances
Besides WC Handy Performing Arts Park there are ALL sorts of impromptu performances all over Memphis, to be honest. Many restaurants have stages where people can perform, they have random stages in Memphis, and sometimes people just put up a covered space on the sidewalk and perform. Memphis has a lot of cool people come to Memphis to play, but there are also a lot of random local artist performances that happen as well.
Look For Murals
Have some time to look around, and you want to step up your Instagram game? Check out all of the impressive murals all around Memphis. It seems like they are always adding new Memphis murals, so there isn't an accurate list of these out there. If you want some help getting started, though, I love this guide from Downtown Memphis featuring some of the most prominent murals in town and where to find them.
Ride The Trolley
Want to get around downtown in a cool way? Ride the trolley! I've never personally ridden the trolleys myself (bucket list!), but I love seeing them around town when I am in Memphis. They are mainly concentrated in Downtown, South Main, and the Medical District, but you can have a great time on them. Riding the trolley is a great, family friendly activity. If you want to ride the trolley, you will need exact change, and the trolley starts at $1. If you don't want to ride the trolley, check out a trolley stop and snap a picture real quick. Check out Downtown Memphis' trolley guide for more information.
What To Eat In Memphis
I am honestly not the most adventurous Memphis eater if you can believe it, but I have a few suggestions.
Charles Vergos' Rendezvous
Address: 52 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103
Website | Price: Varies by what you get. Most things are under $23!
Hours: Tuesday to Thursday: 4:30 PM to 10:30 PM; Friday: 11 AM to 11 AM; Saturday: 11:30 AM to 11 AM
If you are looking for a yummy barbecue restaurant, I encourage you to check out Charles Vergos' Rendezvous. The food is SO delicious, and you get a pretty good amount of food. I want to bathe in the seasoning they use on the ribs. You can even get some of the seasoning to take home if you want. But yes, get the large or small order of ribs with beans and slaw as a side. You won't be disappointed!
Address: 205 Beale St., Memphis, TN 38103
Website | Price: Dyer's Burgers is on the cheap side
Hours: Sunday through Thursday: 11 AM – 11 PM; Friday through Saturday: 11 AM – 3 AM
Need a quick bite to eat on Beale Street? We checked this place out in 2018 because we needed something to eat before we went to a Memphis Grizzlies game. It's on Beale Street which means it's close to all the attractions and it's literally like a block away from the FedEx Forum. The food is cheap, a bit greasy, but overall pleasant. It's great for what it is, comforting burgers and fries, don't try to look too much into it, y'all.
Address: 5259 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN 38119
Website | Price: Varies by what you get.
Hours: Sunday to Thursday 10:45 AM – 9:30 PM; Friday-Saturday: 10:45 AM – 10:00 PM
I've never actually gone to an actual Corky's before. They were a vendor at MEMPHO Music Festival when I went in 2018, and I loved the BBQ pulled pork nachos I got when I went. I will have to make it to their Poplar Avenue location one day, but until then, behold these nachos and add Corky's to your Memphis list.
Lew's Blue Note Bar & Grill
Address: 341 Beale Street Memphis, TN 38103
Website | Price: Dishes are on the cheaper side here, but more than fast food prices
Hours: Sunday through Thursday: 12 PM – 3 AM; Friday through Saturday: 12 PM – 5 AM
We stumbled across this place in 2018 while in Memphis celebrating my 25th birthday. I don't always eat when I visit this restaurant; sometimes I just grab a drink after a good time on Beale Street. It's a wonderful place to visit to wind down from your time checking out Memphis. If you have some time, visit Lew's at night because they usually have some amazing performers putting their spin on popular blues songs. Come prepared with money to tip these fantastic performers at Lew's because that's how they make a good chunk of their money from performing. You should also come prepared to stay a while, the last time I went I was there for like three hours.
As far as the food is concerned, there is quite a lot of good food on the menu. I would encourage getting a burger as I got below (hello bacon cheeseburger.) The onion rings were fantastic here too. If you are looking for a good amount of food, get the pound and a half of wings. You could honestly share them with two people, and you can get two flavors. My dad got them (and I might have gotten a few off his plate.) All that aside, they were delicious.
Where To Stay In Memphis
Memphis is filled with beautiful places to stay, but I wanted to share my best recommendations with you in this section.
Hotel Indigo Downtown Memphis
Address: 22 North B.B. King Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee 38103 | Website
I recently got to stay at this hotel for a review I wrote (linked below.) I love this hotel because the location in downtown Memphis is fantastic. It's a short walk from Beale Street, and it's just a beautiful location. It's a “new” hotel, being that it was renovated recently and it just started accepting bookings in 2019. If you are looking for a beautiful hotel in downtown Memphis (a short walk or drive from all the best parts of town) this hotel is what you're looking for.
Best Time To Visit Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is a great city because it doesn't truly have a “busy” season just yet. Whether you are visiting on spring break, during the summer, or for a fall trip, it's going to be reasonably easy to get around.
While Memphis is a bit insane during May, I still encourage you to visit during that time because it's not that bad.
Memphis is updating itself a ton though, every time I visit there is new construction in the city. It wouldn't surprise me if soon it will become even bigger and better and a bit harder to get around.
Check Out Memphis During Memphis In May
Website | Activities happening every weekend in May
Memphis blooms in May, y'all. There is so much going on in the city in May.
The most obvious is the Beale Street Music Festival. I have a love/hate relationship with this one. It isn't always managed the best, especially when it rains (which happens almost every year, so I feel they should have a better grasp on this by now) but overall, though, it's a festival that brings tons of great acts to the area. If festivals are your thing, you will probably love it. The price is quite reasonable, and there are always some bigger acts that come.
Then the next week after the festival is the international salute. Each year Memphis In May honors a different country. In 2018 they honored the Czech Republic. This honoring comes in the form of tons of performances, speakers, movies, food, and so much more.
Then there is the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. You get tickets to the contest then you can taste and judge different barbecue from awesome BBQers.
Lastly, there is the Great American River Run and 901Fest. The run has a half-marathon and 5K component. Then after the run 901Fest takes place.
Memphis is filled to the brim with stuff in May!
Bloggers & Websites To Follow For Memphis Travel
If you are interested in know more about Memphis, I suggest that you follow these bloggers and websites:
Memphis, Tennesse Travel Guide: Conclusion
I hope that you loved today's article! If you ever decide to visit Memphis, I am hopeful that you will enjoy many of the things that I have shared in today's article!