Various opportunities to see and experience around the city
As a visitor who has been to Memphis several times now I cannot help but reflect on what an entertaining city it always is. No matter how many times I go the stuff I’ve already seen is still appealing and there’s always new things to see and explore in its environs. So more than a general introduction to the city (which you can see here) I’m going to talk about some of the appealing attractions in and around the general area.
This is probably the city’s most well known hotspot and it is right at the center of the action. Since Memphis is the home of blues and the birthplace of rock and roll then this is certainly its innermost sanctuary. Beale Street is open all day and night and the sounds of great classics in the blues and rock genres can be heard throughout. There are too many festivals to count and the variety of shops, bars and restaurants is staggering. Of course some of the more famous establishments are B.B. King’s Blues Club, the Tap Room and Blues City Café. At night the street is a buzz of activity with street performers, drinks sold inside the bars and on the sidewalks, music coming from all angles and some heavy crowds on weekends. Be sure and grab a photo with one of the many Elvis impersonators around and enjoy the lively atmosphere and the charming Mississippi river walk just a few minutes away.
Just at the Western end of Beale Street this old time establishment may look dated in a charming way, but it is always full of the newest and flashiest Broadway productions averaging ten to twelve per year. The theater held a strong prominence in the era of Vaudeville and saw a period of decline in the past mid century, but the “South’s Finest Theater” saw a new day in the mid 1980’s when it was renovated and reopened, now it is a bastion of downtown entertainment for outside productions and local groups as well such as the Memphis Opera and Ballet. It sits at the crossroads of many downtown attractions such as the refined Peabody Hotel, the classic trolley and the Mississippi River.
By far one of Memphis’ most visited sites, Graceland is the home of the King of Rock and Roll, Memphis’ most famous resident Elvis Presley. Even now thirty five years after his death his estate continues to sell millions of recordings annually and many people from all over the world descend on Graceland to pay tribute to the king all year round. Part of the estate is open to be visited and one can see the lavish trappings of his lifestyle from customized vehicles, to awards, records, collections and many other opulent artifacts. Perhaps even more entertaining is to behold many of the fans who arrive (especially during Elvis week in mid August) some dressed as the king himself and others who participate in a variety of vigils and tributes to this famed singer.
At first you may think this has made its way into the wrong article, but no Tunica is quite close to Memphis and although it is in Mississippi it is more like part of the larger metropolitan area. The reason it could not go unmentioned is that Tunica is a great nearby attraction for excellent hotels and casinos. The town is quite rural in itself but it covers a wide area and is filled with world class casinos and is now the third largest venue for casinos in the U.S. after Las Vegas and Atlantic City. For those who like to gamble the variety and options are quite good and even for those who do not gamble the hotels are excellent places to stay for very affordable rates and their amenities are laudable. There are great options for golfing all around, world class dining and even an outlet mall too. Coming here is a great addition to any trip to Memphis and it is just a short trip downriver.
American Queen Steamboat
This first lady of the Mississippi is a true Memphian experience for a town that first got its distribution nature from the mighty waters of the river. The American Queen is a work of wonder and luxury that provides idyllic river cruises, fine dining and accommodations for guests. There is often great entertainment in music and shows and even spa treatments are available for the curious guest. The experience of steamboating will provide the guest with an experience of a simpler time and a unique pace of life along the scenic river. There are packages from three to eleven nights onboard and they include many fine dinners, on shore excursions and exciting activities aboard the ship. The riverfront is full of many beautiful parks, bridges and panoramic views of the lush banks along this powerful waterway.
Brooks Museum of Art
This is truly a refined place for the exhibition of an eclectic gathering of all art forms. Just under a century old the museum has grown from a simple collection to over 9,000 pieces of art and there are many temporary and famous exhibitions which pass through regularly as well. Admission is affordable and there are many programs and displays which keep the facility busy year round. The specialties include many ancient pieces, African art, sculptures and paintings from every era and other works on paper. The museum is also a great place to experience many southern manifestations of art in painting, quilts and other forms that are particular to this part of the world.
Besides the normal tours and sights it deserves mention that Memphis is a great place to golf. The city has gained a reputation for some fantastic courses like Southwinds and it is known as well for having very affordable public courses where one can play even today for a dollar per hole. One such place with quick and efficient staff and good grounds is The links at Audubon. Many have Bermuda Grass greens and excellent fairways for long drives. Golfing here is easily accessible and there is no hassle for whenever one decides to pick up and go for some rounds.
Memphis is a city of a long and varied culinary tradition. Sitting at the crossroads of the South and the Midwest it has incorporated many delights from these traditions and those of the immigrant populations who settled the area so many years ago. Known especially for BBQ there are many variations of smoked and grilled meats and various local chains which are certainly worth a try. The city is not short on gourmet restaurants either and all across the city from the downtown to the suburbs there are excellent places to enjoy a wide variety of foods. One place certainly worthy of mention is Sweet Grass, this stylish neighborhood bistro is a beacon of the Midtown foodie scene. It offers a cozy and intimate setting in which to enjoy low country style cuisine with succulent flavor and vibrant presentation. It is certainly a place that represents well the finest array of culinary culture in Memphis.