Walking In Memphis With the Family
Not only is Memphis a vibrant city, bordered by the majestic Mississippi River, and known for its great musical contributions, delicious southern-style eats and rich cultural history, but this year Memphis, Tennessee, even made the National Geographic: Best of the World 2013!
Offering far more than we could handle in our long-weekend trip, this place boasts B. B. King and Beale Street, Elvis and Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum, River Walk, the Memphis Zoo, Shelby Farms Park, and multiple music museums. There’s even public transportation on vintage trolley cars that cover the three main tourist-friendly routes, to make sure you don’t actually have to do too much walking in Memphis with the family!
Listed below are just a few of our favorites, but as I said earlier, these are only a proverbial drop in the bucket of entertainment that this city of soul has to offer.
Music to Your Ears
My family really enjoys music and Memphis, Tennessee, holds a significant place in American music history and offers quite a few iconic places that are definitely fun to visit. Of course, we had to know if Elvis had left the building so, we started off our musical journey at Graceland, home to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Although it felt somewhat like walking onto the set of the Brady Bunch, with all its 1970’s style super-funk, Graceland was really intriguing and was also filled with tons and tons of entertaining memorabilia. You can just imagine the King doing his thing!
Next, it seemed only fitting that we head to Sun Studio, the place where Elvis recorded his first album. Here you can sit at the piano where the photo of the “Million Dollar Quartet” with Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis was taken or you can even snap your own photo as you strike your best pose behind the mic where Elvis used to sing.
If soul music strikes a chord in your heart then you should also head over to the Stax Museum. This is the original studio where greats like Al Green, Otis Redding and Issac Hayes recorded in the 60’s and 70’s…Pretty inspiring.
And finally, I want to include one of my husband’s favorite places, the Gibson Factory. In addition to having a really awesome gift shop, this is their only U.S. location that actually gives factory tours, where you get to see the entire guitar production process from start to finish. For those of you who happen to love guitars or just enjoy the show How Things Are Made, this is definitely a Memphis must-see.
Pork, Chicken and Waffles….Oh My!
Okay, Memphis probably isn’t the best place to visit if you are trying to eat healthy or watch your weight but this is a G-R-E-A-T place to come if you love southern food or even if you just want to eat a famous burger fried in 100 year old grease from Dyer’s.
I mean, did you know that Memphis, Tennessee, is also the Pork Barbeque Capital of the world? Well, thanks to my BBQ loving husband, I not only knew this but we actually planned our trip just to get a taste of some of their world-famous barbeque delicacy.
Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous
Within an hour of checking into the hotel we were off in search of Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous, a restaurant started in the basement of his (Charlie Vergo’s) diner in 1948. Located down a little back alley that’s not too easy to find, except for those who have honed the nose navigation system, like someone else I know. This food is definitely worth the hunt, and I’ve got just one word for their dry-rubbed rack o’ ribs…Divine! Their slogan is, “Not since Adam has a rib been this famous” and I can understand why. We tried lots of BBQ on our trip to Memphis but none matched this. There was just something about those ribs that sent my taste buds into an uncharted territory where no rib has gone before. Seriously. We actually HAD to go back before leaving because their calling was so intense!
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
Another place that really tantalized our tongues was Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. On a tip from a Memphis native, we decided to check out this place and I’m so glad we did. This was truly the fried chicken that beats all fried chicken. Ever. I know you probably think I’m exaggerating with my over-the-top food scenarios here but I promise that this was the juiciest, crispiest, most flavorful fried chicken to have ever passed from my lips to my hips. No joke.
And finally, I have one more place that I have to add, Miss Polly’s on Beale Street. Now I know I’ve already covered the chicken thing but in addition to love, peace and chicken grease, this little diner serves up one of the greatest food combinations known to man, chicken and waffles. Yep, even though it was a surprise to this Florida girl, the trifecta of crispy-fried chicken, crunchy, fresh waffle and warm maple syrup is just something that every visitor to Memphis really should try — not only because it’s different but because it’s just plain yummy!
A Much Needed Walk in Memphis
Well, after three days of what I call over-indulgent eating, I’m sure you can understand why we also did a lot of walking in Memphis with the family. One of our favorite places to walk was on Beale Street. Located in the heart of downtown, this famous street is home to many cool shops, blues clubs, restaurants and even live street entertainment on occasion. It runs approximately 1.8 miles from East Street all the way down to the banks of the magnificent Mississippi and provides a lot of eye candy for the pedestrian trying to walk off that last meal.
Another place we enjoyed getting a little exercise was Riverwalk. Taking a stroll here provided the most beautiful views of the Mississippi River and looped around to include other sites like the Historic Cobblestone Landing, the Tennessee Welcome Center and Mud Island to name a few.
And That’s Not All
With a complimentary airport shuttle, super-spacious, modern suites that all include a wet bar and a full size bathroom, and a strategic location that’s just a few minutes’ drive from all of the most popular attractions, Hilton Memphis is a certainly a smart hotel choice and I can say that this is one city we will visit again. Not only because we had a wonderful time, but also because there is still so much we didn’t get to see.
In addition to scouring the town for more delicious eats, our next visit will surely include a trip to Memphis Zoo, the National Civil Rights Museum and some outdoor activities in the incredible 4,500 acre Shelby Farms Park. Although I’m not sure just when we will get back to visit this great city, I am sure that as far as my family and Memphis are concerned, we have a lot more to uncover!
Belonging to the rare breed known as native Floridian, Mary Ellen is a wife, mother and freelance writer, currently living in Sarasota, on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast….