Memphis -

Elvis Presley's grave, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee

Get in

By plane
Memphis International Airport
, (MEM) - Memphis is the primary FedEx distribution center, and, as the world's busiest cargo airport, the air is always chock full of huge planes making your eBay purchase a glorious reality. A few airlines do squeeze passengers into town:

  Northwest Airlines
  American Airlines
  US Airways
  America West

By car
  I-40 is a good route into town. I-40 essentially ends in a historic neighborhood. Take I-240 to complete the journey into downtown Memphis. The outer loop is only partially complete, mostly to the Navy base.
  I-55 will take you quite close to town. Just catch I-240 and swing north to take you into downtown.
  Parking. Except for downtown, parking is usually free. If you're downtown, try the "Parking is Fun" garage. It's cheap, absolutely bizarre, and right where you want to be.

By train
Service available from trains running up and down the Mississippi, as well as connections through major hubs. Great for a jaunt up to Chicago for world-class shopping or down to New Orleans for world-class drinking.

By bus
, 203 Union Avenue, 800-231-2222. National bus service.

Get around

  Driving. Roads are actually very good in Memphis, regardless of what the locals claim. Be wary of the drivers, however, they are known widely as some of the worst drivers in the nation.
  Public Transit. Bus service is available across the city but stick with driving if at all possible. A trolley operates downtown, mostly for the benefit of tourists.

Memphis is laid out in a more or less east/west fashion. Roads primarily go east west and north south. The express way fortunately does not cut directly through the city; you can thank 1970 environmental activists for that when you're enjoying the largest urban virgin forest in the country - Overton Park.

Downtown is on the west; it sits atop the bluffs, overlooking the Mississippi River. Moving east we come to Midtown, a happenin' place where locals and tourists go. Beyond that there is Out East where you will find the suburbs of Germantown, Cordova and Bartlett. The area between Downtown and Midtown is coming to life slowly but surely. There is a movement to turn it into an artist community. Members of this movement call the area 'the Edge'. However, most of the 'art district' is on South Main.


 Peabody Place. Shopping Mall adjacent to the Peabody Hotel. Includes indoor psychedelic miniature golf and train themed movie theater.
  A. Schwab. Dry goods store on Beale St. whose motto is "If we don't have it, you don't need it." It's the place for souvenirs.

 Midtown Artist Market - A local artists' cooperative. Has been named Best of Memphis by readers of the Memphis Flyer at one time or another.
  Sip Coffee Shop. A fair trade coffee shop. Has been named Best of Memphis by readers of the Memphis Flyer at one time or another.
  Midtown Books - An excellent selection of used books. Has been named Best of Memphis by readers of the Memphis Flyer at one time or another.
  Overton Square - A small shopping/entertainment district on Madison Ave, near Cooper.
  Burke's Books. Small indy bookshop on Poplar Ave., near Belvedere. John Grisham usually does his signings here when he's in town.
  Scott's Cosmic Closet. A cool modern and art deco boutique with funky furniture and home accessories.

Out East
 Wolfchase Galleria. A mall.
  Collierville Town Center. Catch Poplar Ave. south to the old farm town of Collierville and browse the interesting shops on the square. Very pretty in the holiday season. Small and quaint, this square boasts a setting and some shops that aren't found elsewhere in Memphis. A steam engine and a few private railcars are open to the public.


  The Commercial Appeal - A daily newspaper.
  Memphis Flyer - An alternative newspaper.

Memphis, with a population of more than one million people is the largest city in the US state of Tennessee and is the county seat for Shelby County. It is the home of the Blues and Elvis Presley.

Memphis has improved its downtown in a stupefying fashion over the last five years. Previously frightening and somewhat reminiscent of a war zone, the center of the city is now clean, rife with new development, and actually an enjoyable experience these days. In the past few years, the city has emerged to boast one of the largest downtown populations among US cities, so the citizens once again have a vested interest in making downtown safe, exciting, and a great place to visit and relax.

A word of caution: Memphis is extremely hot in the summertime, and the humidity of the expansive Mississippi River can make you feel even hotter! Those who have trouble tolerating high heat and humidity may wish to avoid July and August; April through early June are the best times to visit.


  Walk to the river and touch the Mississippi's water with your fingers.
  See the daily duck march at The Peabody Hotel.
  Visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley.
  Visit Sun Studio, the recording home of rock 'n' roll.


  Downtown Memphis. Buy a ticket and take the excellent trolley to get a good overview of the area.
  Beale Street - Home of the Blues.
  Mississippi River. River tours available most days through a variety of providers. Tom Lee Park is a nice place to view the river.
  National Civil Rights Museum - Built adjacent to the motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was fatally shot in 1968. Near the Amtrak station. Closed Tuesdays. $10 for adults.
  Peabody Hotel - A beautiful and historic Hotel; it is famous for it's ducks, who spend their days in the fountain. Legend has it that the Mississippi Delta and all its lore begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel, and the hotel is considered by many to be the "living room" of Memphis. Every day at 11am and 5pm you can watch them march. There's no better way to spend $10 on a drink than in the company of the Peabody ducks (at least not in Memphis).
  National Ornamental Metal Museum - Displays art jewelry, architectural pieces and sculpture. The grounds are full of permanent installations and the Museum boasts one of the best views overlooking the Mississippi. They also have a working smithy.
  Mud Island - The park is accessible by monorail, made famous by a chase scene in the movie THE FIRM. The park contains a museum of the Mississippi river and a scale model of the river. Visitors are welcome to remove their shoes and wade through the replica mighty Mississippi. The "Gulf of Mexico" is a large pool in which visitors may rent paddleboats. At the tip of the park is an excellent vantage point of the city and the river. The northern end of the island is occupied by HarborTown, a model community.
  Memphis Redbirds - The Memphis Redbirds at AutoZone Park. They are the Triple-A affiliates of the St. Louis Cardinals.
  FedExForum  . FedExForum is the largest public building construction project in Memphis history. This 250 million dollar project was delivered on time and on budget to the City of Memphis by the New Memphis Arena Public Building Authority. Managed and operated by the Memphis Grizzlies, the facility is home to both the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA and the University of Memphis Tigers basketball team. FedExForum is located at 191 Beale Street and Third Street which traveling south becomes Highway 61, the historic Blues Highway.
 Memphis Grizzlies - Pro Basketball.

The Edge
  Sun Studio - Numerous blues, rock and roll and rockabilly recordings were made here, including Elvis's and Johnny Cash's first recordings. Tours are available, usually given by wallet chained and mutton chopped local musicians.
  Sleeping Cat Studio 341 1/2 Monroe.

  Memphis Botanic Garden - The Japanese garden is worth a visit, especially if you need some time to relax (don't forget to get some food for the koi (available at the front counter)).
  Memphis Zoo - Pandas and other animals galore.
  The Pink Palace - Built as a mansion by Clarence Saunders, the man who brought us the first self-service grocery store (Piggly Wiggly), the Pink Palace was later taken by the tax man and subsequently turned into a museum (Saunders never actually lived in the house). It is a very eclectic place, with everything from shrunken heads to animatronics dinosaurs with a life size copy of the first Piggly Wiggly in between. Also there is an IMAX theater and a planetarium. Well worth a visit.
  Overton Park Encompasses the Memphis Zoo, Memphis College of Art (MCA), the Overton Park Golf Course, and largest stand of old growth forest in a US city.

Around Town
  Graceland - Home of Elvis, "The King of Rock and Roll". Think tacky tourist trap but don't miss it. You might be pleasantly surprised. Take note of Elvis Week (Death Week to the locals) in early August, culminating in the candle light vigil on the anniversary of Elvis' death. It is a *BIG* deal, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective. Check out the bizarre felt-pen scribbling on the fence, some hip-ironic, some of the psycho-lunatic-fan sort.


Memphis is one of the cheapest places in America to live, and that includes eating out. You could literally eat out every night of the week and not exhaust the city's restaurant menu. There's lots of inexpensive, yet tasty, food all over Memphis. The local BBQ is well known.

  Automatic Slims adjacent to the Peabody hotel on 2nd Street. Kind of trendy, but nice wait staff and good food.
  Blues City Cafe On Beale and 2nd Street. Good ribs. The garlic pan seared shrimp is tasty also. Prices from $6-$18 Jean Pauls Last Call is a small bar attached to Blues City. It attracts server staff crowd after hours.
  Flying Saucer One 2nd Street. 90 beers on tap and ~120 in the bottle. Good pub grub. Servers wear nice short skirts.
  Texas De Brazil adjacent to the Peabody hotel. Everything you expect in a Brazilian steakhouse. Expect $20-25 per person, and it's worth it. Lunch is the most economical time.
  The Rendezvous excels at Memphis-style BBQ in a no-frills environment. Go early -- this in-the-basement establishment has quite a following and a long wait is expected nearly every night. Pricey given the decor (and the fact that you're eating BBQ). Expect $15-20 per person.
  The Arcade Classic old diner. Classic diner food, with the addition of pizza and hummus sandwiches. It's across the street from the train station at 540 South Main Street. Featured in several movies, including Mystery Train.
  Westy's Bar/Grill on main at north end of downtown. Known for fried pickles, tamales, a wide selection of wild rice dishes and a popular fudge pie. Expect $7-$12 pp, open late.
  Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken No restaurant guide to downtown would be complete without mentioning Gus's and the food is excellent. You can purchase 40 oz. beers and eat fried chicken. Enough said.
  Encore Restaurant and Bar Provencal style Bistro owned/operated by award-winning Master Chef Jose Gutierrez (former Head Chef at the Peabody Hotel's Chez Philippe).

  Young Ave. Deli Good place for bar food and/or rock shows. Try the fried dill pickles. Located in the Cooper-Young district of Midtown. One of the biggest beer selections in town.
  Pho Saigon Super yummy Vietnamese soup less than $10 for a bowl as big as your head.
  Molly's La Casita Very good Mexican food priced around $10 per entree.
  Pho Ho Bihn Hole in the wall Vietnamese. $5-$10. Great tofu and wheat gluten dishes, so don't miss it if you're vegetarian. Madison Ave.
  Saigon Le Another awesome Vietnamese restaurant. On Cleveland Ave. $5-$10.
  Brother Junipers Opened for Breakfast and Lunch. Great omelettes. Free Trade Coffee. Strange hours. U of M area. $5-$10. Associated with the Juniper Bakery, all proceeds going to Drug Rehab.
  Bosco's The only locally brewed beer in Memphis - also a national award winner. Great pizza, entrees, etc. Excellent Jazz Brunch on Sundays. Overton Square. $10-$20.
  Zinnie's East On Madison near Belvedere intersection. Excellent and inexpensive food, if you want a local treat try the "Zinnie Loney" a truly large bologna sandwich for cheap. $6-15.
  61 on Teur On Madison Avenue near Overton Square - eclectic and strange mix of food. Don't let the appearance fool you upon entering. During the summer, you can dine outdoors. Try the Spanikopita as a side. $10-20 per person.

East Memphis
  Belmont Grill Hole in the wall bar and restaurant at Poplar and Mendenhall that serves great food. Try the shish kebobs. $10-$20.
  Germantown Commissary Technically in Germantown. Some of the best ribs Memphis has to offer. On Germantown Pkwy between Poplar and Poplar Pike. $10-$20.

  Exline's A Memphis Chain serving up some big ass round pizzas cut into square pieces. The toppings are huge (as in large bits). The cheese on the cheese fries is nacho and it comes from a can; super fantastic. ~$10.
  Camy's - Want to just hang out in your hotel? Call Camy's for the best pizza delivery in town.
  Pie In The Sky Close to California style, in a faux 50's ice cream shop atmosphere. Sounds confusing, but the food is good. Cooper/Young. $10-$15.
  Memphis Pizza Cafe Tasty Pizza (BBQ chicken is good). Cold beer. All you really need. One location in Overton Square, one out on Park Ave. $10-$15.
  Garibaldi's Great 70's atmosphere. Great 70's style pizza. U of M area, back behind the YMCA. $5-$10.

Fast Food
Memphis has a tradition of hiding it's best food at the back of convenience stores. For instance:
  Kwik Check Best deli sandwiches in Memphis. Try the Cheesy Muff (Vegetarian Muffeletta) or My Bleeding Heart (Spicy Spicy hummus pita). Madison Ave. near Overton Square. $5-10.
  Kwik Shop Big huge burgers. Super nice steak fries. Gyros are excellent. They have veggie burgers just as big as the meat ones, but they only have one grill. Central Ave. and East Parkway. $4-$6.


  Wine is sold in dedicated, licensed liquor stores in Memphis. Most grocery stores may have an "independent" liquor store conveniently next to the grocery store. Apparently this regulation discourages alcohol use by forcing you to walk a few extra feet to buy your booze. High alcohol content beers are sold in liquor stores. Traditional brands such as Budweiser are sold in grocery and convenient store only. Liquor stores are open from ~8 AM usually 10 AM to 11:00 PM, Monday through Saturday, but are not opened on Sunday. Beer can be sold before noon on Sunday in Restaurants.
  Joe's Liquor Speaking of booze, if you need package goods and you're in midtown, head to Joe's (Poplar and Belvedere) as much to see Sputnik (the vintage, spinning, twisting and working neon star) as for the beverages. Go at dusk for maximum effect.
  Great Wine And Spirits is out east. Probably has one of more extensive wine stocks in Memphis Liquor stores
  Bosco's Brew pub. Beer, some food. Featured on many "Best Of" lists. Overton Square.
  And remember, Playboy magazine rated Newby's (on Highland Street - called the Highland Strip, near The University of Memphis) the "Best place to party like a Rock Star!"
  Also be sure to check out "The High Point" on Madison Avenue for Swing Dancing, the BEST LIVE Bands, and any libation you crave.
  The House of Blues produces some of the best LIVE music in the country, and has a full bar to complement the audiophilic fare offered there.


  Peabody Hotel. Historic, downtown, near Beale Street. Don't miss the ducks! This is definitely pricey, but is "the place" to stay in Memphis and tourists come to the hotel in throngs just to gawk at the lobby, and... the ducks.
  Holiday Inn. Not very flash, but Memphis is its home.
  Wyndham Garden Hotel, 300 N 2nd St, 901 525-1800, fax 901 524-1859 - Relax in the warm, Southern spirit of Tennessee at the Wyndham Garden Hotel - Memphis. We're just minutes from Cook Convention Center and the Pyramid Arena's sporting events, concerts and shows.

Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License

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