Memphis – What to see and do!

Over the next week there will be six posts on different mid-southern cities with things to do, see and eat. I went on this amazing roadtrip with my friend Alden last month and this is what we got up to. You may notice that some of the photos are incredible quality (they are his and hopefully he doesn’t mind me using them ssh).

To kick this off is Memphis, Tennessee. It is possibly one of the coolest and diverse cities I’ve been to so far in the states. The whole city area is very large and spaced out but because of that has a mixture of different cultures and neighbourhoods. It is most known for music but also lots of important moments in history happened here. We tried to get a pretty diverse trip and experience a little bit of each branch that Memphis has to offer. Just a side note – the people in Memphis were so helpful and nice so don’t be afraid to ever ask for anything whilst you’re there.

I want to start this post with the Civil Rights Museum. First off, sorry for the lack of photos here as I was kind of distracted by how awesome it was. I was honestly expecting it to be underwhelming with lots of text on boards but boy was I wrong. The flow of the museum is so on point and really tells the story well. The exhibits themselves feature up to date technology with touch screens, videos, sculptures and even recreations. The section about Rosa Parks and being able to actually get on the bus and see even the old adverts inside was slightly spooky. I came out of there with so many questions but also so much gained. All the staff were so helpful and answered all my (admittedly stupid) questions without patronizing me or being surprised I didn’t know the answers. The museum is partly located inside the Lorraine Motel which is where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. At the end of the tour you do get to see the room he stayed in and there is a second building across the street which focuses on the assassination. I would recommend this to anyone, definitely one of the highlights for me. (And yes I am aware I babbled and probably made no sense in this paragraph but just go).

I think the number one visited attraction in Memphis is probably Graceland. Elvis is potentially the most famous export of Memphis and here you get to learn more about him and get a feel for his life. There are tons of different ‘packages’ that you can buy, which include getting to see the house, his planes, special archives etc. We went for the standard tour where you walk around the house and grounds listening to an audiotour. I didn’t really know that much about Elvis but after being 360 immersed with him for two hours I am now a fan. The pure extremity of some of his possessions, his disc collection and awards are just fascinating enough to go see Graceland. If you feel like spending the money I’d recommend it, just don’t forget your blue suede shoes (oh snap I’m awfully funny).

This is a strange recommendation haha. As you are driving around downtown you will catch a glimpse of a giant, silver pyramid. I got blinded by it as the sun would reflect off it and that’s why we ended up checking it out. It turns out that it is a hotel/Bass Pro Shop aka outdoorsy things. The inside is like Disneyland but for outdoor enthusiasts. There is a lake (yes a legit lake) with a zoo of stuffed animals and a lift to the top with a viewpoint and any kind of tools you require and hotel rooms and restaurants and everything in Mary Poppin’s bag. If you have some time to kill and want to do something unsual (or even grab a bite to eat) then check it out. I have no photos from the inside but Google it and you’ll be wowed.

Beale Street is pretty much the tourist trap/party street. You can find shops, restaurants, bars and clubs here as well as police, alcohol slushies, musicians and celebrities (I saw Joanna Lumley oh yeah). As you know I love neon lights so this was heaven for me. It is only a few blocks long so worth a walk down and just get lost in the craziness.

Talking about food and here are some places that we ate at. First is Gus’s Fried Chicken, just a ten minute walk from Beale Street actually. Fried chicken is a southern must-have and we waited around half an hour to get in here. The menu is very simple and consists of different parts of the chicken, sides and drinks. They are a chain/franchise and have a few locations across the south but each one is decorated all homey and pinterest happy. I went for the fried chicken breasts on texas toast with mac and cheese and BBQ beans (it all comes on styrofoam as well). The chicken isn’t crispy fried as you might expect, but is actually more succulent, moist and seasoned to perfection. If you have the time to spare it’s worth the wait.

Gibson’s Donuts is a little out of the main downtown area but well worth the ten minute drive. It’s a little coffee/snack/breakfast place with obviously doughnuts and also other baked treats. They have some very cheap and delicious options available. We went for watermelon, maple bacon, apple fritter, New Orleans style and blueberry cake. You can’t really go wrong with a good doughnut and this place has tons!

Of course I couldn’t do food places without including a BBQ one! There are tons of options available and I am sure they are all delicious but we opted for Cozy Corner. They are this little shack just a few minutes drive from the pyramid. When we got there their usual store wasn’t open so they were located just opposite and sharing a space with another cafe. The menu again is very small and contains the BBQ basics. Below you can see white bread, ribs, burnt ends, corn, beans and banana pudding. It was possibly the best BBQ food I have ever eaten and I used an army of tissues to clean my sticky fingers.

If you end up going to Memphis let me know if you hit up any of my suggestions/find anywhere good! Coming up on Tuesday will be what to see and do in St. Louis so see you then.


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