From rock and roll to blues, jazz, and soul, music—and the diversity of cultures that music sprang from—makes Memphis memorable.
Hear street performers along Beale Street in downtown Memphis. The US Congress declared Beale Street the Home of the Blues and listed it as a National Historic Landmark. Beale Street is a must-visit for LGBTQ+ travelers! Take in a Broadway play or a stand-up comedy act at the Orpheum Theater, established in the 1920s. Work that Roaring ‘20s vibe at a speakeasy-themed bar, and flash forward a century in downtown’s neon-lit nightclubs. Prohibition isn’t a thing in Memphis! Beale Street allows open alcohol containers, and establishments keep their taps flowing (and their cocktail shakers mixing) until 3 am! Swing west to Midtown for watering holes with more live music, as well as karaoke and drag performances—if you dig leather and Levis, you’ll fit right in!
Memphis rocks in the daytime, too. Graceland, Elvis Presley’s mansion, is Memphis’s number-one tourist spot! Graceland has Something for Everybody, although Elvis’s fab pink Cadillac Fleetwood is a must-see for lovers of iconic Americana. Just south of downtown is the National Civil Rights Museum dedicated to the US civil rights movement and the activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1968, King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel; the museum preserves the building, historically one of the few motels welcoming African American travelers during segregation. Nearby, at the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, groove with Memphis’s music history, from sharecroppers’ field calls to soul music’s ongoing Beale Street heyday.
There’s no wrong time of year to visit Memphis. At Mud Island Park, a quick monorail ride from downtown, rent a paddleboat or kayak and explore the Mississippi River. The Memphis in May International Festival may make this month a special time to visit. Turn up for the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. In late September, Mid-South Pride puts on the 3-day Memphis Pride Fest, replete with music, dancing, a parade, and a scrumptious drag brunch! Memphis has tasty eats and an engaging history set to a banging soundtrack.