Our top picks to experience the unique music, food, culture, and adventures Memphis has to offer.
Most first-time visitors to Memphis gravitate towards the music scene. You will not want to miss Graceland, Stax Museum, The Rock ’n’ Soul Museum, Beale Street, The Blues Hall of Fame, and Sun Studio (a short walk from The James Lee House).
Outside of the music scene, our must-see list includes The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel—the site of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination and a world-class museum today. The Memphis Zoo is fantastic—one of the best in the nation. There are wonderful art museums: the Brooks Museum, Pink Palace and the Dixon Gallery and Gardens. You will not want to miss unique specialty museums such as the Cotton Museum, the Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art, and the National Ornamental Metal Museum. Learn about the history of families in our Victorian Village neighborhood as you view two other historic homes: the Woodruff-Fontaine House and the Mallory Neely House.
There are many wonderful spots to walk and view the Mississippi River, which is especially beautiful at sunset. Riverside Drive and Harbor Town are our favorites, a short drive from our house with easy access parking. Big River Crossing is the longest public pedestrian bridge across the Mississippi; you will cross into Arkansas halfway through your walk! We also recommend walking the Skybridge or taking the monorail over to Mud Island River Park (open seasonally), where you can walk along an exact replica of the Mississippi River, from start to finish, ending up in the “Gulf of Mexico”. Rent a paddle boat and enjoy an amazing view of downtown Memphis at the end of your journey.
Memphis is home to world-famous barbecue and fried chicken, but what you might not expect is a vibrant and exciting restaurant scene. Below are some of our favorites listed by neighborhood.
Walking distance from our house is a wonderful new restaurant, Edge Alley (600 Monroe)—with a creative seasonal menu, cocktails, and coffee roasted in house. Next door is High Cotton Brewing Co. Taproom (598 Monroe Ave.). Closer to home, on the corner of Madison and Orleans, is the Trolley Stop Market, great for pizza, salads, burgers, and milkshakes.
Our downtown favorite on South Main St. is Catherine & Mary’s, featuring Italian cuisine with traditional and new riffs in the historic Chisca Hotel. Also by Chefs Andy and Michael is their newest restaurant, The Gray Canary, featuring innovative cocktails and food from the raw bar to the hearth. We also recommend Restaurant Flight and, not far from the Civil Rights Museum, Rizzo’s Diner is a good choice for Southern Inspired Cuisine. Also, you won’t want to miss the duck fried rice at S.O.B. (South of Beale)!
For a full meal overlooking Beale Street, try Itta Bena, tucked away on the third floor of BB King’s. It is in the heart of Beale St. yet provides a quieter and more intimate setting from which to enjoy this iconic landmark.
Check out several casual new eateries in the recently opened urban village at the old Sears Distribution Center (1350 Concourse Ave.). Next Door is a hip spot for cocktails and a menu featuring fresh small plates and local foods. Also try Farm Burger, Elemento Neapolitan Pizza, and French Truck Coffee.