More than BBQ and Blues: Weekend Itinerary for Memphis, TN

Advisor - Cameron Zellner
Curated By

Cameron Zellner

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  • Tennessee

  • Memphis

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Group Travel

  • Solo Travel

  • Local Food

  • Local Culture

  • Sightseeing

street with people and bright lights during nighttime
Curator’s statement

Memphis, named one of the places to visit by Conde Nast in 2023, is home to the best BBQ, blues and basketball. Nashville is usually the go-to for a Tennessee getaway, but once you visit Memphis, you will wonder what took you so long to make the trip. The third largest city in the Southeast United States, Memphis gives a small-town feel while you walk downtown or hop on and off the trolley to see the different stops. After a $60 million dollar renovation to Tom Lee Park, a mile stretch of 30 acres parallel to the Mississippi River, and the new Walk on Union being built, now is the time to add Memphis to your must-visit list. You might just fall in love with the city and never leave like I did.

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Where to stay

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ARRIVE Memphis

Picture-worthy millennial heaven with an all-day bakery with coffee and cocktails, a shuffleboard bar and a poker room.

Fora Perks
  • 10% off BAR.

  • Welcome Amenity.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

The Peabody Memphis

This Memphis icon (from the Blues era) stays true to its roots, with six dining options and a rooftop with panoramic views.

Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis

Upscale hotel located in the heart of Memphis with chic rooms and a restaurant overlooking the river.

Fora Perks
  • Breakfast daily.

  • Property credit.

  • Early check-in/late check-out.

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Advisor - Cameron Zellner

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Day 1: Arrive in Memphis

large white sign with building in the background during daytime

Arrive in Memphis and head straight downtown to check into your hotel! First grab lunch at Blues City Cafe, a juke joint specializing in blues music and soul food. Spend the next few hours experiencing Beale street; Checking out the live music, 'Beale Street Flippers', and A.Schwabs.

Soul food not your thing? Dyer's Burgers is a staple, opened in 1912 and still serving burgers cooked in the original grease that made the restaurant famous.

Finish off day 1 by heading to the South's grandest hotel, The Peabody, and watch the five resident ducks march through the lobby at 5pm. The march happens daily at 11 and 5 and is recommended to arrive 30 minutes prior to get the best spot to watch.

After some cocktails at the Peabody, grab dinner at Flight for an unbeatable experience. The fried oyster deviled eggs are a must-order!

Day 2: Sightseeing

busy street with city skyline in the distance

Start off the day in the historic South Main district with breakfast at the Arcade, Memphis' oldest restaurant, founded in 1919. You might recognize the restaurant from multiple movies; The Firm, The Client and Walk the Line to name a few!

Hit the sights today:

  • Civil Rights Museum: Plan to spend about 90 minutes exploring the interactive museum.

  • Sun Studios: Get the chance to stand where Elvis first recorded.

  • Stax Museum: A tiny movie theatre turned recording studio.

  • Graceland: Can't come to Memphis without visiting Elvis' home, although most locals still have never actually visited.

    End the day by stopping in one of the multiple BBQ joints. The most famous is The Rendezvous, which is a must if you love a dry rub rib. My favorite is Central BBQ for the pulled pork nachos! Some other local favorites are the Bar-B-Q shop, Cozy Corner and Paynes BBQ.

    End the evening at Ernestine and Hazels, a dive bar featured in 9 movies, and home to the nationally recognized Soul Burger.

Day 3: Explore Cooper-Young

jaguar on a rock

Head towards the Cooper-Young neighborhood today. Start with brunch at the Beauty Shop, a former 1940s beauty shop turned restaurant. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu, but make sure to check out the desserts before leaving!

Spend the rest of the day exploring.

  • Walk around Cooper-Young, where you will see century-old houses and family-owned businesses lining the sidewalks. Stop by local breweries or head over to Railgarten, where you can find food, cocktails and live music on 1.5 acres of outdoor space.

  • Next, drive a few blocks over and explore Overton Square. You can't miss checking out the Memphian Hotel, a fun and quirky hotel located in the entertainment district. Stop in at Sweet Noshings for a candy break before heading back downtown!

  • Memphis Zoo: Have some extra time? Memphis Zoo is consistently voted one of the top zoos in the country.

  • Head back downtown and grab dinner at Catherine and Mary's or the Lobbyist, two local favorites.

  • Finish the night with a nightcap at Central Station Hotel's bar, Eight and Sand. See if you can find the secret listening room while enjoying craft cocktails.

Day 4: Head home

red trolley car on the street during daytime

Before heading home, grab breakfast from Bedrock Eats and sit outside watching the trolleys go up and down Main Street while you eat. Or take your food to go and go sit along the Mississippi River and enjoy the newly renovated park.

If you have time, be sure to go to the FedEx Forum for a Grizzlies game if they are playing or head to Autozone Park for a Redbirds baseball or 901 FC soccer game.

Need to Know

Have an extra day? Visit Oxford, MS for a day trip!

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor's Molly Browns's guide: Exploring the Musical Heritage of Memphis, Tennessee. This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Memphis, and part of our continuing series on travel to Tennessee.

Advisor - Cameron Zellner

Travel Advisor

Cameron Zellner

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Memphis, and part of our continuing series on travel to Tennessee.