When you think of Memphis, Tennessee, one of the following probably comes to mind: the repetitive chanting of “whoop that trick” from the 2005 movie Hustle and Flow starring Terrence Howard, early seasons of The First 48, the highly debated question of, “Is Elvis Presley still alive?” Or, simply the word “Mane”
While all of these are definitely synonymous with Memphis, TN, there’s so much more to the Bluff City. According to Frommer’s Travel Guide, Memphis, Tennessee, was recently voted one of the best places to go in 2019. In this post, I’ll be sharing from a native Memphian’s perspective 10 (budget-friendly) things to do while spending the weekend in Memphis.
Before we jump into this weekend in Memphis guide, below are six reasons you should put Memphis on your list of places to visit.
- The rich history
- Getting around is easy, and parking spots are not challenging to come by
- The food is like none other
- Memphians are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet
- Memphis has the “sweetest water in the world.” The cities drinking water comes from natural reservoirs hundreds of feet below the earth’s surface.
A WEEKEND IN MEMPHIS GUIDE
1. Grab some Real Memphis BBQ
Ask any Memphian “what to do in Memphis this weekend,” and they will tell you, eat! Food is important to us. But not just any food, good food! For decades, Memphis has been known for its Bar-B-Q, and people travel from all around the world to experience it. The following are some excellent, no-frills Bar-B-Q joints to check out. P.S. In addition to barbecue, you must try a Fried Bologna Sandwich or a Circle B Smoke Sausage. P.P.S. Get the coleslaw, too, trust me!
- Tops Bar-B-Q
- Payne’s Bar-B-Q
- Cozy Corner Bar-B-Q
- Central Bar-B-Q
- Interstate Bar-B-Q
- One & Only Bar-B-Q
*These restaurants aren’t listed in any particular order.
2. Hang out on Beale Street
“Walking in Memphis, walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale.” If I could describe Beale Street in one word, it would be, Entertainment. From the Beale St Flippers to the live music, no matter the time or day, Beale Street exudes entertainment for all! You can pop in any bar or restaurant and find yourself vibing to the live music or DJ’s sounds, making it an entertaining option for visiting Memphis for the weekend.
Remember to get there early, to avoid paying the cover charge to access all of Beale Street.
3. Walk across the Mississippi River
Obviously, you can’t walk on water because you aren’t Jesus! However, you can walk across the Mississippi River via Big River Crossing, the country’s longest active rail/ bicycle/ pedestrian bridge. Big River Crossing is a 10-mile multi-modal corridor that connects Main Street in Memphis, TN to Main Street in West Memphis, AR. The view of the city’s skyline from this point is impressive. It provides an excellent opportunity to get a photo of The Pyramid, aka Bass Pro, and The Hernando de Soto Bridge.
If time permits, I would strongly recommend going at sundown to catch the sun as it sets on the Mississippi River. There’s also a light show that occurs every hour from sunset until 10 pm. Click here for more information about Mighty Lights.
Oh, and did I mention it’s all absolutely FREE! You’re welcome!
4. Visit the National Civil Right Museum
I’ve visited several Civil Rights/ African American Museums, and I have to say, this one, by far, is the best! And I’m not saying this because it’s Memphis; it really is excellent.
The museum was once The Lorraine Motel, the place of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Assassination. During your visit, take a glimpse back in time and experience life in the ’50s and ’60s for a person of color. You’ll need at least a day to get through the reading and interactive exhibits. Take a seat at a white’s only lunch counter. Briefly experience what life was like for Rosa Parks, who only wanted relief for her aching, tired feet. And visit the motel room of Dr. King to take a peek into the last few moments of his life.
If you are looking for a great history lesson or even things to do in Memphis with kids, the National Civil Rights Museum should definitely go on your list.
Click here for more information regarding planning your visit.
5. Take a Self Guided Street Art Tour
If you are like me and love to save a coin, this should probably move to the top of the list with a note beside it, “Free Things To do in Memphis.”
There’s more to Memphis than just good food and music. Memphis is filled with art of all forms. Consider taking a self-guided tour of some of the local murals and art sculptures in downtown Memphis by artists from around the world!
6. Have a picnic at River Garden Park
Are you looking to have an inexpensive weekend in Memphis with the kids? Spend some time at River Garden Park and have a picnic. The one-acre park is located on the bank of the Mississippi River. The park consists of a play structure for all ages, a human-sized nest, a dining pavilion, hammocks, and so much more. Enjoy 360 views that include the Mississippi River, The Pyramid, and the downtown skyline.
When you’re done hanging out there, hit up the Explore Bike Share station located at the southeast corner of the park to head over and snap a picture in front of the Memphis Bicentennial Sign at Mud Island Park.
7. Hang out at an outdoor or rooftop bar
Food is not the only thing Memphians love. We love our sports teams. And we love to enjoy them with other Memphians while eating good food, of course. Memphis has tons of places to check out your favorite sports team or just chill with friends while enjoying a view of the city.
Outdoor Bars & Patios
8. Tour a Music Museum
Memphis, Tennessee, has birthed some very talented musicians, from B.B. King and Elvis Presley to K. Michelle and Yo Gotti. Known as the Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock and Roll, Memphis is most definitely a music city. Take a weekend trip down music legend lane and visit one of Memphis’ Music Museums.
- Stax Museum of American Soul Music
- Sun Studio
- Memphis Rock and Soul Museum
- Blues Hall of Fame
- Elvis Presley’s Graceland
9. Visit the Memphis Zoo
The Memphis Zoo is home to over 3,500 animals of 500 different species. With 19 various exhibits showcasing animals from all over the world, the zoo was ranked the #1 Zoo in the United States in 2008. Events like Zoom Through The Zoo– a 4-mile race, 1-mile fun run, Zoo Rendevous– an 80 Party, and Twilight Tours– an after-hours experience, guarantee fun for both children and adults alike.
10. See the Peabody Ducks
The Memphis Zoo isn’t the only place where you can see animals in Memphis. In this city, ducks like to hang out in hotel lobbies. Notably The Peabody Hotel. Since the early 1900s, the Peabody Ducks parade from their Royal Duck Palace on the roof of the Peabody Hotel to the lobby fountain for a daily swim. Because it’s such a unique experience, the ducks are joined by spectators from near and far eager to see the world-famous Duck March.
I could go further, but with the time constraints of a weekend, I’ll stop here.
Whether you’re flying in for a visit from the west coast or driving from somewhere in the south, there are many possibilities for a great weekend in Memphis.
So, have you ever been to Memphis? What are some things you have done or desire to do during your next visit? Leave your responses below.
Thanks for reading. As always, pray fervently and travel often!