Memphis Blog

By Adele Sharman

15 June 2023

Well, I’ve been there, done that, and got the T-shirt.

During my visit to Memphis, Tennessee, I made sure to check off all the iconic experiences. I strolled down the famous Beale Street, paid a visit to Graceland, witnessed the delightful spectacle of the ducks at the Peabody, indulged in mouthwatering BBQ at the city’s finest joints, educated myself at the civil rights museum, immersed myself in the world of Blues, and even took a memorable trip along the mighty Mississippi River. Oh, and let’s not forget, I stayed in a lodge inside a pyramid at the Bass Pro store. Quite an adventure, I must say!

Some words about Memphis
First and foremost, prior to my visit, I had been cautioned by several people about the city’s high crime rates. “Why are you going to Memphis?” was a question I encountered quite often. But now that I’m back, I can address some of the queries that were posed to me.

The most common question I received was whether I enjoyed Graceland. Despite not being an avid Elvis fan, I enjoyed my time there. I grew up with his music, and I must admit, my dad can pull off some impressive Elvis moves. “Uh huh huh!”

Another frequent inquiry was whether I felt safe in Memphis. For the most part, I did feel safe, particularly on Beale Street where there was a noticeable police presence. At first, it struck me as odd to see such a significant number of police officers patrolling the street on a Friday evening. But then I realized it’s their way of protecting us and deterring crime.

I did find the process of entering Beale Street a bit peculiar. It felt like going through airport security, with the security personnel using handheld electromagnetic wands to ensure no firearms were brought in. It was the first time I experienced something like this on a night out.

The Southern hospitality in Memphis is indeed warm and welcoming, but as with any city you’re unfamiliar with, it’s important to remain vigilant. Uber is a reliable and safe option, as is the trolley bus if you purchase a day pass. However, I did venture out on foot and only felt slightly uneasy on one occasion.

It’s worth noting that poverty and homelessness are visible in Memphis, but this is unfortunately a widespread issue in many places nowadays. It’s disheartening to pass by magnificent centuries-old houses only to see people sleeping on the streets.

I hope this provides some answers to the questions you may have had or were pondering yourself.

Trips on a trip
Graceland was the first on our list, and I made sure to book the VIP package. You can also opt for a group tour, but keep in mind that they have specific time slots. Instead, we splurged a bit and booked a private car through our hotel. This way, we had the freedom to explore at our own pace. I highly recommend visiting Graceland—it’s truly legendary. Although I must admit, the food there wasn’t all that great, so it might be a good idea to grab a meal before you go. I won’t give away too much, but I was pleasantly surprised by how big it was. It’s definitely a must-visit when in Memphis.

Next up, we booked a bus tour around the city, with a stop at the Peabody Hotel to witness the famous ducks. We also had some leisure time on Beale Street to grab a bite to eat. And of course, we couldn’t miss out on a cruise along the Mississippi River. I arranged this particular excursion through one of my preferred partners, so if you’re interested, feel free to reach out, and I can get you a price.

The bus tour was great, with a comfortable, air-conditioned bus, and our driver was both witty and knowledgeable. Since I was staying at the Peabody, I didn’t really need to explore it extensively. It was just a quick restroom break and a refreshing drink for me.

During the river cruise, we did have to wait for others to board, which made it a bit time-consuming. And I apologize for the disappointment, but the wheel on the boat isn’t powered by steam—it actually has an engine. Nevertheless, it was still a fantastic way to experience the beauty of the Mississippi River while our guide pointed out various landmarks along the way. It was a long day, but at least we got a good sense of the city’s layout. Our guide also mentioned other places worth visiting, such as Sun Studios and restaurants where Elvis liked to indulge in his famous “peanut butter and banana sandwiches.”

For the Rock and Soul Museum, we simply showed up on the day and purchased our tickets. It’s located at the bottom of Beale Street. This self-guided tour allowed us to explore at our own pace, with headphones providing the necessary information.

Lastly, we visited the Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, the site where Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was tragically assassinated. This museum is incredibly fascinating, but be prepared—it can take a significant amount of time if you want to read and absorb all the historical information available. There’s a wealth of history to discover here.

Places to eat
We had a delightful breakfast at Capriccio Grill in the Peabody. It was a lovely experience.

Another breakfast spot we tried was Sugar Grits, just around the corner from Peabody. It’s an unpretentious restaurant that serves homestyle Southern food.

Itta Bena came highly recommended by a charming couple we met at the rooftop event at the Peabody. We were given an amazing booth, and the food was exquisite. The service was outstanding as well. From the outside, it may not have a fancy facade—it’s located next to BB Kings, and you have to ascend some steps under a blue awning to get there.

BB Kings is a must-visit for BBQ and live music. Don’t forget to check out the unique tables they have!

There’s another bar owned by the famous wrestler Jerry Lawler. It offers great BBQ and outstanding music, and if you’re a wrestling fan, you’ll find some great memorabilia there.

Central BBQ is a well-known place for BBQ. It may not be fancy, and you might have to wait in line, but it’s worth it. The ribs are fantastic, and the flavors are incredible. This place is located behind the Lorraine Hotel.

Charles Vergos Rendezvous, located in a basement through a downtown alley across from the Peabody Hotel, has been serving its signature dry rub ribs for 70 years. It was also recommended to us, but there’s only so much BBQ one can eat.

Our friends who live in Memphis took us to a wonderful restaurant called Flight. They also recommended Porch and Parlor. The service and the entire dining experience at Flight were outstanding, so make sure to pre-book a few weeks in advance. You can choose a meat or fish flight, and they even pair the wine with your meal. I opted for the Boursin stuffed Filet, Bison Ribeye, and Elk Tenderloin, which was absolutely delicious. The staff will guide you through the ordering process, so don’t be intimidated by the menu.

We also tried Wahlburgers Wild at the Pyramid, which is owned by the Wahlberg brothers. Unfortunately, we had a disappointing experience with the service and the food during breakfast. Despite the great surroundings with a fish tank and being in the largest Bass Pro shop in America, I personally wouldn’t recommend having breakfast there.

The Peabody is a truly iconic hotel in Memphis. The room I booked was a double queen room, and while it had a bit of a dated feel and the bathrooms were quite small, the bed was amazingly comfortable. One unique aspect of the Peabody is that everything, from the pillowcases to the bath mats, has ducks embroidered or embossed on them. They even have duck-shaped soap! The foyer and the famous duck walk, which happens twice a day, are definitely a must-see.

However, I must admit that I found some of the staff a little rude, which was quite disappointing. On the bright side, there’s no coffee-making facility in the room, but you can get free coffee in the bakery until 10:00 a.m. The hotel also has a fantastic gift shop where you can find your own rubber duck. Additionally, the famous tailoring family, Lansky Bros, who supplied Elvis Presley with his shirts, has a shop inside the Peabody.

The Peabody offers amenities such as an indoor pool, gym, and Feathers Spa. You can even indulge in an afternoon tea experience. During the summer, the hotel invites you to the best rooftop party with live bands, DJs, and breathtaking views of the sun.

The Big Cypress Lodge was another hotel I stayed at, and I was able to earn a commission using a preferred partner, which helped me save on the overall cost. It’s a rustic nature retreat right in downtown Memphis. Located inside the iconic Memphis Pyramid, the 103-room wilderness hotel is suspended among cypress trees and overlooks Bass Pro Shops. It offers experiential dining options, fantastic shopping, and adventurous activities.

One of the highlights of the Big Cypress Lodge is the Sky High Ride & Observation Deck. You can step onto the country’s tallest freestanding elevator and ascend 300 feet in the air to enjoy breathtaking views of Memphis. The 28-story elevator features floor-to-ceiling glass, and once you reach the top, you can step out onto the glass observation deck to take in the best views of downtown Memphis and the Mississippi River.

Upon entering my room at the Lodge, I immediately knew that I was in for a delightful two-night stay at this extraordinary hotel. The first impression made me feel like I was on the set of Yellowstone. As a fan of the character Beth Dutton, I was overly pleased. Normally, I’m not a fan of stuffed animals on the wall giving me the side eye, but on this occasion, I let it slide. The premier accommodation featured oversized beds, electric fireplaces, luxurious baths, spacious showers, and let’s not forget the tree in the bathroom—I had to find a place to hang my towel and robe!

The room also had a private balcony overlooking Bass Pro Shop, which was a super unique feature. To top it off, there was a lovely basket of complimentary snacks waiting for me—a nice little treat.

The beds were super comfy, and the robes were the best—I’m a sucker for a hotel robe. The only thing I felt was missing was a full-length mirror, but I could live with that.

Overall, both the Peabody and the Big Cypress Lodge provided me with memorable stays, each with its own distinct charm.

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