If you haven’t been to Memphis, then what are you waiting for? While Nashville has risen in popularity over the last few years especially, Memphis has a rich and historical context that should not be overlooked. Whether this is your first time visiting or your eighteenth visit, Memphis is a funky city infused with historical significance, blues, rock and roll, and more BBQ joints than you can keep track of. Here is a guide to help make the most of a weekend in Memphis.
MEMPHIS AND COVID-19 POLICY
Before traveling it’s advisable to read the CDC’s guidelines for where you’re going, the latest policies, and research each state’s policies in regards to social distancing and wearing masks. Overall, Memphis (and Tennessee) are open to visitors. Take care of yourself and others by observing safe precautions like washing your hands, wearing coverings where required, staying home if you’re not well, and keeping your distance when necessary. When I visited only a few restaurants were open on Beale Street and places like Wet Willies did not allow you to come in and sit down for drinks unless you planned to order food.
BEST TIME TO VISIT MEMPHIS
The best time to visit Memphis is enjoyable at any time of the year, however, some of the best weather occurs between April and May and October and November. The temperatures are mild in the spring with low humidity and in the fall, temperatures are starting to cool off and the humidity is dropping.
WHERE TO STAY IN MEMPHIS
Hotel Napoleon | 179 Madison Ave, Memphis, TN 38103
An adorable little boutique hotel downtown close to all the action of Beale Street. This modern, trendy hotel embraces the charm and history of Memphis while offering a beautiful and luxurious stay.
The Peabody | 118 S. 2nd Street, Memphis, TN 38103
Every hotel has ducks that waddle through the lobby every day and swim in a water-feature inside the hotel, right!? Well, here at The Peabody, you’ll get just that. The world-famous Peabody Ducks make their “daily duck march” through the lobby and into their water oasis, making this hotel quite possibly the most iconic hotel in Memphis. Beyond the ducks, the hotel is elegant, upscale, and situated right downtown for easy walking to all the cool spots.
The Central Station Hotel | 545 S Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
A Hilton property boutique hotel, Central Station Hotel will make you feel like you’ve stepped into Grand Central Station in New York. This 100+-year-old train station has a new lease on life and now is a hotel with an experience that is truly unique.
WHERE TO EAT IN MEMPHIS
The Arcade | 540 S. Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
Memphis’ oldest café serves an epic breakfast that is definitely worth a stop on your trip. They have re-opened and you can enjoy their delicious menu by dining-in, take out or Door Dash delivery. Founded in 1919 this diner-style restaurant has become a classic to locals and tourists alike. Grab a stack of sweet potato pancakes with chocolate chips and a spiked mimosa for a great way to start your day!
Rizzos | 492 S. Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
Rizzo’s serves lunch and dinner daily as well as brunch on the weekend. Southern-inspired cuisine with a twist served in a chic-rustic setting, it’s a great spot to grab a meal any day of the week. Brunch is currently only being served Sundays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., so stop by for a sweet treat like Banana Foster French toast and $5 Bloody Mary’s.
The Beauty Shop | 966 Cooper Street #5611, Memphis, TN 38104
The Beauty Shop has re-opened and is ready to serve you and your friends a fabulous brunch in an iconic setting. You can enjoy an in-dining experience or take out, and they have even incorporated a new outdoor patio for additional socially distanced seating. This whimsical vintage beauty salon turned restaurant is complete with old-fashioned hair drying chairs, glass brick booths, and a playful menu that is delicious and funky.
Second Line | 2144 Monroe Ave., Memphis, TN 38104
Second Line is a rustic-chic restaurant in the heart of Memphis serving up Cajun-Creole classics with a little Memphis spin. Try the classic po’boys and seafood gumbo or a fun fusion bite like crawfish, andouille pimento cheese fries. Their indoor dining is currently unavailable but they are doing curbside to go, ready-to-go made meals, and online ordering to give you a delicious taste of Southern cooking.
Majestic Grille | 145 S. Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
If you’re looking for an upscale restaurant for a special evening, then the Majestic Grille is a great spot. Located in downtown Memphis this grand turn-of-the-century theater-turned restaurant serves up a delicious steak as well as a beautiful ambiance. Outside this beautiful old theater has been restored and inside the chefs serve wonderful meals and crafted cocktails to delight. They have indoor and outdoor dining options as well as take out, curbside, and food delivery like Door Dash available.
Cozy Corner | 735 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105
Black-owned restaurant in Memphis and a historical Memphis BBQ restaurant.
Central BBQ | 147 E. Butler Ave, Memphis, TN
If you’re going to the National Civil Rights Museum, then you’ll want to check out this famous BBQ joint! You can get all the things you love from pulled pork, brisket, mac and cheese, and onion rings. Don’t forget to take extra napkins with you!
Loflin Yards | 7 W. Carolina Ave., Memphis, TN 38103
Loflin Yard is a casual, fun, communal space in downtown Memphis that combines live music, cuisine, and cocktails. This indoor-outdoor space has plenty of seating outside for social distancing but doesn’t sacrifice the beauty and fun of the vibe. Serving up small plates like brisket tacos, s’ more dessert kits, and hot chicken as well as a plethora of craft cocktails, it’s a great space to hang out with friends during a night out in Memphis.
Now here is a sample itinerary for a weekend in Memphis
WHAT TO DO IN MEMPHIS| Weekend in Memphis Day 1
Breakfast at the Arcade 540 S. Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
National Civil Rights Museum | 450 Mulberry Street, Memphis, TN 38103
This is by far the most powerful and impactful thing you will do in Memphis. The National Civil Rights Museum is located in the former Lorraine Motel, the very motel that civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered on April 4, 1968. This is an integral part of the history of Memphis, America and the world and is highlighted in a moving museum that interacts exhibits, multimedia, and interactive historical exhibits.
They re-opened on July 1, 2020 for visitors but check the website for their updated hours and COVID policies.
Lunch at Central BBQ 147 E. Butler Ave, Memphis, TN.
This restaurant is located within walking distance of the National Civil Rights Museum
Stax Records + Museum of American Soul Music | 926 E McLemore Ave., Memphis, TN 38126
Take a tour of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and learn about the deep roots of soul, rock and roll, blues, jazz, and the history of Memphis. Stax Records is an American record label based in Memphis that started in 1957 and housed some of the best soul musicians like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Judy Clay.
Dinner at Majestic Grille 145 S. Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
Known as the “house of blues” this is the most famous street in all of Memphis. If you’ve ever been to Nashville and walked Broadway then you’ll find this similar in that there are so many cool bars, restaurants, and lounges you won’t know where to begin. Beale Street has nonstop live music, dark and moody lounges, funky modern taverns, and everything in between. It’s a great place to get a nightcap and walk around with friends.
WHAT TO DO IN MEMPHIS| Memphis Weekend Trip Day 2
Breakfast at the Beauty Shop 966 Cooper Street #5611, Memphis, TN 38104
Sun Studio Tour | 706 Union Ave., Memphis, TN 38103
Known as the birthplace of Rock n’ Roll, Sun Studios is iconic all over the world. Powerhouse singers and artists like B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash all recorded within these walls and it has become a museum for fans from all over the world to flock to, creating its own little mecca. Check their website for up to date opening times as well as any updates to their Covid-19 policies which stand today as mandatory masks required and smaller tour groups.
High Cotton Brewing Company
Stop in for a pint or a flight and enjoy a little downtime and reminisce on all the amazing things you’ve experienced in Memphis.
Lunch at Gus’s World Famous Chicken
When in Memphis you’ve got to stop in for some hot chicken and famous fried pickles. You definitely won’t be disappointed!
Memphis Rock ‘n’ Roll Soul Museum | 191 Beale St., Memphis, TN 38103
Finish up your rock n’ roll day with a tour of the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum to learn all about the history of the musicians and artists that shaped and transformed a generation launched a musical phenomenon for decades to come.
Graceland | Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN 38116
- No stop to Memphis is complete without stopping by Graceland. This is a great stop to wrap up your trip because you have lots of options on the time you spend here depending on how hard-core of a fan you are of The King. Graceland is the mansion estate of the iconic rock and roll singer, Elvis Presley. Open for tours, his home is now a museum to his legacy and the music he loved so much. Not only can you purchase tickets ahead of time, but you can also schedule a tour of the estate to learn even more about the life and legacy of the iconic rock and roll man.
Memphis is one of those towns that is full of life. The passion and vibrancy of the locals and their exuberance to share that passion with visitors is definitely infectious. Whether you’re coming to visit all the blues and rock and roll joints in town, stuff your face with BBQ, or educate and honor the civil rights history of this country, Memphis will leave an impression on you. From ducks waddling through hotels to Elvis Presley personified all around, a weekend in Memphis is definitely one you’ll remember and will want to come back for more of this Southern flavor and hospitality.