Memphis is a city in Tennessee that is remarkably rich in history, tradition, heritage, and culture. This city and the surrounding region have been credited to play a crucial role in developing art, culture, and music in all of America. Apart from this significant contribution, Memphis is also famous for its delicious barbecue recipes that are guaranteed to leave you wanting more.
All of this has transformed this historic city into a top tourist destination for visitors coming to the magnificent state of Tennessee. This southern American city offers more than enough to keep you filled for at least a week. There are indeed more than a few reasons why millions of people pay a visit every year. Let us briefly glimpse the top 10 attractions in Memphis, Tennessee.
Attractions in Memphis, TN
Graceland is one of the landmark attractions of Memphis, Tennessee. It is the personal residence of the king of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. This is where he recorded his first hit song back in 1954. Elvis Presley is known to have a great love for Memphis. This is why he stayed at Graceland for more than 20 years. It served as his residence, his party home, and his studio. So it is not surprising to see that this house is a living memoir of the Rock and Roll culture. Millions of people visit this facility every year, and it has been named the most iconic attraction in the United States of America. So if you love Rock and Roll music or are a fan of the great Elvis Presley, you are bound to have a tour of this great home.
You can have a tour around every corner of this building. You get to see the greeting area, dining room, lounge, bedrooms, and more. Two rooms that are set to amaze you every time are the TV room and the poolroom. Inside the house, you can feel classical and modern music having a significant influence over everything. The Jungle Room is undoubtedly the most famous and peculiar in the mansion. It is decorated in a forest theme and worked as a temporary studio for song recordings.
Along with the mansion itself lies the Trophy building. It is home to famous awards, prizes, and honors adorn Elvis’s singing and acting career. Here, you can also see some of his most emblematic and stylish costumes.
2. National Civil Rights Museum
At the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, you can look over one of the most powerful and inspiring times of American history. This museum was opened in 1991 as a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Later. It incorporated more facets of the movement. It got transformed into a national museum for American Civil Rights Movement. This museum tells us the story of people who struggled to gain equal rights and social justice for all Americans. If you have not been described so previously, you might think that the Civil Rights Movements only spanned over some decades. However, this is not true by any means. This movement was active for more than a hundred years, and the National Civil Rights Museum sheds light on all of those years in great detail.
Like the Civil Rights Movement, this museum is close to the heart of millions of people in the United States of America and worldwide. When you walk through the National Civil Rights Museum, you will be able to learn different stories of individuals who played their part throughout the movement. These stories show their courage and grit shown at a time of need and necessity. This museum displays essential events that led us to live in a country that offers a system equal to its inhabitants. This is not only a museum but a source of pride for everyone who believes in equality, fairness, and impartiality.
3. Beale Street
This is a famous street located in downtown Memphis and runs for approximately 2 miles. It is one of the most critical locations for any tourist these days. This street and its unique culture played a crucial part in developing Blues’s traditional music genre. Today, this street is filled with clubs, hotels, shops, restaurants, and cafes that attract visitors throughout the year. Many people visit the city of Memphis just to come and spend their time on this street. Over time, the occupants of this street have developed famous festivals and concerts which appeal to a wide range of music lovers around the world. With great festivity and celebration, Beale Street looks to be the centerpiece of Memphis nightlife.
Beale Street was established in 1841. Since one end of the street was reasonably close to the port, it contained shops of traders and merchants who imported goods from ships traveling along the Mississippi River. Consequently, this street became known for anything new that came to the city of Memphis. This was the case for singers and artists too. With the construction of a Grand Opera house and general renovations in 1890, Beale Street was wholly remodeled to serve as an activity hub in this area. With new auditoriums, halls, theaters, galleries, and bars, Beale Street was set to bring together fine artists from this region. All of this enabled Beale Street to turn into an excellent attraction today.
4. Memphis Zoo
Located in the Midtown district, Memphis Zoo contains more than 3,000 animals from approximately 500 different species. Memphis Zoo is established inside the Overton Public Park, spanning over 340 acres. The first master plan for this public park was constructed 130 years ago. Memphis Zoo has been a part of this plan ever since. With more than 55 acres of developed space, Memphis Zoo offers something for everyone. Their conservation program also attracts tourists and researchers alike. This zoo has been ranked the number one zoo in the United States based on visitor feedback. In recent years, the Memphis Zoo administration has secured a massive budget for the renovation.
The Memphis Zoo is divided into three different zones. These include the East Zone, the Central Zone, and the West Zone. These zones have 19 exhibits spread across them. Some of these include Teton Trek, Northwest Passage, African Veldt, World of Waterfowl, Birds, Bees, Primate Canyon, Animals of the Night, Dragon’s Liar, Tropical Bird House, Penguin Rock, and Round Barn. The landscape of the Memphis Zoo is quite pleasing as well. This can be appreciated within the zones and on the trails that connect them. The zoo also hosts several events around the year. You can go on horticultural tours, visit the plant sale in April, enjoy the zoo light show, or attend the magic show in November. Memphis Zoo also organizes educational activities and informative seminars, apart from these fun events. Make sure to participate in them if they align with your visit dates.
5. Sun Studio
This studio located in downtown Memphis is credited for kick-starting the careers of many famous artists. Whenever you visit Memphis, you can have a guided tour of this legendary studio. You will feel like being in a museum of music. Seeing the process of music creation and how it travels from the mind of an artist to the ears of a listener is impressive. Sun Studio is also famous for recording the first Rock and Roll single, Rocket 88. This song was recorded in 1951 when this studio went by the name of Memphis Recording Service. This recording service was the pioneer of music recording in Memphis. For this good reason, Sun Studio is also known as the birthplace of Rock and Roll.
As you go upstairs at the Sun Studio, you will see artifacts and original equipment used at the time of Memphis Recording Service. Here, you can learn the story of how this studio transformed over the years. It is excellent to listen to some of the most famous songs recorded in the very place you are currently in. Artists featured in this studio include Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash. At the Sun Studio, you can also spend time in the recording room where so many famous Rock and Roll artists have spent their time creating some of the best wonders of their careers. You can find history, culture, and art crammed into this place in the ideal combination ever.
6. Stax Museum Of American Soul Music
Stax Museum Of American Soul Music is another great place to visit during your trip to Memphis, Tennessee. Rich in history and culture, this museum provides a sneak peek into the stunning era of Stax Records. This museum is situated at McLemore Avenue and is considered the epicenter of the famous American record label Stax Records. The museum is adjacent to a music academy and a charter school, which can also be toured on the same visit. At the museum, you can look over the music history of Memphis and how it played out to define the culture of this area. The building of this museum initially operated as the Stax Studio, where all recordings for the Stax Records were made.
With a complete overhaul in recent years, the museum is still home to original music records of that time. It is credited as the only soul music museum in the world. Since Stax Records was nothing less than a hallmark record label of its time, the museum is home to the stories of famous soul music artists. Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Albert King, Rufus, Otis Redding, and Carla Thomas. Today, the music is also home to artifacts and exhibits related to other record labels of that era. As you walk into the museum, you will feel incredible energy rushing through your body, radiating from the beautiful story behind every exhibit. This place is nothing but heaven for music lovers and record enthusiasts.
7. Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum was established by the Smithsonian Institute in 2000. It is located on the very famous Beale Street. This museum coordinates with other places around Memphis that connect with music. It is associated with Sun Studios, Graceland, and the Stax Museum Of American Soul Music. Apart from displaying the Memphis music story in all its glory, Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is also known to impart quality music education to young students worldwide. Their institute has a top-notch music program credited with the best curriculum. The efforts of this museum towards music research are also widely appreciated in the music industry.
Artists featured in the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum have their name for overcoming their time’s racial and social boundaries. This is what makes them historic and heroic at the same time. The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum displays the narrative of music in the rural areas of Memphis before it was developed into a buzzing industry. It also shows us the growth of music sense in the city over time. It showcases the works of famous artists on Beale Street starting from the 1940s. At this museum, you can also get a sense of understanding regarding the influence of the Civil Rights Movement on the music culture. It continues to inspire new musicians and artists from this region of the United States. Apart from walking through the beautiful galleries and seeing fantastic exhibits, you can also buy the audio guide, which recounts all of this in mp3 format. You also get to listen to more than 100 songs recorded during that iconic period when music in and around Memphis was booming.
8. Memphis Brooks Museum Of Art
Memphis Brooks Museum Of Art is the largest and the oldest art museum in Tennessee. It was established more than 100 years ago and draws millions of visitors every year. It is run by a non-profit organization located not far from the Memphis Zoo in Overton Park. The museum overwent an expansion in 1955 with a massive addition to its vast collection. The museum also houses a store, a café, a court garden, and a terrace overlooking the splendid Overton Park. Memphis Brooks Museum Of Art is divided into 29 art galleries that showcase the works of Italian artists from the Renaissance period, impressionists, Ancient Greece, Rome, and some contemporary artists. Besides the permanent collection, the museum is also home to a sizeable temporary collection.
You can see famous paintings, sculptures, photographs, furniture art, textile art, decorative art, and more at the museum. It also contains an art classroom, a research library, and a massive auditorium. You can book a guided tour of the entire facility from their website. They also host events to celebrate art throughout the year. You can check out the social media handles of the museum to keep yourself updated. Other than the great pieces of art themselves, the way they are displayed here at the Memphis Brooks Museum Of Art is quite captivating. This shows the exhibit’s purest form and inspires the observers to create and engage in unique ways.
9. Memphis Botanic Garden
Memphis Botanic Garden is a terrific place to visit if you want to reconnect with nature and appreciate the beauty that lies around you. It also shows up as the Memphis Botanic Garden’s official purpose statement, which reads, “We are here to enhance lives by connecting people with nature.” What’s impressive about this place is that volunteers run it. It was established by a group of like-minded people back in 1953. Since then, it has been managed and controlled by volunteers. Memphis Botanic Garden is spanned over more than 90 acres with 29 gardens and numerous plant species. The variety of plants in this garden ensures that there is something for everyone to enjoy at this place.
The landscape of the Memphis Botanic Garden entices tourists that come pouring in every month of the year. Once inside the park, you will see beautiful plants and flowers everywhere you look. The gardens are filled with growths that catch your attention immediately. Unlike others, Memphis Botanic Garden also hosts school programs and summer camps. Because of this, several people in and around Memphis take their kids here to enjoy and spend some exciting time. All 29 gardens at this facility are designed and managed with a theme. Apart from plants and flowers, they also display artworks from local artists, painters, and sculptors. At the Memphis Botanic Garden, there is a wonderfully designed butterfly garden that not only exhibits nature but also lets you interact with it.
10. Shelby Farms Park
This is a public park situated in Shelby County. It is located adjacent to the Eastern end of Memphis city. Covering more than 4,500 acres of land, Shelby Farms Park is considered one of the largest urban parks in the entire country. With biking tracks, lakes, boating facilities, wetlands, and mildly dense forests, the Shelby Farms Park has everything associated with an adventure you can take on with your family. The park is also home to some unique wildlife species and provides a natural habitat to a Bison herd. Initially, the land of Shelby Farms Park was private property, but now it comes under the ownership of Shelby Farms Park Conservancy.
The park remains open for all tourists every day of the year. However, it can only be visited during the daytime. You can expect to see beavers and turtles in big numbers at the park. Here, you get to enjoy the Go Ape Zipline and visit the First Horizon Foundation Visitor Center. The Shelby Farms Park is also home to the FedEx Event Center, which can be booked for meetings, wedding receptions, social galas, and more. Still, the most exciting part of the park is its biking and hiking trails. We recommend going on the biking trails that take you around the lakes and grasslands, overlooking the widespread territory. You can also engage in many other activities, including playing on an 18-hole golf course, riding horses, and flying RC airplanes.
If you think the city of Memphis only offers music and nothing more, you are far from right. This is a historic city with tons of things for you to do and enjoy. With a pivotal role in the American Civil Rights Movement and food that you will find nowhere else, the attractions in Memphis are never-ending and surprisingly diverse.