Memphis is the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, home of the blues, and quite possibly the barbecue capital of the universe. And we like it for different reasons. Rick is a southerner with a thirst for adventure, while Sandi is a northerner who leans towards leisure. Here's a look at how we recommend you experience Memphis the way each of us sees it best.
His Way: Beale Street is to Memphis what Bourbon Street is to New Orleans. Located in the heart of downtown, it’s the hub of nightlife, with live music, restaurants, nightclubs, and unique retail shops. As far as I know, it also is one of the few places in the world where you can purchase a guitar-shaped toilet seat. Beale Street is closed in the evening to street traffic, which means it becomes a pedestrian mall where you can walk around with adult beverages. Between the neon lights, the smell of food, and the din of live music, strolling down Beale Street is a must for every music fan.
Her Way: When in Memphis, you must see the Famous Marching Peabody Ducks, a quintet of little critters that spend their days frolicking in the fountain of The Peabody. At 5 p.m. each day, the “Duckmaster” escorts the North American mallards across the lobby (across a red carpet), into the elevator, and up to their private Duck Palace atop the hotel. Each morning at 11 a.m. the same human ceremoniously leads the birds back to the fountain. The Peabody is located in walking distance to many Memphis attractions and offers an overnight package that allows guests to become an Honorary Duckmaster and assist the Duckmaster for the day's march.
His Way: There’s a reason Memphis is famous for its barbecue – it’s all so dang good! Nothing epitomizes Memphis BBQ like the dry rub ribs at Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous. Located in a basement in the alley across from The Peabody hotel, The Rendezvous is adorned with items from Vergos’ collections of sports memorabilia, guns, swords, and art. Combine this museum with autographed pictures of celebrities, TV sets, and a stocked bar, and The Rendezvous is what I consider the ultimate man cave.
Her Way: Since I'm not a fan of barbecue, I was afraid I might actually starve to death in Memphis. Thankfully, I discovered a trendy restaurant, named Flight, on South Main Street. As the name of this place suggests, everything on the menu is sold in themed flights. I had the seafood flight, which comprised seared scallops, lobster bisque, and shrimp and grits. All three components of the order were delicious.
Viewfinder Tip: If you're an Elvis Presley fan, be sure to check out Graceland, Elvis' former home, as well.
His Way: Sun Studio is considered the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, and it was instrumental in launching the careers of legendary artists such as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash. The studio is not very big, but the tour is entertaining and informative. Seeing and touching (yes, they let you touch it!) the old microphone used on famous recordings gave me goosebumps. Located on the site of the original Stax Records studio, this museum provides an incredible history of American soul music. My favorite exhibit was Isaac Hayes’ pimped-out 1972 Cadillac Eldorado. The car spins on a rotating floor allowing for great views all around.
Her Way: Located on the site of the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, the National Civil Rights Museum depicts the legacy of those who fought for racial freedom and equality. Dr. King's room, number 306, has been preserved and is today exactly as it was on that fateful morning. This year, for the first time, visitors are afforded the unique experience of being allowed to walk out on the balcony in front of the room. The museum reminds us of a time when technology wasn't available and people depended on protests and marches to have their voices heard. What was once the site of great tragedy has become an educational triumph and is not to be missed!
How do you like to experience a new city when with a travel companion?