What is Memphis known for?
Music! A mecca for blues, soul, rock ‘n’ roll, and more, Memphis is chock-full of live music every night of the week. Plus, with such a rich and storied musical history, there are many iconic sights to visit. Here’s where you can find everything musical and must-see in Memphis.
1. Beale Street
This is where it all started—the famous street in Memphis known as “home of the blues,” America’s most iconic street, and Tennessee’s top tourist attraction. The history here goes back more than a hundred years. This is the street where B.B. King’s rose to fame, Elvis bought his iconic suits, and blues grew from regional fame to national recognition.
Visit a few of these Beale Street highlights:
- B. King rose to musical fame here on Beale Street. Stop by B.B. King’s Blues Club at its original location, serving up great BBQ and live blues and rock nightly.
- Go listen at Handy’s Blues Hall, a must-see juke joint with live music.
- Outfit yourself like a rock star from Lansky Bros. clothing, where Elvis got many of those iconic suits.
- Stroll the Brass Notes Walk of Fame, consisting of 173 musical notes embedded in the sidewalk, honoring the icons of blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll.
- Make a five-day pilgrimage to hear the world’s best blues for the International Blues Challenge. Happening in late January to early February, this festival brings together over 260 blues acts from all over the world.
- Visit the WC Handy House Museum, the tiny shotgun house where the “Father of the Blues” lived in Memphis, located at Beale & Fourth.
A trip to Memphis isn’t complete without a visit to Graceland, one of the most famous Memphis attractions. Check out the home of The King himself, Elvis Presley. There’s the mansion, of course (with themed rooms like the famous Jungle Room, plus tons of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia), but it doesn’t stop there. There’s also an entertainment complex, an automobile museum, Elvis’ airplanes…the list goes on. You can even book a hotel in Memphis near Graceland if you’re trying to pack it all in. This iconic spot pays tribute to a true legend.
3. Wild Bill’s
Think that all live music is on Beale Street? Think again! Once you’ve done the busy Beale circuit, go find this nondescript location in a strip mall. It has a long and storied past, being a staple of the black community for decades. There’s dancing, beer, chicken wings, and, oh yeah, the real-deal killer music.
4. Levitt Shell
Once you’ve exhausted the musical choices on Beale Street, check out the Levitt Shell in Overton Park. This outdoor venue hosts 50 free outdoor concerts a year. Elvis gave his first paid concert here in 1954, and it lives on as a great place for music. You can bring you own food or choose from one of the food trucks there.
5. Music Museums
With all that history and a roster of iconic musicians and music, Memphis has the museums to celebrate it.
- The Blues Hall of Fame has private listening nooks so you can get lost listening to a little Muddy Waters or Etta James.
- The Memphis Music Hall of Fame also has listening stations, plus interactive screens that allow you to see current musical acts playing in town, so you can strategize for your listening tour.
- The Stax Museum of American Soul Music celebrates the studio that produced hits by Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, and more. It also includes a not-to-be-missed artifact belonging to Hayes—his 24-karat gold-plated Cadillac El Dorado.
What do the best things to do in Memphis have in common? Music! Music lovers everywhere can book a flight to Memphis and take in the iconic sounds of this historic city. Soak up some blues, pay tribute to The King, or listen to a concert under the stars in one of the most tourist-friendly cities in the country. When it comes to what Memphis is known for, it’s all about the tunes.
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