A few days in the River City will cure your blues.
The first stop on our tour happened to be one of my favorites in the sweet southern gem that is Memphis. It’s certainly not the easiest place to get to (we struggled through 150 miles of backwoods Arkansas road to get there), but if you can find a flight cheap enough I highly recommend a weekend getaway.
We stayed in a local suburb and had easy access to the city, but if you want to stay downtown I’d recommend the famous Peabody Hotel. It’s in the heart of downtown Memphis, and their known for a duck parade around an indoor fountain every day at 11am and 5pm. That’s right, ducks walk around in the hotel. The South is a very unique place.
Memphis is known for blues and barbecue, and you can find both in abundance around the city. If you’re planning a trip I’d recommend doing it around a Grizzlies game or a Redbirds (minor league baseball) game. Both stadiums are a few blocks from the city center and will ensure great crowds at the bars on Beale Street.
Oh Beale Street. Memphis’ most famous rue. For those Chicagoans reading, think of a 2 block stretch of Wrigleyville with blues clubs, and you’ve got a perfect image of Beale Street. We visited mid day on a weekday, but I can assure you there’s plenty going on after hours. If sports isn’t your cup of tea go for a blues show at B.B King’s flagship location, followed by some cheap drinks at Silky O’Sullivans (they have one of the bigger outdoor patios I’ve ever seen). The Beale Street/Riverfront area is also home to the Memphis in May Festival, which is an annual celebration of music and food with an international partner. If you ever get a chance to go…do it.
The defining moment of any Memphis trip is of course the barbecue. For me, that wasn’t inside the city, but a short (and well worth it) drive out of town. The spot is the Commissary in Germantown, TN, and if you’re going there you better know what to look for. A Memphis institution since 1981, the Commissary lives by the promise that their BBQ is “so good y’ull slap yo mama”. And if my Mom was there, I probably would have (sorry Mom). A couple of pulled pork sandwiches with homemade sauce are heavenly, but do not leave without trying the banana pudding. I could eat it by the gallon, and that’s no exaggeration.
If you’re looking for a new trip off the beaten path, I definitely recommend flying or driving into Memphis for a weekend of Southern charm. Nothing there is too expensive, and you’ll leave feeling satisfied from your adventure, and with a full belly.