Skip Nashville—Memphis Is the Hottest Trendy Southern City

Updated 09/11/17
  • While Nashville has become a go-to destination for barbecue lovers and country music fans, we're making the case for planning a trip to a less frequented Tennessee locale—Memphis. Known as the home of blues and rock 'n' roll where the likes of Elvis, Johnny Cash, and BB King recorded legendary albums, the city has a rich music history and culture that's still going strong today, making it the ideal getaway for music lovers.

From the neon lights of Beale street to the upscale eateries of Brookhaven Circle to the hip lounges of downtown, there are a lot of reasons this riverfront city should be on your radar. Ahead we're sharing an itinerary for what music lovers should do in Memphis—because there's so much more than Graceland. We're calling it: Memphis is the next hot Southern city.

What music lovers should do in Memphis
Fashion Me Now

Explore

Memphis music foundation
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

There's so much more to Memphis than Elvis. Here are some of the highlights music lovers won't want to miss. Add these museums and venues to your list to learn about Memphis's rich music history and culture.

Sun Studio: No trip to Memphis would be complete without taking a tour of the studio where BB King, Elvis, Johnny Cash, and other greats recorded.

Rock 'n' Soul Museum: If you want to learn about Memphis's musical history, give yourself plenty of time to explore this Smithsonian-run museum.

Stax Museum of American Soul: Highlights at this museum include the Soul Train dance floor, Isaac Hayes's Cadillac Eldorado trimmed with 24-carat gold, and a reassembled Mississippi Delta church (originally built in 1906) that showcases the gospel roots of soul music.

National Civil Rights Museum: Located in the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, this museum traces the history of the Civil Rights movement from slavery to present day.

Eat

Pulled pork sandwich
Half Baked Harvest

Much of the city's music scene can be found in dive bars. From rock 'n' roll to soul and disco, here are the hot spots music lovers won't want to skip. Add these local haunts to your travel itinerary.

Mollie Fontaine Lounge: This lounge (formerly a Victorian home) regularly features live music. Check out its Facebook page to see who's playing.

Kings Palace Cafe: Boasting a jukebox, this bar was deemed "one of Memphis's best-kept secrets" by The New York Times.

Paula & Raiford's Disco: While Memphis is best known for rock 'n' roll, soul, and blues, the city also had a major disco moment. Channel your inner Donna Summer, and dance the night away at this happening disco club.

Arcade Restaurant: Head to Memphis's oldest cafe for the quintessential '50s diner experience.

Hog & Hominy: Make a reservation at one of the best contemporary eateries in Memphis. The casual menu features American South dishes with Italian twists. We recommend the biscuit gnocchi.

Stay

Arcade restaurant in Memphis
Arcade Restaurant

Whether you want to stay centrally located or slightly removed from the neon lights of Beale Street, here are the best places to book in Memphis. Add these accommodations to your short list.

The River Inn of Harbor Town: Located north of downtown, this charming hotel is removed from the noise of the city. Head to the rooftop terrace for a beautiful view of the Mississippi River at sunset.

Peabody Memphis Hotel: Known for its grand marble lobby, this historic hotel is worth touring even if you aren't technically a guest.

Madison Hotel: A great spot to stay if you like to be central, this hotel is near all the hot spots—Beale Street, the Orpheum Theater, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Mississippi riverfront.

Guest House at Graceland: If you just can't resist, stay at the recently opened Guest House located steps from the gates of Graceland.

Women's Long Zip Wallet by Everlane in Natural
Everlane Long Zip Wallet in Natural $120
Shop
Away The Medium $275
Shop
'The Transport' Leather Tote - Brown
Madewell The Transport Leather Tote in Brown $170
Shop
Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones $300
Shop
Jesmyn Ward Sing, Unburied, Sing $26 $16
Shop
Mark & Graham Leather Charger Roll Up $50
Shop

Have you visited Memphis? Tell us which restaurants, hotels, and music hot spots you recommend.

Related Stories