Home of the blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll, Memphis, Tennessee is a vibrant city that’s full of life. There are a lot of reasons why this city on the banks of the Mississippi River is so special: its role in Civil Rights history, its reputation as a musical incubator of sorts, and its famous Memphis-style pit barbecue. Come explore Tennessee’s second-largest city with Direct Auto Insurance, your official tour guide!
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Things to Do in Memphis, Tennessee
Shelby Farms Park
New York might have Central Park, but Memphis boasts Shelby Farms Park, which is five times larger and one of the largest urban parks in the country. And with 4,500 acres of green space, there’s no shortage of activities. There are ziplines, ropes courses, and axe throwing for the adventurous spirit. There are plenty of trails for runners and bikers. If you love spending time on the water, there are plenty of aquatic activities to try. Tying the knot in the near future? If so, Shelby Farms Park is ready to become the beautiful backdrop for your dream wedding.
Memphis Zoo & Aquarium
If 4,500 acres of stunning park scenery sounded impressive, what if we told you about the 4,500 different animals you can see at the Memphis Zoo & Aquarium? You can see lions and tigers and bears, oh my, but the zoo is also home to plenty of special events, like Zoovie nights under the stars and special animal encounters. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a ticket and start exploring!
Aldo’s Pizza Pies
Memphis is known for its barbecue, but you can get a taste of the Big Apple at Aldo’s Pizza Pies. The New York-inspired pizzeria serves up delicious pies with tons of toppings. They also have two locations, meaning you can pick whichever spot is more convenient while you’re out exploring. Whether you try one of the specialty pies or build your own, you’ll be leaving happy and full.
Big River Crossing
Considering how far it runs and how important it is, the Mississippi River is one of the most iconic waterways in the United States, and Memphis boasts the longest public pedestrian bridge across it. Big River Crossing is roughly one mile in length and gives you the opportunity to say you crossed the Mississippi River on foot. If you don’t mind bridges or heights (or if you’re trying to conquer your fears), take in the country’s longest active rail/bicycle/pedestrian bridge before leaving town.
Leonard’s Pit Barbecue
If you’re in the Barbecued Pork Capital of the World, you’ve got to eat like it. Leonard’s Pit Barbecue has been slinging their slow-cooked Memphis-style pork barbecue sandwiches since 1922. Here, you’ll also find some of the best dry rub ribs in the city. Even the King himself was a regular, hosting friends for after-hours barbecue dinner parties.
When it comes to great sandwiches in culinary history, the messier, the better. Such is the case at Payne’s Bar-B-Que, home of one the city’s messiest pork barbecue sandwiches. You’d never guess from the outside of the former auto repair shop, but some of the best barbecue in Memphis can be found inside. Don’t forget to get the mustard slaw!
Cozy Corner Restaurant
Bring your appetite to Cozy Corner Restaurant, a family-run barbecue joint in Uptown. If the full parking lot is any indication of what the Robinson family is cooking up inside, you’re sure to be satisfied. You can’t go wrong with any of the menu items at Cozy Corner, but regulars recommend the barbecue bologna sandwich.
Pay Tribute to the King
An Elvis fan or not, you can’t go to Memphis without paying tribute to the King. Visit his former home, Graceland, and write your name on the mansion’s fence. Take a tour of Sun Studio, the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll. Eat in his booth at the Arcade Restaurant and have a peanut butter banana sandwich. Shop at Lansky Bros. Take your picture with the Elvis statue on Beale Street. It’s long live the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in this city!
The official “Home of the Blues,” Beale Street is a historic street that’s significant not just to Memphis history, but Blues history. Beale Street is closed to traffic and lined with tons of clubs and restaurants, so take your time, stroll along, and really get a feel for Memphis.
Paula & Raiford’s Disco
This is the kind of place you have to experience to understand. Paula & Raiford’s Disco is a one-of-a-kind downtown Memphis dance club that pays homage to the disco era, complete with a light-up dance floor. Whether you’re a dancing queen or you’ve got two left feet, the lively atmosphere of this place will have you dancing the night away.
National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum is one of the most significant cultural museums in the country. It’s located at the former Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The museum’s interactive exhibits and collections explore this important era in American history, and how it continues to inform human rights and social justice efforts to this day in the United States and around the world.
The Memphis sound is alive and well at the Stax Museum, the former site of Stax Records. Throughout its 15-year run, Stax Records churned out more than 150 songs on the pop charts and an astounding 243 hits on the R&B charts. Show off your dance moves on the Express Yourself dance floor, check out period recording equipment in the control room, and admire the hall of the records. Today, the Stax Museum keeps the legacy of R&B and soul music alive as a part of the Soulsville Foundation, which also comprises a college preparatory charter school and a music academy.