13 Steps to Conquering Memphis {with Christina!}

13 Steps to Conquering Memphis {with Christina!}

Hello everyone 🙂 I’m Christina of Route Bliss. Recently Margo asked if I would like to fill in while she’s back stateside for her wedding & I jumped on the opportunity. Since I love to travel just as much as Margo does, I’m sharing one of the cities I’m dying to get back to because I just wasn’t there long enough! 

A year and a half ago while visiting my best friend, who had moved to Little Rock a few months earlier, we decided to make the two and a half hour drive over to Memphis, Tennessee for a day. Most people know Memphis as the home of the blues … and Elvis Presley, of course. But, in doing some quick research, we found there was more than just Elvis and Graceland to see and do in Memphis, especially if you’ve only got a day or less in town. 

What to do

1 | Visit the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum at the Fed Ex Forum

BB King statute in Memphis by Christina McCall
Thanks to the Smithsonian Institute and The National Museum of American History, the history of both rock and soul are on display in a self guided tour right on Beale Street. Its open daily and only costs $11 a person. Photos are allowed — you’ll see a lot of artifacts from famous artists from the early days through today. (sidenote: that statue is actually at the Memphis Welcome Center …) 
2 | Walk down Beale Street
Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee by Christina McCall
There are so many bars and clubs on Beale Street as well as shops. While we were there during the day, many were open to the public. Walk inside the Rum Boogie Café like we did and oogle over all the guitars and other music memorabilia. I seriously want this Shineland sign …
  Rum Boogie Café on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee by Christina McCall
If you’re there in the evening, enjoy all the neon signage along the street … there are a LOT of vintage neon signs. 
The Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee by Christina McCall
While the Lorraine Motel became known to the world as the place where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, it has since been converted into a museum. Walking up, it still appears to be a motel, complete with vintage cars parked out front and a wreath on the balcony railing by the spot where MLK Jr. was shot. Inside, however, is a wonderful setup of exhibits detailing the civil rights movement. Near the end you’ll be able to see the recreated room where MLK Jr. stayed. Across the street, the MLK Jr. Foundation purchased the building where the shooter was located and converted it into additional exhibits. Photos are allowed — $15 entrance fee (less if you have a college ID).
 The Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee by Christina McCall

4 | Ride the Main Street Trolleys
Main Street Trolley in Memphis, Tennessee by Christina McCall
There are a few trolley routes around downtown Memphis, buy a daypass ($3.50) and ride around for a while to see the sights. It’s also a good way to get from Beale Street or the downtown plaza area to the Lorraine Motel/National Civil Rights Museum. To buy the pass, have exact change, it won’t give you any back if you stick a larger bill in the slot on the trolley. We hit three of the four trolleys we rode that day with the same grumpy driver who got mad that my day pass wouldn’t work, even though I bought it on the first trolley ride with him. He was a bit rude that first round because of asking where to buy it — even after I told him I was from a rural area that has NO public transportation options to know how the system worked! The other driver was super friendly in comparison at least. As you can tell from the photo above, there’s a pedestrian plaza along Main Street with lots of shops and eateries. 
Other things to do if you have more time or are staying overnight:

5 | Attend a Memphis Grizzles game at the Fed Ex Forum — or take a tour of the arena.
Fed Ex Forum in Memphis Tennessee by Christina McCall
6 | Catch a musical or show at the Orpheum Theater

The Orpheum in Memphis, Tennessee by Christina McCall
7 | Sightsee in one of the ornate horse-drawn carriages/buggies around downtown – This was one of my favorite sights aside from the trolleys. I saw several although my favorite one I only managed a smartphone photo of. 
Horse Drawn Carriage by the Orpheum in Memphis by Christina McCall

8 | Tour the Gibson Beale Street Showcase Factory — across the street from the Fed Ex Forum, see how the famous Gibson guitars are made. 
9 | Tour the Stax Museum of American Soul Music formerly a music recording studio, it now houses a huge collection of music artifacts and memorabilia. 
10 | Tour the Sun Studio another historic recording studio in Memphis. Catch the free shuttle from the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum … 
11 | See the Peabody Ducks — While we missed them due to timing, every morning, the ducks are guided from their rooftop home down to the fountain in the Peabody’s lobby, complete with a red carpet and musical entrance. The whole thing goes in reverse every evening when the ducks are escorted back to the roof for the night.
12 | Tour Graceland. The cheapest tour option is north of $30, but if you have the time and want to say you’ve been to the home of the King of Rock ‘n Roll, you have to go. Due to car problems & having to get back to Little Rock, we only had time to drive over to the south side of Memphis and take photos in front of the gates. You really can’t see the house from the street, but I held my camera up as high as I could over the shortest section of the fence and captured this photo:
   The gates at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee by Christina McCall
13 | Run the St. Jude Half Marathon or Marathon (or a 5k if you can’t bear to think of running that far)! Its held in early December and benefits St. Jude Hospital & its charities … and would be a great way to see the city. There’s so many more things to do and see and experience in Memphis than I can include in this post …
Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee by Christina McCall

Where to eat?

Kooky Canuck in Memphis, Tennessee by Christina McCall
When I made our list of things to try to do, I had a few restaurants on it — the only two I still recall were B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street and the Kooky Canuck on 2nd Street. Since it was the day before Columbus Day in the U.S. (aka Thanksgiving Day in Canada), we decided to go to the Kooky Canuck. I went as “Canadian” as I could, having the Great Maple Sirloin Steak and Poutine. Both were delicious — in fact, because the poutine was my appetizer, I couldn’t finish the steak, which I took with me in a to-go box, dropped it off in the cooler in my car, and had dinner ready to go when we arrived back late to Little Rock.


There are a number of parking garages and lots in the Beale Street/downtown area. We parked at the one behind the Gibson Guitar factory. While it was a bit isolated, it was affordable and within walking distance of all of our activities. Don’t leave any valuables visible — hide them in the trunk if possible. 
Hopefully you’re now all inspired to make a stop in Memphis if you’re ever in the southern United States … thanks again to Margo for allowing me to guest blog here at Guten Blog Y’all today!
Thanks for filling in today Christina! I’m currently in the midst of wedding dress alterations, buying cases of wine and a zillion other last minute to-do list items. 
Any advice for me as I prepare to walk down the aisle in 5 days? Woohoo!!