2024 Memphis Vacation Guide
Memphis has always been known as the blues capital and the beginning of rock n’ roll legends. It’s the largest city in Tennessee and one of the biggest cities in the southern United States. As Memphians love to tell you, it’s the “Barbecued Pork Capital of the World” and one of the best places to find a variety of cultural events. However, the history of this town goes back a long time before guitars and barbecue, and it wasn’t until Andrew Jackson founded it in the early 1800s that some seeds were planted as to the future of this great southern metropolis.
The roots of Memphis are in the music. Many musical greats are from the Memphis area, including legends like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Isaac Hayes, Justin Timberlake, and B.B. King. You can find a melting pot of music venues in downtown Memphis, from blues lovin’ bars to country-western clubs as well as rockin’ local concert halls where bands take to the stage to perform for those same musical legends who still look over this great town. From Flying Saucer Draught Emporium to Silky O’Sullivan’s on Beale Street, you’ll find a lot of great places to listen to music in Memphis.
Memphis in May
One of the best celebrations that you’ll find in these parts is Memphis in May. For one month, the heritage and history of Memphis are celebrated through song, dance, food, and cultural events. These include the biggest events like the International Week, World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, Sunset Symphony, and Beale Street Music Festival.
However, you can’t forget about Carnival Memphis. This is another spectacular time to visit the city and take part in a series of parties and festivals that sweep the streets in June. You can witness the selection of the King and Queen of Carnival as well as listen to some of the city’s best musical performances.
Memphis also celebrates the visual and performing arts. You can find a few art districts within the city such as the South Main Arts District and Broad Street. Several film festivals are held here including the Indie Memphis Film Festival and the Memphis International Film and Music Festival. You can also take a trip to the Brooks Museum or the Dixon Gallery and Gardens for internationally acclaimed exhibitions.
Memphis Downtown Hotels
Memphis will always be known for Sun Studios and Elvis’ first recordings, but this beautiful Tennessee lady has her own special charms. From the languid banks of the Mississippi River to the sultry sounds of Beale Street, Memphis is a special city full of rich history and modern entertainment. The beautiful downtown area provides easy access to family fun and big-city excitement. Walking in Memphis is a great way to take in its historic sites and wonderful cityscape. Starting at the Peabody Hotel with its daily parade of resident ducks, a scenic stroll includes the 1928 Orpheum Theater and beautiful W.C. Handy Park. A quick jump on the Main Street Trolley gives visitors access to all the best of downtown. Families enjoy spending the day at the Memphis Zoo and Aquarium, and Tom Lee Park on the banks of the river is the perfect place for picnics. Folks with food on their minds will enjoy exploring legendary barbecue joints or fine dining on Main Street. Downtown Memphis is a delightful destination for exploring the charms of the South’s loveliest city. Downtown Hotel Service offers Hotels near Downtown Memphis that are quality hotels at an affordable price. Use our Search box above or click here to see available hotels!
Memphis enjoys some of the best seasons. Many visitors state that the weather is one of the reasons that they always return to this region. Many months out of the year, Memphis is a balmy 70 degrees with its coldest month being January with an average temperature of 50 degrees. For travelers, the subtropical climate of Memphis is a great reason to visit during the winter but also stay until early summer.
Spring has always been rated the best month to visit Memphis. With blooming azaleas, charming shrubbery, and perfect upper 60-degree weather, the city truly shines between March and May. It’s also the time to avoid the crowds since summer is a peak travel time. With warm days and cooler nights, Memphis offers the best of the seasons during Spring. However, you may still need to bring an umbrella for the typical showers experienced in this climate.
During warmer months of summer, Memphis comes to life with exciting concerts and local festivals. With the sun out, this city truly looks its best. It’s also a really hot period for the area. Average temperatures are in the 90s for June and July. However, the nights can still grow colder and rain often cools down the heated landscape for a brief period of time. If you plan on staying three or four days in town, make sure that you bring an umbrella or raincoat as you will most likely get a shower in the summer. A cold beer on Beale Street can also soothe any heatwave moments.
As fall rolls around, Memphis goes back to beautiful balmy days of perfect upper 60-degree weather. With these warm days and cool nights, it’s easy to experience all there is to love about this country town. In addition, you can really see the change of seasons in the autumn foliage. If you love downtown Memphis, then this is definitely a sight to see in the fall.
With October, winter begins in Memphis, and it can be a bit of a shock to travelers who love the heat of this city. With temperatures typically in the 40s, Memphis can experience an average of 5.7 inches of snow during the winter.
Overall, Memphis balances a beautiful line between balmy days and a few days of more extreme weather. Typically, it’s not too hot or cold, and the sun is always shining in some parts of downtown Memphis.
Flying to Memphis
Along with being the world’s largest cargo airport, the Memphis International Airport is also the most convenient way to arrive in the city of Memphis. Since Memphis is in Tennessee, many visitors mistakenly believe that any airport in Tennessee will be closed. However, it is important to note that the state is quite large.
Driving from Memphis to Knoxville, for example, is almost nine hours. Travelers who want to arrive by air should definitely plan to arrive in Memphis, but alternatives could include the Little Rock Airport in Arkansas or the Oxford Airport in Mississippi. More than 90 percent of the flights in and out of Memphis are operated by Delta, but there are some flights through carriers like US Airways and American Airlines. The airport is just south of the city center, and taxis and buses can take less than 10 minutes depending on the final destination.
Public Transport in Memphis
Although travelers should definitely consider renting a car in order to explore Memphis, there are some public transportation options available as an alternative. A tourist trolley, which operates in the Midtown area, is free and perfect for sightseeing during the day. Travelers will likely see the Bettie Bus at some point during their trip to the city. The Bettie Bus is a company that operates tours and airport shuttles. Those visitors who don’t rent a car may be interested in booking a ride either to or from the airport with Bettie Bus, which is typically cheaper than a taxi for single passengers. The Memphis Area Transit Authority, or MATA, also operates a bus system in Memphis. While it does offer extensive bus routes, it is recommended that visitors keep a map of bus routes with them as well as a schedule, as some buses only come through a few times each day.
Driving in Memphis
There is no question that the best way to see Memphis, especially over a week-long vacation, is by car. Thankfully, driving in Memphis is very straightforward and traffic is unlikely. By avoiding rush hours and using either a map or a GPS for the car, travelers typically have no trouble exploring the area on their own. Parking is free at most hotels, and even in the downtown area, there are options for free parking lots and affordable garages close to shopping, dining, and nightlife. Look out for the garages that are painted with the slogan Parking Can Be Fun, as these are the specific locations owned by the tourism authority that offer free parking to drivers.
National Civil Rights Museum
If you really want a look at the history of the Civil Rights Movement, you should stop here in Memphis. You’ll have access to private collections, educational research, exhibitions, programs, and more. This is the motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It was made into a motel to commemorate this historic event in United States history, and now you can learn all about it. This is a great idea for history buffs who want to learn more about the history of racial tensions in the United States in the 1960s.
Another one of the biggest highlights the city has to offer is a gigantic zoo. A panda named YaYa lives there and always greets visitors with friendliness. You’ll also be able to see plenty of other animals of all different kinds. There’s even a skating rink there for your enjoyment. You’ll probably want to spend quite a bit of time at the Memphis Zoo in order to see everything they offer there.
If you like to watch baseball, you’ll love the sights and sounds of AutoZone Park. This stadium is the home to the Memphis Redbirds, the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals are always a good team, and that’s because they raft good players. That means you’ll be able to watch talented players at a Memphis Redbirds game. They have great pitchers and position players, too. There are memories waiting to be made at AutoZone Park. All baseball fans should visit it at least once.
In order to get in touch with your artistic side in Memphis, you should visit the Orpheum Theater. You can experience plenty of good music and theater shows there. Talented actors and signers show up there by the dozen at all times of the year. There’s really not a bad seat in the house, so you don’t have to rush to get the best seat. The shows are enjoyable and suitable for audiences of all ages most of the time. Check ahead to see what they’re offering when you’re in Memphis.
Main Street Trolley
For the sight-seeing enthusiasts in your family, the Main Street Ticket is the ticket to seeing Memphis. You get to take rides along the river to see all the amazing sights that Memphis has to offer. There’s just something enchanting about a trolley ride. You feel the nostalgia with every passing sight on all sides. Seeing Memphis by way of the trolley is truly a unique way to spend some time there.
While visiting Memphis, you will want to be sure and enjoy all of the great dining options that are available to you there. Memphis offers fine dining as well as casual dining and either way that you choose to dine will promise to be a delicious choice.
You might choose The Majestic Grill located at 145 S. Main in Memphis where you can enjoy everything from Barbecue ribs to steamed black mussels. You may even choose to have a New York Strip cooked to perfection or grilled Salmon. No matter what you choose, you are going to find that everything is delicious. The dessert choices are just as tasty and the wine list is outstanding.
Ciao Bella Italian Grille
For a different style of dining, you can choose a great Italian restaurant like Ciao Bella Italian Grille. Ciao Bella can be found at 565 Erin Drive where they serve wonderful appetizers such as stuffed mushrooms, antipasto, sausage and peppers and so much more. You can also choose wonderful entrees such as seafood cannelloni, Greek-inspired red snapper, pizza, and your favorite calzones. This will prove to be a wonderful Italian dining experience.
At 4972 Park Avenue, you’ll find Patrick’s where you can have the best burger that you’ve ever imagined. You can also have your choice of a great steak cooked juicy and tasty just the way you want it. Patrick’s has a large menu with an even larger variety of awesome foods to choose from. You can even have a BBQ chicken sandwich if you choose. You may prefer to have catfish as your choice and you can have it fried, grilled, or even blackened.
A great place to eat that you must check out is Kooky Canucks. At Kooky Canucks, you’ll find that you can casually enjoy a fried ham and cheese sandwich, a meatloaf sandwich, and even a catfish sandwich. You can also have your favorite burgers like bacon and blue cheeseburger or a burger that has four different kinds of cheese on it. They also offer unique desserts such as Smores and the Avalanche which consist of 18 scoops of ice cream with a variety of toppings. You’ll find Kooky’s at 97 S. Second Street.
Barbecue is a must-have while in Memphis and you’ll find many great places to enjoy it. One of the best spots is Central BBQ at 2249 Central Avenue. You can feast on chicken, ribs, brisket, and turkey that have been cooked on the pit to perfection. You can also enjoy your favorite BBQ’d meat on a sandwich.
Memphis offers wonderful places to eat a variety of delicious foods making your stay more enjoyable, more filling, and more fun.
Memphis in May International Festival
This three-day-long festival takes place, just as the name suggests, every May in the city of Memphis. The two highlights of the festival are the music and the food. The Beale Street Music Festival is one part of the event, and more than 40 artists and groups perform during the weekend. Simultaneously is the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which involves hundreds of contestants competing for impressive prizes. Families will enjoy the great entertainment and the finale of fireworks over the banks of the Mississippi River.
Elvis Presley Birthday Week
One of the most iconic figures in Memphis’ musical history of Elvis Presley. To celebrate his birthday, the city takes up an entire week at the beginning of each January to honor the man, the legend, and the music. Some of the many events that took place during this period include a symphony performance of classic Elvis songs, a giant celebration and cake-cutting ceremony at Graceland, and a 24-hour Elvis dance party.
The Memphis Festival Italiano
One of the most interesting community events in Memphis is the annual Italian Festival, which typically takes place over an entire weekend at the beginning of June. Food is a huge part of Italian culture, and it is also a big part of this event. Visitors can try samples from local vendors, help judge the cooking competitions, and even dine on full Italian feasts right in Marquette Park. Children will love the quick favorites on offer, and parents will appreciate the availability of high-quality Italian wine at an outdoor festival. There is also live music, cultural performances, and bocce ball tournaments throughout the weekend festival.
Africa In April Cultural Awareness Festival
This exciting event is one of the major cultural celebrations in Memphis. The festival takes place in Robert R. Church Park right in downtown Memphis, making it convenient to get to. Visitors will have the opportunity to dine on traditional African fare, listen to authentic music, watch native dancers perform routines from their home countries, and even attend lectures to learn more about African culture and its acceptance in the United States. There are also opportunities to shop for African handicrafts at the festival.
Red, White, & Blues Star Spangled Celebration
Memphis and the blues go hand in hand, so this annual celebration on the 4th of July is focused on blues music and local performers. This is a family-oriented event, so guests can expect tons of great activities for children, incredible fireworks and some amazing local cuisine for sale.
Family Fun near Downtown Memphis
Family trips to Memphis are as vividly memorable as the wild pictures that are taken here. From riding the downtown Memphis trolley to all-day fun at the Memphis Zoo, there are a ton of different activities for families of all sizes and ages. Whether you’re bringing your Grandmother or a toddler, traveling to Memphis yields rewarding experiences. From the exploration of Beale Street to getting a close-up look of Elvis Presley’s Graceland, families love visiting Tennessee’s biggest city.
Take a Ride
The Downtown Memphis trolley is a fun way to get a glimpse of the city and hear about all of the great musical legends while moving through some of the best spots in Memphis. You’ll go through historic downtown, take a trip along the mighty Mississippi River, and get a view of the legendary landmarks that make Memphis the birthplace of blues and the home of rock n’ roll. You’ll see Beale Street, the National Civil Rights Museum, the Memphis Cook Convention Center, historic Memphis hotels, and lots of barbecue restaurants.
Posing with Pandas
Overton Park is located right in midtown. While it may appear to be a typical natural park and golf course, it actually includes a 70-acre zoo. Thousands of animal species live at the Memphis Zoo. With 19 different exhibits, you can go around the world and see some amazing wolves, cats, bald eagles, and bears–panda bears, too. The two giant pandas Le Le and Ya Ya are one of the favorite attractions for this zoo.
The Fun Museum
For younger family members, the Children’s Museum of Memphis could be the most fun place to go for a day. With a water area, monthly events, party programs, and exhibits, you can take your kids for an educational experience that’s also quite fun. The exhibits here will teach kids various fun aspects of science, math, health, and art. The museum is located off Central.
Put On Your Blue Suede Shoes
For those Elvis families, Graceland is the ultimate chance to get a closer look of the rock n’ roll legend himself. Tours to Graceland will show you the exterior and interior of the home as well as stop by a few of Elvis’ favorite places. Tour guides will give you the up close and personal look while you can also take home a souvenir or grab a bite to eat at one of the famous restaurants along the way.
Shopping near Downtown Memphis
This public square has been a popular dining and shopping destination since it was founded in 1969, and it has evolved to be one of the top tourist destinations in all of Memphis. Along with art galleries, clothing boutiques, and souvenir shops, Overton Square boasts several restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. Visitors can even attend the movie theater or performance theater in Overton Square after they are done with their shopping.
Collierville Town Center
When the weather is nice, a trip to Collierville Town Center can be the perfect way to spend a day. Collierville is just a few miles east of Memphis, and it can be a charming alternative to the busy downtown area of the city. Shops selling homemade fudge, candles, souvenirs, arts and crafts, and boutique clothing are situated around a public square. Visitors can even dine at the local cafes and restaurants in the area. During the summer, live entertainment and a water fountain draw in families, and in the winter the holiday decorations are a great reason to visit.
Midtown Artist Market
Visitors who are looking to buy something unique in Memphis will want to head to the Midtown Artist Market. It is a cooperative owned by local artists in the area. As many as 100 artists contribute their works for display and sale at any given time, and they take turns cleaning the space and staffing the booth to make sales. Shoppers who want to get a real feel for the art and cultural scene in the city will want to make a trip to the Midtown Artist Market to explore what is available and purchase some one-of-a-kind souvenirs to remember their trip.
This attractive area in the downtown section of Memphis, Tennessee was originally a mix of residential, commercial, and business spaces. In 2001, however, the demand for better shopping in the downtown area meant that much of Peabody Place became an enclosed shopping mall. In addition to a number of great stores selling everything from clothing and shoes to electronics and jewelry, Peabody Place boasts several casual dining restaurants, a sports bar, a movie theater, and even an indoor miniature golf course. The area is especially popular with local residents and teens in the area.
Shoppers who don’t want to visit the same chain stores, again and again, will have plenty of unusual finds to choose from in Memphis. A top pick is Burke’s Books, which has been independently owned and in operation for more than 125 years. A. Schwab is also a fun store selling antiques and local art that travelers won’t want to miss.
Map of Hotels in Memphis
- Memphis International Airport – Find hotels Near the International Airport and Parkway Village Oakhaven
- Memphis Downtown – Find hotels Near Mound City and St Claire
- University Of The Memphis – Find hotels Near Berclair Highland Heights and River Oaks KirbyBalmoral
- Graceland, Memphis – Find hotels Near Berclair Highland Heights and Uptown
- Mud Island River Park – Find hotels Near Uptown and Mound City
- Beale Street – Find hotels Near International Airport and East Memphis Colonial Yorkshire
- Germantown – Find hotels Near Hickory Hill and Windyke Southwind
- Memphis Museum – Find hotels Near MudIsland and Uptown