The name of Memphis is inseparable from music and it is in this city by the Mississippi where ‘rock and roll’ was born in the 1950s. Of course, it is also where Elvis Presley spent part of his life and where he built his dream home Graceland.
Blues, Soul, rock and roll, country music… are all part of the extraordinary musical history and heritage of Memphis, the town where Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash recorded some of their best tracks.
Memphis is music, but also comfort food, Southern charm and an important place in the history of the civil rights movement… Here are some unmissable things to do in Memphis, particularly (but not only!) if you are a music fan:
Beale Street in Downtown Memphis is THE one place not to miss in the city. This is the cradle of blues music where artists have showcased their talent for 150 years and where WC Handy penned ‘Memphis Blues’. It is in the historic Beale Street entertainment district by the Mississippi River where you will experience the city’s legendary music scene in full.
SUN STUDIO: BIRTHPLACE OF ROCK AND ROLL
Sun Studio at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis is a kind of pilgrimage destination for music enthusiasts. It was here where what some consider to be the first rock and roll song ‘Rocket 88’ was recorded in 1951, earning the studio the title of ‘birthplace of rock and roll’.
Some of the greatest musicians of all time have recorded music at the legendary Sun Studio, including Elvis Presley, BB King, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash…
ELVIS’ GRACELAND HOME
Elvis Presley’s beloved Graceland home is a museum dedicated to the life, art and legacy of the ‘King of Rock and Roll’, Memphis’ most illustrious citizen. Graceland is the biggest and most comprehensive museum dedicated to Elvis and the second most visited house in the USA, after the White House.
STAX MUSEUM OF AMERICAN SOUL MUSIC
As the birthplace of Soul Music, Stax Records saw legends like Otis Redding record hits such as ‘The Dock of the Bay’. The Stax Records site is now a fantastic museum dedicated entirely to American Soul Music and its greatest such as Aretha Franklin.
Over 2000 artifacts, memorabilia, films and even a 1900s chapel… are on display at this fun musical museum in Soulsville, where you can also admire up close Isaac Hayes’ gold plated 1972 Superfly Cadillac El Dorado. Visitors are encouraged to make use of the dance floor as they play Stax’s greatest hits.
MEMPHIS ROCK AND ROLL MUSEUM
From soul we move on to rock and roll and our next stop is the Memphis Rock and Roll Museum, where we will travel back in time to understand the history of rock and roll and listen to over 100 songs. It is bound to leave you ‘all shook up’.
MEMPHIS MUSIC HALL OF FAME
And if you have time for another music-inspired exhibition, make sure to visit the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, honoring the city’s most talented musicians across all genres and styles.
TAKE A BOAT, OR A WALK, ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER
Take a trip on a steamboat on the Mississippi River to take in the beauty of this mighty river that inspired many of its musicians.
Alternatively, if walking or cycling is more your thing, you can cross the Big River Crossing bridge on foot or two wheels to enjoy great views of the Mississippi River and the bright lights of Memphis city.
NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM
Another non-musical but unmissable stop for all visitors to Memphis is the National Civil Rights Museum, built at the Lorraine Motel on Mulberry Street, the place where civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in 1968.
This is probably one of the most important museums in the South, documenting the history of slavery, the civil rights movement and the struggle for race equality up to modern day. Stories, videos and interactive displays transport us through time to important historic events at this unforgettable museum.
After a full day exploring, it is time to feed your body and your soul…Don’t miss the best Soul food restaurants in town serving delicious Southern classics like fried catfish, turnip greens or fried green tomatoes; and make sure to taste the finger-licking Memphis-style ribs and pulled pork in one of the many great BBQ haunts.
We hope you enjoyed our unmissable things to do in Memphis for music fans. Would you like to join our next tour?
Memphis city is one of the highlights of our USA Escorted Tour departing in October 2024. For more information about our upcoming trips or to book your place contact our travel experts.Contact Us