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If legendary eats, soulful sounds, and outstanding art are your ingredients for a good time, then this Mississippi River city is for you. Here, everyone from history lovers to BBQ buffs can find their fancy. Forget walkin’ in Memphis. Let’s roll!
By Amanda Gleason
River Inn of Harbor Town Dig into crab cakes with grain mustard sauce and Asian slaw at Paulette’s Restaurant, a Memphis institution nestled inside this cozy getaway.
The Peabody Memphis In a tradition dating back to 1933, this historic hotel’s most famed residents—five mallards—attract crowds as they make their twice-daily march to and from the lobby’s marble fountain.
Madison Hotel At this chic spread, order a tasty beverage before snuggling up by the fire pits and taking in stunning river views at Twilight Sky Terrace, the newly debuted rooftop lounge.
Hungry for more? get your fill when you…
Follow the ’Cue
We’re not blowing smoke when we tell you Memphis is a hotbed of barbecue. The city is home to nearly 80 beef and pork purveyors, which range from off-the-radar eateries to legendary establishments like Corky’s and Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous. Don’t know where to start? Join Lance Silkes’ three-hour Tastin’ Round Town tour, which includes six stops. “Dry rub is what defines Memphis barbecue,” Silkes says. You’ll taste what he’s talking about in dishes like pulled pork nachos from Central BBQ and the Bar-B-Q Shop’s signature barbecue spaghetti. But pace yourself: You’ll want to save room for Cozy Corner’s cooked-to-perfection ribs. “The fire inside the smoker is built really low,” Silkes says. “This allows time for moisture to build, creating a hybrid between barbecuing and grilling.” How’s that for a meat and greet?
Pay A Visit To:
The Memphis Zoo Only four U.S. zoos house giant pandas. You can find two of these endangered animals—Ya Ya and Le Le—at this family-friendly hangout.
Sun Studio On July 5, 1954, Elvis Presley recorded his first single, “That’s All Right,” inside this modest storefront, which earned Sun Studio the reputation of being the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll.
Dig deeper into our country’s equality struggle as you…
Honor an Icon
Few places can incite such powerful emotions as the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Though some of the museum’s exhibits are closed for renovations through early 2014, there’s still plenty to leave you awestruck. Begin across the street at the Legacy Building, where James Earl Ray fired the fateful shot. Here you can eye artifacts, including the bullet removed from King’s body, while also discovering the stories of other civil rights leaders. End your tour at the motel, in an exhibit only open during the renovation: the balcony where MLK spent his last mo-ments. As you stand outside Room 306, an audio program plays “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” the trailblazer’s favorite song.
Treat Yourself to a Stop At:
Hog & Hominy Pizza fanatics revel in this esteemed eatery’s wood-fired pies. Try the Baia, topped with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, garlic, and olive oil.
The Cupboard Restaurant The hearty servings of country-fried steak and other Southern favorites at this Memphis fixture have pleased hungry crowds since 1943.
Rum Boogie Cafe Get into the groove at this rousing hangout on Beale Street, where more than 360 guitars hang from the ceiling—each one autographed by stars like Billy Joel and B.B. King.
Stroll among masterpieces and…
Eye Exotic Art
African headdresses. Ethiopian healing scrolls. Mexican terra-cotta figurines. Those are just some of the treasures you’ll find at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, whose collection of 9,000 objects ranges from ancient artifacts to contemporary pieces. You can scope out a Greco-Roman marble torso believed to date back to the first century B.C.; French sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye’s 1840 bronze tiger statue; and the oil masterpiece “Slaying of the Medusa,” perfected in 1680 by Luca Giordano, one of the most influential Neapolitan painters of the second half of the 17th century. Since time can fly when you’re surrounded by so much astounding art, plan your trip on a Thursday, when the museum keeps its doors open late to host artists’ talks, gallery tours, and film screenings. Let the good times roll!
Dinstuhl’s This family-run business has been treating sweets lovers to goodies like pecan fudge, peanut brittle, and chocolate-covered cherries for more than a century.
Flashback Vintage jewelry and clothing, antique typewriters, and more await behind the doors of this throwback shop, whose collection is especially strong in items from the ’60s and ’70s.
Orpheum Theatre This historic venue’s 35th annual auction, held November 16, puts more than 400 items (including valuable artwork) up for bid.
Eager to see how Memphis earned its musical mojo? Then…
Start your tour at Elvis’ beloved Graceland estate, where you can sneak peeks at where the world’s most storied musical performer spent his days. Since The King’s wardrobe was often as loud as his songs, spend some time exploring the new exhibit that features more than 20 of the flashy jumpsuits Presley wore during his performances in Las Vegas. Then head to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, located in the former recording studio of Stax Records, where the careers of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett were launched. Keep up the good vibrations at the Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum, which traces the city’s musical roots back to 1930s sharecroppers. Jukeboxes are spread throughout, guaranteeing there will be a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.
Getting There Fly into Memphis International Airport (MEM).
Getting Around The downtown trolley scoots visitors to popular attractions like Beale Street and Sun Studio. If further exploring is on your itinerary, visit the airport’s website for rental car options.
Getting Out On select nights from November 29 through December 30, winter revelers can sip hot cocoa and roast s’mores at the Memphis Botanic Garden.
Watch This To see some of our adventures come to life, visit our YouTube channel, SWASpiritMagazine.
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