I have been wanting to visit Memphis as a tourist for several years. So much about it has changed in the fifteen years since I left for Los Angeles. All my visits home, however, were full of family, friends, University of Memphis basketball and dodging tornadoes.
As you know from my previous post, Meredith Meade and I drove down to Memphis from Nashville a couple of weekends ago to play tourist. It was her first visit and the first day at Graceland she was enamored. Would it last?
We checked into the Holiday Inn Select Downtown, across from The Peabody. It seemed only fitting to stay in the hotel chain that was not only founded in Memphis but created the hotel chain phenomena.
Saturday morning we walked down Main Street to the oldest Cafe in Memphis, The Arcade. The cold weather wasn’t stopping people from coming out to eat, so we had a small wait before being seated. When I lived in Memphis, we never ventured down this far Main, so I really enjoyed seeing this part of town and seeing the revitalization going on. The food was…well, ok…except for the sweet potato pancakes. They alone were worth the wait!
Next up (and less than a block away) was The Civil Rights Museum, located at the site of the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King was assassinated.
The museum is jam packed full of information about the civil rights movement in the United States, dating back to the Underground Railroad. While its informative and moving, I felt that the layout didn’t maximize the materials and could see that the children going through the museum soon lost interest.
After a quick tea and snack at The Peabody Hotel to rejuvenate ourselves, we headed over to the Rock and Soul Museum for an education in the progression of music history in Memphis. Tucked next to the Fed Ex Forum, at the foot of Beale Street, this museum was light, fun and enjoyable.
Heading back to our hotel we were sidetracked by the Wet Willies‘ drinks and stopped to rest our weary feet.
Dinner on Saturday night was two-fold. Craving BBQ Nachos we put our name in at the world famous Rendezvous Restaurant and were told it was an almost two hour wait (it was Saturday night after all). We promptly walked over to Automatic Slims Tonga Club for a cocktail and appetizers. We ordered calamari and since it was happy hour ($5 martinis) I ordered a Flirtini. A flirtini is a mix of vodka, champagne and chambord and is wonderful. I recommend it!
We got back to the Rendezvous just as they were calling our name, promptly sat down and ate the most delicious BBQ Nachos I have ever tasted (I am still dreaming about them). Now keep in mind, I am not a Rendezvous Fan and when visitors come to Memphis and want to eat there I usually tell them to steer clear…well, no longer. It was worth the wait! YUMMY!
My dad has made his way from Olive Branch, MS by this time and we headed down to Beale Street for some good Memphis Blues. We started the night at The Rum Boogie Cafe, secured a table by the door, and sat back to enjoy! A few hours later we made our way down to BB King’s Restaurant and Blues Club , where we finished our evening. My dad could have stayed out all night but Meredith and I were exhausted after our busy day.
Sunday morning found us at Sun Studio, where Rock and Roll was born. Of all the museums we visited, Meredith and I liked this one the best, due in part of our wonderful tour guide. I can’t believe that in all the years I lived in Memphis I never visited this museum. I even worked less than two blocks away from it while I was in college. Make sure you don’t miss it.
After meeting up with my best friend Valerie for lunch at Memphis Pizza Cafe, Meredith and I hit the road back to Nashville, exhausted but feeling like we got to know Memphis a little bit better!