The Touristy Things Every Memphian Should Do at Least Once

Posted by Holly Whitfield | March 1st 2012 1951 33

Every year, thousands of tourists flock to Memphis because they love music, barbecue and partying. But many of you who read this blog regularly live here (and most of you still haven't been to Graceland).

Here are some touristy things that every Memphian should do (even if it's so you know where to send out-of-towners). They may remind you how lucky you are to live in a place that has so many things going for it.

1. Tour Ghost River

Ghost River sample, Memphis, Tenn.

If you're a Memphian, you probably drink your share of locally-brewed Ghost River beer. Take advantage of the fact that it's brewed locally and go on their free Saturday brewery tour. Beer nerds will love it for the facts and technical information, beer drinkers will love it for the samples.

2. Go to the Stax Museum

Tourists flock to Memphis for our blues and rock'n'roll history. But Memphis isn't just blues and rock'n'roll – the city also has a soul legacy to rival Motown. The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is located in a neighborhood where tons of soul visionaries were born and is home to the artifacts, records and equipment of the greats (including Isaac Hayes' car). They're also the only museum that I know of that has a dance floor.

3. Ride the Trolley

South Main Trolley, Memphis, Tenn.

As a local, you may never take the trolley in your daily life. It doesn't serve a wide area and there are definitely days when I'm pretty sure I could walk faster than it. Stop thinking about the trolley as a form of mass public transit and start thinking about it as a cheap, fun excursion. For less than $2 you can ride the Riverfront Loop. It takes about 45 minutes, and you'll get to see the skyline, the river, the Main St. mall, the Arcade and more. Do it at night for even better views (plus, sometimes when it's packed, the trolley can seem a little like a party).

4. Go to an Elvis Tribute Artist Contest

I've been to some of the Elvis Tribute Artist contests that happen in conjunction with Elvis Week, and I have to recommend that everyone go to one at least once. They're amazing for the ammount of effort that the contestants put in. They're amazing for the guys that have the look, attitude and sound completely right. They're amazing for the guys who may not quite pull it off, but were so inspired and moved by Memphis' music that they're trying.

5. Commune with nature.

There are several ways to do this. You could always go to the Memphis Zoo, which is so well thought out that you could go ten times and still not get sick of it. You could check out the sweeping views of the Mississippi while having a picnic on the grounds of the National Ornamental Metal Museum.

6. Have a drink on Beale.

Though it's history is as the center of Memphis' bustling African American business district,  now Beale St. is known for being three blocks of straight party. There are a few locals only spots hidden on Beale (the Absinthe Room and Itta Bena are my favorites). But you're on Beale. So, just once, drink a Diver Bucket (and whatever you do, don't put said bucket on your head). Have a Call-a-Cab at Wet Willie's. Order a beer out of a giant neon extra longneck through a window.

What touristy things do you love? Where do you always take your friends from out of town?

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

Show Comments


  1. Lisa b says:

    You left out Sun Studio!

  2. Rosemary says:

    I think I've been to Sun Studios three times.  I never get tired of that one or Stax.  

  3. Sherry Gille says:

    Love,LOve, Love  Memphis. Lost count on how many times we have been to Graceland, Beale St, and a lot of B<B<Q eats!

  4. Sherry Gille says:

      LOVE MEMPHIS!!!!

  5. John Lindsay says:

    Don't forget Autozone ballpark.  The no. 1 minor league ballpark in the country.  They also serve Ghost River beer there.  Beautiful ballpark and great AAA minor league Cardinals team.  The park on the river on Mud Island is always a nice river view as well as Tom Lee Park.  Sun Studios tour is a must do as well…

  6. dan spector says:

    I start them with the mound, right next to NOMM. Indians were here first..

  7. @fantasyrideout says:

    you left out the Rideout Hideout on Midland… Just saying

  8. Kimberly says:

    Visit the Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art!

  9. MEL says:

    We've taken the Memphis Mojo tour from Backbeat (request Memphis Jones as your guide) and enjoyed it so much that we've sent other folks on the same tour.
    Check it out:

  10. @fantasyrideout says:

    Visit the Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art! – Great idea – the Center for Southern Folklore also used to have live music during the work week during the lunch hour!

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