2016 Liberty Bowl Cheat Sheet: Things To Do In Memphis

Posted by Holly Whitfield | December 7th 2015 8845 0

Are you a Kansas State or Arkansas fan traveling to Memphis for the 2016 Liberty Bowl (January 2, 2016)? You’ve come to the right place. Here’s your cheat sheet for making the most of your long weekend in our fair city.

If you are looking for the other 2016 Liberty Bowl, which will take place on December 30, go here.

Liberty Bowl Stadium. Photo by Chuck Lajeunesse.

Liberty Bowl Stadium. Photo by Chuck Lajeunesse.

The Game

The 2016 Liberty Bowl game between the Kansas State Wildcats and the Arkansas Razorbacks is Saturday, January 2, 2016 at 2:20 p.m. CST at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis.

There is parking near the stadium, you can use ride-sharing apps like Uber or Lyft, or call a cab at 901-577-7777 to make your way to the Liberty Bowl. While most lodging options are 10-20 minutes from the Stadium on a regular day, expect traffic delays on January 2 – there are a ton of you going to the Liberty Bowl!

If you want more detailed info on tailgating, parking, and game day tips, click here.

Other Liberty Bowl related events include a team welcome party, a lunch with players and coaches, and a gala featuring country artist Craig Morgan. All of those are ticketed events.

The Liberty Bowl Beale Street Parade on January 1 at 3 p.m. is free, and will be followed by a pep rally in Handy Park on Beale at 4:30 p.m.

As for lodging, there are lots of hotels in downtown Memphis and East Memphis. Downtown hotels will be within walking distance (or a short trolley ride) from things to do and about five miles to the Stadium. If you stay in East Memphis, you’ll need transportation to get to nearby things to do and will be about seven to ten miles from the Stadium.

Click here for info on local hotels.

Five Things You Must Do In Memphis

“What are the top things I must do when I visit Memphis?” This is a hard question to answer, but it’s one I get all the time. If you only have a few days to spend in town, here’s a quick run-down of five Memphis must-dos.

Ed. Note: Due to the New Year’s holiday, some establishments may have different or limited hours, so be sure to call ahead. If you’re looking for a Guide To New Year’s in Memphis, click here.

Graceland Record Room

Record Room at Graceland

1. Get A Dose Of Memphis Music History 

If you’re an Elvis fan, or you have an afternoon to spend, a pilgrimage to Graceland is the perfect choice.

If you don’t have the time/budget for Graceland, I recommend a visit to Sun Studio, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music (think Sam and Dave), or the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.

The Memphis Music Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame should be on your list if you’re a music buff; both museums are new this year.

Central BBQ

2. Eat BBQ

Barbecue is the official cuisine of Memphis. The quintessential, visitor-friendly spot is The Rendezvous downtown (get ribs or the sausage and cheese plate). Locals love Central BBQ (which has three locations -get ribs, a pulled pork sandwich, or BBQ nachos with house chips), The Bar-B-Q Shop (go for ribs, sandwiches, and a side of BBQ spaghetti), Tops BBQ (pulled pork sandwich or burger with BBQ), and Payne’s BBQ (try the pulled pork sandwich or ribs) among many others.

Some places might involve a wait (especially at the midtown Central BBQ location) during peak times.


View of Mud Island, bridge, and Pyramid from the top of Beale Street Landing

3. Photo Ops and History

Stop by Beale Street Landing and Tom Lee Park to take in the views of the mighty Mississippi. Don’t forget to get a photo with the iconic bridge.

The historic Peabody Hotel downtown has a beautiful lobby, a rooftop with a great view, and two daily duck marches that the kids will love.

Beale Street is the historic music and entertainment district. Take a daytime stroll past the shops and establishments, then stop in A. Schwab general store for sundaes. At night, enjoy all the live music, have a few drinks, and watch the Beale Street Flippers do their thing.

I may be biased, but checking out the I Love Memphis murals is fun and a great photo op. The two most popular murals are located near 768 Cooper Street and in the parking lot behind 422 N. Cleveland Street. Check out the full list here.

grizzlies 2

FedExForum right before a Grizzlies game tipoff.

4. Attractions

The Memphis Zoo is consistently rated #1 or #2 in the country and is worth a visit, especially if you have kids with you.

The National Civil Rights Museum (located at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968) is an engaging, comprehensive museum focused on the civil rights movement.

NBA team Memphis Grizzlies play their home games at FedExForum, adjacent to Beale Street in downtown Memphis. If you’re getting in town early enough, go watch the Grizzlies play the LA Lakers on Dec. 27 and the Miami Heat on Dec. 29. There are special discounted tickets available while supplies last.

You have several options for tours of Memphis: Backbeat Tours offers musical sightseeing bus tours as well as walking “ghost tours”. The Memphis Hop is a hop-on, hop-off shuttle with 10 stops. Historical Haunts guides ghost tours. A Tour Of Possibilities van tour focuses on civil rights and African American history. Check schedules for availability.

bass pro pyramid exterior

5. Wild Card

This one depends on your interests. Here are some options for your choose-your-own-adventure Memphis number five must-do.

– If you’re the outdoorsy type, go to the Bass Pro Pyramid, an enormous  Inside you can ride the nation’s tallest freestanding elevator to the top ($10 per person, there are lines on weekends) for an incredible view of the city.

– If you’re looking for the local live music scene, venues like Lafayette’s, the Hi-Tone, Minglewood Hall, and Bar DKDC regularly host local bands. Beale Street has plenty of live music as well. All these venues have totally different vibes.

– If you’re into craft beer, check out Memphis’ three taprooms: Wiseacre, Memphis Made, and High Cotton, plus Bosco’s Brewpub. Hammer & Ale serves all the local brews, offer flights, and a small food menu.

– If you have the kids with you and it’s not too cold, check out the Memphis Zoo, My Big Backyard play area at Memphis Botanic Gardens, Rainbow Lake Playground at Overton Park. The Children’s Museum of Memphis and the Pink Palace Museum are great indoor options. A few fun, kid-friendly places to eat include Huey’s (multiple locations, burgers), Aldo’s (pizza, two locations), Soul Fish (fried catfish, etc., two locations), and Belly Acres (burgers, one location) which has a really fun atmosphere.

Places To Eat And Drink In Memphis

Make reservations anywhere you can, especially for brunch. Speaking of brunch, you can find extensive brunch guides for downtown, midtown, and East Memphis here, here, and here, respectively.


Earnestine & Hazel’s offers up beer, soul burgers, and late-night music in the divey-est of dive bar atmospheres
Majestic Grill is crowd pleasing cuisine in an upscale, art deco atmosphere
Gus’ Fried Chicken’s spicy, crispy chicken is world-famous for a reason
– For bar hopping/late-night eating: SOB, Bardog Tavern, Local, Flying Saucer, Blind Bear (the latter allows smoking), plus Beale Street
– For breakfast: Arcade Restaurant, Bardog Tavern, Blue Plate Cafe


Beauty Shop serves fusion food in a swanky atmosphere for lunch, dinner, and brunch
Second Line serves New Orleans-style food (especially po-boys) and craft cocktails
– For breakfast: Cafe Eclectic, Celtic Crossing (brunch only)
– For bar hopping/late-night eating: Young Ave Deli, Alchemy, Sweet Grass Next Door, Schweinehaus, Local on the Square
– Soul Fish Cafe serves soul food in a casual atmosphere
– Aldo’s is a chill pizza joint next to Memphis Made Taproom (they also have a downtown location)

East Memphis:

Hog & Hominy is a Memphis favorite serves Southern-Italian cuisine family-style, plus craft cocktails
– Porcellino’s upscale coffee shop and butcher has a very tasty but pricey breakfast in an upscale cafe atmosphere
– One & Only BBQ has two East Memphis locations with tasty barbecue ribs, pulled pork, and more
RP Tracks is a college bar with surprisingly great food; if you’re a vegetarian who wants barbecue, the BBQ tofu nachos there are A+
– For breakfast: Another Broken Egg, Blue Plate Cafe, Brother Junipers (the latter is immensely popular, expect a wait)
– Elwood’s Shack is in a tiny, actual shack in a Lowe’s parking lot; folks love their bbq, fish tacos, and breakfast

This isn’t close to everything I could tell you about what to see, do, and eat in Memphis. Feel free to leave questions in the comments, or ask me on Twitter.

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.

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  1. […] This is a hard question to answer, but it’s …read more […]

  2. Tami Thompsom says:

    There are TONS of eateries less than a mile from the Liberty Bowl in Cooper Young! Stone Soup Cafe offers breakfast all day and is now open for dinner every Thursday-Saturday till 9p. Come on by and see us on your way to the game OR on your way home! WPS!!

  3. Sean Reinhard says:

    You forget Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Museum.

  4. Bill Harper says:

    Ease out and check out Corky s bar bq right there on poplar , and then The Germantown Commissary is also good, I sent a bunch of people to both last year and ran a poll, Commissary beat all of them. Sent about 80 folks to the Villa Castrioti in Cordova and not one bad review. Everything is not down town, in Memphis, it is spread out. On Mondays TJ Mulligan s has a 4.95 burger that is out of this world and the cutest servers in Memphis, including the bartender . Just sharing folks

  5. Kay says:

    Oh, gee! You forgot to mention the Brooks Museum of Art! Bet there are a few football fans who like art museums!

    • Holly Whitfield says:

      Thanks Kay! There are dozens of great museums and attractions like the Brooks Museum, Dixon Gallery, Botanic Gardens, Metal Museum, U of M Art Museum, Belz Museum, Ernest Withers Collection, and many, many more that visitors can enjoy, and all of those can be found on this blog! I’m here for anyone looking for something specific that’s not listed on this quick cheat-sheet guide!

  6. Lisa says:

    We are headed to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl. Any suggestions on where we should go for NYE downtown with a 16 and 18 year old? We are staying a few blocks from Beale Street and would love to be as close to the festivities as possible but it looks like everything including entrance to Beale Street is 21+. Thanks!

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