Beale Street bills itself as the “Home of the Blues” and you can find it there in dozens of bars and clubs that feature live music. At night the street really comes alive, as the street is closed to vehicles and pedestrians can drink on the street. Most bars have no cover charge, so the district is a great place to go “walkin’ in Memphis,” bar-hop, and take in lots of great bands.
By far the number one tourist attraction in Memphis, the former home of Elvis Presley continues to pack in thousands of fans every year. A tour of the grounds shows off the house itself, Elvis’ customized private airplanes and car collection, gold records, costumes, and other memorabilia. Graceland gets positively swarmed for one week each in January and August, as fans come to commemorate the anniversaries of the King’s birth and death, respectively.
The National Civil Rights Museum is a genuine historical landmark, built out of the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in 1968. The museum chronicles the key events of the American civil rights movement and how it has inspired similar movements around the world.
Memphis’ musical legacy is enshrined at the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, across the street from the Gibson guitar factory. Here you’ll learn how the Memphis music overcame racial and economic barriers to change music around the world.
http://The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is a little more focused but just as interesting. Exhibits include an authentic, 100-year-old Mississippi Delta Church where soul’s roots in gospel music are explained to artifacts and exhibits on modern stars like Isaac Hayes, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and more.
The truly devoted to music can visit the Sun Studio, where many classic blues and rock ‘n’ roll recordings were made, including Elvis’ and Johnny Cash’s first records.
The other significant former private mansion in Memphis is the illustrious Pink Palace, once owned by Clarence Saunders, the man who created the Piggly Wiggly chain of grocery stores. The Palace was confiscated by the government to pay Saunders’ outstanding taxes and is now a museum of eccentricities: everything from shrunken heads to a life-size copy of the first Piggly Wiggly store.