The current civic renaissance in Memphis provides visitors with fresh experiences in the arts, food, and music, while the city’s history and soul remain accessible and authentic.
Memphis is a river city with an approachable, friendly vibe. History and Southern hospitality coexist with the locals’ fresh approaches to food, music, and culture.
When to Go
The city’s warmer climate means that visitors will be comfortable at any time of year, but spring, summer, and fall are the busiest times for festivals and outdoor activities.
Plan a pilgrimage during Memphis in May International Festival, a month-long celebration of music, barbecue, culture, arts, and the city. For rock and roll fans, Elvis Week each August is a bucket list event. Fall and spring in particular host an abundance of festivals dedicated to arts, beer, and food.
What to Eat
Order a sampling of slow-smoked Memphis barbecue: Think tender pulled pork topped with slaw on a sandwich, barbecue spaghetti, and fall-off-the-bone ribs. Then, seek out spicy fried chicken and Southern vegetables from one of the city’s soul food joints. Cupcakes and pastries from local coffeehouses and house-made charcuterie from upscale eateries both make the city’s must-eats list.
Souvenir to Take Home
As home to the world’s largest pork barbecue cook-off, Memphis has plenty of locally-produced dry rubs, seasonings, and sauces available at restaurants or in local markets. A community of independent artisans excels at handmade jewelry, ceramics, and trendy enamel pins, so watch for pop-up shops at coffeehouses, breweries, and events.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Sustainable Travel Tip
Take advantage of the bike share program, new as of spring 2018, to explore midtown and downtown neighborhoods instead of driving or hiring a car. Use the Greenline, a 10.5-mile paved pathway through the city, for access to midtown and East Memphis, including Shelby Farms.
At sunset, ride the nation’s tallest freestanding elevator to the top of Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid and take in the view. From the observation deck of the towering glass and steel structure, you’ll be able to see the city skyline, the Mississippi River, riverboats at Beale Street Landing, and more.