Blues Rock ’n’ Roll BBQ Pork Capital Cotton Row and Graceland
Memphis is a city with a rich and eclectic history: Home of the Blues, Birthplace of Rock ’n’ Roll, BBQ Pork Capital of the World. Some of the city’s traditions and milestones include: Graceland, Home of Elvis Presley; the Memphis Zoo; the Indie Memphis Film Festival; Sun Studio; National Civil Rights Museum; the Memphis NBA Grizzlies; Stax Museum of American Soul Music; Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, Payne’s BBQ and Interstate BBQ; Beale Street; Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival.
The city’s history began with the Native Americans who settled on the Fourth Chickasaw Bluff, then onto Hernando De Soto, the Civil War, yellow fever, the blues and rock ‘n’ roll music.
Cotton Row beginning around 1840 riverboats loaded with cotton lined the Memphis riverfront. Through the Civil War and by the turn of the century, Memphis was center stage and cotton was king. By some estimates, over 75% of the nation’s cotton came through the Bluff City. Front Street in Downtown Memphis was nicknamed “Cotton Row” and was the heart of the cotton trade and the center of the Memphis economy for over a century.
Relive the Days of Cotton Traders and How Cotton changed the History of a Nation
Elmwood Cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places and is also an official arboretum. It is the final resting place for veterans of every American war, Mayors, madams, Governors, generals, Senators, blues singers and Civil Rights leaders.
Davies Manor Plantation once a working plantation of 2,000 acres, is the oldest extant home in Shelby County. View the historic log cabin, gardens, outbuildings and tenant cabins accompanied by guides dressed in period related clothing.
Victorian Village between 1845 and 1890, over a dozen, three and four-story, Victorian-style homes were built along “Millionaire’s Row”, which at the time, was on the outskirts of Memphis.
Performing arts, Broadway shows at the historic Orpheum Theatre, and the city’s own professional resident theater. Memphis is also home to a nationally acclaimed professional ballet company, opera and symphony orchestra.
A display of Fine Art, history-making Music and a Celebration of American Heritage and Culture
The Cotton Museum, built on the original trading floor, uses video footage, oral histories, artifacts and exhibits to give you a glimpse of cotton society, history, economics and culture.
The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum Memphis’ history is thick with music. Muddy Waters rode the Blues Highway – Route 61 up from Mississippi to Memphis. So did B.B. King, John Lee Hooker and Bessie Smith. Created by the Smithsonian Institution, the museum exhibition tells the story of musical pioneers and offers a comprehensive Memphis music experience from the rural field hollers and sharecroppers of the 1930s, through the surge of Sun, Stax and Hi Records and Memphis’ musical heyday in the 70s, to its global influence.
Graceland the legendary home to Elvis Presley and his family is a National Historic Landmark. The 14-acre home of the King includes the mansion, the Hall of Gold, “Sincerely Elvis” museum, the vintage automobile collection and his airplanes.
Gibson Beale Street Showcase Factory from the body to the bridge, from the fingerboard to the fret, the pieces have come together for over 100 years from Gibson Guitars. Watch highly skilled luthiers craft the one instrument most associated with pop music and culture, the Gibson guitar.
Beale Street when the blues migrated north from the Delta it found a permanent home in Memphis, and that home is alive and well today on Beale Street. Dance to the many bands and artists that perform in open-air Handy Park or spend a night sliding in and out of any number of nightclubs. Hit the district in May when the city jams with the annual Memphis in May Festival.
Soulsville Stax Museum of American Soul Music this 17,000-square-foot museum, on the original site of Stax Records, houses more than 2,000 cultural artifacts, celebrating the music made famous by Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MGs, Isaac Hayes, the Bar-Kays, Al Green, Aretha Franklin and Earth, Wind & Fire.
Sun Studio Sam Phillips’ famous recording studio is ground zero for rock and roll’s explosion onto the world stage. The “Birthplace of Rock and Roll” gives visitors a chance to hear historical outtakes and even touch Elvis’ first microphone. Experience the stories that put legends like Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and more on the map, and see why artists like U2, Tom Petty and Maroon Five continue to flock here today.
National Civil Rights Museum housed in the Lorraine Motel, and the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this award-winning museum brings the stories of civil and human rights to life in moving fashion. Interpretive exhibits and in-depth audio/visual displays focus on milestone events like the Montgomery bus boycott and the Memphis sanitation strike, as well as more recent struggles and achievements of the Civil Rights Movement following King’s death.
Mud Island River Park by day, take the monorail, which boasts some of the city’s best views, over to the Mississippi River Museum, where you can check out genuine Civil War garb and gunboat reproductions. By night, catch a live performance at the Amphitheater with the Memphis skyline as your backdrop and the rolling river at your back.
Brooks Museum of Art a registered National Landmark, it features an impressive permanent collection of items ranging from the ancient to the modern. Highly regarded for its medieval and Renaissance work, the Brooks often showcases world-class exhibitions from around the globe.
National Ornamental Metal Museum known for one of the most picturesque views of the Mississippi River, it gives craftsmen and casual observers alike the opportunity to have a magical experience along the banks of the mighty Mississippi as the home of a working blacksmith shop and more than 3,000 pieces of decorative metalwork. Take in a blacksmithing class, see contemporary and historic metal work and enjoy a sunset at one of the hottest spots in town.
The Memphis Riverboat sightseeing cruises dock at beautiful Beale Street Landing and take you on a 10-mile round-trip voyage aboard the Memphis Queen III.