What’s the best time to visit Memphis?

We recommend visiting Memphis in May for the May International Festival, a 30-day event that includes the Beale Street Music Festival, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest and Sunset Symphony. Offering mild temperatures, May in the Home of Blues offers sunny and blue skies almost daily.

And if you ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, Elvis Week, held in August, gives you another reason to come back. Filled to the brim with activities such as the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition, Elvis 5K Run, midnight screenings of the King’s films and the Candlelight Vigil, the annual ritual brings thousands from around the world to pay homage to the King.

  • On May 28, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What’s the best time to visit Memphis?

    Memphis is not quite south enough to be warm and welcoming in winter, yet it gets hot and sticky in summer, often uncomfortably so. The best times to visit are April-May and October-November, and if you have compete flexibility, October statistically offers the very best combination of reasonable temperatures (mid-70s) and low rainfall. September is next best, and the spring, while temperate, is appreciably wetter. In general, June-September are the most rain free months, but summer gets quite hot, low to mid 90s daily. It’s still warm, but June and September are preferable to July and August – besides being the hottest months, they are also the city’s busiest, thanks to school vacations. You can get lucky in February, or more likely March, when temperatures typically are in the low 60s, sometimes warmer, and crowds are at a minimum.
  • On May 28, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What is the best way to see Memphis in one day?

    There is too much to see Memphis in one day, but if that’s all you have, hit Graceland first thing in the morning, because the many tours buses begin arriving mid-morning and it’s much faster and easier to get in – and out – before them. Do the full tour, with the option for his plane and car collections, it’s worth it. Head back to downtown and hit Gus’ Famous Fried Chicken, within walking distance of the rest of your day, for an early lunch, again beating the crowds – it is very locally popular. For a single day you will have to skip the excellent zoo, and focus on the cluster of downtown attractions. You can walk to the must-see National Civil Rights Museum, then the Memphis Rock ‘n Soul Museum. If you have item and energy, squeeze in a tour of the Gibson Guitar Factory. Head back to your hotel and freshen up, the make it barbecue, the city’s most famous cuisine, for dinner – Central Bar-B-Q or the Bar-B-Q shop are excellent choices, though both require a cab. The night is yours on Beale Street where one bar after another offers live music, with a focus on blues, soul and rock ‘n roll.
  • On May 28, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best things to see and do in Memphis?

    Memphis has a stunning number of must-see attractions, from museums to neighborhoods. The National Civil Rights Museum, built around the preserved façade of the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, is a must-see. The 800-pound gorilla of Memphis tourism is Graceland, Elvis Presley’s former home, and the only thing in town other than perhaps barbecue that inspires global pilgrimages. The tour is excellent, including the King’s former highly customized private jets, and will be surprisingly impressive even to non-fans, but given its stature, it is shocking that Graceland is not the city’s top tourist attraction. That would be the Memphis Zoo, which has been rated number one in the nation by Tripadvisor.com, is over a century old, spans 70-acres, and is one of only four in the nation with Giant pandas. Another top attraction is the Beale Street Historic District, the pedestrianized several block zone of live music bars and restaurants that every tourist in Memphis ends up strolling, usually at night, for food, drink and blues. Music is omnipresent here, and the other major attractions revolve around it including the Memphis Rock ‘n Soul Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, the excellent Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Sun Studio, where Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded, with an excellent tour, and the Gibson Guitar Factory, also with tours.
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  • On May 28, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best Memphis museums?

    For its size, Memphis has some excellent museums, all of them directly related to the city’s historic past and unique flavor. First and foremost is the National Civil Rights Museum, built from a cluster of buildings around the preserved façade of the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, including his actual room, the balcony where he was shot, and even the boarding house across the street where James Earl Ray took the fatal shot from. In addition to its unique and wonderful architecture, the museum itself is excellent, very moving and one of a kind, simultaneously tracing the assassination of King and the entire history of the Civil Rights movement in America. The other top museums are devoted to Memphis’ major cultural influence, music. These include the interactive Memphis Rock ‘n Soul Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, right in downtown near Beale Street, with more emphasis on the city’s role as a home for exploding popularity of Rock ‘n Roll figures such as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, along with the excellent and also highly interactive Stax Museum of American Soul Music, a must-visit. The Stax Records label was born here in Memphis and emphasized soul, jazz and R&B, introducing many big stars such as Otis Redding. Stax went out of business, and the museum now occupies its former studio.
  • On May 28, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best Memphis food experiences?

    Memphis is world famous for its slow smoked, pork-centric barbecue, and justifiably so, but has relatively little else that is exceptional on the culinary front, and is still awaiting the “new Southern” fine dining revolution that has hit Nashville, Charleston, Birmingham and elsewhere. The most notable exception to this rule is Gus’ Famous Fried Chicken, a hole in the wall which is among the best in the country for its simply exceptional combination of poultry, breading and deep frying, worth a special trip. On Beale Street, local favorite Dyers is famous for its deep fried burgers, and has a loyal following, but real burger fans will not be impressed. Fortunately, the barbecue is excellent, so make the best of it and have word class smoked meat, with plenty of variety. Memphis is best known for its ribs, wet and dry, and you’ll find the best of the former at Central Bar-B-Q, and the best of the latter at the Bar-B-Q shop, which outshines the more famous Rendezvous. Bar-B-Q Shop also has the best BBQ Spaghetti in town, a distinctly Memphis specialty. A top all-around choice and locals’ favorite is Cozy Corner, with very good ribs and pulled pork, but most famous for its novel barbecue Cornish game hen, and less well known for its excellent rib tips. If you have just one barbecue meal in you, it’s hard to beat Central BBQ, which has exceptional ribs, very good pulled pork and unique specialties like BBQ nachos and homemade fresh pork rinds, along with fantastic house-made kettle chips.
  • On May 28, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best places to stay in Memphis?

    For tourists and especially first time visitors, Memphis has one hotel so unique it rises above all others, and that’s the historic Forbes 4-Star Peabody, a Southern grande dame steeped in history, with an elegant ambiance, several restaurants including Chez Philippe, the city’s top fine dining eatery, and the city’s most popular cocktail spot, the lobby bar. It also has the best location in town, two blocks from Beale Street and within walking distance of several famous attractions and eateries. But the Peabody’s world renowned claim to fame is its morning and afternoon “duck marches,” when the hotel’s uniformed Duck Master escorts a family of ducks between the lobby fountain where they spend their days and the rooftop coop where they spend their nights. A major tourist attraction in its own right, this spectacle packs the lobby with outsiders but only hotel guests even have the option to serve as honorary Duck Master and help lead the procession. Otherwise, the top choices for upscale lodging are the boutique River Inn of Harbor Town with less than 30 rooms and tons of charm, the Madison Hotel in the neoclassic former Tennessee Trust Bank Building, and the Westin Beale Street, combing a predictable level of quality and Westin’s signature Heavenly Bed & Bath with a perfect location for dining and entertainment. For Elvis fans only, there’s the kitschy Heartbreak Hotel, part of the greater Graceland attraction and located directly across the street from the King’s mansion and its ultra-popular tours.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best Memphis food experiences?

    Memphis’ five best food experiences are as different as the sounds from the city’s famous recording studios. The Mid-South region earns its stripes for barbecue and soul food, for the most part, and the five best experiences don’t stray far from those themes. Without further ado, here’s the five best food experiences Memphis has to offer:

    1. Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous: The only thing bigger than Elvis in Memphis is barbecue, and the reigning king of barbecue joints is the famed Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous. Dry-rub ribs, born out of a discovered coal chute in 1948, bring diners by the dozens to the downtown icon.

    2. Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken: Serving hot and greasy chicken in brown paper sacks, just as they did almost 60 years ago, this restaurant offers light- and dark-meat chicken, sides and breads. The downtown staple was featured in GQ magazine as one of the top five restaurants in the country worth flying to for a meal.

    3. Soul Fish café: A Midtown favorite, Soul Fish café delivers authentic Southern comfort food. Don’t be fooled by the restaurant’s nondescript exterior: The restaurant dishes out excellent soul food, such as fried catfish, po’ boys, smoked chicken, hush puppies and fresh vegetables.

    4. Circa by John Bragg: Fusing culinary art and dramatic art, Circa delivers with an innovative interior design, including the stunning Wall of Wine where the wine collection is stored, while the contemporary American haute cuisine shines on its own.

    5. Folk’s Folly Prime Steak House: Consistently voted best steak in Memphis and named one of America's Top Ten Steakhouses, this chow hub offers outstanding food and service. The East Memphis establishment welcomes you with a grand piano player and complimentary fried dill pickles, a Southern favorite.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Which five Memphis restaurants are best for brunch?

    Memphis’ best restaurants for brunch have so many delicious options, you may want to wear clothes a size bigger when you visit-or at least leave an extra notch open in your belt. Here’s our list of the five best brunch joints in Memphis:

    1. Owen Brennan’s: Offering Cajun and Creole cuisine for more than 20 years, Owen Brennan’s win the Memphis brunch championship. The East Memphis restaurant’s award-winning Sunday brunch has a champagne brunch and a buffet with omelet and waffle stations, salad, fruit and dessert bars and a jazz trio.

    2. Brother Juniper's: “Best brunch in the nation” winner Brother Juniper's offers brunch every day of the week, because that’s all its serves. Re-imagined American diner classics, especially the homemade baked goods, demonstrate that dedication. Near the University of Memphis, the award-winning restaurant is a humble house run by the Koplin family, who continue the tradition of the original Brother Juniper, cook to St. Francis of Assisi.

    3. Beauty Shop Restaurant & Lounge: Midtown Memphis’ Beauty Shop Restaurant & Lounge, a former salon of Priscilla Presley, has retained fun elements of its previous purpose, including hooded hair dryer chairs. The joint’s Sunday brunch offers quiche and crepes du jour, the popular lemon ricotta pancakes and handmade milkshakes in eclectic flavors such as Nutella and sherry fig in a ‘60s retro setting.

    4. Boscos Squared: A Midtown eatery offering a Sunday brunch with live jazz music by local legend Joyce Cobb, Boscos Squared has a menu full of fresh omelets, benedicts and Belgian waffles, along with the favorite andouille-and-chicken hash topped with poached eggs.

    5. Sunday Brunch at the Peabody Memphis brings a cornucopia of dishes in the hotel’s Capriccio Grill. The elegant downtown hotel sets out a vast buffet with salads, pastas, fresh pastries and desserts, and saddles of lamb, beef and ham.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the best places to hear live music in Memphis?

    Old favorites and newcomers offer an eclectic mix full of Memphis’ distinct sound. Beale Street tops the list with a vast selection of clubs and bars to choose from, including alleys full of impromptu jam sessions and Handy Park’s outdoor amphitheater. Relative newcomer Minglewood Hall has made quite an impression, quickly becoming a favorite of locals, and has a Revive oxygen/cereal/coffee bar and Oasis Hookah Lounge inside. The Hi-Tone Cafe, an intimate bar featuring local and national acts, is a Midtown mecca for hipsters, but also offers free family-friendly afternoon shows in its smoke-free environment, complete with ping pong table and arcade games. The Levitt Shell is a great venue with its free concert series during the spring, summer and fall in Overton Park. You really can’t go wrong with too many places in Memphis when it comes to live music; after all, this is the Home of Blues, and a mecca to the be beloved music genre; when in doubt, just ask a local where the best bands play, and you might even unearth a musical treasure.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best kid-friendly restaurants in Memphis?

    If you’re hitting the road with the kids, finding a place with the right food for everybody can be a challenge; Memphis, however, provides enough options that you’ll find something that the whole family can love. Here are the five best kid-friendly restaurants in the city:

    1. Huey’s Restaurant, hailed for the best burgers and service in Memphis, has kid-size burgers and a kids’ menu, and more importantly, the tradition of shooting the sandwich toothpicks into the ceiling.
    2. The homey Three Angels Diner, outfitted with mismatched chairs and tables shellacked with vintage newspaper and magazine clippings, offers pinball machines to play on, as well as hearty burgers, soups and desserts on its menu.
    3. Incredible Pizza is more than a restaurant - it’s an experience, with a buffet, arcade, bowling lanes, bumper cars, mini golf and indoor go carts, topped off with Mr. Incredible dance parties every hour.
    4. The Trolley Stop Market, started by local Whitton Farm owners, offers fresh meals and inventive pizza creations with theme nights, such as Taco Night or Vegan Night.
    5. The Kooky Canuck is exactly like it sounds, serving up four-pound burgers to share or attempt alone, an 18-scoop ice cream dessert and popular s’mores.
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