Answers from Our Experts (2)
The best way to see as much of Memphis in one day is to book the Memphis Mojo Tour offered by Backbeat Tours, where musicians sing and tell anecdotes aboard a vintage 1950s-era bus. The unconventional tour will keep you entertained for two hours. You’ll visit Memphis’ greatest attractions, such as Beale Street, the Peabody Memphis hotel, the Levitt Shell, the Lorraine Motel, Civil War sights and movie locations.
If you want a more packed day, start by catching the Riverfront Loop trolley, at the corner of Main and Union Streets. The scenic and relaxing ride has great views of downtown Memphis and the Mississippi River. You’ll pass Mud Island River Park and the unique Pyramid Arena. Next, visit the National Civil Rights at the Lorraine Motel, assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Check out the quirky March of the Peabody Ducks at the Peabody Memphis Hotel at 11 a.m., if you return in time. Don’t worry, the ducks’ grand entrance at the lobby fountain repeats at 5 p.m., when they exit down the red carpet and return to their rooftop Royal Duck Palace.
From there, head over to nearby historic Beale Street and grab a bite to eat at one of its many establishments. Visit the Memphis Rock N’ Soul Museum, created by the Smithsonian Institution, that gives an overview of Memphis’ musical history, from Sun Studio to Stax Records and Hi Records. If you still want more music lore, a couple blocks further away is Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio that made Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis famous, or you can take a nap and rest up for the evening. It’s time to eat dinner at the infamous Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous barbecue restaurant, which has fed Presidents, rock stars and athletes. For your evening entertainment, you can catch a Broadway production, ballet or opera at the elegant Orpheum Theatre, or see Beale Street in all its glory when the nightclubs and bars are in full swing. It all makes for a jam-packed day, but if one day’s all you’ve got, Memphis will fill your time with no problem.
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.