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 November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best things to do on a romantic trip to Memphis?

    Memphis may be known for its blues and barbecue, but the city will love you tender as you plan a romantic trip. Here’s a list of the five best things to do on a romantic trip to Memphis:

    1. Dinner at Paulette’s: Nothing puts romance in the air like dinner at Paulette’s Restaurant, consistently voted Memphis’ most romantic eatery. After a recent move to the downtown River Inn of Harbor Town, Paulette’s is still famous for its desserts and hot popovers with strawberry butter. Open for 37 years, Paulette’s intimate dining room exudes a distinct warmth and charm with breathtaking views of the Mississippi River - perfect for a date night. Before or after enjoying executive chef Scott Donnelly’s continental cuisine, head up to the rooftop terrace with its spectacular view of the river, especially at sunset, or warm up by the lobby’s wood-burning fireplace.

    2. A concert at the Orpheum Theatre: Catching a concert or show at the Orpheum Theatre sets the mood. With stately chandeliers and an ornate décor inside the “South’s Finest Theatre,” the performance won’t be the only thing you have your eye on. The performing arts center hosts the Ballet Memphis, Opera Memphis and 12 Broadway productions a year.

    3. Ride the Mississippi: Let nature be your aphrodisiac with a Memphis Riverboat ride along the Mississippi River. The evening cruises include two hours on the mighty Mississippi, a buffet-style barbecue dinner and a live band for dancing the night away against the backdrop of the city’s skyline.

    4. B&B at Talbot Heirs: Scratch a bed and breakfast off your romance checklist. The Talbot Heirs Guesthouse, located in downtown Memphis, offers eight spacious suites, each uniquely styled, giving you private and authentic surroundings. The privately owned guesthouse has a full kitchen in each suite, and if you provide a grocery list, the property will have your kitchen stocked upon arrival.

    5. Dixon Gallery and Gardens: Flowers are the symbol of romance, so visit the Dixon Gallery and Gardens. Founded in 1976 by Hugo and Margaret Dixon, the fine art museum and public garden features a permanent collection, including French and American Impressionist paintings and significant holdings of German and English porcelain. Stroll along the 17-acre campus that includes formal spaces, woodland tracts and cutting gardens, landscaped in the manner of an English park.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Memphis?

    The five best things to do with kids in Memphis are enjoyable for adults, too, so you won’t have to worry about getting a headache while your kids run around screaming all day. In fact, the Mid-South city has enough activities and landmarks to fill up quite the diverse itinerary. Here’s a list of the five best things to do with kids in Memphis:

    1. The Memphis Zoo: Memphis’ highest attended attraction and one of the top-ranked zoos in the country, the Memphis Zoo recently underwent $90 million renovations. There’s plenty for kids to see among 70 acres, home to more than 3,500 animals representing more than 500 species. One of only four zoos in the country with giant pandas, the Memphis Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult tickets are $15; children’s tickets are $10; Parking is $5.

    2. The Children’s Museum of Memphis: The hands-on museum encourages kids to touch exhibits and immerse themselves in interactive fun. Kids can practice landing an airplane in the flight simulator, see an indoor thunderstorm and observe live honeybees, fish and birds. In the miniature city, children can drive fire engines, shop for groceries or become a dentist. Located in the former National Guard Armory, the museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10.

    3. Watch the ducks march: Kids adore the March of the Peabody Ducks at the Peabody Memphis; the world-famous tradition is held daily at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the lobby of the hotel. Children have a front row seat as they watch the duck master walk the ducks down the red carpet. The duck master takes kids on tours, signs autographs and takes pictures. Youngsters can also visit the ducks at the rooftop Royal Duck Palace, or watch them swim in the lobby fountain from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    4. My Big Backyard: Held at the Memphis Botanic Garden, My Big Backyard engages children in outdoor play, with slides, tunnels and balance beams. Some of the 16-theme areas include Leaping Lawn, Treetop Adventure, Raindrop Stop and Playhouse Lane, all meant for jumping, splashing, digging and enjoying time outdoors. Open Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets: Adults are $8 and children are $5.

    5. Mud Island River Park: Walk 1,000 miles at Mud Island River Park with its Riverwalk, a scale model of the Lower Mississippi River, ending in a one-acre Gulf of Mexico with pedal boats. Explore the Wolf River Harbor in a canoe or single or double kayaks, or ride along the riverfront with a bike rental. The Mississippi River Museum showcases 10,000 years of history in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. Learn about early inhabitants and river facts by boarding and exploring two full-size boat replicas and watch sea creatures in the 4,000-gallon aquarium. Open April through October, Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for kids.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best Memphis shopping?

    The “Home of the Blues” is home to many shopping experiences - artsy, antique and uniquely Memphis. The historic South Main Arts District, located downtown, offers a mix of art galleries and boutiques. Take them all in with a Trolley Tour, held the last Friday of every month. Ride the trolley for free and enjoy the wine and party bites, as stores and galleries open their doors for the popular affair.

    If it’s antiques you’re looking for, head to Memphis’ Cooper Young neighborhood. Flashback has a selection of ’60s and ’70s vintage clothing and furnishings, or browse at Palladio Antiques & Art, which offers upscale antiques and original fine art. For true antiquers, the Memphis Flea Market has 500 to 800 vendors selling or swapping antiques, jewelry, collectibles, produce and tons more. Held the third weekend of every month at the Agricenter Expo Center, “the Big One,” as it’s known, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets cost $2.

    For a uniquely Memphis shopping event, try Lansky’s at the Peabody for its exclusive Elvis-inspired line. Nicknamed “Clothier to the King” after owner Bernard Lansky, the store sells men’s and women’s clothing. Sister store Lansky’s 126, however , brings hipper and trendier clothes to the 1950s-themed line. Another Memphis store not to miss: A. Schwab’s on Beale Street. Established in 1876, it’s the only original remaining business on the historic street. Listed as a dry goods store, A. Schwab’s sells much more, from souvenirs to hoodoo ingredients for charms.

    Prefer one-stop shopping? The Shops of Saddle Creek, located in the Memphis suburb Germantown, provides exactly what you want. The upscale shopping center counts the Apple store, Anthropologie, Lucky Jeans and Coach among its 33 stores. With all its original boutiques and old standards, Memphis offers you an unexpected bevy of retail options; we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the variety of shopping options the Home of Blues has to offer.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best free things to do in Memphis?

    Memphis may not be New York or Los Angeles, but that’s just fine with the Home of Blues; this city has its own distinct culture and cuisine and offers you something different. Best of all, some goings-on won’t cost you a thing. Save your money with these five free and fun things to do in Memphis:

    1. Shows at Levitt Shell: Built in 1936, the Levitt Shell, located in Overton Park, is an oasis of greenery in the middle of Midtown Memphis. The outdoor performing arts pavilion puts on free live music concerts Thursday through Sunday during the fall, spring and summer. The site of Elvis Presley’s first professional rock-n-roll show hosts a range of acts from jazz and blues to Latin and Congolese. The Levitt Shell displays regional talent and acts from around the world, and although all shows are kid-friendly, a children’s series in the summer caters especially to the kids. The accompanying light show is always enjoyable, so bring your own food and (non-alcoholic) beverages to avoid the concession lines.

    2. Elmwood Cemetery: Memphis’ politicians, musicians and outlaws rest at the city’s oldest active cemetery since, open since 1852. The 80 acres, full of ancient elms, oaks and magnolias, is an official bird sanctuary and arboretum, too. Veterans of every American war, generals, baseball players and madams all lie in their final resting places, side-by-side. Docent-led tours offered once a month with include themes such as the Civil War and Scandals and Scoundrels, though those will cost you extra.

    3. Watch the ducks march: A free and quirky Memphis tradition, the March of the Peabody Ducks at the Peabody Memphis hotel happens daily at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the lobby of the hotel, where the duck master walks the feathered friends down the red carpet. The eccentric custom began in 1932 and has continued for more than 75 years, making appearances on The Tonight Show and Sesame Street.

    4. Listen to the blues: Nightclubs and restaurants fill Beale Street, Memphis’ most famous street, but it’s best known as the site where W. C. Handy penned the first blues songs. Listen to music at the amphitheater in Handy Park along Beale Street, and check out the Beale Street Walk of Fame, where musical notes honor Memphis musicians. The Beale Street Flippers entertain as they flip and twist along the length of the historic pavement.

    5. Celebrate the South: The Center for Southern Folklore celebrates the culture --the food, music, arts, traditions, stories - of the South, witnessed by its gallery of folk art and café serving hot-water cornbread and peach cobbler, plus a coffee-and-beer bar. We suggest checking the center’s schedule before you leave for your trip, since it’s constantly hosting different cultural exhibits and concerts.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

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

    Music dominates most of the culture in Memphis, to nobody’s surprise. But even so, the southern city has enough history to give you other things to think about, including paying homage to one of the U.S.’s great historical figures, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here’s a list of the five best things to see and do in this Mid-South city:

    1. Graceland: No trip to Memphis is complete with visiting Graceland, home of Elvis Presley. The full Graceland experience includes tours of the mansion, the Elvis Automobile Museum, Elvis’ custom jets, and two exhibits, Elvis in the News and Elvis Presley: Fashion King. See how the King of Rock N’ Roll lived and relaxed with family and friends.

    2. Memphis Zoo: If you’re feeling the call of the wild, the Memphis Zoo has plenty to see among its 70 acres and 3,500 animals. The city’s most-attended attraction and one of the top-ranked zoos in the country, the Memphis Zoo is one of only four zoos in the country with giant pandas - we think that’s pretty cool. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult tickets are $15; children’s tickets $10; parking is $5.

    3. National Civil Rights Museum: To learn about the road to racial equality, visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Memphis landmark chronicles key episodes of the American civil rights movement and its legacy. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the museum fosters participation in human rights all over the world. Open Monday, Wednesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Open until 6 p.m. June through August. Adult tickets are $13 and children’s tickets are $9.50.

    4. Stax Museum of American Soul Music: An exact replica of the former Stax recording studio that once called soul legends Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, the Staples Singers and Rufus Thomas its own, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music emulates the Southern music experience, from field hollers to Isaac Hayes’ solid gold Cadillac Eldorado. The museum houses the Stax Music Academy, which like the previous Stax recording studio, serves at-risk youth with high-quality music education programs and performance opportunities.

    5. The Pink Palace Museum: Offering eccentric exhibits, the Pink Palace Museum celebrates Memphis and the Mid-South. You can walk through a replica of the first self-service grocery store in the country, the Piggly Wiggly. It also has a replica of the original Holiday Inn room, as the hotel chain began in Memphis. Exhibits cover topics from dinosaur fossils to the yellow fever epidemic. The museum also has a planetarium and IMAX theatre. Open Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are $9.75 for adults and $6.25 for kids.