It’s summer, the time for travel and vacation! If you can’t afford to take a couple weeks off, I’ll be posting some fun ideas for long weekend travel ideas - including a recent trip I just took to Memphis, TN!
I’ve been trying to coordinate a trip with friends from college for a couple years now, and since we’re all spread out - had to pick a spot that was accessible to all, had plenty to do, wasn’t too expensive, and had lots of fun spots to dance at night.
Location: Memphis, TN
In preparation for this trip I reached out to my entire social media network for tips and recs of places to stay & things to do - one amazing resource is Kerry from the Memphis CVB. You can follow her on Twitter and check out her blog for all the latest updates on all things Memphis. I got to meet her for coffee when I was in town and got some amazing info for my visit!
Since it was my first trip to Memphis, staying at The Peabody Hotel was a must. However, the room rates can be pretty steep ($300+/night) and wasn’t in our budget. Luckily, I was following them on Twitter and their social media gal let me in on an upcoming package deal - Summertime Blues and BBQ! I signed up for their newsletter and got an email when the package was available to book. It’s a great package and with a starting room rate of $175 a night, totally in our budget.
Even if you don’t stay at the Peabody, anyone can enjoy their famous ‘Marching of the Ducks’ at the hotel every day at 11am and 5pm. It’s been a tradition at the hotel for more than 75 years and pretty fun to watch. If you are staying there and have young children with you, ask the hotel if they can be considered to be honorary Duckmasters when you are there! It’s a super cute ceremony.
Itta Bena has a speakeasy vibe going - it’s on the third floor of BB King’s and when you get to the check in at the front door where they ask for a cover - just say you’re going to Itta Bena and they will let you go right in. You will head up the stairs and go through the exit door on your left. Up the stairs again and you’ll be transported to a fantastic bar/restaurant. Our bartender Courtenay hooked us up with a Blueberry Lemondrop Martini that was incredible! Great food too and a live blues singer with piano accompaniment.
The Beauty Shop was a fantastic restaurant in the Cooper Young part of Memphis, which has a great vibe. Originally a beauty salon, the restaurant maintains part of its old identity with hair washing basins at the bar and you can actually sit in a chair with the old school dryers at the table! I enjoyed lunch there and it was very good (BLT, homemade chips with smoky aioli dipping sauce) and reasonably priced. Lots of options on the menu and Italian sodas by the bottle. They also had an amazing selection of gelatos, cakes and other treats.
When it comes to BBQ, no one does a better dry rub in Memphis than Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous. The entrance is in the alleyway across from the Peabody off Union and I was surprised at how big the place was! Avoiding the crowds is pretty much impossible, but if you go earlier in the evening like we did - the wait was only 30 minutes. Enjoy the local craft beer Ghost River at the bar while you wait and be sure to buy their famous dry rub and sauce there, since it’s marked up in all the other shops and at the airport.
Otherlands Coffee Bar is a fun spot also walking distance to the Cooper Young area for those who are looking for a quiet local coffee scene moment. Great desserts and a quirky atmosphere, it will make that trip to Starbucks feel lame in comparison.
Even though it’s a cliche to go to Graceland, I have to say I was really impressed by how extensive the tour was - give yourself at least 2-3 hours. Go for the Platinum package, which is the middle option - VIP is really for true Elvis fanatics! If you are staying at the Peabody, ask the concierge for a coupon for $4 off your tix. Graceland is the 3rd most visited residence in the country behind the White House and The Biltmore Estate with more than 600k visitors each year. Amazing!
Also, the Sun Studio tour is pretty cool too for fans of Elvis and legendary singers/performers like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Sun Studio is where rock and roll was born! Fascinating history.
Memphis reminds me a lot of New Orleans, being off the Mississippi delta and having great blues and food, but much like the Big Easy, be careful as to where you go at night. If you stick to the main areas of town and Cooper Young, you will be fine - just keep an eye out like you would anytime you are traveling to a new place.
Most of all - HAVE FUN!!!