Memphis—home of the blues, the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, and a pivotal location in the American civil rights movement. This city, located in the southwestern corner of Tennessee, is a melting pot of culture, music, and history that can’t be easily defined.
But before you pack your bags and make your way to this vibrant city, there are some essential things you need to know.
From key neighborhoods to the food you absolutely must try, here’s a list of things you should know before visiting Memphis.
Things to Know Before Visiting Memphis
Geography and Climate
Let’s start with the basics. Memphis is situated along the Mississippi River in southwestern Tennessee. The climate here is humid subtropical, which means hot, muggy summers and mild winters. If you want to walk around and explore, late spring and early fall are the most comfortable seasons to visit. So pack your wardrobe accordingly.
Public Transport and Getting Around
You should know how to get around the city, especially if you are going there on a budget. Memphis offers a variety of public transport options, including buses and a trolley service. The city is also car-friendly, with plenty of parking options if you’re considering renting a vehicle.
But heads up, public transportation might only cover some tourist destinations, so check out the routes in advance.
Alright, here’s the delicious part you’ve been waiting for. Memphis is a haven for foodies. Barbecue is king in this part of the country. From ribs to pulled pork, you’re in for a treat.
But Memphis food isn’t just about barbecue. You’ll also find some of the best-fried chicken and catfish. Make sure to try a soul food joint, where you can dig into classics like collard greens and cornbread. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you.
Memphis is generally welcoming, but like any city, it has safe and not-so-safe neighborhoods. Downtown and tourist areas are generally safe, but it’s better to be cautious, especially during late hours. Keep your belongings close and stay in well-lit areas.
Local Culture and Events
Memphis is a city rich in culture, especially when it comes to music. This is the city where Blues was born, after all. You’ll find live music venues all around, especially on Beale Street.
You will enjoy the real value for your money by attending the music events in Memphis. There’s always something happening, from festivals like Beale Street Music Festival to cultural events like the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.
Memphis has a wide range of accommodations. Downtown is usually the go-to area for first-time visitors as it’s close to most tourist spots. However, if you’re looking for a quieter experience, the neighborhoods like Midtown offer boutique options with a local feel.
If you’ve got extra time, there are plenty of attractions close to Memphis. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is about a six-hour drive and offers breathtaking natural scenery. Closer to the city, you’ll find Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home, and the National Civil Rights Museum, both must-visits for different reasons.
Shopping and Souvenirs
Memphis has a diverse range of options for those who love to shop. You can explore high-end boutiques in Harbor Town or quirky shops in the Cooper-Young Historic District. Remember to pick up some Memphis-related souvenirs, like locally produced BBQ sauce or a blues record.
From the moment you step into Memphis, the city’s humid subtropical climate will give you a warm welcome—literally! Remember, late spring and early fall are ideal times to fully explore the city without breaking a sweat.
When it comes to getting around, public transport is handy but limited, so consider renting a car to reach those less-accessible must-see spots. While you’re cruising through town, keep in mind that safety should always be a priority.
Now, what really gives Memphis its soul is its rich cultural tapestry. Food, music, and local culture in Memphis are three things you don’t want to miss.