While living in the Dallas Fort-Worth area, my friend Tiffanny and I decided to drive roughly 7-8 hours to spend a weekend in Memphis, Tennessee – home to the blues and Elvis Presley. Memphis is considered the music twin city to Nashville, Tennessee, which is only 3.5 hours away. Here is a great guide for a weekend in Memphis!
7am: Headed out of Dallas. Picked up coffee. For such a long drive, it is a must, even for a decaf drinker like myself.
2pm: Long pit stop at Little Rock, Arkansas. We grabbed lunch at Dizzy’s Gypsie Bistro, a quirky restaurant with eclectic decor and delicious food.
We then headed to the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum and perused the grounds for about an hour and a half.
Finally, we stopped by “Le Petite Roche”, or Little Rock’s little rock that is settled in Riverfront Park.
If we had more time and if traffic wasn’t an issue, another quick stop I would have made was to Little Rock Central High School, a location that was so pivotal during the civil rights movement for being the first school forced into desegregation.
6pm: Headed out of Little Rock, Arkansas and towards Memphis, Tennessee.
8pm: Arrived in Memphis and checked in to our hotel. We opted for Hyatt Place Memphis Primacy Place. It’s about 20 minutes from Beale street, so in terms of location, it’s not the best.
8:30pm: Wandered around Crosstown Concourse as they were having a Day of the Dead event.
9:30pm: Stopped by a Cook Out, a fast food chain mostly found southeast of the Mississippi River, for a late night snack and large range of amazing milkshakes (I got Cheerwine Float!). After this, we called it quits and hit the hay.
9am: Free continental breakfast at the hotel. This is such an easy way to save some money, and Hyatt Place usually have some decent breakfast.
10am: Grabbed coffee at City & State and had the Lumberjack Latte. Can I just say this cuppa is divine! The coffee shop is located in the emerging arts district of the city, and the vibe of the coffee shop fits right into it. Alongside coffee, they also have a store attached selling general goods.
11am: We made our way to the National Civil Rights Museum. This was a museum that I didn’t think would impact me as it did, and I’m so glad that Tiffanny insisted on checking it out. The museum built itself to be part of the Lorraine Motel, the actual motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated during the civil rights movement. It is a very thorough museum that exhibits the beginning of slavery in the United States and explained in imagery and details until the end of the civil rights movement and beyond. I feel I would recommend setting aside 2 hours for this activity.
2:30pm: Hopped on a Mississippi River Cruise that lasted about an hour and a half. The host of the cruise was a funny man who weaved the history of the city well with some jokes sprinkled in.
4:30pm: We wandered to the Peabody Hotel, deemed the “South’s Grand Hotel”, and attempted to witness the famous Peabody Ducks cross from the pond to the elevator, an event that occurs twice a day, at 11am and 5pm. Unfortunately when we got there, the lobby and second floor was already so packed with people, we did not get a chance to witness it. If this is on your list, be sure to come an hour early!
Even though we didn’t get a chance to see the duckies, we wandered around the hotel that was originally built in the mid-1800s. This still feels like a hotel from another era, as they’ve kept little details intact, such as phone booths. Take the elevator to the penthouse floor, and there, you’ll be able to enter an outdoor rooftop that overlooks the city. You’ll also be able to see the duckies ‘penthouse’.
6pm: For dinner, we went to Beale Street and found ourselves inside Blues City Cafe, making it just in time before the dinner rush hit. We really wanted to try some of the famous Memphis BBQ and had the sampler plate, “The Best Meal on Beale Combination Platter”. It did not disappoint.
7pm: Beale Street is a historic street that spans nearly 2 miles in downtown Memphis. It is here that the blues genre of music was culminated. When we wandered, we were able to find restaurants and pubs lining the street, each offering some kind of live music as entertainment.
9pm: Because we couldn’t get enough of it the first time, we once again stopped by Cook Out to get some more milkshakes! Once again, I got the Cheerwine Float and it was so worth it.
8am: On our last day during a weekend in Memphis, we started the day going to Graceland, home of Elvis Presley. Regularly, the home is open for tours for a fee, but the fee was too high of a price for us as we weren’t big enough fans of his. However, anyone can go to his family cemetery in his backyard from 7:30am – 8:30am before the house opens for tours.
8:30am: We went back to Crosstown Concourse and got some coffee at French Truck Coffee. Afterwards, we walked around the building as it used to be a huge Sears store and distribution building beginning in 1927 up until the 90’s.
When I say huge, I’m talking 1,500,000sqft! For a good while, the building was abandoned, letting it to fall into disrepair. In the past few years, however, it has been rebuilt to become a contemporary center for various businesses and a welcome for the arts.
10am: Since we didn’t get a chance to see the duckies walk across the lobby, we attempted once again during our weekend in Memphis to witness this Peabody Hotel museum and made sure we arrived an hour early to get prime seats right by the elevator. It worked! We came, we saw, we conquered.
11:30am: Before hitting the road back to Dallas, we went to Central BBQ, a Memphis-style BBQ restaurant. No complaints, yet again. The food was delicious and really hit the spot!
12:30pm: Full of food and full of content, we started our 7 hour trek back to the Dallas-Fort Worth metro.
For the most part, I feel like a weekend in Memphis was a sufficient amount of time to get to explore most of the attractions. If we had more time, I think I would have wanted to hit up more music-related spots such as Sun Studio (the birthplace of B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, among others), Stax (Museum of American Soul Music), and Memphis Rock n’ Soul Museum.