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Magical Memphis

  • Submitted by: Wanda Bell, United States
  • Submission Date: 23rd Jun 2007

“The Birthplace of Rock and Roll,” “The Home of the Blues.” These are indeed popular descriptions of Memphis. But after a springtime vacation there, I found Memphis to be so much more.

We checked in early at the Residence Inn by Marriott where we had reservations. The price was right and the room was good. The hotel has a free buffet every morning plus on weekdays they offer a light meal at 5:00 p.m. The staff were wonderful, and the hotel which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a well-kept, beautiful building. Would highly recommend this place.

After we checked in and unpacked, we decided to start hitting the tourist sites. First we started out at the Rock and Soul Museum. A self-guided tour lets you wander through the museum at your own pace and choose which exhibits you want to know more about. After touring the museum, we wandered over to Beale Street and wound up at a restaurant named Blues City Café. I would rate this place with an A+ for atmosphere, B- for the food.

The next day we got up early and headed out for Graceland (with mixed feelings). I must say I was PLEASANTLY surprised. Seeing the house and the surrounding buildings (with all the memorabilia from Elvis’ life, career, and family), grounds, and planes, I discovered a newfound respect for The King and his music.

No pilgrimage to Memphis is complete without driving two hours to Tupelo, Mississippi to see Elvis’ birthplace. There is an Elvis museum, the original house where Elvis was born, and beautiful gardens to see. There is a neat bronze statue of Elvis as a boy that makes for good picture.

With the mighty Mississippi River so close, we felt it would be remiss to pass up an opportunity to take up a riverboat ride on that great American landmark. On the way back from Tupelo we detoured down to Tunica and took a riverboat ride from there. Tunica, by the way, is a popular casino town and it is worth the ride just to see all the casinos that line the road.

A trip to Memphis is not complete without a visit to the Hard Rock Café at Memphis which boasts the largest collection of Elvis memorabilia outside of Graceland. Overpriced of course, but the burgers were great.

Another Memphis must-see is Sun Studios, where greats such as Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded. A guided tour is offered, and you can take pictures. In one of our pictures numerous “orbs” could be seen. Orbs are spots of light that sometimes occur in pictures and video without explanation. Paranormal investigators say these are the first manifestations of spirits of the dead. An afterlife concert of the great alumni of that magnificent establishment perhaps? The gift shop there is excellent as well.

The Peabody Hotel, where the famous ducks march to and from the lobby of their rooftop home is another highlight of our week in Memphis. Quite a to-do is made of this daily ritual. We followed the ducks up to the rooftop and saw their quaint little home.

We rode the on the Ducks, which are actually tourist vehicles modeled after World War II amphibious troop transports. The Duck offers a comprehensive tour of Memphis sprinkled with history and trivia from knowledgeable tour guides, who are licensed captains (to traffic on the river). The Duck takes you through neighborhoods, and around to the sights. We saw Mud Island, the Pyramid Arena, and the Fed Ex Forum.

Along with the Hard Rock Café and Blues City Café, we did the famous Jim Neely’s Interstate Barbeque and the Bigfoot Lodge Restaurant. All were fair to good. The only things I regret are not going to Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous Ribs and Restaurant, where the Rolling Stones among other celebrities have eaten, and taking the ghost walking tour that is offered. It was however super cold the time during our visit, which was during an extreme cold snap in April.