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“Well worth the visit...” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Memphis

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Canberra
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Well worth the visit...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2007

I spent 3 weeks in the USA and consider the 4 nights in Memphis a highlight. Unfortunately we just missed the beale Street music festival but the music was great anyway! Some great music in virtually every bar we went into as well as Handy Park. For a blues fan it is a must! I can recommend the Cold beer and warm service at Rum Boogie bar where we managed to gravitate to every night at some stage. The ribs at every place we ate were great too.For any music fan the Museum of Rock and Soul, just off Beale at the FedEx forum is brilliant. It is also well worth including Graceland and SUN Studios - even if you aren't a huge fan - the history of these places is awesome.Enjoy!!!!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tennessee
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
“Great City To Visit!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2007

I loved Memphis! It was such a cool place. I loved being able to walk down Beale and hear the Blues playing out of every door and in the park and one band was just set up on the sidewalk. There was always music playing somewhere. We stayed in the downtown area near Beale street, it was about a 2-3 block walk and I fealt very safe even late at night walking back to our hotel. I've heard you shouldn't wander too far off at night though. During the day we took a nice walk down Historic Main Street. There were no cars allowed just the trolleys and there were a couple cafes, museums and art galleries located in the area. And then we continued our walk to the river to Mud Island River Park. You can take the monorail over to the island. From there you can see the Pyramid very well also. Later we drove to Sun Studios which is a short drive from downtown, be sure to take the tour, it's very interesting. There is so much to do in Memphis that I can't even begin to list it all and I can't wait to go back and see it all again!

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Auburn, AL
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Mmmm...barbecue...uh huh huh...Graceland”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 29, 2007

After my long summer full of nothing but numbers and technical jargon, and a very extensive final project that turned out to be a sham, I decided to take a little trip to heal my senses. After a little bit of internet research, burning several cd's, and doing some laundry, I took off on Monday, August 7, from Auburn, Alabama to Memphis, Tennessee. I wanted to discover Memphis not only because it seemed a short distance away to me, but also because I had heard about this city in songs and television so many times, probably only one step down from New York. Naturally on my trip there, I continued to hum the songs of "M.E.M.P.H.I.S." by the Disco Biscuits and "Graceland" by Paul Simon.

Arriving early in the evening, I wanted to choose a hotel to get settled into. But I wasn't sure exactly where I wanted to stay. Approaching an industrial section where signs said "$39.95" I drove up to a Super 8 Motel, but decided that this might be too far out from the action, and maybe too shady of an area to stay in. Continuing further, I got on the beltway and looped into the city.

I had heard that Memphis was a dirty city, but my first impression as I approached the skyline was that this city was actually pretty neat. Driving through downtown, I saw that people were actually moving around - something you don't always see in cities these days. Old fashioned trolleys running on overhead cables further advanced my overall initial impression.

I was also impressed with all the cultural activities that Memphis had to offer. I had already studied the internet looking for things to do in Memphis, but seeing brown sign after brown sign as I drove along the interstate toward the downtown area just re-enhanced my impression.

I passed a few hotels right downtown, but I passed on these since I assumed they would be too expensive. So reading my handy atlas, I hopped back on the interstate and crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas. Should I stay over here? Maybe it's a little cheaper here? I stopped at a smelly Super 8 that was out of non-smoking rooms. Although the price was cheap, I didn't want one of these - and the smoky/musty smell of the lobby left a bad impression in my mind anyway.

I thought of the next best place I could possibly stay - Graceland! Why not - it was close to the downtown area, and there would probably be a slew of places to choose from.

Pulling on up next to Graceland was some kind of normal Days Inn (or similar hotel) dressed up with Elvis paraphernalia. The lobby itself was a treat: Elvis music was playing and the room was decked out with vinyl records and life-sized Elvis dolls! Of course they had no rooms left except for the "Elvis suite" at $150 a pop, but I felt I got a treat just for feeling like I was in Las Vegas for a minute or two.

I asked about nearby hotels, and the attendant directed me to go down the street and take a left on to Brooks Road. This was not the greatest section of town, but it seemed a lot better to me than the section where I first considered getting a hotel - or, maybe they were about the same. How could I tell? Both hotels I considered had strip clubs right beside them!

Upon checking in to the Quality Inn, I told the attendant I was unsure about whether I was going to stay another night. He informed me that I might want to let him know that night, since the next day would be the start of "Elvis Week". Boy, of all times that I could visit Memphis, I happened to come during one of the weeks when Graceland might be the most crowded it has ever been all year!

Graceland

After a night of some good tv-watching (don't have cable at home right now) and a good night's rest (I sleep on the couch most of the time at home) I was pumped about checking out Graceland. Even though I've never been a huge fan of Elvis (some of his stuff is alright), I realize that he is a very important icon to American culture. Many people from all across the world are fans of his music, and as we all know - he is the king! I imagined a tour of Graceland being pretty interesting because I am fascinated with roadside culture - and knowing that he wore showy stage performance clothes and rocked right through the 1970's, I assumed that the preserved pop-culture/avante-garde interiors of the mansion might be pretty interesting to check out.
Because I am a late bloomer by nature, I could not seem to get motivated to get to Graceland before it opened as I had initially planned - rather, I got the butt-end of breakfast (circa 9:30am) and became tense from seeing the crowds of other people getting breakfast in the lobby. No batter, what! No fear - the breakfast attendant was very helpful, and refilled the pancake mix very quickly. She even showed me how to use the machine. But everybody else - just get out of my way, because Chip is here and he's hungry!!!

Pulling up to Graceland I struck many fears about what I might run into - I'm not a fan of huge crowds by any means, and I just had nightmares stirring up about what the first day of Elvis Week might bring to me. But surprisingly enough to me, as I pulled in and paid my six bucks, the parking lot was practically empty! Therefore I took several deep breaths as I got out of the car, breathed even more to give myself a chance to apply the much needed suntan lotion all over my face and neck (the average temperature the whole time I was in Memphis was a scorching 104 degrees), and followed the canopy-covered bridges to the entrance.

But, I said to myself, "Why would Elvis choose a place like this to live?" With all the money he had, I just couldn't understand the location he picked. However, as I purchased my highly over-priced ticket (about the cost of entering an amusement park) and walked through the door, I realized that we were about to board a shuttle. "Oh, I see now - it's across the street."

Seeing the king's house up close was a true treat. Musicians have been singing about this place for years, along with movies having "Graceland" imprinted into their titles. President Bush has even now been to Graceland and promo'd it on national tv!

I think the most entertaining part of the mansion for me was the basement den. The rooms in the basement were quite small and cozy, and the den was nestled in a corner as if it truly were in a lion's den. It was interesting to note that Elvis watched three televisions at the same time, and he had a huge stack of records in the corner. I'm quite curious who his influences were, and who he listened to during his career.

The second most entertaining part was walking down an exhibit hall full of nothing but Grammy awards and gold and platinum records, and then funneling into another hallway full of nothing but Elvis paraphernalia from his movie careers and clothes from his live performances. As a finale to the entire museum, the tour group was invited to pass through a memorial fountain to see where the body of Elvis Presley rest in peace. I had no idea he was buried here: as amazing as it was to be able to see this wonderful grave (along with his close family members), I was surprised that they put it right here in a public place!

Barbecue

A second highlight for me while in Memphis was my barbecue experience. For those people who know me well, Barbecue (and food, for that matter) is my thing. I was not looking for the "run-of-the-mill/rip-you-off/everybody goes there/commercialized" type place, so I did some wholesome research in my wi-fi hotel room before going out both days I was there. And let me tell you that my total Memphis barbecue experience was a plus!

The first place I discovered was known as "Leonard's Pit BBQ," which received a "10 out of 10" from several internet food reviewers (people just like you and me). This place was off-the-beaten path in an industrial section of the city, close to some old railroad tracks. Nothing else seemed to be close by - no souvenier shops, and no swarms of tourists. I remembered reading somewhere that this place was a buffet, but I seemed to have forgotten that until I walked in. My first reaction was that I wanted some authentic over-the-counter-served ribs. But since I was hungry, I went ahead and gave it a try.

Upon viewing the buffet, I asked the gentle African-American servant what their specialties were. He was very nice, and offered to give me a tour. "See, what you're seeing right here is not all of it. Let me show you the rest. Grab a plate!" And surprisingly enough, he took me around the corner to a hidden room where another entire table of food was set up. I couldn't believe my eyes: wet ribs, dry ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken! I have never before been treated to a meal with all of these items in the same sitting. Welcome to Memphis!
I looked around the room a bit - even though the inside of the restaurant seemed a bit "cliche" with it's TGIF/Ruby Tuesday style interior, the owner assured me this was the only Leonard's, and that it has been around since the 1920's (even though this wasn't its original location). Looking around at the clientiele, I believed it. Was that one of the guys from ZZ Top in the corner? He sure had a beard his length!

Before leaving for Memphis, I asked Jeff, the owner of the local Auburn Barbecue House, for some hints on where to get some good BBQ while in Memphis. He had a couple suggestions himself, but he also did me a favor and called his friend for me, who was originally from Memphis. I discovered upon receiving the phone call that all the places he was referring to were right downtown on Beale Street, the highly commercialized (and expensive) section of downtown Memphis. As my philosophy stated before, I was looking for some real down-home type places.

So once again referring to the internet, I decided to seek out Payne's BBQ, which received a 9/10 rating from fellow internet BBQ enthusiasts. Driving up to Payne's, I recognized this part of the city immediately: Midtown Memphis. I had been around this area yesterday scoping out record stores and used book stores, and the looks of this BBQ place from outside had intrigued me enough the day before, that I knew exactly where to go. I remembered saying something to myself like, "I bet that's a real barbecue place."

I was probably the first customer of the day, arriving almost exactly at 11am. Quite frankly speaking, I was a little bit scared to go in at first. But knowing some of the things I've tackled in the past and gotten through successfully with no harm, I said "what the hell." The interior was by no means amazing - pretty plain and dark, but I thought to myself that "I must now be standing in an authentic Memphis BBQ place." Unfortunately a guy who used to work at Payne's told me it was not authentic and that I needed to go to a "real Memphis BBQ place." Of course I'm sure he had some negative vibes since he used to work there, so I took this place for what it was worth as being authentic - at least this would be the most authentic Memphis BBQ joint that I had ever been to.

Enthusiastically walking up to the counter, I asked the female attendant what their specialty was. "Well, it depends on what you want. We have the ribs of course, but we also have a little barbecue too if you prefer that." Eying the prices on the menu, I observed that the ribs were rather cheap. I don't remember off-hand, but I think they were something like $9 for a half-slab. Once I received the rib plate I ordered, I realized that I was in for a special treat. They were humongous! Not only did they provide me with a portion that was generous for a 6-foot-4-tall guy, but they also gave me a generous portion of homemade cole-slaw (the type that's really sweet and creamy).

My overall experience at Payne's was good, especially after trying the barbecue sauce, which came directly off the stove (at most places, it comes out of a tube). Upon nearly finishing my meal, I noticed that I wasn't the only one who thought this place was good. People began arriving in the car-loads, and the line started to get long. I thought this place deserved a "thumbs-up" not only because of the delicious fair-priced food, but also because of the ambience.

For more of my Memphis photos, check out:
public.fotki.com/chryanvii/cities/memphis_tennessee/

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Missouri
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Memphis blues a blast”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2007

All I can say is what a blast. Try and go for the Memorial and labor day festivals and be prepared to party. Be sure though to book your hotel early as they fill up very fast. Beale St. is full of some of the best blues you can find but try the small venues no cover and a great time. See you in May

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Minneapolis, MN
2 reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Sightseeing in Memphis”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 26, 2006

We have just returned from a week of sightseeing in Memphis, Tennessee, and it was marvelous. I never knew they had so many wonderful places to visit. The Civil Rights Museum, Stax Museum, Rock and Soul Museum, as well as Sun Records, Gibson Guitar Factory, and, of course, Graceland! What a marvelous time we had. We rented a car and drove to Tupelo, Mississippi, to see the birthplace of Elvis Presley, and that was extremely interesting. I would definately go to Memphis on a vacation again in an instant. It was great!! We highly recommend it as a vacation spot. We went in October so it was not too hot and not too cold. Just Perfect!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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