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Special celebration in Memphis

St. Louis, Missouri
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Special celebration in Memphis

Hi everyone!

Three sisters and (maybe) my 3 year old daughter are taking our Mother to Memphis later this week for her 70th Birthday celebration. Lots of questions, so bear with me. Below is our tentative itinerary. Feel free to add suggestions.

Thursday - Drive from St. Louis to Memphis, stop at Elmwood Cemetary (CD car tour) before hotel check-in. Depending on the time, stop at Gus's Fried Chicken on Front St. Check in at Spring Hill Suites on Court Ave. Shower and change for dinner. I'm thinking of surprising my group with a carriage ride at 5:30 or 6pm. Dinner location undecided. Suggestions? Would love to try Deja Vu's, but believe it's only open for lunch? Have they opened a new location on Main St.?

Friday - Sun Studios, Graceland, lunch, shopping. Have no idea where to catch the trolley or what is nearby for a decent (no mall) shopping and lunch. Back to hotel. Shower, change, cocktails, dinner at The BBQ Shop, evening on Beale Street. Would love to see the Beale St. Flippers and since my 13 year old is a gymnist, I think she would really enjoy. Do you know where they 'flip' and what time? I would rather my daughter leave the nightlife area by 9pm - she'll go back to the hotel with Grandma.

Sat - Civil Rights Museum, Slave Haven/Burke Estates and Cotton Exchange. Is this too much for one day? And in what order would make the most sense in regards to taking the Trolley?

Shower, change, dinner undecided. Beale St.

Sunday - Gibson's donuts as a treat on the way home.

Additional questions:

We definitely want to visit, Graceland, Sun Studios, Civil Rights Museum, Slave Haven and The Cotton Exchange, Beale Street, Gus's Fried Chicken, The BBQ Shop, Deja Vu's and maybe Pop's Deli and Gibson's Donuts. Are all of these places on the Trolley line??

We're staying at Springhill Suites on W. Court; where is the nearest Trolley Stop and the best place to buy a 2 or 3 day pass?

Will the hotel have maps of Memphis and the Trolley line at the front desk? The ones I can find on line are too small and my printer isn't working correctly anyway. I'd like to familiarize myself when we arrive.

Is there a little drugstore near our hotel where we can buy sodas, etc. for our room, preferably within walking distance?

My mother has mobility issues - but refuses to allow us to rent a scooter for her. Are any of the places mentioned above a far walk from where the Trolley lets off?

Either Friday or Saturday night, my daughter will go back to the hotel with Grandma. My sisters and I will stay on Beale and do a little bar hopping. We LOVE music of any kind, but Blues is our fav. Would appreciate suggestions on a couple of the best bars for a couple of drinks, tunes and dancing. Is there a cover for each bar or can you buy a hopper pass? If so, where?

If there is anything else that you can think of that would make this birthday extra special for my Mom, I'd love to hear it.

That's all I can think of for now. Thanks for your help - much appreciated.

Memphis, Tennessee
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1. Re: Special celebration in Memphis

I'll do my best to answer your questions.

You didn't ask this, but if you want to stop for lunch on your way to Memphis, I'd suggest Lambert's in Sikeston, MO. There should be something available there to please everyone. Also, on the last Friday night of each month, there's a South Main Trolley tour that's free and I think this will mesh with your dates if that interests you. Also, the Redbirds will be in town during your stay and seeing them is infinitely cheaper than seeing the Cardinals. Mud Island might also interest your group.

As far as I know, De Javu only has a location on Florida St. and that area is not somewhere you would want to go after dark. I believe these are their hours, but you can easily call to verify. The trolley does not run to that area.

Monday Closed

Tuesday 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Wednesday 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Thursday 11:00 am – 7:00 pm

Friday 11:00 am – 7:00 pm

Saturday 12:00–6:00 pm

Sunday Closed

You can't get to Graceland or Sun on the trolley. There is a free shuttle that picks up on Beale in front of the Rock and Soul Museum that then goes to Graceland and Sun. (Check out the top questions about Memphis for good info on this service.) You must take the studio tour to use it. There is no decent shopping downtown, other than a few boutiques and souvenir shops, and no good shopping near Graceland. I'd suggest Laurelwood Shopping Center, which is near Poplar and Perkins. Again, you can't get there with the trolley. You'd need to drive. Also, if you choose to drive to Graceland, there's plenty of parking. There's a pay to park lot as well as a strip of shops next to the plaza area that lots of folks use for parking to see the mansion. Also, the trolley doesn't run all the way to the BBQ Shop. If you want barbecue downtown, I'd suggest Rendezvous, Central or maybe Blues City Cafe.

You will definitely want your daughter off of Beale before it gets too late in the evening. Friday and Saturday are the busiest and the later it gets, the wilder it gets. I'm not sure if the flippers are always in one particular location. As for the pass for cover charges, they used to sell on Friday nights ONLY a wrist band that was good for most of the bars and clubs (not all of them). Maybe someone will verify if they still do this.

The National Civil Rights Museum will take you maybe 90 minutes as they are doing remodeling and not all of the museum is open to the public at this time. Its on the trolley line, at the south end. You can walk to the Cotton Museum from the trolley line, but Slave Haven is not on the trolley line. Its north of the main downtown area. You can easily do these in one day.

Gibson's Donuts is in east Memphis and Pop's (one of my favorite places!) is in southeast Memphis. Both of these are far from the trolley line and downtown. Note that Pop's is not open on Sundays.

There's a trolley stop right by your hotel. If you're unsure where you're going on the trolley, just ask the driver as they are very friendly and helpful. Passes can only be bought at the north end terminal, at the very north end of the trolley line. There's a Walgreens very close to your hotel downtown. However, if you'll be driving to various locations, you'll find other grocery stores, etc. in the city. None of the places you want to see that are on the trolley line are very far from the stops. Graceland will defintiely be the most walking and there are some stairs in the mansion. There's lots of music of all genres on Beale, both inside and outside the clubs. You'd enjoy strolling until you find something you love. Also, your daughter(s) might enjoy spending some afternoon time at Silky's on their patio, complete with live goats. Make sure they get to see A. Schwab's on Beale as well.

Here's a link to pretty good trolley map. Also, there are maps at the stops and probably in your hotel on the rack with the brochures about activities, etc.

http://www.matatransit.com/uploadedFiles/Main_Site/Content/Services/MATAplus(1)/Application/trolley%20map%203_2013.pdf

Manchester, United...
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2. Re: Special celebration in Memphis

Also remember Graceland is not disability friendly. Not sure how they arrange the tour but part of the house involves going downstairs.

St. Louis, Missouri
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3. Re: Special celebration in Memphis

Thank you, Deb for answering all of my questions. You are most helpful.

From what you mentioned, we would have to drive to: The BBQ Shop, Slave Haven, Gibson's, Pop's and Deja Vu's?

Can you suggest a moderately priced restaurant on the Trolley line that serves a combo of Creole, Cajun, Soul food for dinner? Also, a great restaurant near Sun Studios?

I'm sorry for all of the questions. I'm such a visual person and without a comprehensive map in front of me to 'connect all of the dots' my head swims. Haha!

Memphis, Tennessee
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4. Re: Special celebration in Memphis

You're so welcome.

Yes, you would need to drive to those places.

While there are a few places around town serving Cajun/Creole food, Memphis is not really known for that. B. B. Kings/Itta Bena and Miss Polly's on Beale all have soul food. Pearl's Oyster House on Main features some creole/cajun food, but specializes in seafood. Johnny G's on Beale features Creole food. You can check menus and reviews on this site and others to get some idea if these will suit your group.

There aren't great dining options around Sun, but its not far from the main downtown area. If you drive to Graceland/Sun, you could stop at Interstate Barbecue on 3rd St. for what I consider to be some of the best Memphis style barbecue in the city. If you take the shuttle, continue from Sun back to Beale, take the Main St. trolley line to where it meets up with the Madison line and take the Madison line to Trolley Stop Market.

St. Louis, Missouri
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5. Re: Special celebration in Memphis

Johnny G's sounds perfect. Thank you so much for all of your help! I'll report back with a trip review! Only 4 more days....

By the way, it seems that my daughter wants to stay here with her Dad/brothers because her friend will be visiting from NC and they won't be able to see each other again until Christmas.

Soooo, that gives us adults the opportunity to check out the roof top party at the Peabody on Thursday night. Woot!

Memphis, Tennessee
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6. Re: Special celebration in Memphis

You're welcome. Looking forward to your trip report. Note that the Madison Hotel also has Thursday evening rooftop parties that are open to the public.

Edited: 3:58 pm, June 23, 2013
St. Louis, Missouri
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7. Re: Special celebration in Memphis

You are a wealth of knowledge, Deb. Again, thank you so much!

Memphis, Tennessee
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8. Re: Special celebration in Memphis

You're welcome. Have a wonderful trip.

Lakeland, TN
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9. Re: Special celebration in Memphis

Between your research and Deb's suggestions things are quite well covered here. Deja vu IS opening on Main soon, and is now the best option for Creole and Vegan dishes at it's present location with that caviat about location. Your BBQ options are wide open if you visit East Memphis as well as BBQ Shop, Interstate and the others. The original Corky's, The One And Only and The Commissary out east are good choices in that region. Your mother would be very entertained by the Rockabilly singer/guide on the Memphis Mojo Bus, departing from Beale St. daily. The Riverfront Loop Trolley lets you see a few things w/o walking too much for a buck a head. The Peabody Hotel has an interesting History Tour after the 11:00 Duck March.

The only borderline attraction I see in your list might be Slave Haven. It has been reviewed several times as not being clearly supported by historical fact and sometimes over dramatzed by individual guides.

St. Louis, Missouri
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10. Re: Special celebration in Memphis

"The only borderline attraction I see in your list might be Slave Haven. It has been reviewed several times as not being clearly supported by historical fact and sometimes over dramatzed by individual guides."

It's funny you mention the above because the more I've been reading, the more I come to that same conclusion. Not that I put too much thought into one negative review, but when there's a pattern, ya gotta think 'hmmmm.'

My mother told me tonight on the phone that she wants a really good hand dipped ice cream (or custard) cone. Any recommendations on the Trolley line? It is, afterall, going to be close to 100 degrees this weekend. Ouch!

I booked the carriage tour today! Yipee! So excited...only 3 more days to go!

Edited: 10:14 pm, June 24, 2013
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