Unless you’re a die-hard Elvis fan, not many people flock to Memphis for a vacation. And even then, it’s a minimum 3 hour drive from any other town you might want to visit. And, not on a direct route. If you end up in Memphis, it’s because you planned it. So, is it worth the stop?
This was the question we asked on our recent road trip to Florida. After spending a month in the sun, it was time to hit the road again for our journey home to Toronto. Lucky for baby Liv and me, we had picked up some extra cargo in the south and my Dad would be joining us (and pitching in!) for the drive.
Heading home on the I75, we debated taking an extra day for a stop in Memphis to see Graceland. We figured if we didn’t stop now, when else would we get to visit the King? So, we detoured from our route and made the drive.
Not sure what to expect, I was quite surprised by Memphis. The city has such a cool vibe and you can feel its history pulsating through the streets.
From the live music on Beale Street to visiting Elvis’ final resting place, here’s a quick re-cap on what to see and do:
Cross the Mississippi – For the best views of the city and Mississippi river, do a loop into Arkansas via the I55 bridge and head back across the I40 towards downtown.
Book a room at the famous Peabody Hotel – And be sure to catch the iconic ‘Duck March’ as their resident ducks waddle the red carpet in and out of the lobby fountain every day at 11am and 5pm. If you miss the ceremony, head up to the roof to check out their $200K penthouse suite and city views.
While this hotel is a Memphis staple, the rooms are old-fashioned with pedestal sinks (nowhere to place toiletries), only one outlet in the washroom far away from the mirror and an extra charge for a fridge in your room (however, if it’s for your baby or medicine you can ask for one for free). If you’re staying for a few nights, another hotel may be a better fit with a visit to the Peabody lobby for a cocktail instead.
If you can book last minute, check Trivago for the best hotel deals between 3-4pm. We found prices would drop at this time to encourage bookings for the night.
Catch some tunes on Beale Street – Stroll over to the famous Beale Street for live music and southern delicacies. With little ones, most music can be heard from the street or grab a seat at one of the outdoor picnic areas to enjoy a drink and some entertainment. Check out my Nashville blog for a hilarious story about bringing baby Liv to the bar!
Visit Graceland – A trip to Memphis wouldn’t be complete without visiting the King’s Palace. About 15 minutes away, you’ll find the home and final resting place of Elvis Presley. Plan at least 3-4 hours for your visit as there is a lot to see.
You’ll begin your journey at the mansion and then back to the grounds to explore Elvis’ cars, toys and all paraphernalia. After the first 2-3 buildings, the rest is a lot of filler with movie posters, costumes, other music icons, etc. Once you feel like you’ve seen enough, skip the remaining buildings and head to see his full-size planes if you’ve purchased this add on. For only $5 extra, they are fun to see but don’t feel you’ve missed out if you pass on this option.
Spend the majority of your time at the mansion and don’t rush through. There is a lot to see here and this is really the main attraction at Graceland.
Indulge with biscuits at Miss Polly’s – The place to go for breakfast and biscuits! Order extra and I don’t recommend sharing!
Grab a table at Blues City Café – With a line up around the corner at 5pm, we knew this restaurant had to be good. There are 2 sections for seating – the old-fashioned diner or the Band Box with live music. Pick your preference and get ready for some large, deep-fried portions. Skip the ribs and order the deep-fried catfish. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
With only a quick visit to make our final ruling, Memphis came through as the perfect stopover. Although I’m not sure the city has enough activity for a standalone vacation, it’s definitely worth the trip if you’re travelling close by.
Have you made the trip to Memphis? Comment below with your verdict!
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