Peabody Duck Master, Noel Pennington, flickr cc
The Memphis stage has been trod by sharecroppers and riverboat captains, civil rights leaders and crooked politicians, Hollywood actors and Southern writers, gourmet chefs and BBQ masters. Now it’s your turn to see what Memphis has to offer.
Where to Stay in Memphis- 4 Hotels in Memphis Offering a Unique Experience:
The Peabody Memphis
The Peabody is best known for the ducks. Four hens and a drake are marched daily to and from the Grand Lobby–to the tune of the King Cotton March by John Phillip Sousa. This much beloved custom dates back to 1933 when the general manager, returning from a duck hunt in Arkansas, left his three live English Call Duck decoys playing in the fountain. The guests loved it and ducks have played in the fountain everyday since.
But it isn’t all ducks . . . the Peabody is a Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond historic Downtown Memphis hotel with first class reception, room and concierge service.
If the Peabody is Southern history and charm, The Madison is its opposite. A Four-Diamond hotel, it is slick and contemporary, with modern furnishings and brilliant colors. Next door is eighty3 food and drink, developed by nationally renowned Chef, Rodelio Aglibot. Seventeen stories above the Madison is Twilight Sky Terrace, a rooftop destination with fire-pits, cushy seating, and beautiful views of the sun setting over the Mississippi river. The Madison has all the amenities of a luxury boutique hotel, only a few blocks from Beale street.James Lee House, Eric Allix Rogers, flickr cc
James Lee House
The James Lee House is named for the riverboat captain who bought it in 1890. The Victorian Italianate home, originally built in 1848, is on the National Register of Historic places. Renovation began in 2012 and the luxury bed and breakfast opened in April 2014. The renovation retains the original elegance and craftsmanship with modern conveniences. Breakfast options include French press coffee, croissants, gouda grits, Belgian waffles, host Jose’s granola with Greek yogurt or hostess Jennifer’s marmalade, with eggs made to order. Amenities include complimentary WiFi and on-site gated parking. Located in the Victorian Village District, the mansion is a 5 minute drive from downtown Memphis.
Talbot Heirs Guesthouse
This highly rated BnB is within walking distance of Beale street. Clean, quiet, apartment-like rooms with private patios provide an oasis in the heart of downtown. There are shuttles available to take you to Graceland, Sun Studio, Stax Records, and the Rock n’ Soul Museum. According to their web page rooms have “a queen-sized bed, a CD player, cable TV with HBO and other movie channels, as well as a full kitchen with coffee maker, toaster, cooking kits and dinnerware.” Provide a grocery list and the Talbot Heirs Guesthouse will have your room stocked when you get there.
Things to do in Memphis:Sun Studio, Mish Sucharev, flickr cc
If you are a rock n’ roll fan then Sam Phillip’s Sun Studio is a must. It’s not fancy, but of course that’s part of the legend. Come and stand in the cramped little room where Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, and Carl Perkins once jammed together. If you’re visiting Memphis because of its place in rock n’ roll history, I would also suggest stopping by Stax Records, The Rock n’ Soul Museum, and Graceland.
Everyone raves about Memphis bbq. But why not take advantage of its location on the river and have some fresh fish (fried, of course). Soulfish Cafe has Southern style veggies, fried pickles, hush puppies, and–catfish fried, catfish in tacos, catfish po’ boys, blackened catfish . . . you get the idea. When I visited, they were packed with both locals and tourists. So sit down, have a craft beer or glass of wine, and dig into some Southern style catfish.
Burke’s Books, dating back to 1875, is one of the oldest independent bookstores in the South. They specialize in Southern literature and Memphis history, sell both new and used books, and have hosted many famous authors, including Ann Rice and John Grisham. They are located in the arty Cooper-Young neighborhood.
These are just a few of the many things Memphis has to offer. So enjoy some culture, some cocktails and luxury hotels–but squeeze in some time to indulge in a BBQ meal complete with messy sauce and greasy fingers–at a joint where a roll of paper towels on the table does the trick. Sometimes it’s worth getting your hands dirty.