Planning Your Time
You can knock out Memphis’s main attractions in a weekend, but it takes a bit longer to soak up the city’s special mojo of music, food, and laid-back attitude. In fact, if you want more than just a taste of Memphis’s famous blues, its legendary barbecue, or its rich history, plan to stay a week or longer.
Choose downtown Memphis as your home base. The city center is home to the best bars, restaurants, sports venues, live music clubs, and, of course, Beale Street. Downtown is also the liveliest, and one of the safest, parts of Memphis after the sun sets.
While a lot of Memphis’s attractions are downtown, others are located in the eastern and southern stretches of the city. A free shuttle is available to Graceland and Sun Studio from downtown, but for other attractions like the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, you will need a car or taxi.
When to Go
Memphis is a city with four seasons. The average temperature in January is 41 degrees, and in July it hits 81 degrees. Summer is certainly the most popular season for visiting—Elvis Week in August sees the most visitors of all—but a Memphis summer is not for the faint of heart.
The best time to visit Memphis is May, when summer is still fresh and mild, and the city puts on its annual Memphis in May celebration. Memphis in May includes the World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest, the Beale Street Music Festival, and the Memphis International Festival.
Fall is also a good choice. The Memphis Music and Heritage Festival held over Labor Day weekend is a great reason to come to Memphis, and probably the best choice for fans of traditional Memphis music.
But if you can’t come when the weather is warm, don’t fret. Memphis attractions are open year-round, and the city continues to rock, day in and day out.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition