We visited Memphis over a long weekend (April 30 – May 2) . I didn’t know it at the time of booking but it was the same weekend of the annual Beale Street Music Festival. I was super excited to see that Meghan Trainor was the headline for the Saturday night – the day we were flying in.
The weather over the weekend period remained dry although cloudy and a bit chilly until we left, so we got very lucky with that.
Sat 30 April
We left early Saturday morning to La Guardia airport to Memphis airport and arrived around 1pm.
Memphis had experienced a lot of thunderstorms and heavy rain the Friday night and Saturday morning which caused that the concert organizers to cancel four of the opening acts and delayed the gate opening time to 4pm (it was originally 2).
The American Airlines flight was rough. It was very turbulent up in the sky. The plane dropped suddenly a few times in the air to the point where my butt lifted off the seat. I wasn’t really scared at the time as it was quite fun, like being on a roller coaster. The pilot had warned us that the weather was a bit iffy, so he sounded like he had it under control. The faces of the other passengers and concerned hushed voices around us were not as convinced, however.
Once we safely landed, we headed straight into an Uber to the Holiday Inn Downtown hotel, opposite to the Peabody Hotel, to unpack and head out for the day. For whatever reason, the rocky flight made me extremely hungry. And what better place to be hungry than Memphis? Especially if you love soul food and ribs.
We made our way to Beale Street and lined up for Miss Polly’s. It was about a 25 min wait and surprisingly Gambit didn’t mind waiting. Was it worth it? Yes. I had the chicken & waffles, and Gambit had the pulled pork.
Full up, we headed to the line (yes, another line – lucky Gambit) for the festival. Once inside, we realized just why so many people were wearing Wellies/gumboots. It was MUDDY. Very MUDDY.
We made our way through the festival area which was huge. The acts I can remember seeing which were noteworthy were: Cypress Hill, Barenaked Ladies and Meghan Trainor. By the end of the evening, you could not see the grass anymore. It had been replaced with wet, sloshy mud. With one more day of the festival, I was glad we weren’t going then.
Here’s a mini clip of Meghan singing, click on below image:
Sun 1 May
I was full from my chicken & waffles and didn’t eat dinner at the festival – I was actually still full the morning of the second day! But we were in Memphis and having done a little research, read that Central BBQ was a must.
Unfortunately, we thought the food was below par – even to the BBQ we get in New York! We ordered the half ribs with beef brisket and pulled pork. The brisket and pork was cold and dry. The ribs were the best out of the lot and it was still not that great.
We hadn’t planned on going to the National Civil Rights Museum which was across the road from the BBQ place. But I was so happy that we did end up going because I didn’t make it in the last time I was in Memphis (2006!). The museum was exceptional – well organized, education and respectful. Gambit said that every white person in America should be made to go through the museum. The creepiest part of the museum for me was seeing a real KKK outfit. We spent close to three hours walking through the museum and for $15, I thought it was worth every penny.
That night we headed out to BB King’s for live music and dinner. We walked in when Blind MS Morris was playing. Then the band after him were not that great – I didn’t like their style of blues. So Gambit and I paid the bill and left to venture down Beale Street. We aren’t party people so our venturing lasted about 15 minutes before we headed back to the hotel.
Mon 2 May
The start of the day was awesome. We checked out and left our bags at the hotel before walking across the road to the Peabody Hotel to witness their very famous Duck March. We arrived 25 mins before the start time and we had to walk around the hotel lobby to find a spot to stand! I couldn’t believe how busy it was. At 11am, right on time, the doors to the elevators opened and out waddled five ducks. They were super cute to watch and was worth the wait.
Click on the below image to watch the duck March:
I still wasn’t feeling that hungry and Gambit was very close to being over eating any more ribs – but I made us head to the Blues City Café for lunch. I could’ve eaten everything on the menu despite not being hungry – but knowing it was one of our last means in Memphis, I wanted to a) try catfish and b) one last set of ribs. So of course I ordered the ribs and catfish platter. I started to worry about ordering such a large meal about a half way through eating the catfish but with no regrets.
The next stop once we picked up our bags from the hotel was a visit to Graceland… of course.
I was here in 2006 and remembered a quirky room that had shag carpet on the floors and roof – it was my favorite room. Walking through the mansion this time around, it was still my favorite room – if you have been through before, it is called the Jungle Room.
This tour included seeing the Elvis’ airplanes and many other exhibits. The airplanes were pretty trippy and worth the upgraded tickets. I didn’t remember having the ipads in 2006 and I thought they made the world of difference.
My other favorite area, which is free to access to anyone, was the memorial gardens where Elvis, his twin brother, mum, dad and grandmother are buried.
I personally don’t think you have to be a massive Elvis fan to enjoy the tour and I couldn’t understand the people that left comments like ‘meh’ or ‘not great’. The mansion and grounds were well kept and the tour was very organized. The only thing that would have made the tour better would’ve been if Elvis came out of hiding and offered us some pizza in the games room.
Graceland was opened until 5pm and we stayed until then before heading to the airport to catch our flight back to La Guardia.
Overall, our trip to Memphis was entertaining, educational and involved a lot of eating.
Oh, I forgot to mention that after our dinner at BB King’s on the Sunday night, we went back to Miss Polly’s to try their skillet fried dessert. Oink!