Hi fellow explorers! Josh Ness (@theexplorerdad) here to share what to experience in Memphis if you only have 24 hours.
Memphis is the home of so many music genres - rock 'n' roll, blues, soul; so you'll want to soak up as much of that history as possible to fully appreciate the culture of this vibrant city. Couple that with great barbecue and authentic hospitality everywhere you go, and you'll want to extend your stay a few more days.
Stay at the historic James Lee House, a bed & breakfast housed in a circa 1848 home that used to be a farm house. Here, you'll find sunshine-filled rooms during the day and dream-inducing beds at night. The Isabella Suite (pictured) has five windows, exposed brick chimney, a bathroom with a rainfall showerhead and Tempur-Choice queen-sized mattress. After checking in, stop by Gibson's Donuts, which has been making local-loving donuts since 1967. Sprinkles, glazed, coconut and even Somoa cookie-inspired donuts can be purchased by the dozen.
Spend some time in deep reflection at the National Civil Rights Museum. Through interactive displays, verbal and written stories of eye-witnesses and the preserved motel room of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. before he was assassinated, the Civil Rights Movement story is told. You can continue learning about the Movement's key players along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail that has additional stops in Memphis.
For music history, head to Sun Studios, where the tour guide rocks, literally. Dubbed the "Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll," Sun Studio was the place Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis first recorded that ultimately became the springboard for these international superstars. Tours are $14 and include priceless memorabilia, recordings by B.B. King, Elvis and Roy Orbison and a peek into the studio that helped put Memphis on the map.
Now that you've learned about some of Memphis' deep history, have lunch at Central BBQ where you can satisfy your cravings with fall-off-the-bone ribs, tender pulled pork, hot chicken wings and perfectly smoked brisket. Save room for dessert as the peanut butter pie, homemade banana pudding and homemade cheesecake are not to be missed.
Walk off your indulgent meal by stepping inside Elvis Presley's Graceland, the world's most famous rock 'n' roll residence. Inside, you'll get a glimpse of Elvis' famous life from the Jungle Room to the impeccable living room and impressive TV room. Spend some quiet time at the Meditation Garden where Elvis and other members of his family rest. Make your way to Elvis Presley's Memphis next. This new entertainment complex houses memorabilia ranging from Elvis' jumpsuits he wore throughout his career, his extensive collection of vehicles and even his airplanes.
Head to the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid to watch the sunset over the Mississippi. Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid is an immersive retail experience that includes an interactive wetlands education museum, archery and pistol range, a vast aquarium with daily fish feedings 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and the 28-story freestanding elevator, the world's tallest. Take it to the top of the Pyramid to the glass observation deck where you'll see expansive views of Memphis, a bowling alley, restaurant and more. Big Cypress Lodge, also located in the Pyramid, is a 103-room hotel that offers rooms with screened-in porches, electric fireplaces in some rooms, pillow-top mattress beds and over-sized air tubs.
Before leaving the city, stop by City and State for a caramel Horchata, espresso, an assortment of teas, macchiatos and lattes. While there, browse the quality makers they feature from home goods to clothing.
Experience Southern hospitality, history and great whiskey.