I recently visited Tennessee with the help of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. They had a full schedule planned for me including flights to Memphis and drives to Jackson, Hurricane Mills, Nashville, Lynchburg, Franklin and Leiper's Fork.
I was looking forward to checking out Memphis and the music I heard so much about and trying some new culinary foods and drinks. Tennessee has been known for its Southern flair, but it's also recently starting to become a hotspot for young people and for its food scene.
I arrived first in Memphis, where I stayed at the Sheraton downtown. Memphis has become a lively location over the past few years and is known for its slightly underground scene, but I wasn't about to miss out on some of the classic sites—like Elvis Presley's home, Graceland.
Filled with the kind of pizzazz you would expect from the King, I could have spent hours walking from room to the other while noticing something different each time.
After that, it was off to Sun Studio, the "Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll." Opened by Sam Phillips in 1950, Sun Studios was the recording home of names like Roy Orbison, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and many more. The museum was like a walk back in time. I saw items that music lovers would have drooled over, including original recordings and instruments from the greats of rock ‘n roll.
My museum-going wasn't done yet. I headed over to the Memphis Rock ‘n Soul Museum, where I was taught some of the problems that faced black musicians as they tried to make names in a difficult and segregated industry. The museum documents the history of music from the 1930s, when soul was just a genre sung on front porches, to today.
Ready to taste some of the delicious foods I had heard so much about coming from Memphis's kitchens, I visited the Restaurant Iris. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but I was treated to a several-course meal that included wine samplings. I've had some delicious meals, but this was something special. Combining some southern flavors with some modern presentation, the Restaurant Iris knew how to impress—it was one of the more memorable meals I have ever had.
Day One in Memphis set an example for the rest of the trip. I realized I had a lot more to learn about the area and what exactly I should expect in the future.
Thanks to the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development for the wonderful first day in Memphis.