A Weekend in Memphis and Jackson

A Weekend in Memphis and Jackson

How my trip to Tennessee caused me to fall in love with music all over again.

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Hey fellow travel lovers! I'm Zoe Rain, a photographer and travel enthusiast living in Chicago, IL. It wasn't hard to pack my bags in a hurry and get a break from the last of our cold weather. I jumped on a plane and headed to Tennessee, where I started my journey in Memphis.

Elvis Presley's Graceland
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Elvis Presley’s Graceland

The moment I stepped off the plane, I rented a car and headed straight to Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley and a hub of Tennessee pride and culture. The guided tour through his mansion gave me an intimate look at the personal life of Elvis. Graceland just completed and opened a massive expansion, which meant an amazing collection of shops, the new Guest House, and museums (including a giant collection of his cars, his performance outfits, and a section about his time serving in the army). I left Graceland with a greater respect for (and a little crush!) on the King himself.

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Sun Studio
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Sun Studio

After a long afternoon surrounded by Elvis, I went to Sun Studio, where many claim Sam Phillips recorded the first “rock ’n’ roll” song. This was a huge highlight of my trip. I grew up listening to Johnny Cash records on repeat, so to be able to explore a studio where he recorded alongside Elvis, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis was unreal.

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Stop 3 of 6

The Guest House at Graceland

After a long afternoon surrounded by Elvis, I went to Sun Studio, where many claim Sam Phillips recorded the first “rock ’n’ roll” song. This was a huge highlight of my trip. I grew up listening to Johnny Cash records on repeat, so to be able to explore a studio where he recorded alongside Elvis, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis was unreal.

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Stop 4 of 6

National Civil Rights Museum

At the very hotel that MLK was shot, the National Civil Rights Museum has history running through its veins. The vintage cars in the parking lot make it feel April 4, 1968. You walk up to the balcony where he gave his last speech and as you enter the museum, you are immersed in the timeline of black oppression. You start with slavery before moving onto Jim Crow riots and other civil rights movements of the 60s. The tour ends with a look inside Martin Luther King, Jr’s hotel room. I was taken back by how powerful and informative this museum was. Patrons, old and young, where there to experience the emotional tour together.

Off to Jackson!

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Stop 5 of 6

Rock'N Dough - Jackson

After a short drive, I ended up in Jackson, where I stopped off at Rock N’ Dough Pizza. I sat on the balcony and ordered a delicious garlic pizza (the lemon was an interesting twist that I loved) and a caprese salad appetizer. The service was incredible and the food was definitely worth coming back for. 

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Stop 6 of 6

Southern Legends of Music at the Carnegie

This museum is as small and quaint as Jackson itself, but packed full of culture and town pride. The museum is home to the largest collection of Carl Perkins career. From signed guitars, albums, singles and costumes, they really had an amazing group of items. Plus, I got a T-Shirt of the FIRST Hard Rock Cafe, which originated in Jackson.

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I left this trip listening to Elvis on repeat on the flight home. If you want to connect more with American music history, meet some friendly people, and eat good food, Tennessee is the spot for you!