Travel Guide North America USA Southern United States Tennessee Memphis

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Introduction

Mississippi in Memphis

Mississippi in Memphis

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Memphis, Tennessee, with around 675,000 inhabitants, is best known for being the home town of the King of Rock, Elvis Presley. But this city has much more history and culture then just Elvis. Memphis was founded in 1820 as a center of shipping up and down the Mississippi River. After the Civil War, the city reemerged as the center of the cotton, hardwood and mule industry. Today, Memphis's industrial power comes from being the primary hub for Fed Ex. There is everything in this town from fine southern dining to the excitement of Beale Street.

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Neighbourhoods

Memphis is laid out in a more or less east/west fashion. Roads primarily go east/west and north/south. The expressway cuts directly through the city.

Downtown is on the west; it sits atop the bluffs, overlooking the mighty Mississippi River. (It is referred to as Downtown, not as West Memphis, which is a town just across the river in Arkansas.) Moving east you'll come to Midtown, a charming part of the city thought by some as the best part of Memphis. Beyond that, you will find East Memphis, and then the suburbs of Germantown, Collierville, Cordova, and Bartlett. The area between downtown and Midtown, referred to by locals as "Crosstown," is coming to life slowly but surely. There is a movement to turn it into an artist community. Members of this movement call the area "the Edge". However, most of the "art district" is on South Main.

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Sights and Activities

  • Beale Street claims to be the home of the blues and rock 'n' roll. No matter what its claims are it is still lots of fun every night of the week with live music and street performers.
  • Graceland is the home that Elvis had made for himself. Although the tour does not take you to the more funky rooms, it is still an excellent glimpse into how the King lived. Make sure to go early in the morning so you can get a ticket.
  • Mud Island River Park is an amazing and educational place for people of all ages. Featuring a recreation of the entire Mississippi River and flood plain. Mud island is located at 125 North Front Street, Memphis, TN 38103. For more information call 1(800) 507-6507.
  • National Civil Rights Museum is located in the Lorraine Hotel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.

Other Events and Festivals

  • Memphis in May is a month-long celebration that promotes Memphis's culture heritage.
  • The Beale Street Music Festival is a 3-day music festival usually held in the first weekend of May and is the starting event of a month of events and festivals in Memphis in May.
  • The Levitt Shell in Overton Park is the site of a series of free concerts in spring and fall featuring a performances from a variety of genres.

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Weather

Memphis has a humid sub tropical climate with four seasons. The months of May to October can be very hot while the winter months are usually mild. During the summer there can also be some bad thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures are often between 30 °C and 35 °C during the summer and well above 20 °C at night. Winters are mostly around 10 °C to 15 °C during the day with nights generally above zero though with occasional frost possible.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max9.2 °C11.9 °C17.3 °C22.9 °C27.2 °C31.8 °C33.5 °C32.7 °C28.8 °C23.5 °C16.8 °C11.4 °C
Avg Min-0.6 °C1.6 °C6.1 °C11.3 °C16.2 °C20.5 °C22.7 °C21.7 °C18.1 °C11.1 °C5.9 °C1.6 °C
Rainfall94.7 mm110.5 mm137.4 mm138.7 mm126.5 mm90.7 mm96.3 mm87.1 mm89.7 mm76.5 mm129.5 mm145.8 mm
Rain Days7.98.29.38.58.17.26.86.16.45.57.87.9

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Getting There

By Plane

Memphis International Airport (MEM) is located about 3 miles (5 kilometres) south from the CBD of Memphis and has connections to most domestic locations and a limited number of international connections, although there is even a direct daily connection to/from Amsterdam. There are private shuttles companies that provide service to and from the airport.

By Train

The City of New Orleans, operated by Amtrak, stops in Memphis en route between Chicago and New Orleans.

By Car

Interstate 40 is a good route into town but doesn't go through Memphis; to get to the other side of 40 you take the north loop which is I-40, or the south loop, which is known as I-240 and is Memphis' beltway.
I-55 will take you right into town; just take the Riverside Drive exit from either direction to be at Beale Street in a minute.
Highway 72 Comes from Alabama, through Mississippi, and ends in Memphis.

By Bus

  • Delta Bus Lines, (Greyhound bus depot) 3033 Airways Blvd (Same location as Greyhound and the MATA Airways Blvd Transit Center at Brooks Rd & Airways Blvd, south of town and northwest of the airport.), ☎ +1 662 335-2144, fax: +1 662 335-2174. Goes south along US Hwy 278 towards Cleveland, MS via Robinsonville, Shelby, Tunica and Clarksdale. Passengers transfer in Cleveland to continue towards Indianola, Greeneville, Jackson and other places in Mississippi and onwards to Baton Rouge, LA.
  • Greyhound, (bus depot) 3033 Airways Blvd (Same location as the MATA Airways Blvd Transit Center at Brooks Rd & Airways Blvd, south of town and northwest of the airport.), ☎ +1 901 395-8770, toll-free: 1 800 231-2222. Travels primarily on Interstate 22/US Hwy 78 (Memphis - Tupelo - Birmingham AL); I-40 (Oklahoma City - Little Rock - Memphis - Nashville), with some variations of the route diverging from Little Rock to Dallas Ft Worth on I-30); I-55 (St Louis - Memphis and Memphis - Baton Rouge on two separate routes); and I-55/57 (Memphis - Effingham IL - Chicago). Passengers can transfer buses in Birmingham, Baton Rouge, Chicago, Dallas-Ft Worth, St Louis, Nashville or Oklahoma City to continue to other destinations. MATA bus routes 2 and 4 will take you downtown while route 64 (airport shuttle) takes you to the airport.
  • Megabus, (bus stop) MATA American Way Transit Center @ 3921 American Way (American Way and Getwell Rd). Low-cost carrier offers service to Memphis from Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, Birmingham, Little Rock, and Dallas. Fares start at $1 each way when reserved well in advance. Buses stop at the American Way Transit Center, located at the southwest corner of American Way and Getwell Road. This location is several miles southeast of downtown, and public transit service is infrequent; MATA bus routes 36 and 56 will take you downtown while route 64 takes you to the airport.
  • Turimex Internacional, (Bus stop & ticket agency) El Rancherito Market @ 5070 Raleigh LaGrange Rd (Strip mall NE of intersection of Raleigh LaGrange Rd & Covington Pike), toll-free: +1 800 733-7330. I-30/40/55 (Chicago - Memphis - Little Rock - Dallas). Passengers transfer to their other buses in Dallas to continue to other destinations in the US and Mexico.

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Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

Bus service provided by the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) is available across the city. Some routes are very poorly served in the evenings. At nights and weekends some buses take a different route than during the day which can be a trap for visitors.

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Eat

Memphis is one of the cheapest places in the USA to live, and that includes going out to eat. Memphis is famous for two things: music and food. The local BBQ is well-known, and you can sample it "wet" (with spicy, tangy sauce) or "dry" (rubbed with spices before cooking). Other options abound across the city, from Southern home cooking to international fare. You won't go wrong with famous names, but the adventurous will find real treasures in modest hole-in-the-wall joints that make up for their shabby appearance with fabulous flavor.

  • Charles Vergo's Rendezvous Ribs, according to native Tennesseans, is the best rib restaurant in world. But remember that this place is not vegetarian friendly.

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Drink

Wine is sold in dedicated, licensed liquor stores in Memphis. Most grocery stores may have an "independent" liquor store conveniently next to the grocery store. Apparently this regulation discourages alcohol use by forcing you to walk a few extra feet to buy your booze. High-alcohol-content beers are sold in liquor stores. Traditional brands such as Budweiser are sold in grocery and conveniennce stores only.

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Sleep

  • Hostel Memphis, 1000 South Cooper St (Along Cooper at Felix in SE part of town.), ☎ +1 901 273-8341.
  • Garden Tree Hotels, 6101 Shelby Oaks Drive (Sycamore View Dr & Shelby Oaks. Off of I-40 at Sycamore View Dr (Exit #12)), ☎ +1 901 937-0503. Offers guests free Wi-Fi and a fitness center.
  • Doubletree Downtown Memphis, 185 Union Ave, ☎ +1 901 528-1800. Located a few blocks from Beale Street; a relaxing accommodation.
  • Best Western Gen X Inn, 1177 Madison Ave. (Madison Ave & N Bellevue, east of I-240 from the downtown medical complex.), ☎ +1 901 692-9136. Downtown near Memphis Medical Center.
  • Hampton Inn, Beale Street, 175 Peabody Place (SW of Peabody Pl and B.B King Blvd in the historic Beale Street District.), ☎ +1 901 260-4000, fax: +1 901 260-4012. This is right on Beale Street--as opposed to the Holiday Inn and the Peabody, both of which are a few blocks away. The room prices are average, but beware: it is noisy. If you want to party then this is the place, but for a quieter getaway, stay a few blocks away.
  • Hyatt Place Memphis/Wolfchase Galleria, 7905 Giacosa Place (Off of the Germantown Pkwy exit from I-40 (Exit 16A from the eastbound lanes an 16B from the westbound lanes)), ☎ +1 901 371-0010, toll-free: +1 901 371 9988. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: Nnoon. A hotel located adjacent to Wolfchase Galleria Mall. Offers a pool, 24-hour fitness center, on-site dining and free wifi.
  • Marriott Memphis East, 5795 Poplar Avenue (Off of the Poplar Ave exit from I-240 (Exit 15A, follow signs for Poplar Ave EAST)), ☎ +1 901-682-0080. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Offers indoor pool, 24-hour fitness center, a restaurant and lounge.
  • Quality Inn, 42 S.Camilla St (Midtown, close to Interstate 240 at S Camillia St & Union St (US Hwy 51)), ☎ +1 901 526-1050, fax: +1 901 525-3219. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Offers good, clean mid-range lodging.
  • Country Inn & Suites, 2270 N Germantown Parkway (Along Germantown Pkwy south of I-40, south of Ikea Way/Varnavas Dr), ☎ +1 901 386-1110, toll-free: +1 800 830-5222, fax: +1 901 386-8801.
  • Peabody Hotel, 149 Union Avenue (Along Union between S 2nd & B.B. King, a couple blocks east of AutoZone Stadium in downtown.). Don't miss the ducks in the lobby fountain and their daily procession (11am and 5pm); you don't have to stay to see them. Luxury extras, sheets and service in a historically and architecturally significant hotel.
  • River Inn of Harbor Town, 50 Harbor Town Square (NE of the A.W. Willis Bridge and Island Dr roundabout at west end of A.W. Willis Bridge on Harbor Town Island), ☎ +1 901 260-3333, toll-free: +1-877-222-1531. Overlooks the Mississippi River, offering luxury in a delightful boutique hotel atmosphere. Located at 50 Harbor Town Square. Experience warm hospitality and unmatched service.
  • The Madison Hotel, 79 Madison Ave (Madison & S Center Ln in downtown), ☎ +1 901 333-1200. Located downtown near the river, is a modern boutique hotel with a clean lines, contemporary vibe and stylish luxury. The Madison Hotel was awarded Number One Small Luxury Four Diamond Hotel in Memphis. Make sure not to miss Grill 83--located at street level--with its excellent seafood, steaks, and martini lounge, and the sweeping rooftop garden with breathtaking views of downtown and the Mississippi River.

View our map of accommodation in Memphis

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Learn

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 35.1268552
  • Longitude: -89.9253233

Accommodation in Memphis

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Memphis searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Memphis and areas nearby.

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This is version 46. Last edited at 11:25 on Dec 3, 18 by Utrecht. 47 articles link to this page.

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