Elmwood Cemetery is Memphis’ oldest active cemetery. You have to drive through the hood and over a bridge (kinda like going to Grandma’s house only different) and voila! You’re transported to an hidden oasis full of trees and greenery and peacefulness. There are a lot of trees! If I remember correctly I believe they’re a few tree species away from becoming a certified arboretum. It kinda reminded me of Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. I highly recommend going on a tour. I went on an after hours tour with Kimberly as the guide and it was fantastic. She’s a great tour guide and very knowledgeable about the history of her cemetery. And there’s booze! I highly recommend!
I really liked Memphis! It’s gritty and kinda run down. A little scary at times :/ In some areas I felt like I could get mugged at any moment in broad daylight because I was the only person on the street, nothing was open and there were several, what look to be, abandoned buildings on the block – JUST a little sketch. But I dig that shit. There’s a lot of old beautiful buildings & vintage neon signs and it’s full of history and character.
Before I went there EVERYBODY I talked to (even people who live there) told me to be extra careful and to most definitely not take the bus or I would be murdered. Seriously? Come the fuck on people! They had me kinda freaked out. I mean…what gives? I wasn’t at all sure what to expect, but it turns out it’s very cool. AND I didn’t get mugged OR murdered. #GoMe What these fearmongerers SHOULD have said was ‘There are pockets of really bad/poor neighborhoods so it’s not really a walkable city (that Walking in Memphis song is a LIE!). And for the same reason don’t take the bus. Use a bit of common sense. Keep your head up. You’ll be fine! JUST LIKE EVERYWHERE ELSE. Have fun!’
With that said….here are my recs:
Where to eat:
Have breakfast at Brother Junipers. It’s touted as the best breakfast in Memphis. They make everything from scratch and it really is the best breakfast in Memphis. I should have gone there every day, but I didn’t! There’s a bit of a wait on the weekend, but they do a thing where if you call ahead (with in 15 minutes of your arrival time) they’ll take 15 minutes off your waiting time once you check in upon arrival. I had no idea who Brother Juniper was so I had to ask. I was told that Brother Juniper was the cook for St. Francis of Assisi. You learn something new every day.
If you don’t feel like waiting in line for 2 hours for breakfast every day check out Cafe Eclectic. I visited the midtown location and I liked it very much. Good coffee, fresh food, good vibes… The have several vegetarian options and breakfast is served all day!
I don’t eat meat so trying to find somewhere good to eat lunch and dinner was a struggle. Especially since everybody and their mother recommends Central BBQ and Gus’s Fried Chicken. But I did find a great Mexican type spot in Overton Square call Babalu. It looks pretty vanilla from the outside, but it’s kinda cute inside. They have a nice bar area and patio and the tacos and guacamole made table side are to die for. Deliciousness.
What to do:
You must visit the Civil Rights Museum. It’s located at the old Lorraine Hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed on April 4th, 1968. I’m not a big museum fan, but it’s a must . You should come away with a better understanding of the civil rights struggle and what it means to be African American.
You also must do Sun Studio followed by Graceland. In that order. This is an all day affair. The first tour of Sun Studio is at 10:30am. They don’t take advance reservations. But if you arrive and the tour is sold out there should be space on the next one so no worries. You can chill in the cafe (they make malts!) or explore the the neighborhood. Sun Studios is located in the Edge District which was my favorite area of Memphis. It definitely has an edge to it 🙂 On a Sunday it was pretty vacant. There was nothing open. But some of the buildings are just gorgeous and I found a few alleys with graffiti and street art so I was happy to spend an hour here wandering around.
After Sun Studio hop on the free shuttle bus that leaves every hour around 20 after the hour from Sun Studio. It stops at Beale Street and then Graceland. TIP: I highly recommend buying your ticket for Graceland online before you leave home/get to Graceland. Buy it for the first tour the day you want to go then you can show up any point after that and go on the next tour. If you wait to buy it upon arrival there’s a chance that the next tour (and the one after that) will be sold out. And you’ll be tempted to spend the extra $40 on the VIP ticket just to avoid hanging around East Memphis for 3 hours. It’s a sketchy area and unless you like fast food and souvenir shops there’s fuck all to do.
I wasn’t really a big Elvis fan before I went to Elvis Presley’s Graceland. But I had to go. And I’m really glad I did. I enjoyed every minute of it and I have a lot more admiration for his legacy. The way it’s set up is very tech savy. They hand out headphones while you’re waiting in line and when you get on the shuttle bus to go across to Graceland they give you an iPad. Fancy! It’s fantastic because your tour is not only self paced, but narrated by John Stamos. A+
For a list of what’s currently on in Memphis check out the I love Memphis blog. She’s got a ton of good recommendations.
Where to stay:
If you can afford to stay at the Peabody stay at the Peabody! I wanted to, but it’s a bit out of my price range :/ It’s located smack dab in the middle of downtown and it’s a Historic Hotel of America. Fancy!
I ended up staying at an airbnb near Overton Park. It was my first Airbnb experience. Lets just say I learned a lot! For instance I learned that I need a place to myself :/ Or at least a place where the hosts don’t wake up at 6am every day. I also learned not to book solely based on reviews. This place had really good reviews. And my experience really wasn’t that good!
How to get around:
Uber. By far the cheapest/best way to get around. The Taxis were overpriced and shitty. I stupidly took a taxi from Graceland back to the Overton Park area and it cost me $25!!! If I would have taken an Uber it would have cost around $13. Don’t take a taxi! They suck!
Sharing Is Caring:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain