Memphis: City of Kings
After breakfast in the Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel jungle room (it actually looks like a jungle), we went across the road to the Graceland mansion, the entire house was fascinating! We grabbed our headsets and set off on our audio-guided tour. It was really cool to walk through Elvis’ life. After the mansion tour, we checked out his amazing car collection, the sparkling costume the King wore in Vegas, and his personal plane collection. What a guy!
Next we got in the car for a brief drive (everyone joked about how nice that was after yesterday’s long drive) and headed to downtown Memphis. We dropped our bags at our hotel and set out to explore on foot, which was a welcome change after being in a car for so long. The area was beautiful, especially the arts district.
We stopped at Central BBQ for lunch, and marveled at how nice the waitress was. Once the food arrived no one spoke for 10 minutes because it was so good. Best BBQ we’ve ever tried—every bite was incredible! We topped it off with caramel cake and were all very, very happy. [For more on BBQ, see our Texas BBQ Trail].
Across the street we found the Lorraine Motel, where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot, and the National Civil Rights Museum. Sadly the museum was closed, but we were able to see the balcony where Dr. King spoke his last words. It was very solemn and we were all honored for the opportunity to see it.
The clouds were starting to move in, so we hit the road. Along the way we saw the Gibson Guitar Factory and decided to stop. Lucky for us, a tour just started. It was amazing to see how these famous guitars are made. We held the wood the guitars are made from and watched as people spray painted them. The attention to detail was stunning.
Afterward we walked over to the Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum. This fun museum takes you through the history of music in Memphis from the 1920s. We could personally select the soundtrack in our headsets on our audio tour from jukeboxes that housed songs of every generation. Everyone danced in place and shook their hips as we walked through. It was probably a pretty funny sight.
Our next stop was the famous Beale Street and the A. Schwab Dry Goods store. With three floors, it’s a massive space full of vintage clothes, gag gift items, antiques and an old-fashioned soda shop. We played around and made a few fun purchases. As we exited, we heard a band playing across the street so we made our way over. We sat outside on the patio and watched the amazing blues band play—the lead singer wowed us all by playing the guitar with his tongue and teeth.
We walked around Beale Street a bit more, admiring the history and vibrancy of the city. You can feel the energy it in the streets. None of us wanted to leave.
The road calls, though! We’ve got a lot of ground to cover tomorrow as we head to Mississippi.