One of the top things to do in Memphis when you visit is to spend time downtown! Here you will find the famous Beale Street, parks, wall art, yummy restaurants, music, and ducks. Yes, ducks. Read on to find out how to spend a day in downtown Memphis Tennessee.
Table of Contents
Getting Around Downtown Memphis
There are a variety of parking lots you can park in. They all have an app you can use to pay for parking or a kiosk in the parking lot, which isn’t crazy expensive.
We recommend getting the app so you can stay on top of how much time you have left. There are instructions at the parking lot about how to get the app.
We always parked at the lot right next to the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street.
Once parked, you can walk pretty much everywhere from here. But if you want to visit Mud Island or the Pyramid, you will have to drive there.
This is the main attraction in downtown Memphis. The famous Beale Street with its lights, bars, and stores. You may hear live music on Beale Street during the day but have a much better chance of hearing music if you come at night.
A Schwab on Beale Street
Stop into this famous general store that has been around since the 1800s for a fountain soda and to pick up your Memphis or Elive Memorabilia. We opted for a pair of Elvis sunglasses and some Memphis stickers.
The kids also tried the fountain soda. This was not your typical Sprite or Coke. But the kids still enjoyed their drinks. You can also get ice cream or a milkshake.
Beale Street Pictures
Grab a picture under one of the Beale Street signs. The one at the far end – the opposite end of where the Hard Rock Cafe is, is better since cars can’t drive on that part of the street, so you can get a picture right underneath the sign.
Elvis Presley statue – this spot is located kiddie corner from the Hard Rock Cafe.
Walk at Night
Come back at night to walk the street and listen to the live music coming out of the bars/restaurants. And to see the street lit up. We did this with our kids around 8/9 pm, and just walking up and down the street, we could hear the music.
It was a cool experience, and I am glad we went back at night to hear the music!
Go at either 11 am or 5 pm to see the Peabody Ducks at the Peabody Hotel. At 11 am, they are bringing them down from the roof, on the elevator, and across the red carpet to the fountain in the lobby.
At 5 pm, they are bringing them from the fountain down the red carpet and on the elevator up to the top.
Both times you can see them walk the red carpet. But be prepared that it is normally packed! Get there early to get a good spot.
Keep your eyes peeled throughout town for a variety of beautiful murals on the walls.
Head to the riverfront for a walk or to check out the park. When we visited there was a lot of construction so hopefully soon that will be done.
If you want to get out for a walk, head to Mud Island, where you can walk the grounds. They have a large river display on the grounds you can walk through. There is also a large Memphis sign at the end of the Island.
Bass Pro Shop Pyramid
Check out the humongous Bass Pro Shop Pyramid store. Ride up the glass elevator to the top (there is a per-person fee) for a drink, food, or just an amazing view over the city.
Where To Eat In Downtown Memphis
There are so many good restaurants in Memphis! Here are the ones we recommend you check out when in the downtown area.
This iconic downtown Memphis restaurant is located down a side street and in the basement. Yup. Don’t let that stop you. The second you turn the corner, you will smell the BBQ. From here, head down to the basement restaurant to enjoy a delicious meal of ribs!
They do have a kid’s menu, wine and beer, and vegetarian options. The Rendezvous is a must-stop while in downtown Memphis!
Blue City Cafe
Located right on Beale Street, don’t miss the Blues City Cafe. They have ribs, soul food, and a huge plate of pulled pork fries! Plus, a full bar.
After exploring downtown, head to the following locations:
Be sure to visit the National Civil Rights Museum and the Lorraine Motel, where Dr Martin Luther King Jr was shot. Eat at Central BBQ for our favorite ribs in Memphis.
Get Breakfast at The Arcade – the French toast and mimosas were on point! You can also get the famous Elive banana, peanut butter, and bacon sandwich here. Craig tried it – it wasn’t the best, but it was worth getting to try it! Find out more about visiting the Civil Rights Museum here!
Visit Sun Studio to learn about the history of music in Memphis.
Other places to stop and eat:
Don’t miss Gus’s Chicken! You can get your order to go and bring it across the street to the Dominick Distillery for some delicious bourbon or cocktails! The Soul Museum or if you want to visiting Graceland is an experience (It is not located in downtown).
Memphis is a city full of history and delicious food. You can easily spend a day here or decide to stay for a full weekend.
Where To Stay:
Pea Body Hotel – If you are looking for a fancier, more upscale stay downtown, check out the Pea Body Hotel. This will also give you multiple chances to see the ducks!
Hampton Inn & Suites Memphis – Beale Street – Located in downtown Memphis, this Hampton Inn & Suites Memphis hotel is a great location and has amenities for all families.
SpringHill Suites Memphis Downtown – SpringHill Suites Memphis Downtown is another option when looking for a hotel in the city of Memphis.
We stayed in a vacation rental that was 10 minutes outside of Beale Street. It worked well for our larger group. Here are a few vacation rentals to check out:
Harbor Town Home – This 3bd/2b townhome offers exceptional value and location.
Memphis Gated Condo – This gorgeous 2bd/2.5ba condo is located in the prime downtown Memphis location.
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park – Memphis – Experience a little bit of country in the city. Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Memphis is a fun family location featuring campsites and cabin rentals. They have a nice playground on the property and an outdoor pool, and it is only 5 miles from downtown Memphis.
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