Author: Wanda B.
Date of Trip: May 2007
“The Birthplace of Rock and Roll,” “The Home of the Blues.” These are indeed popular descriptions of Memphis. But after a springtime vacation there, I found Memphis to be so much more.
Memphis was the spot chosen for the annual family vacation. Usually my husband and I travel alone, but this time we decided to take my mother (who is a huge Elvis fan) and my teenaged son (who incidentally graduated from high school this spring).
We drove to our destination, which meant 10 hours on the road. We left very early in the morning (2 a.m.) and got there around 1:00 p.m. We decided to check in early at the Residence Inn by Marriott where we had reservations. They did not have our reserved room ready (two bedroom, two bath suite with kitchen and sitting area), so they offered us two adjacent one bedroom suites for a hugely discounted price, which we took. The hotel has a free buffet every morning plus on weekdays they offer a light meal at 5:00 p.m. The staff were wonderful, and the hotel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a well-kept, beautiful building.
After we checked in and unpacked, we decided to start hitting the tourist sites. First we started out at the Rock and Soul Museum. A self-guided tour lets you wander through the museum at your own pace and choose which exhibits you want to know more about. After touring the museum, we wandered over to Beale Street and wound up at a restaurant named Blues City Cafe. This was a restaurant that my son had picked out based on tourist brochures. I would rate this place with an A+ for atmosphere, B- for the food.
The next day we got up early and headed out for Graceland. I had heard was it tacky from a student of mine, so I had mixed feelings prior to touring the large house. However, I must say I was PLEASANTLY surprised. Seeing the house and the surrounding buildings (with all the memorabilia from Elvis’ life, career, and family), grounds, and planes, I discovered a newfound respect for The King and his music.
No pilgrimage to Memphis is complete without driving two hours to Tupelo, Mississippi to see Elvis’ birthplace. There is an Elvis museum, the original house where Elvis was born, and beautiful gardens to see. Make sure to have your picture taken with the bronze statute of Elvis as a boy.
With the mighty Mississippi River so close, we felt it would be remiss to pass up an opportunity to take up a riverboat ride on that great American landmark. On the way back from Tupelo we detoured down to Tunica and took a riverboat ride from there. Tunica, by the way, is a popular casino town and it is worth the ride just to see all the casinos that line the road.
A trip to Memphis is not complete without a visit to the Hard Rock Cafe at Memphis which boasts the largest collection of Elvis memorabilia outside of Graceland. Overpriced of course, but the burgers were great.
Another Memphis must-see is Sun Studios, where greats such as Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded. A guided tour is offered, and you can take pictures. In one of our pictures numerous “orbs” could be seen. Orbs are spots of light that sometimes occur in pictures and video without explanation. Paranormal investigators say these are the first manifestations of spirits of the dead. An afterlife concert of the great alumni of that magnificent establishment perhaps? The gift shop there is excellent as well.
Other sites covered in our trip were Jim Neely’s Interstate Barbeque Restaurant (which has to die for potato salad), the Bigfoot Lodge, and the Peabody Hotel where we saw the famous ducks march through the lobby. We rode the Ducks (not the Peabody ducks), which are actually tourist vehicles modeled after World War II amphibious troop transports. The Duck offers a comprehensive tour of Memphis sprinkled with history and trivia from knowledgeable tour guides, who are licensed captains (to traffic on the river). We were a little apprehensive about safety issues prior to our trip because of Internet reports and word of mouth from friends, but we had absolutely no problems, except with a rude trolley driver. Overall, our family trip to Memphis was one of our most memorable vacations.