About This Place
Memphis, located on the Mississippi River, is known for its one-of-a-kind cultural contributions. Whether drawn to the River City for blues, barbecue or to experience outdoor life along the river, visitors can choose from a distinctive selection of entertainment, culture and activities.
Tennessee’s largest city by population with approximately 650,000 residents, Memphis covers 315 square miles on a river bluff. This strategic location helped kick-start its growth as a transportation hub during the 19th century, and today Memphis’ geography includes a network of parks and public spaces that allow residents and visitors to take advantage of the city’s temperate climate and rich landscape.
Mud Island River Park on nearby Mud Island is a short walk or monorail ride from downtown Memphis. Visitors to this Mississippi River peninsula can tour the Mississippi River Museum and enjoy one of the park’s neatly landscaped picnic areas. In the city’s center is Overton Park, with 342 acres that include trails for biking, jogging, and walking. Overton Park’s popular Memphis attractions include top-ranked Memphis Zoo where visitors can observe giant pandas and large African mammals such as elephants and giraffes, and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, which houses a permanent collection of approximately 9,000 works, including Italian Renaissance, Baroque and 20th-century art. Old Forest State Natural Area, an arboretum dedicated to old growth forest, is ideal for leisurely walks along trails lined with trees, with markers identifying individual species.
Music lovers have plenty of things to do in Memphis. Visiting Beale Street—known as “Home of the Blues”—to explore its musical history is a must. The street’s neon marquees and live music venues feature blues, jazz, rock, gospel, and rhythm and blues. In spring, the three-day Beale Street Music Festival draws crowds and a multi-genre mix of famous and local musicians. The event kicks off the start of Memphis in May, a month-long series of events held throughout the city.
Among things to do in Memphis, a tour of Elvis Presley’s Graceland Mansion is on the top of the list. An international attraction, the 14-acre estate located in South Memphis includes a trophy room and the Elvis Presley Car Museum, featuring the star’s iconic pink Cadillac. Other music-centric Memphis museums include the Rock 'n' Soul Museum, an exploration of Memphis musical history from the 1930s, and the nearby Stax Museum of American Soul Music. The museum, located at the original site of Stax Records, has among its 2,000-plus displays a faithful recreation of Studio A, where many of the label’s greatest hits were recorded. The museum also includes a church from the Mississippi Delta that illustrates the connection between gospel and soul music.
Memphis-style barbecue can be found at restaurants throughout the city, and visitors often like to try several places to explore variations on the city’s trademark slow-smoking and dry-rub processes. Whether ribs or a chopped pork sandwich, folks enjoy well-known spots like Central BBQ, Payne’s, Tops Bar-B-Q, Neely’s Bar-B-Que, Cozy Corner and Corky’s.