This article also appears on ChicSavvyTravels.com.
Memphis is more than Graceland. (No, really.) It’s also the home of blues, barbeque and rock and roll.
Where to stay:
Make your home base at the Madison Hotel, a boutique luxury hotel in the centre of town. Just steps from the historic Main Street, which is dedicated exclusively for trolley service. The hotel features 110 rooms that are part modern, part Memphis music inspired. Amenities include downy Italian linens on the bed, a spacious bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and separate shower, 24-hour room service, indoor pool and rooftop bar with panoramic views of the city and river.
Five things to do:
1. You can’t go to Memphis and not go to Graceland. Ok, you can but why would you? This wasn’t high on my to-do list, but may have been my favourite part of the trip. In 1957, Elvis bought the 13-acre farmhouse, where he lived with his family until his death 20 years later. He’s buried in the Meditation Garden alongside his parents, grandparents and twin, Jessie. The house has 23 distinctly designed rooms, including the Jungle Room, Yellow Room and living room, which features a couch that’s longer than the length of the house Elvis grew up in. The upstairs remains a private residence (Lisa Marie stays when she comes to visit) and isn’t accessible to the public.
2. The Peabody Hotel – a Memphis landmark – is best known for its ducks, who live on the rooftop, but make a twice-daily “March of Ducks” on the red carpet through the lobby every day at 11 am and 5 pm in a tradition dating back to 1933. Get there early for a prime viewing spot (and also because they’re speedwalkers – the whole “march” only takes about 30 seconds).
3. Take the foot bridge across the river to Mud Island, a community of New-England-style homes that make you feel like you’re on the east coast. By car, cross over Mud Island into Arkansas just to say you’ve been there.
Where to eat:
Memphis is all about BBQ. You can get ribs wet or dry, or order half-wet, half-dry to do your own taste-test. Put Corky’s Ribs & BBQ, Central BBQ and Interstate Barbecue on your list. For fried chicken, go to Gus’s World Famous Chicken. Most Memphisites go for BBQ midday – and many places close by 6 pm, so call ahead to make sure they’re open (and not sold out of ribs).
For breakfast, eat like a king by ordering The King’s favourite dish, called “The Shag” at Cockadoos: Texas bread French toast stuffed with peanut butter and banana, and topped with blueberries, whipped cream and syrup. Or, get the fried version that Elvis ordered at Arcade, and sit in his favourite booth.