Wondering where to stay in Memphis for best access to the city’s top restaurants, activities, attractions, and nightlife? Here at Stay Alfred, we’ve got you. Not only will this article give you the rundown on the best things to do in Memphis, but we’ll also break down the best places to stay in Memphis.
From our retro-styled South Main digs at Stay Alfred at Chisca to the modern Stay Alfred on Madison Avenue in the heart of Downtown Memphis, you’ll always be close to awesome things to do in Memphis. What are these “awesome things,” you ask? Memphis isn’t only known for live music (though the arts scene here is seriously top-notch), but also tasty restaurants, vibrant nightlife, sprawling parks, and fascinating museums.
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, you’ll want to pick from the best places to stay in Memphis to be close to all the fantastic food and fabulous entertainment. Nowadays, Memphis’ sprawling city limits make it one of the largest cities in the country, but that wasn’t always the case. Nothing much stood where the Home of the Blues thrives today before 1819, when it was formally established. The burgeoning town quickly grew in prominence thanks to its important trading and transportation industries, and as the population increased, so did the city’s cultural scene. While it’s still a major transportation hub today with the FedEx headquarters and one of the world’s busiest cargo airports, it’s also a vibrant vacation destination, with museums, parks, and a plethora of arts attractions. So what should be on your Memphis bucket list? Keep reading to see our all-time favorite things to do in Memphis.
It’s the Home of the Blues, after all! Don’t miss these 7 spots to listen to live music in Memphis
Well, you just can’t visit the Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll without seeing some live music. Literally, you can’t avoid it when musicians play in the streets, in coffee shops, in concert halls, in parks, and the list goes on. But for some rollicking sounds in one of Memphis’ most storied parts of town, we recommend heading down to Beale Street on any night of the week. Here you’ll find the famed B.B. King's Blues Club, where diners can chow down on delectable Southern classics while listening to the sweet sounds of a live blues band. If you’re staying at Stay Alfred at Chisca, it’s just 5 minutes away on foot.
Looking for a cozier venue? Continue down Beale Street to the Rum Boogie Cafe, where the venue itself is just as much of an attraction as the music. Check out the vintage guitars and music memorabilia - oh, and there’s rum served here too. And for a more low-key music experience, the Blues City Cafe offers old-school vibes and hearty food, complete with finger-lickin-good ribs and a smaller (but still lively!) crowd compared to some of the more popular joints.
Down the street, Lew's Blue Note is another unpretentious haunt which often spotlights local talent, so it’s a great place to visit for true Memphis flavor. And the tasty local flavors of catfish nuggets and chicken wings. Best of all, it’s just a 6-minute walk from Stay Alfred on 4th Street!
But Memphis’ music scene isn’t only confined to bars; the Home of the Blues also has some storied concert venues that are worth checking out. The New Daisy Theatre, built in 1936, has been wowing crowds for decades and continues to host touring acts in a variety of genres today. Another Memphis arts landmark is the Orpheum Theatre, which has stayed a premier arts destination since its inception as a vaudeville venue back in 1890. And how about some live music set against the backdrop of lush trees and a Tennessee sunset? Handy Park has two stages which host free public performances smack-dab in the middle of Beale Street.
Hungry? Pull up a chair at these 6 delicious places to eat in Memphis
So you’ve wandered around town for a couple hours, and your tummy is starting to rumble. With so many delicious Memphis restaurants, where do you go first? The Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll might as well be called the Birthplace of BBQ, because Memphis is full of mouth-watering barbecue joints that will ensure you do not leave town hungry.
The top honors for Memphis’ best BBQ could be split between The Rendezvous (a 5-minute walk from Stay Alfred on Madison Avenue) and Central BBQ. The Rendezvous has been satisfying many a carnivore since the 1940s, so you know it’s gotta be good. And Central BBQ brings some modern flair with creative dishes like BBQ-topped nachos, house-made sausages, and a scrumptious banana pudding.
While it’s not exactly barbecue, it is good ol’ homestyle Southern food, so you better add Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken to your edible Memphis bucket list. And by bucket list, we mean “grab a bucket of fried chicken” list. This bustling eatery is 1-minute walk from Stay Alfred at Chisca and Stay Alfred on South Front Street, and we’ll warn you that the spicy chicken has a serious kick!
Although it may be the most famous fare in Memphis, there’s more to this town’s gastronomic scene than just BBQ. Memphis is an up-and-coming foodie destination, with a plethora of restaurants serving cuisine from around the world. For an authentic taste of Tuscany in industrial-chic surrounds, head to Catherine & Mary's. And the city’s best French fare is found at Chez Philippe, which also boasts a massive wine list. Or, if you’re in the mood for something different, book a table at the historic Majestic Grille, which serves high-end steaks in a theatre built in 1913 - complete with silent films playing in the background.
Beyond Beale Street: Toast to Memphis memories at these 8 bars and pubs
Yes, Beale Street is totally awesome, but the Memphis bar scene doesn’t only include the blues joints on that famous avenue. In fact, some of Memphis’ best bars are not on Beale Street, like the Prohibition-inspired Blind Bear. This tucked-away watering hole serves up classic cocktails and small plates, and you’ll have to find out the password to get in. Like that old-school, bohemian style? Don’t miss Mollie Fontaine Lounge, another favorite cocktail bar, which is known for live piano music and DJs in addition to creative beverages. And for some casual mixed drinks with a possible supernatural presence, Earnestine & Hazel's features strong drinks and some spooky lore.
Maybe you’d prefer a glass of malbec over a martini? The staff at brick-walled McEwens will find the perfect pairing for any of their delicious dishes - or invite you to savor a glass on its own. And the neighboring Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar is heaven for anyone who has trouble deciding on a varietal or vintage, since they serve tasting-size pours from a sizable wine list.
In the mood for an ice-cold pint of suds? Raise a glass at The Brass Door, a traditional Irish pub with a great selection of beers on draught and heaping plates of fish and chips. And Bardog Tavern is known for friendly staff and a sizable selection of draughts, bottles, and jukebox tunes. How about some beer straight from the source? Memphis’ own High Cotton Brewing Company features a taproom with a menu of rotating craft brews, all available in tasting portions and pints.
Soak up that Tennessee sun at these 6 beautiful Memphis parks
What’s better than mild temperatures year-round? Having gorgeous outdoor spaces to enjoy the weather! And good thing Memphis has both, because there’s always a reason to head outside and enjoy the sprawling parks in Downtown Memphis. The city center features several small green spaces, including Court Square, Memphis Park, and the Beale Street icon, Hardy Park. And, of course, the spectacular Beale Street Landing boasting Mississippi River views.
But just a stone’s throw from Downtown proper, you’ll find a few more notable parks, including the massive Overton Park. Spanning over 300 acres, this park has everything, including a golf course, playgrounds, and a weekly farmer’s market. Overton Park is also home to the Levitt Shell amphitheater, where Elvis played his first paid concert, and the park’s popularity among dog walkers may or may not have been the inspiration for “Hound Dog.”
And fans of local flora will be delighted to visit the Memphis Botanic Garden, a sensory experience spanning nearly 100 acres. The entire Botanic Garden is made up of 23 smaller gardens, including a Japanese garden, a butterfly garden, an iris garden, and a conifer garden featuring several varieties of dwarf conifers. Yes, those are miniature pine trees. Cute!
Searching for a little history? Visit these 8 remarkable Memphis museums
When you think of Memphis, museums probably aren’t the first thing to come to mind. And that’s okay, because there’s nothing better than stumbling upon a totally cool attraction that you weren’t expecting to find. Here in Memphis, you just might find your new favorite museum.
Though Memphis is deservedly famous for its arts scene, this city was also an important center of the civil rights movement. Today visitors can experience the sights and sounds of that era at the National Civil Rights Museum, a 6-minute walk from both Stay Alfred at Chisca and Stay Alfred on South Front Street. This institution showcases incredible artifacts like the bus Rosa Parks sat in and moving reminders of the strength of human character. Take an hour in between BBQ and musical revelry to experience the exhibits here.
And we can’t forget about the science fans! The Home of the Blues is also home to the Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium, which features an IMAX theatre and a myriad of exhibits ranging from local history to ancient geology. Add this one to your list of things to do in Memphis with kids if you’re traveling with little ones, although it’s just as fun to visit as an adult.
Memphis’ music scene might make headlines more than its visual arts scene, but this town actually boasts an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures. Tennessee's largest art institution, the Brooks Museum of Art, is set in sprawling Overton Park (a 12-minute drive from Downtown) and features an array of European and American works from the last three centuries. And with a more specific niche, the Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art, showcases some more unique media, like tapestries, carvings, and mosaics.
But it wouldn’t be a trip to Memphis without visiting the home of the King (and the city’s most famous museum), Graceland. The massive, 23-bedroom house remains much the way it was when its famous inhabitant lived there, with kitschy furniture and vintage cars. Even Elvis’s two planes are on site! Looking for more musical memorabilia? Check out Sun Studios, the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music for the full history behind your favorite Memphis-born hits.
Wondering where to stay in Memphis? Stay Alfred features 4 of the best places to stay in Memphis
Now you’ve got an agenda packed with the best Memphis eats, the most scenic parks, and the top spots for live music in the Home of the Blues, but now you might be wondering where to stay in Memphis. Winner, winner, BBQ dinner! Stay Alfred presents four stylish, perfectly located travel apartments to put you in the best possible position to enjoy the best of Memphis. And since we’re passionate about helping your trip go according to plan, every travel apartment features professional management and access to our top-notch guest service team.
In the heart of Downtown Memphis, just steps from the AutoZone Arena and vibrant Beale Street, may we present Stay Alfred on 4th Street. This stately brick building channels old Southern glamour, and the apartments themselves are seriously fab too. Each private pad is complete with a full kitchen, in-unit laundry, and high-end furnishings.
Downtown just may be the best area to stay in Memphis, especially when we also have Stay Alfred on Madison Avenue mere feet (okay, maybe yards) away from buzzing Beale Street and the scenic waterfront. These larger-than-average travel apartments feature contemporary kitchens, cool decor, and a huge resident lounge with a ping pong table and outdoor patio.
Just south of Beale Street and a 9-minute walk to the FedEx Forum, the hip Stay Alfred at Chisca features vintage vibes and plenty of modern amenities. The building itself is a converted hotel - though it retains its old-school charm - and offers plenty of space to do whatever makes you happy. Whether you’d prefer to chill out on the sunny rooftop patio, work up a sweat in the state-of-the-art fitness center, or kick back on the comfy couch in your travel apartment’s living room, Stay Alfred at Chisca lets you do it all in style.
And the last of our Memphis fab four, Stay Alfred on South Front Street sits one block from the Orpheum Theatre and two blocks from beautiful Beale Street Landing. Featuring industrial, loft-style touches like you’d find in Brooklyn, this building has all the bells and whistles from a 24-hour fitness center to a refreshing outdoor pool.
So whatever brings you to the Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll, your team at Stay Alfred is here to help you roll into Memphis life in style. With a jam-packed list of things to do in Memphis and stylish digs where you can sleep off those BBQ ribs, we’re here to make your time in the Home of the Blues one for the books (and the ‘gram!).