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Memphis, Tennessee

Culture & history

Our most recommended Memphis, Tennessee Culture & History

Memphis: City Tour with Optional Sun Studios & Riverboat

1. Memphis: City Tour with Optional Sun Studios & Riverboat

Visit the landmarks of Memphis and be fascinated as the city comes to life through stories and explanations. Your guide will help you discover the top spots including Peabody Hotel, the Memphis Pyramid, and Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was murdered. Begin your day with a hotel pickup from downtown Memphis. Be seated in a mini coach-bus to meet your guide. Begin the tour passing by the statues of B.B. King and Elvis Presley and the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Stop at A. Schwab for your local buys, an institution that sells all things Memphis—from regional arts and crafts to dry goods, magic potions, candies, books, magazines, and more. Pass by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Continue to the Memphis Pyramid, which is now a Bass Pro Shops “megastore” that resembles an Egyptian pyramid and is filled with shopping, a hotel, restaurants, a bowling alley, and an archery range. From there, stop at the Peabody Memphis, a landmark 13-story downtown hotel, famous for having Ducks march every day on a red carpet throughout the reception. Finally, visit Beale Street, voted as the most iconic street in America by USA Today. See the nearly 2 miles of blues clubs and restaurants that make it one of the top tourist attractions in Memphis. Then, take a drive through Victorian Village, a historic neighborhood with homes that were built in the 1800s and alongside cotton row. Discover why this fiber is so important in Memphis' history. If you wish, upgrade your tour to include a cruise along the Mississippi River aboard a paddlewheel boat. Listen to interesting anecdotes from your captain about Memphis and its history. You may also add a tour to Sun Studios, the birthplace of Rock N' Roll, where Elvis recorded his first song.

Memphis: Big Mojo Sun Studio + Music History 3-Hour Bus Tour

2. Memphis: Big Mojo Sun Studio + Music History 3-Hour Bus Tour

Go behind the scenes at Sun Studio and let the Home of the Blues come alive on a city tour aboard the nation's only music bus. All of the guides on this tour are professional Beale Street musicians who will play and sing selections from the city's rich musical heritage, while entertaining you with comedy, history, and stories about your favorite Memphis personalities. Along the way, you will see Sun Studio, Beale Street, Stax Studio, the Lorraine Motel, Cotton Row, Peabody Hotel, Overton Park, Historic Central Gardens, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, and the early homes of Elvis, B.B. King, and Johnny Cash. Enjoy an exciting introduction to Memphis on an action-packed drive through the city. It's great fun for all ages; let loose and sing along as much or as little as you like.

Memphis: Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Tour

3. Memphis: Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Tour

Discover the best of Memphis on this hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour with 9 stops and unlimited rides during the duration of your tour pass. Explore the city's monuments, historical attractions, and popular spots in the most flexible and enjoyable way. Visit highlights of the city such as the Blues Hall of Fame, Graceland, the Stax Museum, Sun Studio, the Memphis Pyramid, and more. Find everything from kid-friendly attractions such as the Peabody Hotel to more historical spots such as the National Civil Rights Museum. Adapt your day along the route and based on your interests. Enjoy the convenience of buses passing through the stops every 90 minutes. If you prefer, remain on the bus tour for the entire loop, listening to the informative audio commentary on board. Stops along the hop-on hop-off bus route include: • Ticket Booth/Hard Rock Cafe• National Civil Rights Museum/Blues Hall of Fame• Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum/B.B. King's Blues Club• Stax Museum of American Soul Music• Graceland• Sun Studio• Auto Zone Park/Peabody Hotel• Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid• Tennessee Welcome Center

From Memphis: Elvis Presley's Upbringing Tour

4. From Memphis: Elvis Presley's Upbringing Tour

Although Elvis Presley became the biggest name in music history and achieved worldwide fame and fortune, his roots were humble. To discover more about his upbringing, you will meet your experienced tour guide in Memphis, in front of The Guest House at Graceland. From there, hop on a luxury coach bus to begin a 1:45 hour drive towards the King's birthplace. Along the ride, enjoy Elvis Presley movies and concerts played on the TV to get you in the mood for the day ahead. When arriving at the city of Tupelo, you will visit the house Elvis Presley was born in and is now considered a historic landmark by the State of Mississippi. You will learn more about the history of the house and his childhood before heading to Elvis Presley Museum, his childhood church, the "Walk of Life" trail tracing Elvis' career and personal life, and see the "Elvis at 13" statue, the Story Wall & Fountain of Life, representing the 13 years that Elvis lived in Tupelo before moving to Memphis with his family. From there, visit the Tupelo Hardware Company to discover where the King's mother, Gladys, purchased his first guitar and put music in the hands of the boy who grew to become a musical legend. The experience in Tupelo will wrap up with a drive past some significant landmarks of the city including the Tupelo Fairgrounds, the Elvis Homecoming Statue, and schools that Elvis attended. After a fun day discovering all there is to Elvis Presley's upbringing, relax on the trip back to Memphis, where you will be dropped off at The Guest House at Graceland.

Memphis: City Discovery Bus Tour

5. Memphis: City Discovery Bus Tour

Get the complete Memphis experience on this bus tour with an introduction to everything that makes Memphis unique. Discover the renowned Beale Street, the Peabody Hotel, sample food at Central BBQ, and visit Rock 'n' Soul Museum or Edge Motor Museum (if option selected). Among other highlights, you’ll visit the Lorraine Motel to see the balcony where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent his last moments. If you choose, explore either the exhibitions at the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum or Edge Motor Museum, and Beale Street to discover how it became the "home of the Blues". Pass by some favorite Memphis sights, including the Victorian Village, Orpheum Theater, historic Cotton Row, and Hotel Chisca, where DJ Dewey Philips played Elvis for the first time.   At lunchtime, stop into Central BBQ to sample some of the best barbeque food in Memphis.

Memphis: Stax Museum of American Soul Music

6. Memphis: Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Start your museum tour in the true birthplace of soul music – a modest country church. Just as Stax’s music found its roots in the sounds of Southern gospel music, the museum opens in a real, circa-1906 Mississippi Delta church that has been carefully reassembled inside the building. It's hard not to dance when you listen to Stax tracks. While most museums don’t encourage dancing in the aisles, you can shake what your mama gave you on the Express Yourself dance floor. Don’t worry if you don’t have the moves – you can pick up inspiration from the dancers on vintage episodes of Soul Train playing next to the dance floor. Check out the period recording equipment in the control room, then stand in Studio A, an exact replica of the legendary converted movie theater where Stax artists cut records, down to the gently slanted floor that contributed to Stax’s special sound. See Stax’s impact in the hall of records, where the walls are lined with floor-to-ceiling cases containing all of the albums and singles released by Stax and its subsidiary labels from 1957 – 1975. See the album art and hear the classics (or find new favorites) at the listening station. Behold Isaac Hayes’ glittering custom Cadillac Eldorado, which was purchased as part of his renegotiated deal with Stax in 1972. The car, which was purchased for $26,000 (or, $143,000 in 2013 dollars), is fully equipped with unique amenities like a refrigerated mini-bar, television, 24-carat gold exterior trim and white fur carpeting on the floorboards.

Memphis: 2-Hour Haunted Walking Tour

7. Memphis: 2-Hour Haunted Walking Tour

Beyond the rhythms of Beale Street's blues lies a darker history of vice, voodoo, phantoms, ghosts, and lost souls. Hear the eerie legends while seeing some of Memphis' oldest sites. On this two-hour walking tour, first you'll see the Orpheum Theater, home of "Mary," who has haunted performances since 1921.  Hear about the Victorian-era mansion haunted by star-crossed lovers: the John Alexander Austin House. Discover the most haunted building in Memphis, the notorious Ernestine and Hazel's. Go inside this creepy establishment, a former brothel, and learn about the several ghosts who live there, as well as the haunted jukebox.

Memphis: Mojo Music History 90-Minute Bus Tour

8. Memphis: Mojo Music History 90-Minute Bus Tour

Experience how Memphis, The Home of the Blues, comes alive on a city tour aboard the nation's only music bus. Travel with a professional Beale Street musician as your guide who will play and sing selections from the city's rich musical heritage as you cruise through the city. Be entertained with comedy, history, and behind-the-scenes stories of your favorite Memphis personalities along the way. Pass by famous landmarks in music history such as Sun Studio, Beale Street, Stax Studio, The Lorraine Motel, Cotton Row, Peabody Hotel, Overton Park, Historic Central Gardens, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, and the Early homes of Elvis, B. B. King, and Johnny Cash. Receive an exciting introduction to Memphis on this action-packed drive through the city which is great fun for all ages.

Memphis Rock 'n' Soul & Music Hall of Fame Combo

9. Memphis Rock 'n' Soul & Music Hall of Fame Combo

Keep your costs down with this combo ticket to the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. Enjoy a comprehensive Memphis music experience introducing you to both the history of rock and soul, as well as some of the greatest musicians of all time. At the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, experience an exhibition about the birth of rock and soul music. Learn about the rural field hollers and sharecroppers of the 1930s, through the explosion of Sun, Stax and Hi Records and Memphis’ musical heyday in the 1970s, to the city's global musical influence. The museum’s digital audio tour guide is packed with over 300 minutes of information, including over 100 songs. With your included audio guide, move at your own pace through 7 galleries featuring 3 audiovisual programs, more than 30 instruments, 40 costumes, and other musical treasures. The museum is unmissable for fans of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Al Green, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, The BarKays, and more. Informational booklets are available in French, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese. At the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, discover a place that began as a tribute to Memphis' legendary musicians who shaped modern music and changed the world forever right here in Memphis. Lose yourself in what is now a museum as outrageous as its inductees. Delight in a fun, fascinating, and educational exhibition featuring never-before-seen memorabilia, rare video performances and interviews, interactive exhibits, and much more!

Memphis: 1-Hour Beale Street Guided Walking Tour

10. Memphis: 1-Hour Beale Street Guided Walking Tour

Explore Beale Street, the Memphis street which was voted “America’s Most Iconic Street” by USA Today. Learn about Beale Street’s colorful history, from its early days of sin and vice to its heyday as the center of the city’s vibrant African-American culture. Discover the stories behind the legends, musicians, gangsters, politicians, and crooks who helped make Beale Street the “The Home of the Blues.” Visit A. Schwab’s, Beale Street’s oldest store. See Handy Park, a popular venue for outdoor concerts. Check out the clothes at Old Lanksky’s, where Elvis Presley used to buy his suits. Stroll down Saloon Row and see the clubs and bars. See “The Castle of Missing Men,” AKA the Monarch Club, which was known as being the last stop for many unlucky gamblers.

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What people are saying about Memphis, Tennessee

I did the city tour with the Sun Studio tour as well. Michelle was the tour guide for the city and she was very informative and fun. Not one dull moment with her. The Studio tour was an absolute must if you’re a music lover. So much history there and it’s all explained so well. Given the chance, I’d definitely do it again. I recommend this city tour 100%!!

This tour was most enjoyable. Traveling around Memphis hearing stories about many artists including Elvis, Johnny Cash, BB King, and many others. Having the tour guide sing songs from the artists as well, made the tour fun!

Excellent tour by a very knowledgeable local guide (Sam). His passion for Memphis shone through and we really enjoyed his stories. The Sun Studios tour was excellent. A great way to see the sights of the city.

The information and all the things we were shown about the history of the area and Sun Studios was amazing. So glad we done the tour. The riverboat cruise was good also.

The tour started on time and was very fun. We saw & learned a lot about Memphis. We feel it was a good value.