48 Hours in Memphis, TN

by Leean Vargas on September 2, 2021 in Travel,
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There’s so much to do in this iconic city, from eating the signature ribs to listening to live music while sipping on a cold drink walking down Beale Street. 

Here are a weekend’s worth of tips on where to stay, what to do, and what to eat when you step foot in the Home of the Blues city. 

The newly-built Hyatt Centric Beale Street, located in the heart of downtown Memphis, is a property of firsts and onlys; It’s the very first and only hotel to take on the famous Beale Street address, and home to the city’s only riverfront and rooftop whiskey bar. Courtesy photo

History-Making Hotel

It’s only right to stay at the Hyatt Centric Beale Street, located in the heart of downtown Memphis, literally in the midst of it all. This newly built hotel is a property of firsts and onlys. It’s the very first and only hotel to take on the famous Beale Street address. It’s home to the city’s only riverfront and rooftop whiskey bar Beck & Call (and riverfront restaurant CIMAS). And it has downtown’s only resort-style pool with poolside dining. The best part? The hotel is just 15 minutes away from Memphis International Airport, and right around the corner from delicious food and nightlife. 

I personally love all the subtle nods to the music culture throughout the Hyatt. From wall art that resembles an old speaker, to a hallway carpet pattern designed to mimic sound waves. There’s even wallpaper at Beck & Call that resembles the acoustic foam of a recording studio. 

At night, you can catch a view of the “M” Bridge Light Show from the Hyatt Centric Beale Street’s rooftop. Photo Logan Young

The hotel boasts 227 rooms that combine the old and the new, and features images of original materials from the iconic Ironworks building, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Highlights of the King room I stayed in included the amazing views of the Mississippi River and “M” Bridge from the high windows. I also loved the shower wall that had the names of different signature Memphis elements. Did you know that BBQ spaghetti was a thing?!

The shower wall of this King room contains the names of different signature Memphis elements. Photo courtesy Hyatt Centric Beale Street

End the night with dinner at CIMAS, an elevated dining experience and the Hyatt’s restaurant. Dig into one of the enticing Latin-American inspired dishes with a Southern twist. The Pork Belly “Al Pastor” Tostada was deliciously flavorful. Dine on the eatery’s outdoor patio for more amazing views of the river and “M” bridge. 

Be sure to sip some drinks at Beck & Call, a happening rooftop whiskey bar serving crafted cocktails. Savor a cocktail while taking in the beautiful sunset, perched eight stories up. The wrap-around balcony and panoramic views make it the perfect spot for photos. At night, you can catch a view of the “M” Bridge Light Show from the rooftop. 

Enjoy drinks and small plates at Beck & Call rooftop bar at the Hyatt Centric while taking in the views of the Mississippi River. Photo Christopher Villano

Bangin’ BBQ

As a born and raised Texas girl, I’ve been dying to indulge in the ever-so-popular and iconic barbecue that every Memphian speaks so highly of. Austin may be the music capital of the world, but Memphis is the barbecue capital of the world. I spent my first night making short work of some of that famous barbecue in one of the city’s most iconic restaurants. Rendezvous serves up all the barbeque goodness you can think of. I had sausages, brisket and smoked ribs packed with dry-rub spices. In the great debate of which city has the better BBQ, I’ve come to the conclusion that Memphis has the ribs, but Texas has the brisket!

Rendezvous has been serving up its unique style of barbecue since 1948 when the owner discovered a coal chute in the basement of his restaurant and decided to put his grilling skills to work. Photo Craig Thompson

Day One

One Bridge, Two States

Biking (or riding a scooter) across Big River Crossing while taking in even better views of the Mississippi River is a fun, active experience to do with the whole fam. Get your camera ready, because you’ll have the chance to be in two states at once, with one foot in Tennessee and one foot in Arkansas.

Biking across Big River Crossing is a fun, active experience to do with the whole fam. You’ll have the chance to be in two states at once with one foot in Tennessee and one foot in Arkansas. Photo courtesy Big River Crossing

Blues Birthplace

Another must-do activity: take a tour of Sun Studio to get an inside look at what the world knows as the Birthplace of Rock ’n’ Roll. Learn about the discovery location of musical legends and genres of the ‘50s, from Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash to B.B King and Jerry Lee Lewis. See the one-of-a-kind memorabilia and hear the outtakes from recording sessions. You can even stand in the very same spot that Elvis first recorded and sing out of the same mic. (No, Elvis’ DNA is no longer on it.) Before Sam Phillips died (the founder of Sun Studio), he requested that Elvis’ microphone never be locked up behind glass. He wanted everyone to get a chance to touch it, hold it, and just appreciate its greatness. 

The National Civil Rights Museum is a museums and historic building in Memphis, Tennessee, which traces the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the 17th century to the present. The museum is built around the former Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Photo courtesy Brand USA

Dine & Drinks

After your informative tour at Sun Studio, grab a slice at the hip-hop inspired pizza joint Slim & Husky’s that serves up artisan pizzas and unique cinnamon rolls. We suggest the Red Light Special and Halle Berry cinnamon roll

Later that evening, get your drink on with a tour of local Memphis brewery Grind City Brewery. You’ll get an inside look at how the beer is brewed along with a fight tasting. I recommend trying a smooth beer like Poppy’s Pils

Day Two

Must-See Museum

Rise and shine with breakfast at Sugar Grits before you take a tour of the National Civil Rights Museum. Explore how this significant era continues to shape history, equality and freedom. The museum is located at the former Lorraine Motel where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. A must-see museum in Memphis!

Take a tour of the National Civil Rights Museum to explore how this significant era continues to shape history, equality and freedom. This must-see museum is located at the former Lorraine Motel where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Photo Andrea Zucker

Lunchtime

Fuel up with lunch at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. You can’t go wrong with some fresh, tender and crispy fried chicken at this famed restaurant. It’ll make your mouth water. The fried pickles with ranch are great to share with the table. 

Distillery Tasting

Take a tour of Old Dominick Distillery where you’ll get an up-close view of how the distillery makes its local spirits along with an enjoyable tasting. (This was the day I realized I’m the gin and vodka type.) You’ll learn firsthand about the dedication and passion that goes into the process of creating these state-of-the-art spirits.

One of America’s most famous musical streets, Beale is located in the heart of downtown Memphis with three blocks of more than 30 nightclubs, restaurants and retail shops. Photo Vasha Hunt

Nightlife Fun

Your trip isn’t complete without a night out on Beale Street. Dive into the nightlife fun and walk from place to place with a drink in hand to see what places are poppin’ (the only place in Tennessee to allow this). Maybe you’ll have more luck petting the goats at Silky O’ Sullivans than I did. If you go on a Wednesday (until September 29th), you’ll get to enjoy Bike Night on Beale from 6pm-midnight. Motorcycle enthusiasts travel downtown to park on this iconic street to show off their amazing motorcycles of every kind. 

In Memphis, music runs deep, not just in the blood and veins, but in the heart and soul. From street corner to street corner, the music that helped change the world takes over and continues to be influential. Whether it’s relishing some barbecue, walking Beale Street or touring the halls where music legends recorded their very first rock ’n’ roll albums, you’ll enjoy every moment in this unforgettable city. 

At Sun Studio, you can stand in the very spot that Elvis first recorded and sing out of the same exact mic. No wonder Memphis is known as the Home of the Blues. Photo David Meany

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Cover photo courtesy Jack Kenner

Leean Vargas is an Editorial Assistant at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of

Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. She is a concert enthusiast who loves traveling, photography, good food, and discovering new hangout spots in her beloved city, Austin, Texas.