Memphis rich with nightlife and history



Matt Wickstrom

The buzz around Memphis this weekend may revolve around basketball, but the city offers a variety of getaways and attractions for people of all ages to enjoy while the UK men’s basketball team continues their journey to another championship.

Memphis is a town steeped in musical history, with the iconic Graceland estate being the home of Elvis Presley for nearly 20 years. The estate, now transformed into a museum, offers tours of Elvis’ mansion and personal memorabilia, including his automobile collection and personal airplanes. Graceland also offers food options in Vernon’s Steakhouse featuring Memphis’ signature barbecue, and Glady’s Diner which features Elvis’ favorite peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

For fans wanting to dive into the entire history of Memphis music, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame offers a look at the diverse musical history of the western Tennessee city that sprung up in the early 1900s, as westward migration and travel along the Mississippi River expanded. The museum features displays on ZZ Top, Otis Redding, Three 6 Mafia, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Justin Timberlake and others whose music and legacy have impacted the city’s culture.

Other educational museums in Memphis include the Brooks Museum of Art, the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel and the Memphis Zoo. Brooks is the largest art museum in Tennessee and houses works of art from paintings to sculptures to drawings, photography and more.

The National Civil Rights Museum is located at the Lorraine Motel, which was also the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on April 4, 1968. The museum documents the events surrounding the civil rights movement and recently reopened in 2004 to provide more multimedia and interactive exhibits.

The Memphis Zoo opened in 1906 and houses over 3,500 animals from 500 species, according to their website. In 2008, the zoo was ranked “#1 Zoo in the U.S.” by TripAdvisor, and just last summer unveiled their newest African exhibit entitled ‘Zambezi River Hippo Camp.’

The Memphis Botanic Gardens are a 96-acre complex containing various themed gardens including a Japanese Garden of Tranquility and an Herb Garden containing over 500 different herbs, according to their website.

For water fanatics, a guided riverboat tour of Memphis along the banks of the Mississippi River may be for you. Tours last 90 minutes and offer a unique perspective of the city similar to that of Thomas Paine when he piloted ships along the massive waterway.