Memphis, Tennessee is known for its history, barbecue, and music heritage. Although there is a lot to see and do, with some planning, you can easily explore Memphis in two days. Save time before checking into your hotel – drop off your bags with a luggage storage service in Memphis and head off to your first destination.
To help get you started discovering this exciting city, here are our top 10 favorite things to do in Memphis in two days, so you can make the most of it even if you're only here for a short stay.
When you visit Memphis, you absolutely have to go to Graceland. Even if you aren’t a diehard Elvis fan, there are a lot of really cool exhibits and artifacts inside. You can see Elvis’ house and gardens, his customized airplanes, and a huge entertainment complex that has costumes, vehicles, and personal mementos.
Personally, I really enjoyed learning more about Elvis’ early years and about his relationship with his family. I hadn’t known before that he spent some time in the military, so I found that exhibit really interesting.
Known as “The Birthplace of Rock’n’Roll,” Sun Studio is another attraction you should not miss during your two days in Memphis. Tours are available every day, and guides recount the history of the legendary studio and how it put Memphis on the map.
Famous artists like B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis all recorded at Sun Studio. During your tour, you'll even get to hear outtakes from recording sessions.
Ready to experience and hear some awesome music? Beale Street is known as the “Home of the Blues.” This almost two-mile-long stretch in Downtown Memphis has been a popular hangout since the 1920s and is known for its bars, restaurants, and clubs.
If you visit Beale Street at night, get ready for live music, dancing in the streets, and drinks by the bucket. You should know, however, that on Friday and Saturday nights, Beale Street only becomes open to adults over the legal drinking age of 21 after 11 PM.
National Civil Rights Museum
An important cultural museum to visit in Memphis is the National Civil Rights Museum. It comprises a few buildings, one of which is the former Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed on April 4, 1968.
Visitors will learn about the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the US through interactive exhibits, films, and oral histories. There are also speakers and special events scheduled throughout the year.
An event that you will only see in Memphis is the famous Peabody Duck March. The ducks march every day at 11 AM and 5 PM to and from an Italian travertine marble fountain in the Peabody Hotel’s Grand Lobby.
The tradition began back in the early 1930s, when Frank Schutt, the then General Manager of the Peabody, and a friend returned from a hunting trip, drank a bit too much, and thought it’d be funny to put some of their live duck decoys in the fountain. The guests loved it and so the ducks have been marching to the fountain ever since.
If you’re traveling to Memphis with kids, head on over to the Memphis Zoo. The zoo is home to over 4,500 animals! There are daily Keeper Chats and feedings throughout the zoo, so it’s a great way to get up close and learn about the whole family's favorite species.
There are also special events throughout the year, including some for adults. So the kids aren’t the only ones who can have fun at the Memphis Zoo.
Shelby Farms Park
Another great place to take the kids, or just to get out and enjoy nature, is the Shelby Farms Park. It’s 4,500 acres, five times larger than Central Park, making it one of the largest urban parks in the US. There are 40 miles of paved and unpaved trails, over 20 lakes for fishing where you can even weigh your catch with the help of a fishing scale, a treetop adventure course, outdoor axe throwing, and more!
Memphis has some great history, but that history also includes some ghastly spirits! Many of the buildings in Downtown Memphis are believed to be haunted. There are stories of Civil War ghosts and even little girls that will give you chills! Visitors can go on a choice of haunted tours by foot, bicycle, or bus.
For a different perspective, why not see Memphis from the water? Take a riverboat tour on the mighty Mississippi and enjoy a live historical commentary that details past and present Mississippi River life.
Looking for a romantic evening in Memphis? Dinner cruises are also available with live music, a buffet-style BBQ meal, and a bar.
Did you know Memphis has over 100 barbecue restaurants? Enjoy bold-flavored smokey pulled pork, chicken, brisket, and ribs. Of course, you should accompany your barbecue with large helpings of coleslaw, beans, and mac and cheese.
Many of the great barbecue restaurants are right on Beale Street, so you can enjoy your meal while listening to some blues, jazz, or rock’n’roll. You'll be right at the center of the entertainment!
Whether you’re traveling to Memphis as a solo traveler, with a family, or as a couple, there is something for you! During your visit to Memphis, you will enjoy food, music, history, and even outdoor spaces. I hope that the above list will keep you busy with plenty of fun and cultural things to do in Memphis in two days - and even longer!
Have you been to Memphis, Tennessee? Did you taste the famous local southern-style BBQ? Do you have some favorite attractions there? Let me know in a comment below!