In case you missed it, March Madness is upon us. That's right, people. It is basketball time! My Kentucky Wildcats play this week in Memphis, Tennessee, which got me thinking about my last trip to Memphis. It was on our big road trip across the country when we moved from Philly to LA. I love Memphis, mostly because I love Elvis. Like, really love Elvis. I went through a huge Elvis faze at the end of high school and when I moved into my college dorm I made sure to take my Elvis phone, with a big, Barbie-sized doll that sang and danced when the phone rang, with me. Needless to say, my roommate was not impressed (sorry April!). I have always had a fascination with Elvis and have always loved Memphis because of it and wanted to share that love with my kids. Our trip across the country was not my first time to Graceland (are you kidding? It is where I chose to go as an eighteen year old to celebrate my graduation from high school!) but it was for my kids. I prepared them with nonstop Elvis radio on the drive down so by the time we got to town, they were almost as big of fans as I was. It was a super hot couple of days in Memphis but we made the most it and had a great time exploring the home of the King and the Blues. It will definitely not be our last trip there! Here is what we loved in our three days walking in Memphis:
Where to Stay
* Obviously, THE place to stay in Memphis is The Peabody. Affordable, pet friendly, and conveniently located in downtown, this hotel has been around for over 100 years and still has the charm and glamour of years past. It honestly feels like you are stepping back in time when you walk through the grand lobby. And, of course, there are the ducks. How can you not visit the ducks?! The march of the Peabody ducks started in 1933 when they were first placed in the fountain in the middle of the lobby. They still march today, and every day, down to the lobby at 11am then hang out in the fountain all day until they march back up to their rooftop home at 5 pm. It really is something to see and the kids love it. Just beware when you are checking them out at the fountain to not put your hand or foot in duck poop. I warn you out of experience.
* If you decide you need to sleep closer to where the king slept, you can do that! Opened only a few years ago is the Guesthouse at Graceland. The place looks lovely with rooms like the TCB Room and The King's Suites, plus it is right across the street from Graceland! It is definitely worth checking out, even if only for a night.
Where to Eat
* My husband has spent some serious time in Memphis recording there and found that his favorite of all the barbecue and ribs places (and there are many!) is Rendezvous Ribs in downtown. My family was still eating meat then (vegetarians in the house now) so we payed a nice visit to Rendezvous. I'm not a big fan of ribs but I have to say these were delicious. The place is inconspicuous, down an alley that is now named after the founder, Charlie Vergos, and looks small from the outside but is huge inside. There was a wait and it looks like there usually is but it was well worth it. It is not to miss, unless your a vegetarian ;)
* If your in downtown Memphis and want something a little more sophisticated than barbecue, then go check out Flight. Walking distance from the Peabody, this restaurant serves up food in exactly the way the name suggests, in flights! What I would call fancy southern food, all in small plates of three, this place was delicious. Pair a flight of wine to go along with your food and you are set! Do not miss the Shrimp and Grits flight or the Southern Dessert flight. Yummy.
What to Do
* Did I mention that I love Elvis? Oh, yeah, sorry, didn't mean to repeat myself. Did I also mention that I love Graceland? Because I do! A lot. I get emotional every time I visit when "If I Can Dream" starts playing as you get to the meditation garden where the King is buried. Like, really emotional. The place is still like the it was in 1979 when Elvis died and it is fantastic. Stained glass windows, shag carpet, gold on the walls, fancy pianos, all of it including the jungle room (which I love). You can feel Elvis still in every room of Graceland. Then you make your way out to the trophy building where you realize just how many hit songs and records the man had by the walls of gold records and awards. They have expanded Graceland in recent years to include all sorts Elvis memorabilia, from his Vegas suits to toys of Lisa Marie's. And then across the street they have all of his cars and his planes! You should give yourself a full afternoon to explore and let yourself be taken in by the magic of the King of Rock and Roll.
* My second favorite place to visit in Memphis is Sun Studios. Sam Phillips was the man behind Sun and, in turn, the man behind Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. You can tour through the studio to find out all about that Memphis sound and then end the tour in the actual room where these legends were recorded, even stand in the actual spot, with the actual microphone that Elvis recorded his very first song, "My Happiness." Hanging above you in the studio is a picture of Elvis, Johnny, Jerry and Carl, the Million Dollar Quartet. It is a true piece of rock and roll history and so, so fun.
* After you've explored Graceland and Sun Studio, head back downtown and take a walk along Beale Street. This is the home of the blues and you can hear music coming out of every door around you. At nighttime, it turns into quite the party, not exactly where you want to be with your kids. We didn't do much of that on this trip but years ago, I mean years ago, in Memphis for the SEC tournament to watch UK, I had a great time on Beale Street. It is still worth checking out, popping in BB King's Blues Club or Schwab's general store. But maybe go during the day when you have your kids in tow ;)
I hope you go to Memphis and have as much fun as we did there! And if you're already there for the NCAA tournament, then cheer those cats on!!
Go Big Blue!!