Memphis, Tennessee is packed with interesting things to see and discover. Regardless if you like history, music, museums, animals, or one-of-a-kind experiences, there’s something for everyone in Memphis. Maybe you want to see what’s inside the giant Memphis Pyramid, visit the home of the King of Rock and Roll, find the best Memphis BBQ, or learn about the history of the Civil Rights Movement; it’s all possible in Memphis. Check out our Memphis bucket list for some of the best that Memphis has to offer.
Memphis Bucket List
The first and most obvious stop on your Memphis bucket list has to be Graceland.
Graceland was Elvis Presley’s private retreat. It was where his family grew up, spent their time together, and enjoyed life.
Today, you can explore Elvis’s home, Graceland Mansion, and immerse yourself in his life and legacy at Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex. There are more than 100 acres dedicated to the King of Rock ‘n Roll.
There are several tour choices at various prices but the 2020 Elvis Experience Tour is the perfect option for those that want to experience the Mansion along with numerous other exhibits.
This tour includes:
Graceland Mansion Audio-Guided Tour with New Orientation Film
Self-guided tour of Elvis’ Custom Jets
Full Access to all-new Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex, which includes:
Presley Motors Automobile Museum
Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum
Elvis Discovery Exhibits
National Civil Rights Museum
Noted as one of the nation’s premier heritage and cultural museums, the National Civil Rights Museum is steadfast in its mission to share the culture and lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement and explore how this significant era continues to shape equality and freedom globally.
Established in 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum is located at the former Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Through interactive exhibits, historic collections, dynamic speakers and special events, the museum offers visitors a chance to walk through history and learn more about a tumultuous and inspiring period of change.
Sky High Ride
Located at Bass Pro Shop, Sky High Ride is the country’s tallest free-standing elevator. Journey 300 feet in the air to take in the sights of Memphis. This 28-story elevator features floor to ceiling glass on all four sides and leads guests to a glass observation deck at the top.
Glass Observation Deck
Offering two vantage points, step out onto glass observation decks at Bass Pro Shop. They overlook downtown Memphis and the Mississippi River. The views will take your breath away. It’s a great starting point to get a bird’s eye view of Memphis before exploring the heart of the city.
The Peabody Ducks March
The famous Peabody Hotel in Downtown Memphis is more than just a great place to stay. It’s also home to one of the city’s most famous attractions – The Peabody Duck March.
Each day at 11 a.m., a parade of five mallard ducks, led by an official Duckmaster makes its way from the roof of the hotel down to the lobby. There, a red carpet is rolled out from the elevator and John Philip Sousa’s King Cotton March begins to play. The ducks march into the fountain of the Peabody’s Grand Lobby where they swim throughout the day.
At 5 p.m., the ceremony is reversed when the ducks return to their rooftop home.
The Peabody Duck March is a tradition of The Peabody Memphis that began in the 1930’s. It started when Schutt, the then-general-manager, and his friend spent a weekend hunting. Upon their return, the two had a little too much whiskey and thought it would be funny to put some of their live duck decoys in the fountain of the hotel.
Three small ducks were selected as test subjects and the reaction from guests and passersby was complete enthusiasm.
Then, in 1940, Edward Pembroke, a bellman at the hotel, offered to help deliver the ducks to the fountain each day. As a former circus animal trainer, he taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March and became The Peabody Duckmaster. He served in that capacity for 50 years. Now, in order to keep Pembroke’s legend alive, the ducks still visit the lobby fountain at The Peabody at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day.
Big Cypress Spa by Gould’s
If ultimate relaxation is on your Memphis bucket list, Big Cypress Spa by Gould’s is the place to be. Treatments include a variety of massages, facials, and nail services. Whether you’re staying overnight or visiting the Pyramid for the day, spa services are available.
Backbeat Tours offer a variety of Memphis tour options, but the Historic Memphis Walking Tour made our Memphis bucket list.
This two-hour walking tour of Memphis explores the city’s rich history at a fun and leisurely pace. Your guide will highlight the city’s history and some of the characters who have made Memphis one of the most unique and colorful places in the world.
Along the way you’ll see:
Historic Court Square
Fourth Bluff Park, overlooking the Mississippi River
Civil War sites (the Battle of Memphis and Forrest’s Raid)
Main Street, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last march
The Memphis Zoo, located in Midtown, is home to more than 4,500 animals representing over 500 different species.
There’s always something interactive and interesting happening at the Memphis Zoo. They offer talks about reptiles, hippos, pandas, polar bears, rhinos, and more. You can also see the grizzly feeding or feed a giraffe or penguin. There are sea lion shows or you can sit back and enjoy a meal at Cat House Cafe while watching monkeys play near the windows.
Mississippi Terrace At The Pyramid
The Mississippi Terrace features two fire pits, over-sized furniture, a full bar, high top tables, and a stage for live music. The menu includes small plate appetizers and hand-crafted cocktails. Even when it’s a hot summer night in Memphis, The Mississippi Terrace offers plenty of shade and a nice breeze.
With its acre of green space and reclaimed waterway, Loflin Yard creates an unexpected natural retreat in the heart of Downtown Memphis.
Loflin Yard is a bar, restaurant, and event space where you can grab a bottle from the wine rack, order food from the patio window, and settle inside or out. No matter which house you pick, you’ll feel right at home in the Yard.
Their uniquely named drinks had me laughing before I even had a taste. My favorite drink name is, “Can You Make My Girlfriend Something Pink?” Cord always laughs at me when I give vague drink requests like this to a bartender. Lofin Yard knows what I like.
CAN YOU MAKE MY GIRLFRIEND SOMETHING PINK?
Wheatley vodka, Lillet Rose, Ancho Reyes Chili Liqueur, Basil Syrup, Watermelon Puree, garnished with a Himalayan sea salt and pink peppercorn rim and fresh basil
Central BBQ is an award-winning barbecue restaurant. Since it opened in 2002, Central BBQ has been ranked as the number one spot for BBQ in Memphis so it’s a Memphis bucket list must.
They use hickory and pecan woods, along with an intricate dry rub and a whole lot of patience, to craft the most tender, delicious piece of meat you’ve ever eaten— with or without the sauce.
They take their BBQ seriously but it was their homemade Banana Pudding that brought me back two days in a row just to get another taste.
Big Cypress Lodge
Big Cypress Lodge is a dream destination in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. Located inside the Bass Pro Shops Pyramid with views of the Mississippi River, Big Cypress Lodge provides the ultimate bucket list destination. Complete with unique accommodations, experiential dining options, a spa, and entertainment, Big Cypress Lodge is a bucket list destination in itself.