A City with Soul

Memphis beckons with new hotels, fantastic food and a wealth of history
Fartherflung Memphis Marycatherine
photo courtesy: tiger& peacock; catherine & mary’s; old dominick’s distillery

While barbecue and the rich music scene are reasons enough to visit Memphis, it turns out that the Bluff City has much more to offer. Of course the hopping nightlife on neon-lit Beale Street shouldn’t be missed, nor should Sun Studio for the touch of nostalgia it provides as a recording studio for the likes of Elvis and Johnny Cash, but Memphis has surprises around every corner.

Book a private tour of Memphis with A Tour of Possibilities, and learn about the impact African Americans have had on the city. The customizable tours are available for 2.5 to 6.5 hours. When you’re ready to kick back and relax, stop by Old Dominick Distillery for a tour and tasting. Domenico Canale established the whiskey brand in Memphis in 1866, and his fifth-grandsons have revitalized the brand. Memphis also has a growing craft beer scene. Hampline Brewing Company recently opened, while Wiseacre Brewing Company and Ghost River Brewing Company recently opened additional taprooms in the city. For something a bit more family-friendly, be sure to visit the Memphis Botanic Garden for Alice’s Adventures at the Garden. This new seasonal exhibit runs through December and features larger-than-life literary-themed sculptures. Also be sure to visit the National Civil Rights Museum, a complex of museums and historic buildings that explore the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

Louisianians familiar with Josephine Estelle (the Italian restaurant inside the Ace Hotel) in New Orleans will fall head over heels for Catherine & Mary’s. This sister restaurant from chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman combines their love of Southern ingredients and the Italian way of dining. Meanwhile, award-winning Chef Kelly English recently opened Pantà — a Catalan-inspired restaurant with tasty gin and tonics, and a fantastic patio. Another new restaurant focusing on gin and tonics is Tonica, a Spanish-inspired restaurant that also features a nice selection of salads, soups and tapas.

Located in the heart of downtown Memphis, Big Cypress Lodge is a wilderness-themed resort located within the soaring 32-story Bass Pro Shops Pyramid. In addition to the rustic-elegant guest rooms and suites, the property features a 535,000-square-foot indoor Cypress Swamp teeming with fish and alligators, an underwater-themed bowling alley, an archery range and two sky-high culinary outlets. Be sure to check out the observation deck with its panoramic views of the Memphis skyline. Meanwhile, The Memphian recently opened in Midtown’s Overton Square Entertainment District with a rooftop bar (Tiger & Peacock) and an Instagram-worthy ground-floor restaurant (the Complicated Pilgrim). Hyatt Centric Beale Street also recently opened, making history as the first hotel to reside on Beale Street. It features 227 guest rooms and suites, downtown’s only resort-style pool (with a zero-entry infinity pool, cabanas and a deck for live entertainment), a 24-hour fitness center, a riverfront rooftop bar and lounge (Beck & Call) and a Latin-inspired restaurant (CIMAS). This summer, Caption by Hyatt Beale Street Memphis will open with 136 guest rooms located on the corner of Beale and Front streets.


Rock Royalty

OK, so you can’t visit Memphis without celebrating the King of rock ‘n’ roll. Elvis Week takes place this year Aug. 9-17 with a lineup of events that includes appearances by celebrities and musicians, live concerts, panel discussions, meet and greet opportunities, parties, the annual Candlelight Vigil and more. Not to be missed, the Elvis Tribute Artist Contest is an opportunity to watch Elvis impersonators compete for the top cash prize.

Categories: Editor’s Picks, Travel