A February 2005 trip
to Memphis by HankFontaine
Quote: Memphis isn't exactly the cultural center of the world, but it does have a few things to offer the tourist. Whether it's rock and roll, barbecue, pub crawling, or Elvis, there is always something to do or laugh at.
This place has been written about many times. A national men’s magazine listed it as one of the top 10 places for guys to go. Many other magazines list this place as charming or a real piece of Memphis.
It’s located in an one-lane alley right in front of the Peabody hotel downtown. This is the area which houses most of the nightlife in Memphis. You will pass it by if you aren’t careful, as you can't really see it from any main road. But passing it by isn't a major loss, as you will see.
Well, we went, and I can tell you that I wasn’t the least bit impressed. They pride themselves on being rude. Honestly, that is one of the things they became famous for. Well, it’s downright annoying; it’s not charming in the least. If you like your waiters to be a really rude and to act like it's a hassle to refill an empty cup, to throw your food down in front of you and not get drinks, napkins, or sauces in a timely manner, if at all, then this is the place for you.
Magazines and yuppies may think this behavior is cute or quaint, but I don’t like to pay people to be rude to me.
I always wonder why people or magazines like places that have these little acts. It wouldn’t be so bad, either, if the food was great, but it is merely average. In a town like Memphis, which is known for the barbeque, this ranks near the bottom and is priced near the top.
If you like great barbeque with a nice atmosphere and decent service, then avoid this place at all costs. There are many other great places within walking distance of Rendezvous that are 10 times better.
If you want the best BBQ in Memphis, you need to head out to A&R Bar-B-Que by Graceland. It's cheaper, has more character, and the people are great. It looks like a real dive, but you can't argue with the great food and the low prices.
Rendezvous is one of the worst places I have ever eaten. Very lazy staff, rude people, horrible sevice, mediocre food.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on March 28, 2005
Behind 52 South Second Street (downstairs) Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous Alley
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
Graceland may have a reputation as a cheesy attraction for older people, but it can really be quite interesting, or at the very least, amusing as well. It definitely something you should go to see at least once.
Graceland itself is easy to find. Just head south on Interstate 55 to Elvis Presley Boulevard, and then make a right onto it. You will drive a mile or so, and then you will see it. The first thing you will notice is two blue-and-white jet airplanes parked beside the road; Graceland itself is directly across the road from them.
Graceland has a wide assortment of things to look at. There are the planes I mentioned earlier, a car museum, lots of memorabilia, and the mansion itself. The mansion isn’t "huge" by today’s standards, and one of the things that most people say is, "I expected Elvis to have a much bigger house." It’s all decorated in a very 1960/1970s style, with lots of shag carpet, paisley prints, velvet, and bright yellow appliances. There is also a business office, recording studio, racquetball court, fenced-in field with some horses, and a building displaying his records and some of his more outlandish white jumpsuits. There is also his grave site near the pool, which is also home to his family’s remains.
You can do the whole tour, which includes the car museum, planes, other buildings, and house, for $27 (children 7 to 12 are $13, under 7 are free) or choose just to do the mansion for $18. You should really plan to do the whole package just to get the experience. Also, don’t forget to bring a Sharpie or paint marker to write your name on the wall. I think it’s legal, as people do it in broad daylight and the entire wall is covered in messages.
There are hotels close to Graceland, but I don’t recommend them. Graceland is located in a "bad" part of town. It’s very easy to get to, even when staying in an area on the other side of Memphis. The Graceland area is safe during the day, though, and the area directly around Graceland is patrolled by security and police with extra caution. But getting a hotel a few blocks away can lead to car break-ins and other troubles at night. There are also some great places to eat right around Graceland, and if you are looking for authentic Memphis barbeque, any place along E.P. Boulevard is a good bet.
Bring a camera not for the sights, but for the unusual people this destination can attract.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 29, 2005
3734 Elvis Presley Blvd.
Memphis, Tennessee 38116
Attraction | "Memphis Zoo"
The Memphis zoo is really one of the top zoos in the nation. It may not be as big as some of the others, but it is extremely well-maintained. The first thing you will notice when arriving is the huge main entrance, which resembles an ancient Egyptian monument (since Memphis is named after a city in Egypt). There are plenty of safe and secure parking areas, and it is handicapped-accessible.
Once inside, you will find that the Egyptian theme is continued. There is a river going down the main walkway that resembles a scale model of the Nile. There is an abundance of plants and large trees, so there should be more than enough shade even for the hottest of days.
The animal exhibits themselves are fantastic. Most are accurate recreations of that particular animal’s real environment. The exhibits are also quite large, and the animals all seem very active, so viewing them is quite easy. The zoo is set up in different zones, and each one has its own decorations or theme. There is a wide variety of animals and fish to view here and many different areas to sit and rest. There is also a playground and train for the kids to ride on.
The premier exhibit at the Memphis zoo is the new "China" exhibit. The Memphis zoo is one of the few zoos in the country to have the giant pandas on display. This exhibit is amazing and only 2 years old. They have done an entire section of the zoo up to look like a Chinese village and have a variety of animals from S.E. Asia there, in addition to the pandas. There is also a carousel there with animals from Chinese folklore for kids to ride. They also show you a 15-minute movie before entering the exhibit to show the two pandas' trip from China to Memphis. There is a small additional fee to see the China exhibit, but it is really worth it, as it is one of the best parts of the zoo.
It’s a great time for everyone, especially families. Be warned, though, on 70- to 80-degree weekends, that this place is packed. During the week, it's not bad at all, or if it's 80+ degrees, people don’t come in droves. You can find the zoo's website here.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 30, 2005
Memphis Zoo and Aquarium
Memphis, Tennessee 38104
Attraction | "Gibson Guitar Factory Tour"
The Gibson guitar factory tour in Memphis is a must even for non-musicians. I think most people will find it fascinating to learn how a guitar is assembled, and the tour guide also gives you a bit of history about the music scene in Memphis.
The Gibson factory is located right in the heart of the Memphis entertainment scene. It is directly across the street from the FedEx Forum, home to the NBA’s Memphis Grizzles and just 2 blocks from the Memphis Redbirds baseball stadium. It’s also just an easy 3-minute walk south from Beale Street, so it shouldn’t be an inconvenient journey for anyone seeing the Memphis tourist sites.
The area you enter for the tour doesn’t really have any markings on it, and you will wonder if you are in the right place. It’s the glassed-in area on the northwest side of the building. You will enter a large atrium and see a desk and not much else. No worries, though; go right to the desk and ask to go on the tour. Be careful, though, as the tours are only done at certain times. They are Sunday to Wednesday at 1pm and Thursday to Saturday at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, and 2pm. The price is $10, and children under 12 are NOT admitted.
You will be assigned a time and tour guide, and if early, you are free to look around the Gibson store located just off the atrium. The store carries a nice selection of instruments, but the prices are HIGH compared to a local music store. The guy working the counter says that it isn’t an "outlet" store and that they don’t have any special prices there. Those of you hoping to come away with a discount guitar may be disappointed.
We were assigned an excellent tour guide. He was an older man who was involved in the Memphis music scene and who also works at the Rock and Soul Museum across the street. He had some great stories to tell and made the most of our tour.
On the tour itself, you will follow a guitar from a flat piece of wood all the way through to the final tuning and boxing. You will see the gluing of the cases, the painting, the electronics put in, and various other things involved in the process. One thing that surprised, or perhaps disappointed, me was the workers. I half expected to see old-world craftsmen making these things by hand, but it was all younger workers and seemed a bit like an assembly line. Maybe I’m a bit of a romantic, though.
Overall, it’s a great thing to do and also very convenient if you are seeing other Memphis sites. Expect to be there about 30 minutes or so, and remember not to bring kids under 12 years old. You can find their website here:
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 4, 2005
Gibson Guitar Factory
145 Lt. George W. Lee Ave.
Memphis, Tennessee 38103