An October 2004 trip
to Memphis by MCJ graduate
Quote: It was Graceland, Beale Street, Rum Boogie Café, The Police Museum, and the Peabody Hotel Marching Ducks that got me all shook up. Therefore, if you travel to this destination, I guarantee you will have a splendid time.
I did indeed become someone else. By the time I experience all the aforementioned attractions and activities, I was gyrating my hips like Elvis. I didn’t want to leave this marvelous place.
Wow, I still remember distinctly what Beale Street looks like. It is adorned with neon lights everywhere, crowds all over, beer sold on the streets, all kinds of eateries, and music blasting from both the nightclubs/bars and street musicians.
Then there is the more quiet and subtle side of Memphis. This includes touring Graceland, eating Southern cuisine, and visiting the National Civil Rights Museum.
The attractions and the activities I experienced are just a few of what Memphis has to offer. Other family-fun attractions are Mud Island, the Sun Record Studio, the Gibson Guitar Factory, etc. Therefore, give this wonderful cultural city a look. And maybe then you will be swiveling your hips, too.
Two, tip the street musicians generously. They do put their heart and soul into their performances.
Three, have lower bill denominations since you will need them for tips and paying for a parking space near Beale Street.
Lastly, visit Beale Street during the weekends and at Halloween. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed at the excitement you will witness, especially during Halloween (see my entry on Beale Street).
This hotel offers an unheated outdoor pool, suites, micro-fridges if you request them, free continental breakfast, and interior corridors. Also, they allow one pet to stay with you.
Our room was a large one. It had a king-size bed, table, desk, and large TV. The bathroom was a nice size, too. This accommodation was extremely clean, and maid service was provided daily. When we asked the front desk for help to get to Memphis and Beale Street, the lady displayed true Southern hospitality, as she kindly helped us. She even drew a map for us.
I highly recommend this hotel for your accommodation needs. It is not in Memphis, but I guarantee you will sleep more soundly here knowing you are in a crime-free district, unlike parts of Memphis. In addition, the cost of our clean, safe room for a Friday night was under $50.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 26, 2005
Red Roof Inn
8734 Hamilton Rd.
Memphis, Tennessee 38671
Attraction | "The Duck March at the Peabody Hotel"
Well, when we went to the Peabody Hotel to view the marching ducks, we discovered the hotel lobby was filled. From what I read, this was not uncommon, since the ducks had avid fans. Therefore, we didn’t think too much about it. And then, an elderly person told my partner that everyone was waiting for Neil to come out of the elevator. As a result, she told me that Neil had to be the handler of the ducks. But then we noticed a lot of big men coming up and down the elevators and the crowd kept pushing more toward the elevators. Then, as we anxiously waited for Neil and his ducks to waddle out of the elevator, the elevator door finally opened and there was Neil, but not Neil the duck handler - the pop star Neil Diamond (he was playing in Memphis that night)! I thought we were going to faint. We then quickly shot off a picture and then I sheepishly said, "Where are my ducks?" Then they did soon follow. I guess you could say Neil Diamond opened for them.
The ducks were delightful. They followed the handler who carried a handler stick and waddled down a red carpet to their fountain at the hotel.
This is a very family-fun attraction. It is not only for children, but also for the young at heart. In addition, it does not cost anything to view them. Therefore, I highly recommend taking your family to this attraction. But get there early - not only to see the ducks, as you never know who you might see at the Peabody Hotel.
149 Union Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
After listening to music for a while, we decided to order off their menu. We both ordered subs sandwiches. The cost was moderate, but I have eaten better subs at Subway for a better price. From what I discovered later, I should have ordered their gator gumbo. This cuisine is supposed to be delicious, and it is recommended by locals.
You can’t top this place’s decor. Although it is a casual setting where you don’t have to dress up to dine here, it still has its own ambience. The club has 150 celebrity-autographed guitars (such as Elvis’s, N’ Sync’s, Doobie Brothers’, and Moody Blues’) dangling from its ceilings. Along with this, it has the original STAX sign that decorated the STAX recording studio. In addition, it has the cape Isaac Hayes wore when he received his Academy Award for the "Theme from Shaft." Lastly, the club has the mirror from Charlie Rich’s Steinway piano.
The bar had an interesting layout. There were two levels to it. As soon as you walk in the front door and look to your left, you will see where the bar is, and behind it, where, I guess, the grill is. Then, on the same level, there is a stage area. And, in front, back, and on the side of this area, there were tables. The second level was closed off due to a wedding reception.
The nightclub that night had a variety of people present: motorcycle people, elderly
couples, gay couples, etc. Therefore, the clientele was diverse. Everyone was getting along, with no bar fights. And people were trying to dance in between the tables downstairs. The place was pretty smoky, but I have been in worse, and like most clubs, it was pretty dark.
I recommend this place for your live entertainment needs. This is because you will always find a band here (the house band is James Govan and the Boogie Blues Band), and it is part of the Beale Street culture. As far as their food goes, be more daring than us and order the gator gumbo.
You can also purchase Rum Boogie T-shirts here.
Rum Boogie Cafe
182 Beale St
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
+1 901 528 0150
Attraction | "Elvis Presley's Graceland"
While we were waiting to get on a bus to take us to Graceland, workers there had us take a picture with a backdrop of Graceland’s gates. Our picture turned out okay, but we were too cheap to purchase it. Besides, I wanted to hit the gift shop after the tour. (I ended up purchasing an Elvis Boulevard street sign and post cards.)
We felt the workers there were disorganized when they were trying to get the buses to arrive and load the people up. We even witnessed a couple of workers getting snippy with each other during this. But, finally, our group was loaded and taken to Graceland.
Overall, I enjoyed the Graceland tour, but I didn’t appreciate the audio version of the tour. I find audio tours annoying. I prefer a live person to give a tour. However, touring Elvis’ home was fascinating, even if it had a pretty tacky decor with shag carpet and brightly colored kitchen appliances. But I guess in the’60s and’70s, this decor was hip.
My partner and I thought the best part of the tour was viewing all the records he earned in his career. It was unbelievable—a wall-to-wall collection. And we thought his jumpsuits were extremely elaborate, with sequins and capes. On the more sober side, the memorial site (Meditation Garden) on the grounds was pretty emotional. Some people were crying, mourning over the King. We read memorial messages addressed to him from all over the world. It was evident that this man was loved and missed by thousands worldwide.
I highly recommend you go to Graceland. After leaving there, you will have more insight into this man: his love for his family, especially his mother and daughter, Lisa Marie; his love for his "roots" (he gave a lot money to different charities in Memphis); and his love for his music and fans. In addition, this is great way to pay your respects to the King.
Tickets for touring the house are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors 62 and older and students, $7 for children 7 to 12, and free for children 6 and under. This tour takes 60 to 90 minutes. The platinum tour includes the mansion tour and self-guided tours of Elvis’ two custom airplanes, the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum, and a memorabilia museum called Sincerely Elvis. The ticket price for this is $27 for adults, $24 for seniors and students, $13 for children 7 to 12, and free for children six and under. This tour takes 2.5 to 3 hours.
3734 Elvis Presley Blvd.
Memphis, Tennessee 38116
Attraction | "Memphis Police Museum"
I remember that one glass case had all the drug paraphernalia the officers confiscated from criminals. Another case had contraband taken from the convicts. And yet another case had interesting documents from the 1800s and 1900s. Some included documents on famous criminals like James Earl Ray (there was the extradition order for him for assassinating Martin Luther King, Jr.). But through others, especially the articles from the 1800s, you can witness the enslavement of black people. For instance, one article/police report stated that a black man was the property of a white man and that he was released to the custody of the white man after he had served some time for a small theft. It was very upsetting to read these types of things, but it is history that needs to be told and viewed so it will never be repeated.
I highly recommend this museum for families who have older children. With the guidance of their parent(s) or legal guardian, this museum will assist with their understanding of our true American history (the good and the bad concerning the criminal justice system and society in general back in the 1800s and part of the 1900s).
Beale Street Substation Museum
159 Beale Street
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
Concerning history, this is where singer W.C. Handy performed the first blues song. And because of this, there is a park named W.C. Handy Park on Beale Street. This park provides free concerts, and traveling musicians are present here. Then there is Church Park along Beale Street, built by the city’s first African-American millionaire, named Robert Church. He built it for a safe refuge for African-Americans in the early 1900s. Along with these two parks, there is the Beale Street Walk of Fame (located between 2nd and 3rd). Musical notes are engraved in the concrete that mark the Walk of Fame. This is where some of the greatest Memphis musicians are recognized.
If you want to dine on Beale Street, you have many choices. Some of these are Rum Boogie Café, B. B. King’s, Hard Rock Café, Elvis Presley’s Memphis, Alfred’s on Beal, etc. And if you want to listen to music, some of the clubs on Beale Street include Silky O’Sullivans, Wet Willie’s, Club 152, Peabody Hotel, Rum Boogie Café, B.B. King’s Place, etc. Or, if you want to tour a museum see The Police Museum, it has neat "criminalia" to view. Lastly, if you want to shop, you can at Y-Not, Tater Red’s, Strange Cargo, Hard Rock Café, etc.
On our first trip to Memphis in 2003, we found Beale Street boring at night—it was during the week. In fact, it was so boring that it took us an hour to find it. This was because nothing was going on. Then we returned in 2004 around Halloween time, and it was popping. There were street musicians everywhere. One guy that looked like the actor Johnny Depp played three instruments at one time. He played the bass drum with his foot, a guitar, and a harmonica. And behind him was a guy dressed like the horror character Jason wheeling a fake knife at a man dressed as Heidi (the Swiss girl in children’s stories) in an inflatable, obese-looking suit. Then, across the street from this amazing and comical act, was a portly lady singing lyrics like, "I am a dirty old woman with a dirty old mind, tonight." Along with this, there were venders selling beer in the streets. And because of the high alcohol consumption by some people, there was some stumbling going on in the streets. In addition, other people were tapping their feet to both the street musicians’ music and/or the nightclubs’ bands. Therefore, it was a crazy but fun night when we were there on a Halloween weekend night in 2004.
We parked a block from Beale Street and only paid $3 for the night. You should shop around for parking lots, as some are cheaper than others.
I highly recommend Beale Street for adults only at night and children during the day. This is because I feel that at night, the entertainment is directed more for adults and I don’t think it is too keen for kids to witness intoxicated individuals on Beale Street. However, there are restaurants, like Hard Rock Café, that are okay for families, and you could take the older family members to popular sites like the Police Museum (it has interesting artifacts here, from contraband taken from criminals to newspaper writings on famous criminals). This museum is open 24 hours.
German Valley, Illinois