Music Lover’s Guide to Memphis

Memphis, Tennessee is known for two things: barbeque (we’ve got another blog on that) and music. From blues to soul to rock ‘n’ roll, Memphis’ history and modern-day world is JAM-packed with entertainment for all audiences. 

When visiting a new area, it’s hard to know where to begin your journey. Let us provide some Frontdesk help! Here are all the things you’ll want to include in your music lover itinerary for visiting Memphis.

Tours and Museums

Graceland Mansion
Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, is a must-visit for any music lover and offers a range of tour options. In Graceland Mansion, you can tour many rooms including the famous Jungle Room. In the Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment complex, you can tour the Elvis The Entertainer Career Museum, Presley Motors Automobile Museum, and the Elvis Discovery Exhibits.

Sun Studio
Sun Studio is a recording studio that opened in 1950 and is known as “the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll.” Legendary artists including B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded there. The studio offers 45-minute guided tours daily.

Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, located on Beale Street, offers a comprehensive look at the history of Memphis music from the 1930s through the 1970s. It highlights the influences of Beale Street and Sun, Stax, and Hi Records, as well as the impact of the civil rights movement. Audio-guided tours are offered daily.

Stax Museum of American Soul Music
Stax Museum, located on the original site of the Stax Records studio, pays tribute to the artists who recorded there as well as other American soul legends. The museum has more than 2,000 artifacts, interactive exhibits, films, and galleries. Tours are offered every day except Monday.

Tip: If you’re visiting all four, look into discount admission bundles like the Backstage Pass, which can be purchased at either the Stax Museum or the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.

Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Clubs and Music Venues

Beale Street
When you’re in Memphis, you’re visiting Beale Street – it’s non-negotiable! Beale Street encompasses three blocks of nightclubs and restaurants in downtown Memphis where you can hear the sounds of live music pouring out of almost every doorway. We recommend hopping between clubs to get the true Beale Street experience, but the most famous is likely B.B. King’s Blues Club.

Earnestine and Hazel’s
This dive bar was once frequented by legends like B.B. King, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, and more. It has a famous (haunted) jukebox plus live bands that play soul, jazz, and blues all night long – not to mention great burgers and beer.

Paula & Raiford’s Disco
Legendary disco owner and DJ Robert “Hollywood” Raiford opened his famous music club in 1976. While the current club stands in a different location than the original and is now run by his daughter Paula, the space is a reimagining of the original and is just as popular.

Hi-Tone Cafe
This bar and music venue hosts live shows most nights of the week, with music crossing all genres. It has two separate venue rooms and draws both touring headliners and local artists.

Places to Eat

Arcade Restaurant
The Arcade, known as Memphis’ oldest cafe, was one of Elvis Presley’s most frequented restaurants. The original booth where he would sit is still there and the restaurant also serves up a peanut butter banana sandwich, AKA the Elvis Sandwich.

Marlowe’s Ribs
Another favorite spot of The King, especially being located only 1.5 miles from Graceland, Marlowe has fully embraced its Elvis history. The barbeque joint, while known for its ribs, also serves an Elvis burger and a peanut butter banana sandwich, plus has lots of Elvis decor and memorabilia.

Jerry Lee Lewis Cafe & Honky Tonk
Rockabilly musician Jerry Lee Lewis opened the Cafe & Honky Tonk in 2013 on Beale Street. It is filled with Jerry Lee Lewis memorabilia including his piano, motorcycle, photos, and more. Live music plays every night and for food, they serve up delicious Southern favorites.

Rum Boogie Cafe
Also located on Beale Street is Rum Boogie Cafe. It houses music memorabilia including more than 200 autographed guitars from artists such as Elvis, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Booker T and the MGs, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, and more. Like the other clubs on Beale Street, live music plays nightly. Rum Boogie Cafe is known for its signature dishes like red beans and rice, fried catfish, and hickory-smoked BBQ ribs.

The Arcade Restaurant

Where to Stay

While visiting Memphis, you’ll want to stay somewhere in the middle of the action, close to all the popular attractions and restaurants. That’s where Frontdesk comes in. We offer many suites and short-term rentals that are conveniently located, that includes amenities needed to enjoy a comfortable and memorable stay. We recommend this colorful one bedroom with a pool and gym, this light and airy two bedroom with city views, or selecting a different Frontdesk Memphis suite to make your trip one to remember!