Memphis Convention &Amp; Visitors Bu
Taken at Sun Studio, this famous photo features some of the greatest performers in Rock'n'Roll history: Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis.
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updated 10/13/2006 5:24:24 PM ET 2006-10-13T21:24:24

Barbecue, blues and blue suede shoes—these are the soul of Memphis, where the beat never stops, Elvis is still the King, and the grub’s as finger lickin’ as it comes. With the following itinerary you’ll get a taste of the city’s biggest draws, and its serious side as well.

8 a.m - 9 a.m: Country-style breakfasts in the midst of the big city—that’s Blue Plate Restaurant’s claim to fame, and though it’s simple food it’s perfectly done. Pancakes as light as the morning air, similarly fluffy omelets, honest slabs of salty fried ham, and crusty biscuits smothered in voluptuous cream gravy that’s studded with bits of sausage (yum, yum). This locals’ favorite has now branched out into a small chain and once you eat here, you’ll understand why.

9 a.m. - noon: You know where you gotta go next: to Graceland of course, to pay your respects to “The King”. Elvis’ complex is the second most visited home in the United States after the White House, and it should be seen—it’s that iconic (and how are you going to face the folks at home admitting that you didn’t visit while in town?) Touring the entire shebang will take two to three hours as there’s actually a lot to view from the memorabilia-rich Sincerely Elvis Museum to his collection of cars (including that famous 1955 Pink Caddy) to his planes and gravesite. The highlight for most is the tour of the sprawling mansion itself, with its tiki-tinged jungle room, its cushy basement poolroom, and more, all restored to look like it did when Pricilla and Elvis were in residence. Be sure to call for advance reservations as lines can be epic.


If you enjoy culture more than pop culture, drop in to the Dixon Gallery and Gardens . Once the private home of art collectors Margaret and Hugo Dixon, it’s a treasure trove of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art with works by Matisse, Degas, Gauguin, Renoir and others. When the weather is nice be sure to save time for a tour of the glorious gardens here, as artfully designed as anything in the museum itself.

Noon - 2 p.m.: When The King was in the mood for that classic Memphis dish, the “Pig Sandwich”, he headed to Leonard’s and you should, too.Appropriately enough it was here that another king, the king of the BBQ pit, original owner Leonard Heuberger, created the dish. And though you can get into a fist fight for claiming this, most think Leonard’s still has the best rendition of it in town. Gloriously messy, the shredded pork is topped with a crisp, mustardy coleslaw that off-sets perfectly the gooey sweetness of the barbecue sauce. Try it, you’ll love it…though don’t wear anything you care too much about it as it’s impossible not to spill.

2 p.m. - 5 p.m.: Beyond the music, Memphis has been the staging ground for a number of important, sometimes tragic events in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. It was here after all that Dr. Martin Luther King was cut down in the prime of his life by James Earl Ray. His assassination occurred at the Lorraine Motel and in an inspiring  turn-around, the site of this nefarious act was rehabilitated to create the National Civil Rights Museum . The tale of King’s life is told here, as is that of the movement itself both before and after King’s death. An $11 million renovation was recently completed and has allowed the museum to expand its focus to human rights movements around the world.


Can’t get enough of the history of music? Complement your trip to Graceland with a stop at the Memphis Rock ‘N Soul Museum , a Smithsonian institution. As much an aural experience as a visual one, you’ll see photos of all the early greats in these genres while being guided through the exhibit via digital audio tour, which peppers the commentary with more than 100 songs. Rare artifacts, instruments and exhibits on the social impact of the music are also featured.

6 p.m. - 8 p.m.: A gourmet dinner awaits at one of Memphis’ newest hot spots, Wally Joe’s , the brainchild of the well-known Mississippi chef of the same name. Joe imports the finest ingredients from around the world—Australian sea bass, Michigan elk loin, Maine divers scallops—to create a gourmet American menu with Asian accents. It’s a terribly chic place, and the food can be astonishingly good. Make your reservations far in advance.

8 p.m. - on … Head to Beale Street. On the street and in the clubs, there’s music, music and more music. In fact, whatever flavor of sound you best enjoy, you’ll find it represented on this famous street as its half a dozen or so major clubs host musicians of all stripes: blues, rock, soul…there’s even a venue for Broadway musicals and opera. At the Center for Southern Folklore , near Beale Street, for example, you might here a great old banjo player, or some other authentic “roots” music star; at BB Kings you’ll hear the best blues musicians in the country. Pick up a local paper to see who’s playing--you’re guaranteed to find something great to listen to.  

Pauline Frommer is the creator of the new Pauline Frommer guides in bookstores now.

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Blue Plate Café, 113 S Court Ave, phone 901/523-2050. Open 6:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Graceland, 3734 Elvis Presley Blvd, phone 800/238-2000, 901/332-3322; Open Mon-Sat 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sun 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Nov-Feb mansion tour does not operate Tues). There are two main ways to tour the site. If you just want to see the home, take the Graceland Mansion Tour which costs $16 adults, $15 seniors and students, $6.25 children 7-12. The Platinum Tour covers everything there (Elvis' Automobile Museum,the mansion, tours of Elvis' custom jets and Sincerely Elvis film presentation, etc) and costs $25 adults, $23 seniors, $12 children 7-12. Reservations for the tours can be made 24-hours in advance and are highly recommended.

Dixon Gallery and Gardens, 4339 Park Ave, phone 901/761-5250; Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 students, $1 children ages 5-11. Go to the website for current hours.

Leonard’s Pit Barbecue, 5465 Fox Plaza Drive, phone 901-360-1963; Open 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 .a.m. -9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

National Civil Rights Museum, 450 Mulberry St, phone 901/521-9699; OpenMon, Wed-Sat 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sun 1-5 p.m. From May-Aug, open until 6 p.m. Admission $10 adults, $8 seniors and students; $6.50 children 4-17, free for children under 4.

Memphis Rock ‘N Soul Museum, 145 Lt. George Lee St, phone 901/543-0800; Open daily 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Admission $8.50 adults, $7.50 seniors, $5 children.

Wally Joe’s, 5040 Sanderlin, phone 901/818-8021;

Center for Southern Folklore, 119 S. Main Street, phone 901/525-3655.

BB Kings, 147 Beale Street, 901/524-5464;

Pauline Frommer is the creator of the new Pauline Frommer guides in bookstores now.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Photos: Terrific Tennessee

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  1. Showtime

    The largest showboat in the world, the historic 300-foot-long General Jackson cruises along the Cumberland River. (Heavenly Perspectives via Nashville CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Honky-tonk high

    Concert-goers enjoy an act at the 2006 CMA Music Festival June 8, in Nashville, Tenn. (Rusty Russell / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Fan favorites

    During the annual 'Fan Fair' in Nashville, Jim Hager of the TV show 'Hee-Haw' gives a fan a kiss. Thousands are drawn to the annual face-to-face meeting of musicians and their admirers. (Karen Kasmauski / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Original tunes

    Buffer Mitch Trentel finishes a guitar at the Gibson custom shop in Nashville. Gibson guitars are touted as the best in the world. (Bob Sacha / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Play it again

    Musician Tim Hadler stands holding his guitar outside Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, a country music bar in Nashville, Tenn. (Catherine Karnow / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A state of awe

    State Capitol & War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. At the memorial, a statue of a lone warrior stands high above the plaza steps. Close by, is a black marble memorial wall with the names of Vietnam veterans from Tennessee. (Walter Bibikow / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Country history

    The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum illustrates country music's story through a treasure trove of historic video clips, recorded music, exhibits, live performances, public programs, live satellite radio broadcasts, on-site dining and more. (Timothy Hursley / Nashville CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Opryland wonderland

    Gaylord Opryland Resort Atrium is noted as America's largest non-casino resort. Spread across nine acres, this wonderland includes a natural indoor atrium with rivers, walking paths, lush landscaping, and waterfalls year-round. (Barry M. Winiker / Nashville CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Beale Street

    One of America's most famous musical streets, Beale Street is located in the heart of downtown Memphis and is 3 blocks of more than 30 nightclubs, restaurants and retail shops. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

    Set in the city's historic Overton Park, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is the region's oldest and largest museum. Its collection of paintings, prints and sculptures spans the 13th through 20th centuries and represents cultures from virtually every continent. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. National Civil Rights Museum

    Located at the Lorraine Motel, site of the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the National Civil Rights Museum presents interactive audiovisual displays, life-sized replicas and actual artifacts to present an emotionally charged history of the American civil rights movement. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Legends in tune

    Taken at Sun Studio, this famous photo features some of the greatest performers in Rock'n'Roll history: Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Wall of famous faces

    More famous musicians' photos at Sun Studio. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Memphis Motorsports Park

    The Memphis Motorsports Park Hosts the NASCAR Busch Series, NASCAR Truck Series and the NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Trolley to the mall

    Restored antique trolley cars ramble along the Main Street Mall and scenic Riverside Drive, connecting downtown area attractions, hotels, restaurants, and shops. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. The Pyramid Arena

    The Pyramid Arena, situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, is one of the most uniquely designed structures on earth and hosts assorted entertainment and sporting events. A tribute to the city's Egyptian namesake in Egypt, this 32-story, 22,500-seat, is the third largest pyramid in the world. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Mississippi River Park & Museum

    This full-scale replica of the Mississippi River is just one of the many, popular points of interest found at the Mississippi River Park and Museum. The "island" also features an 18-gallery, interactive history museum, amphitheater, gift shops and restaurants. (Memphis CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
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