Mmm... Memphis, has to be said, home to "The Memphis Blues" from 1912 when it was originally written as a campaign song for a Memphis mayoral election by the "father of blues" W. C. Handy. This is where Elvis Presley's home "Graceland" is located and where he began his career in Sun Records. This is definitely the "Birthplace of Rock and Roll" as B B King and Johnny Cash have both recorded albums at the legendary Sun Studio. Memphis sits on the "Mississippi" River, the one word everyone had trouble spelling at school. The town is awash in music clubs on Beale Street and restaurants dishing up soul food or barbecue fare.
This is where you will find the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, the largest of its kind in the world and often referred to as the "Superbowl of Swine". No matter where you look you will see a smokehouse, a hole in the wall joint or a barbecue stand throughout the city. Apparently you have to get your ordering terminology correct: served "dry" means rubbed in spices before cooking whereas if you order "wet", it will be floating in mouth-watering sauces. If you happen to be in Memphis during May you will be treated to the Beale Street Music Festival when you can hear a quirky mix of rock and soul music performed by big names and local nobodies. Meander around Graceland or the Smithsonian curated Rock 'n' Soul Museum to get the music totally under your skin.
There are numerous riverside parks to stroll through or boat rides on the river where you can get some of the best views of the city. For the history fanatic there is the National Civil Rights Museum near the landmark Lorraine Motel, the site of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. You can meander around the National Ornamental Metal Museum that traces the history of decorative metal in the US or go to the Chucalissa Archaeological Museum sitting on what was once a Native American village founded in 900AD and abandoned early in the 17th Century. For some cultural and natural history you should head to the Memphis Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium. An alternative to music and history is the Lichterman Nature Center or the Memphis Botanical Garden when you just want time out.
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