Getting Around Memphis
The best way to get around Memphis is by car. Attractions pepper the city, making "Walking in Memphis" a challenging feat – with or without your blue suede shoes. If you don't want to deal with Memphis traffic, you can instead rely on the Memphis Area Transit Authority's fleet of buses and trolleys or the city's new bike-share program.
Travelers who don't road-trip here arrive through Memphis International Airport (MEM), positioned about 10 miles southeast of downtown. To get to downtown Memphis from the airport, you can rent a car, take a cab (which costs about $30) or use your hotel's complimentary airport shuttle (the Memphis airport lists all of the area hotels that offer shuttle service on its website). Uber and Lyft also service the airport.
The sprawling city is best explored with your own vehicle. Downtown Memphis (with its plentiful parking) sits right along the Mississippi River, which can be a useful marker to find your way. As you head east (away from the river), the city becomes less dense and the attractions start to disappear. The city's highways can morph into parking lots within minutes. To avoid clogged streets, stay off the roads between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and again between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
You can rent a car at the airport or at several locations throughout the downtown area. If you don't want to rent a car for the duration of your visit, you can also reserve Zipcars.
If you're afraid of getting lost or caught up in traffic, consider the Memphis Area Transit Authority's city-wide buses or trolley system, which uses vintage trolley cars – a thrill for the kids. There are three trolley lines: Main Street, Riverfront and Madison. They drop visitors within walking distance of some of the city's top things to do, including Beale Street and the National Civil Rights Museum. One-way trolley fares cost $1; day passes cost $2. Service hours vary by trolley line, with reduced service on the weekends. Notably, the Madison Line does not operate on Sundays. There are nearly 30 fixed bus routes that operate around the city. One-way fares for adults cost $1.
Alternatively, visitors can utilize the Memphis Hop bus, which runs Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. This hop-on, hop-off bus frequents Memphis' top tourist spots, including Graceland, the Stax Museum, Sun Studio and more. It picks up from a variety of downtown hotels. One-day tickets cost $30 for adults and $20 for children ages 4 to 12.
For shorter distances, consider Explore Bike Share. This bike-share program allows patrons to check out bikes for an hour, a day or even an entire week. To rent a bike, you'll need to purchase a membership from a docking station kiosk or online. Prices are $5 for a single, two-hour ride, $10 for weekly use or $15 for a monthly pass. When you're finished, simply return the bike to one of 60 docking stations around the city. Riders ages 16 and younger must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more information on the best bike routes around Memphis, check the Memphis tourism board website.
You can rely on a combination of buses, trolleys and taxis if you don't want to rent a car, but fares can add up quickly. Cabs will be prevalent around Beale Street, but they may be scarce in other parts of the city. Plan to call ahead for a cab pick up or use apps like Uber and Lyft.
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