Beale Street picture1 of 4
Beale Street2 of 4
Benedek/Getty Images

Key Info

Beale Street

Price & Hours

Free
24/7 daily; hours vary by vendor and restaurant

Details

Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.0scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Food Scene
  • 3.0Atmosphere

Are you looking for the heart and soul of Memphis culture? Head over to Beale Street. It was here that the blues was born, and many famous musicians  including B.B. King, Alberta Hunter and Isaac Hayes  got their start. During the day, stores and restaurants beckon with music memorabilia and savory barbecue, while at night, the area between Second and Fourth streets comes to life as numerous live music clubs open their doors to music fans of all types. The Beale Street area is also home to several popular attractions, such as the Orpheum Theatre, the W.C. Handy House Museum and the New Daisy Theatre.

Recent visitors described the atmosphere on Beale Street as "buzzing," thanks to the variety of live music that pours from the clubs stationed along the street. Though reviewers say this is a must-see when in Memphis, they also warned crowds can grow stifling, especially on the weekends. Beale Street also hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year, which some travelers advised avoiding due to the headache-inducing crowds and traffic.

Bear in mind that Beale Street is party central, and much like Bourbon Street in New Orleans, this area tends to attract a rowdier crowd. If you are looking for a more laid-back night out, check out Overton Square in Midtown instead. You'll find plenty of parking surrounding Beale Street; the Beale Street website recommends the parking garage on 250 Peabody Place near Fourth Street and Rufus Thomas. It won't cost you anything to tour the street, but you will likely have to pay a cover charge at some of the bars you visit. 

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National Civil Rights Museum - Lorraine Motel1 of 12
Stax Museum of American Soul Music2 of 12
Type
Time to Spend
#1 National Civil Rights Museum - Lorraine Motel

Recent travelers agreed the National Civil Rights Museum should be at the top of anyone's list of things to see in Memphis. Housed in the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, the museum features multimedia presentations on the civil rights movement. With the help of 260 artifacts, more than 40 films, oral histories, interactive media and external listening posts, visitors are guided through five centuries of history. During your self-guided tour, you'll view artifacts paramount to the movement, such as a Greyhound bus ridden by Freedom Riders. You'll also have the chance to see King's motel room, where he spent his final hours.

Reviewers described the museum as "surreal" and "incredbily moving." They went on to note the staging of the exhibits is "top-notch" and said the museum helped put seminal events of the period into context for a better overall understanding of the movement. Visitors should budget at least two to three hours to tour the entire facility.

Read more
Brand USA/Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau
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