National Civil Rights Museum - Lorraine Motel#1 in Best Things To Do in Memphis
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.
Located south of downtown Memphis in the South Main District, the National Civil Rights Museum is open every day except Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, the museum stays open until 6 p.m. Admission is $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, $13 for kids between the ages of 5 and 17 and free for toddlers 4 and younger. Active military members also get in for free. Guided tours are available for $80 per 1½ hours (prior arrangements requested), and museum visitors can park for free. To enter the visitor lot, turn north on Mulberry Street from G.E. Patterson Avenue. For more information on the museum and its events, visit its website.
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#2 Stax Museum of American Soul Music
Sitting on the original site of the Stax Records studio, this museum commemorates the musicians who recorded in this legendary space, as well as other American soul legends. Among the museum's collection of more than 2,000 artifacts, interactive exhibits, films and galleries, you'll see Isaac Hayes' custom Cadillac Eldorado, which was purchased as part of his renegotiated deal with Stax in 1972. The relic is outfitted with some unusual amenities, including a TV, a refrigerated minibar and 24-carat gold exterior trim.
Recent visitors praised the quality of the memorabilia on display and the introductory film screened at the beginning of the self-guided tour. Though reviewers do warn that there's a lot of information to read and absorb, they called the experience "fascinating." If you need a break from reading, you can bust a move out on the Express Yourself dance floor – another point of praise for recent visitors.
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