The 8 Best Memphis Tours
Experience the best of Memphis with one of these top guided tours.
Elvis' pink Cadillac is a popular part of Graceland's Presley Motors Automobile Museum. (Courtesy of Graceland Archives)
Note: Some tour providers on this list may have ceased operations due to COVID-19. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.
Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, Memphis, Tennessee, is known for blues and rock 'n' roll music, barbecue and civil rights history. One of the best ways to explore its wealth of attractions is on a guided tour. U.S. News compiled this list of the top tours based on expert input and reviewer sentiment. From bus and boat rides to walking and pedaling tours, these eight experiences offer an excellent overview of the city.
Graceland – Elvis Entourage VIP Tour
You can spend an entire day exploring all things Elvis with this tour at Graceland – the singer's former mansion. The package includes a VIP shuttle to the estate. After you arrive, skip the lines, view an orientation film and then proceed with an audio-guided tour of the property. Other highlights include an exclusive VIP exhibit and full access to Elvis Presley's Memphis Entertainment Complex. At this facility, you can tour museums that feature Elvis' car collection, his famous jumpsuits and additional exhibits about his life outside of the entertainment industry. Elvis fans rave about the experience and say they can still feel his presence in the house. They also remark that there is a phenomenal amount of memorabilia that is meticulously maintained. Tickets start at $108.50 per person. Children younger than 6 can tour for free. Graceland offers several other tour options to explore Elvis' former home.
Memphis Best Tours – City Tour
This three-hour bus ride gives tour-takers an introduction to downtown Memphis and sights along the Mississippi River. Notable attractions include the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, the B.B. King statue and the Memphis Pyramid. The bus also stops at Beale Street, Sun Studio and the Peabody Memphis, home of the Peabody ducks. Tours depart daily at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets cost around $30 for adults and $22 for children. Prices include round-trip transportation from downtown hotels. Reviewers enjoy the informative guides and learning about the history of the city. Some remark, however, that there was confusion over the pickup time at the hotel. The company offers several other tours, including several Elvis-themed excursions.
Backbeat Tours – Historic Memphis Walking Tour
Head out for a two-hour walking tour that delves into the city's rich history and some of its most notable characters. Stops include Historic Court Square, Cotton Row, Dead Man's Alley and two Civil War sites. There's also a break at the Peabody Memphis just in time to see the daily duck march. Along the way, you'll be treated to panoramic views of the city. Tourgoers rave about the knowledge and insight of the guides. They also comment that the tour is an excellent opportunity to get an overview of the city. Tours are available at 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays in November and February, and at 9:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday from March to October. Prices start at $25 for participants 13 years and older and $15 for children 7 to 12. Children 6 and younger tour free. The company offers other experiences, including ghost tours and tours highlighting the city's music history.
Tastin' 'Round Town – Memphis BBQ Tastin' Food Tour
Skip lunch and bring your appetite for this 3 1/2-hour walking food tour that focuses on one of the city's most delicious traditions: barbecue. Patrons comment that they appreciate learning about the history of the city as much as they enjoy the food. Some also remark that it's one of the best food tours they have ever taken. During the tour, pig out on dry-rubbed and sauced ribs, barbecue spaghetti, pork nachos and pulled pork at eateries like Central BBQ, A&R BBQ and Arnold's BBQ & Grill. Tours begin at 2 p.m. and are available Monday through Friday. Prices start at $65 per person. The company also offers tours of the city's food scene as a whole, as well as a tour that combines its barbecue heritage with chef-inspired eats.
Memphis boasts plenty of experiences from its music scene to its food to its history.Getty Images
Sprock n' Roll – Downtown Route
Imbibe and pedal your way through downtown Memphis during this two-hour party bike tour. Patrons say it's a fun experience and a great way to spend time with old and new friends. The ride covers a 3-mile route, stops at several bars along the way and begins and ends on Beale Street. You can even bring your own alcoholic drinks on the bike (restrictions apply) and play your favorite tunes through the speakers via Bluetooth. The public tours operate Thursday to Sunday. The number of tours and times vary, with more options available on Saturday and Sunday. Prices start at $28 per person on Thursday and Sunday and $40 on Friday and Saturday. The minimum age to participate is 21. You can also book the whole bike for a private tour.
Historical Haunts – Haunted Memphis Bus Tour
Spend 90 minutes learning about Memphis' legendary haunted locales during this ghostly nighttime bus tour. Highlights include the oldest cafe in the city, Native American burial grounds and Ernestine and Hazel's – purportedly one of the most haunted bars in the U.S. You will make two stops during the tour; the rest of the time you'll be on the bus. Tour-takers enjoy the eerie stories and comment that it's an entertaining evening. Tours depart at 7:30 p.m., but availability varies weekly. Prices start at $25 for participants 18 and older and $20 for those younger than 18. Children younger than 13 are not allowed to tour. The company offers several other experiences, including a Haunted Pub Crawl and a seasonal walking ghost tour.
A Tour of Possibilities – The Grand Tour
This private experience takes tourgoers on a historical tour of Memphis, as seen through an African American's perspective. The group size is limited to 10 people and each excursion is individually curated. Stops include the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel and Beale Street. Along the way, you'll also spot additional local landmarks, such as Clayborn Temple and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Patrons comment that the historic and contemporary information made them appreciate the city and its residents. They also rave about the friendly guides. Prices start at $175 per hour, with a minimum of two hours. Tours are available daily and can be booked by contacting the company directly. The company also offers a tour that focuses on Memphis' African American history, its music scene and its soul food.
Memphis Riverboats – Sightseeing Cruise
Go rolling on the mighty Mississippi – North America's second-longest river – for a unique perspective of the city's landscape. This 90-minute paddlewheel boat cruise includes live narration covering the past and present history of life along the Mississippi. There are restrooms on board and refreshments and casual bites are available for purchase. Patrons offer mostly positive reviews and say that it's an enjoyable experience. Others comment that the boat gets crowded and the sights aren't interesting. The operating schedule varies by season, but from May through October there are daily tours at 2:30 p.m. with an additional 5 p.m. tour on Saturday and Sunday. Prices start at $20 for adults; discounts are available for children and seniors. Memphis Riverboats also offers a dinner and music cruise.
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