By Nicola Stretton
Of all the places in the world I’ve visited, one city in particular stands out as my favourite. And it’s not an obvious choice. For me, the best place in the world is Memphis, Tennessee. Yep, you read it right. Memphis, Tennessee – home of the Blues, birthplace of Rock & Roll.
As an avid Elvis fan, I have always wanted – no, needed – to visit the King’s home, the one and only Graceland. This was the main (actually, probably the only) reason I decided to go to Memphis, but once I was there I fell in love with the whole city.
Visiting Graceland is an experience unlike any other (surreal, I remember calling it), and thousands of people make the pilgrimage there every year. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands who still haven’t been, but would love to. There are literally no words I could write that would do this house justice – if you’ve ever, even for a split second, entertained the idea of visiting, DO IT. Feel the magic of Elvis for yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
After Graceland, the next place on my checklist was – naturally – Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio on Union Avenue. This is the place where Elvis made all his early recordings, and the exact microphone he used is still in the studio; you are allowed to touch it and even have your photo taken with it, an opportunity most people take advantage of (except me, who had used up 2 whole rolls of film at Graceland and had no more left).
There is a free shuttle service which runs every day from Graceland (and the Heartbreak Hotel, which is right next door) to Sun Studio and on to Downtown Memphis, where I found the world famous Beale Street. To be honest it’s impossible to miss, with its 3 blocks of more than 30 nightclubs, restaurants, shops and museums, including the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum (situated by the Fed-Ex Forum, which was hosting a wrestling championship while I was there). The Rock n Soul Museum provides a 2 hour tour back in time to the birth of rock & roll and soul music, and costs just 9 dollars per adult ticket.
Another fantastic method of transport I noticed was a thing called ‘Ride the Ducks’ – this vehicle picks you up by the side of the road, drives to the banks of the Mississippi River and plunges in, where it turns into a boat! But if, like me, you’re a shopaholic, be sure to go to Peabody Place Entertainment & Retail Center which features a wide variety of shops, restaurants and a 22 screen cinema.
For those with children, fun attractions include Memphis Zoo, Mud Island River Park, Laser Quest and The Children’s Museum of Memphis, where children get to learn through experience.
There is literally something for everybody in Memphis, Tennessee, and it’s a city I plan on going back to time and time again.