Memphis, TN is a city steeped in history, culture, and soul. From its iconic music scene to its mouthwatering barbecue, Memphis exudes a magnetic charm that captivates visitors and locals alike. But beyond its well-known attractions, there lies a tapestry of hidden gems and untold stories that truly set this city apart. Join Redfin as we embark on a journey to uncover what Memphis is known for.

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1. Birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll

Memphis is renowned as the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, thanks largely to Sun Studio. Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” recorded his first song there in 1954. Icons like Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins also started their careers at Sun Studio. This legacy continues to draw music enthusiasts from around the world. The city’s rich musical history is celebrated annually during Elvis Week.

2. Mouthwatering barbecue

Memphis is famous for its distinctive style of barbecue, characterized by slow-cooked, smoked meats. The city hosts the annual Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Renowned barbecue joints like Central BBQ and Rendezvous attract food lovers from all over. Memphis barbecue is typically served with a tangy tomato-based sauce. Pulled pork, ribs, and brisket are local favorites.

3. Civil rights history

Memphis has a notable civil rights history, playing a significant role in the movement for racial equality in the United States. The city was the site of pivotal events, including the sanitation workers’ strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel, which is now the National Civil Rights Museum. Memphis continues to honor its civil rights legacy through various museums, monuments, and educational initiatives, serving as a reminder of the city’s commitment to social justice and equality.

4. Mississippi River

The Mississippi River, one of the world’s major river systems, flows along the western border of Memphis. It has played a significant role in the city’s development and culture. Riverboat cruises offer scenic views and historical insights. The Mississippi River Park provides recreational opportunities like walking and biking. The river’s influence is evident in the city’s music, cuisine, and commerce.

5. Arts and culture scene

Memphis, TN boasts a lively arts and culture scene, with a thriving community of artists, performers, and creatives. The city is home to numerous art galleries, theaters, and music venues, showcasing a diverse range of artistic expressions. From the renowned Memphis Brooks Museum of Art to the vibrant Overton Square entertainment district, Memphis offers a wealth of cultural experiences that celebrate creativity and innovation.

6. Graceland estate

Graceland is the former home of Elvis Presley and is one of the most visited attractions in Memphis. The mansion offers a glimpse into the life of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Visitors can explore the main house, the Meditation Garden, and Elvis’s car collection. Graceland also features exhibits showcasing Elvis’s career and personal artifacts. It’s a must-see for any Elvis fan visiting Memphis.

7. Beale Street

Beale Street is a historic street in downtown Memphis, known for its vibrant nightlife and live music. Spanning nearly two miles, it hosts clubs, restaurants, and shops. The street has played a crucial role in the history of blues music. Famous artists like B.B. King and Muddy Waters once performed here. Today, it’s a popular destination for both locals and tourists seeking authentic blues music.

8. Diverse culinary scene

Memphis boasts a diverse culinary scene that reflects the city’s rich cultural heritage and influences. From traditional Southern comfort food to international cuisines, Memphis offers a wide array of dining options that cater to every palate. The city’s food culture is characterized by its fusion of flavors, locally sourced ingredients, and innovative culinary trends, making it a haven for food lovers and culinary adventurers.

9. Festivals and events

Memphis is renowned for its spirited festivals and events that bring the community together in celebration of music, food, and cultural traditions. From the Beale Street Music Festival to the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, the city hosts a myriad of lively gatherings that showcase its vibrant spirit and hospitality. These events serve as platforms for local artists, chefs, and performers to share their talents and connect with audiences from all walks of life.

10. Memphis in May

Memphis in May is a month-long festival celebrating the city’s culture, history, and international relations. The festival includes the Beale Street Music Festival, World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, and the Great American River Run. Each year, a different country is honored, highlighting its culture and traditions. Memphis in May draws hundreds of thousands of visitors. It’s a vibrant and diverse celebration of the city’s spirit.

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