Top Attractions for First-Time Visitors

If it’s your inaugural visit to Memphis, make sure to hit up these can’t miss attractions. Within these popular sites, you’ll get a sense of what gives Memphis its distinct feel and tour the highlights that keep visitors flocking back.

Beale Street

Established in the late 1800s, Beale Street was a hotbed of African American business at the time. Today, it retains its deep musical roots as a National Historic Landmark and the Home of the Blues. Take a stroll down this iconic street and pop into any of its lively bars and restaurants to hear Memphis blues musicians jam out into the night. Don’t miss iconic Beale Street establishments like B.B. King’s Blues Club, Alfred’s on Beale, and Rum Boogie Cafe.


No first time visit to Memphis is complete without a trip to Elvis Presley’s home and headquarters. Graceland attracted over 700,000 visitors in 2021, a testament to the everlasting legacy of The King of Rock n’ Roll. Touring Graceland gives you an intimate look into Elvis’ life with Halls like the Living Room, Music Room Jungle Room taking you back decades. You can even view Elvis’ pink 50s Cadillac and many flamboyant stage costumes up close.

National Civil Rights Museum

Memphis played a pivotal role in the American Civil Rights Movement, which you can learn more about at The National Civil Rights Museum. Built in the former Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, this museum will move you with its extensive exhibits. Gaze over the balcony where Dr. King was shot, see the rooming house from which the shots were fired, and take a broader look at the American civil rights story.

Sun Studio

The modest building at 706 Union Avenue is nothing less than hallowed ground for music lovers. This is the site of Sun Studio, where artists like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and many more recorded their breakout tracks. Guided tours let you peek inside the recording studio itself and pose for photos in the spots where history was made.

The Peabody Hotel

A visit to Memphis isn’t complete without witnessing a lovely tradition at The Peabody. Every day at 11 am, a flock of trained ducks are ceremoniously marched from their Penthouse home in the hotel down to the lobby fountain via a red carpet. At 5 pm, the ducks are marched back up to their abode. The Peabody’s March of the Peabody Ducks is quite a sight and makes for fantastic photos!

Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the country, is home to over 3,500 animals spread across 70 acres of land. You’ll be impressed walking through naturalistic exhibits with creatures like African lions, vibrant flamingoes, massive pandas, loud gibbons, and more. Special programs like behind-the-scenes tours and even overnight stays make this one memorable zoo.

Stax Museum of American Soul Music

This one-of-a-kind museum delves into the origins and evolution of American soul music, especially Memphis’ huge impact on the genre. See exhibits detailing Stax Records alongside instruments used by legends like Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes. Don’t miss the chance to strap on headphones and sing your heart out in the studio.

Orpheum Theatre

This stunning 1928 theater hosted vaudeville acts and films in its early days. Today, it still entertains with Broadway shows, concerts, comedians and more. Guided tours let you explore the interior Baroque architecture and learn some ghostly tales. Catching a show here is a quintessential Memphis experience.

Big River Crossing

Get out and active at the Big River Crossing, a bike and pedestrian boardwalk crossing the Mighty Mississippi River. Take in sweeping river views as you walk or bike across the nearly 5,000 foot long landmark. Connects Tennessee to Arkansas and makes for fantastic photo ops.

Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid

The immense glass Pyramid building along the riverfront once held a sports arena but now is home to a huge Bass Pro Shops. In addition to amazing shopping, it features restaurants, an archery range, bowling alley, hotel, and elevator ride to the top with panoramic views.

Cooper-Young District

Find boutique and antique shops, vibrant wall murals, locally-owned eateries, and historic homes in Cooper-Young, Memphis’ arts district. The area hosts fun annual events like multi-day festivals and house tours. Wander for unique art finds and a taste of local culture.

Historic Soulsville USA

Soulsville USA encompasses the Stax Museum, Stax Music Academy and the iconic Memphis soul label’s former recording studio. It symbolizes the 1960s Stax Records era when artists like Otis Redding defined the Memphis soul genre. Tour the museum and academy to absorb the area’s musical legacy.

Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex

In addition to touring Graceland mansion, visiting Presley Motors Automobile Museum and the massive Elvis Presley Memphis entertainment complex next door makes for a well-rounded Elvis experience. See his famed cars, jumpsuits, gold records plus more memorabilia and interactive exhibits.

How to Get Around Memphis

Memphis isn’t the largest city, but you still need to know how to get around efficiently. Depending on your itinerary and group size, here are the best transportation options:

Public Transportation

The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) operates public buses throughout Memphis and its nearby regions. Local buses generally run every 15-30 minutes from around 5 am to 12 am. Express buses operate on key routes during peak commuting hours. Though not the most extensive, MATA buses can get you to most major attractions.

Taxis and Rideshares

Taxis are available downtown and around popular tourist sites, though not always readily found outside of the city center. Memphis Taxi and City Wide Cab are two reputable companies. Uber and Lyft also operate in the city, with dynamic rush hour and event pricing. Good options for getting around solo or in small groups.

Charter Buses

To keep large groups of 10 or more together, charter buses are the most convenient and cost-effective transportation. Rather than coordinating multiple cars or rideshares, charter a bus to handle the driving so your group can take in the Memphis views. Prices often come out lower per person than other transit options. Look for buses with amenities like TVs and WiFi so everyone stays comfortable on the road.

Ready to Get Started?

Now that you know the best things to do and how to get around on your first Memphis visit, it’s time to start planning your trip! Reach out to the friendly team at Memphis Party Bus Company at 901-203-3181 to learn more about renting a charter bus for your group’s Memphis sightseeing. We offer modern buses, professional team, and unmatched convenience. Can’t wait to help show you the best of Bluff City!