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Possible Memphis itinerary

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Nov 15th, 2009, 09:51 AM
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Possible Memphis itinerary

Am drawing up a possible Memphis sightseeing itinerary and am interested in helpful feedback and suggestions (no "stop and smell the roses" stuff, please).

One day (not a Tuesday):
Graceland
Sun Studio

Another day (also not a Tuesday):
National Civil Rights Museum
Cotton Museum
Belz Museum
W.C. Handy House
Memphis Rock and Soul Museum
this day also affords wandering Beale Street

Yet another day (Thursday):
Memphis Fire Museum
Slavehaven Underground Railroad Museum/Burkle Estate
Memphis Zoo and Aquarium/Overton Park
Memphis Brooks Museum (open Thursday evenings)

Still another day:
Dixon Gallery and Gardens
Art Museum at the University of Memphis
Pink Palace

And another day:
Soulsville: Stax Museum
Woodruff/Fontaine House
National Ornamental Metal Museum

Do not plan to have a car, and further research suggests one can take buses to almost all these attractions from downtown. A couple of these are things one can walk between (see "Still another day" and "Another day" specifically) and a taxi is likely the only option to and from the Metal Museum, as well as from the Memphis Brooks Museum to downtown in the evening. There's also a shuttle that runs between Graceland and Sun Studio. Have taken into account travel time between sights to what seems a reasonable degree.

Would like to get feedback on:

--the reasonable feasibility of this itinerary.
--anything else that's a "must" that I'm missing.
--whether anything above is a "must miss" even if one might guess you'd find the attraction of interest otherwise.
--if there are any other shuttles like the Graceland/Sun Studio one.

Not interested in strictly little-kid-oriented attractions (which is why I've left off the Children's Museum of Memphis here), though kid-of-all-ages things are fine.

Am very much used to taking public transportation when traveling, and have successfully used buses in cities where "prevailing wisdom" says it's not ever done and simply shouldn't be done, including Nashville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Montgomery (had no problem with any of these if you have a schedule and take minimal precautions). If taking the bus or trolley in Memphis is inadvisable for, let's say, gross safety reasons, that would be good to know -- but in general, if it's not a good idea, would like to hear specifics.

Many thanks.
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Nov 15th, 2009, 11:19 AM
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Are you staying downtown? If not, then where? That would be helpful to know.
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Nov 15th, 2009, 01:03 PM
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Yes, plans currently are to stay downtown just a block or two north of Beale Street.
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Nov 15th, 2009, 06:51 PM
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You didn't mention dining on Beale Street. My favorite place is Blues City Cafe, my wife really likes Rendevouz(both on Beale).

A real touristy thing to do is watch the Ducks in Peabody Hotel. When I think of Memphis, I think Elvis, BBQ, and Peabody Ducks. Peabody has a tremendous Sunday Brunch.

At Graceland, I would do the full tour, everything from the house, museum, and airplanes was interesting. Even seeing the live broadcast of XM/Sirius All Elvis Channel.
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Nov 15th, 2009, 07:05 PM
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You really have an interesting request. You specifically ask that no one suggest you're planning too many activities (no smelling the daisies for you) and go on to say that you will take public transportation whether we think it's safe or not.

My question to you is why are you asking?
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Nov 15th, 2009, 10:19 PM
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spirobulldog, thanks for the helpful reply. This was precisely the kind of useful assistance being sought. Much appreciated.

Looked up info on the Peabody ducks, and now intend to include this in the itinerary, likely during the course of "Another day." Thanks!

Also got the impression that Graceland was both really interesting and could easily eat up several hours -- am glad to have all this confirmed.

And not to worry, would plan to include some BBQ at evening mealtimes (there appears to be nothing in the way of tourist attractions open in the evening in Memphis except for Thursday evenings at the Brooks Museum). The Rendezvous and an outpost of Corky's are close by Beale Street, and am thinking both will be visited. Will also check out Blues City Cafe.
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Nov 16th, 2009, 05:41 AM
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I am sure people will tell me I am crazy, but Corkys doesn't seem like real bbq to me. maybe its just me. I have often wnated to eat at Neely's, but have yet to eat there.
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Nov 16th, 2009, 08:14 AM
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Corky's and Rendezvous both get mixed reviews; some love, some hate. If you're interested in alternatives, I've also eaten at the Bar-B-Q Shop on Madison a couple of times and enjoyed it. My brother lived in town for several years and really liked Germantown Commissary, though it's in Germantown (one of the suburbs). Not sure how easy it is to get to either by bus, though I imagine the Bar-B-Q shop would be the easiest of the two.

I would be interested in your trip report for this trip - you seem to know you're packing in a lot, and I'm genuinely curious as to how you will do it all on public transportation. I live in Nashville and would love to take more public transit, but it would take me two hours to get to work (vs 30 minutes by car) due to how our system is set up.
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Nov 16th, 2009, 09:15 AM
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I have only been to Memphis once, and then just for about 24 hours, but my general impression is that it would have been challenging to do very much sightseeing via public transportation.

That said, we ate at Rendezvous and enjoyed it, but it is located in an alley a couple blocks north of Beale Street, not ON it. We stayed at the Peabody (got a great deal on TravelZoo) and loved it, and the ducks! Get there early--they draw quite the crowd and it's really an "event." Check the website for the correct times...they come down in the morning and go back up to their duck-house in the earle evening. The lobby bar is beautiful.

We took the trolley loop through downtown...it was really cheap (lunchtime rates) and there were "ambassadors" at some of the stops to assist people...nice touch. I know we went past the Civil Rights Museum, but didn't have time to stop. We could have walked there, though...the trolley was just a quick way to see downtown which, compared to Nashville (where we had just been for several days) was...underwhelming.

We easily spent several hours at Graceland and enjoyed it, and I'm not even a huge Elvis fan. We left a lot "undone" but hope to be back someday.

Visit Beale Street at night for sure...the street is closed to vehicles and it has a lot of "energy." BB King's looked like fun, though we didn't go.
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Nov 16th, 2009, 06:04 PM
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jent103, here's the thinking on public transportation for this Memphis itinerary:

--Another day: these are all within walking distance from downtown Beale Street. At most, trolley to National Civil Rights Museum, but likely not needed.

--One day: bus #43 from downtown to Graceland, shuttle from Graceland to Sun Studio, bus #20 or #43 back to downtown.

--Still another day: bus #2C to Oak Court Mall, walk to Dixon Gallery, then walk to U. Memphis Art Museum, then walk to Pink Palace, then bus #2C from Pink Palace to downtown.

--And another day: bus #17 to Stax Museum, bus #17 from Stax Museum to downtown, change to #2 bus to Woodruff-Fontaine House, cab to Metal Museum Museum, cab to downtown (Metal Museum is not near any bus).

More to follow.
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Nov 16th, 2009, 06:25 PM
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Finishing up:

--Yet another day: walk to Memphis Fire Museum, take #8 bus to Burkle Estate, bus #8 back and change to #53 bus to Zoo, walk through Overton Park to Memphis Brooks Museum, take #50 bus or cab back downtown.

When I visited Nashville, I stayed downtown not far from the State Capitol Building, which is where the central transit bus station hub is. It made taking the bus in Nashville very easy.
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Nov 16th, 2009, 08:53 PM
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True - taking the bus to/from downtown here isn't too bad. But if you're unreasonable enough to need to go from not-downtown to not-downtown, well, you're out of luck (or looking at a two-hour trip).
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Nov 17th, 2009, 06:19 AM
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I believe the trolley goes past the Civil Rights Museum & I think Stax is nearby. Maybe you could group those two. Also along the trolley route is the Arcade Restaurant which is nice for lunch. The Rock & Soul Museum is right across the street from the Gibson Guitar Factory. Interesting tour. Walkable from Beale Street so you could group those two as well. Grouping Sun & Graceland is a good idea by shuttle. The Peabody is conveniently located to grouping with anything. We like Interstate best for BBQ but I don't think it is accessible without a car.
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Dec 3rd, 2009, 08:22 PM
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Thanks for the further help, everybody.

I just discovered that there is a free shuttle that connects Graceland, Sun Studio, and the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum. It runs between 10 AM and 6:30 PM, with stops on the hour at Graceland, on the quarter hour at Sun Studio, and on the half hour at the Rock and Soul Museum.

Will be using this option for "One Day (not a Tuesday)" above instead of taking city buses.
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Dec 27th, 2009, 09:19 PM
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Have also found out that the Corky's branch in downtown Memphis has closed.

Further research shows several BBQ spots that are varying degrees of worth a visit besides Rendezvous, Corky's, and Blues City Cafe: Neely's, Interstate, Central BBQ, BBQ Shop, Cozy Corner, and Payne's. Some apparently can't be reached via public transportation.
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Dec 28th, 2009, 06:24 AM
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Might want to check out Gus's Famous Chicken.

I didn't say anything about public transportation and you might very well be fine with it. It seems like a huge effort and really iffy. I don't remember seeing much at all there- in taxi or bus form(have been 5 or 6 times to Memphis)
a taxi ride a couple of times a day is about the same as a budget car rental. And if there was a city to be a little concerned about safety, this would be one of them in several areas.
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Dec 29th, 2009, 09:31 PM
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I'm very interested in seeing how this trip went as I'm planning on visiting Memphis in either February or April and most likely as a solo traveler. I keep hearing that there are safety issues in this city and I'm curious as to whether or not I'm safe there. I live in NY and go into Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn quite often. I always use common sense and feel safe. Is there something I should know about in Memphis?
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Dec 30th, 2009, 06:26 AM
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writealiving - the touristy areas of Memphis are safe. I've been downtown several times, staying at least once by myself, and never had issues. I do use common sense, like not leaving valuables in my car, not getting drunk and not being out late in an unpopulated area. The bigger problems with crime are in other areas which visitors almost never have a need to be in. However, that does mean that you should know where you're going (for example, the area surrounding Graceland isn't great).

Memphis has a lot of social issues, but also has a great deal to offer. Do your research, then enjoy yourself.
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Dec 30th, 2009, 06:40 AM
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My husband and I are in Memphis frequently and almost always stay downtown. The only problem we've seen is with panhandlers, who can get fairly aggressive. Just ignore them and keep walking.

If you travel alone, I'd suggest you stay in the heart of downtown rather than on the edge, just to insure you're comfortable.

In addition (though I doubt this warning applies to you), Beale Street after midnight is not the greatest place to be. It turns from a jazz-type venue to more hip-hop and attracts lots of partying young people.
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Dec 30th, 2009, 07:25 AM
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Thanks for that info. I'm looking forward to planning this trip! And I'm an Elvis fan so I can't wait to see Graceland!
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