Memphis, Home of Blues, Soul, and Rock and Roll

So, how is Memphis holding up during the pandemic? From my recent visit to Memphis, I can assure you that Memphis is alive and well, and open for business. Like so many other places, tourism is down and restaurants, lodging, and attractions are all implementing measures to insure the safety of their customers. Memphis has adapted well in these trying times.

Memphis is everything Blues, Soul, & Rock 'n' RollMemphis is everything Blues, Soul, & Rock 'n' Roll © Scott Kendall

Arriving at Arrive in Style

Driving up from the Houston area, we arrived in Memphis to our lovely hotel, Arrive, on South Main Street. This contemporary new hotel is ideally located on South Main within easy walking distance of the Civil Rights Museum, Central BBQ, Bishop Restaurant, Arcade Restaurant, and other great destinations. In addition, it is a short drive, or a slightly longer walk, to many other popular downtown attractions like Beale Street, The Peabody Hotel, museums, and restaurants.

Memphis Arrive Hotel facadeArrive Hotel © Scott Kendall

Arrive is in an older building that has been lovingly refurbished, with all the modern conveniences today’s travelers expect. With an inviting lobby, coffee shop, comfortable beds and modern bathrooms, it’s a pleasure to arrive at Arrive, your Memphis destination.

Start your morning with a cup of hot inspiration from the Vice & Virtue Coffee Shop and a treat from the inhouse bakery, Hustle & Dough. Although closed when we visited due to COVID restrictions, the Longshot Restaurant and Bar Hustle are on property for your convenience. We loved having a cup a coffee in the comfortable and eclectic lobby along with other folks starting their day.

Civil Rights Museum entrance at the Lorraine Motel in MemphisCivil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel © Scott Kendall

With the ongoing revitalization of South Main, visitors can experience a wide variety of great restaurants, coffee shops, museums, nightclubs, music, street art, and so much more. There is even a trolley car stop right in front of the hotel. While staying at Arrive, we walked to the Civil Rights Museum at the old Lorraine Motel, to breakfast at The Arcade, to lunch at Central BBQ, and to dinner for fine dining at Bishop Restaurant.

477 S. Main Street

The Fabulous Peabody Ducks

Years ago, back in the 1930s, the General Manager of the Peabody Hotel and a buddy came back from a hunting trip in Arkansas and thought it would be fun to put some of their live duck decoys in the lobby fountain. That started a tradition continued to this day. Every day at 11 am five Mallard ducks come off the elevator and make their way up the red carpet to the waiting fountain, made of a single piece of carved travertine marble imported from Italy. Fans in the lobby and upstairs overlooking the scene have a great time watching the ducks waddle in. At 5 pm, the ducks put on another show, leaving the fountain back to the elevator and up to the Royal Duck Palace on the rooftop.

149 Union Avenue

Peabody lobby with its famous ducks in and around fountainPeabody lobby with its famous ducks © Scott Kendall

The Huge Legacy of Music in Memphis

You cannot visit Memphis and not be aware of the huge impact music has made on this Tennessee town. Known as the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll,” Sun Studio’s pioneering founder Sam Phillips recorded Elvis, B. B. King, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many others in the infancy of this new music phenomenon.

706 Union Avenue

Sun Studio was a pioneer of rock n roll and blues musicSun Studio, Pioneer of rock n roll and blues music © Scott Kendall

Did we mention Elvis? Of course, Memphis is synonymous with Elvis. The young man born in Tupelo, Mississippi, moved with his family to Memphis, and he made his first recording singing My Happiness for $4, at Sun Studio. Elvis was only 18. The rest, as we know, is music history, and can be explored in detail at Graceland. Memphis is also the home of Stax Records, many music studios and museums, and the hopping live music venues along Beale Street featuring many genres of today’s musical scene, including sizzling blues, soul, jazz, and rock and roll.

Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo is widely regarded as one of the best zoos in Tennessee. Approaching the zoo, visitors are first attracted to the life sized silhouettes of elephants, rhinos, alligators and more leading up to the Egyptian themed buildings. The elephant sanctuary, giraffes, white rhinos, majestic lions, playful monkeys, and other critters make for a wonderful afternoon at the zoo. Check out the Daily Schedule for exciting activities like Grizzly Feeding, Penguin Feeding, and the Sea Lion Chat.

2000 Prentiss Place

Memphis Zoo with silhouettes of animals and an Egyptian themeMemphis Zoo with silhouettes of animals and an Egyptian theme © Scott Kendall

Eating in Memphis

Arcade Restaurant, just two blocks down South Main from the Arrive Hotel, is recognized as the oldest café in Memphis. We thoroughly enjoyed the memorabilia of this comfortable eatery along with our delicious breakfast. Eggs, bacon, and yummy sweet potato pancakes filled our tummies to get us fueled up for our busy day.

540 South Main Street

Sweet Potato Pancakes at Arcade in Memphis with eggs, hash browns & syrupSweet Potato Pancakes at Arcade © Scott Kendall

Central BBQ

Central BBQ is the iconic destination for Memphis BBQ. Choose from tender smoked ribs, turkey, pulled pork, pulled chicken, beef brisket, turkey, and more. Don’t forget the sides like greens, Macaroni & Cheese, potato salad and beans. And be sure to make room for the delicious Homemade Peanut Butter Pie and or Homemade Banana Pudding.

147 East Butler, Memphis


Bishop Restaurant

At Bishop, the casual fine dining restaurant on South Main in the Central Station Hotel, diners are treated to a special experience. I enjoyed the Chef’s Special, delightful Bibb salad followed by a delicious, savory Beef Bourguignon. The meat was tender and flavorful, with a delicious wine sauce with just the perfect complement of carrots, onions, turnips, and mashed potatoes. The trout in a Champagne cream sauce and the fork tender filets are among the other tantalizing entrees on the menu I’ve got to try in the future.

South Main Street and G. E. Patterson

Bishop Beef Bourguignon plated at Bishop RestaurantBishop Beef Bourguignon © Scott Kendall

Gus’s Fried Chicken

World famous Gus’s Fried Chicken is hot chicken headquarters in Memphis. They fry everything in peanut oil, and only cook fresh, natural, hormone-free chicken for their customers. Start off with fried pickles or fried green tomatoes, and finish with a slice of their delicious pecan or sweet potato pie.

310 S Front Street

The Party is in Memphis

So head on over to Memphis. The home of blues, jazz, rock ‘n roll is waiting for you to join the party. With so many options for entertainment, food, and activities, you are sure to having a rollicking good time.

Overarching Beale Street sign in MemphisBeale Street © Scott Kendall 


 About Scott Kendall, Editor and Travel Writer

Scott Kendal avatarScott Kendall is Editor of PlayStayEat.com as well as a freelance travel writer, photographer, and videographer based in The Woodlands, Texas. He has traveled extensively throughout the US and Europe, including several trips to Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, England, and France. In addition to writing for PlayStayEat, Scott has written for EuropeUpClose, Epicurean Traveler, Food Wine Travel Magazine, International Living, Miles Geek, Touring Bird, Airguides, Travel and Talk, and other publications. His published work and videos can be seen at PlayStayEat.com and ScottKendallTravels.com, and he can be reached at [email protected]. Scott is a member of IFWTWA and SATW. 

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