Next Stop, Memphis

Next Stop, Memphis

Discovering the unique flavor of a new city is one of the thrills of travel. Tasting the food and chatting with locals are all part of what makes travel memorable. This week we’re chatting with Holly of I Love Memphis to learn about what makes this soulful city tick. Lucky for us, she took no short cuts when it came to dishing about where to go, what to do and most importantly where to find the best barbeque. Find out what she had to say about her Tennessee town.

Amtrak: What do you love about your city?
Holly: I love the authenticity of the city: the people, the art and music, the architecture. People are genuine and tough, and they’re doing their own thing – not trying to copy any other place or style. I also love the big small town, up-and-coming feel here. If you want to make a difference or start something new and you work hard, you can make it happen here.

Levitt Shell - Holly WhitfieldAs the birthplace of rock-and-roll, Memphis has lots of options for live music. Tell us a few of your favorite spots to go to catch a live show.
The Levitt Shell outdoor amphitheater is Memphis’ favorite place to catch show from local and international acts of all genres – they offer more than fifty free shows each year. Lafayette’s Music Room in Overton Square has at least one live show every day, and Minglewood Hall in midtown brings in great acts. Renowned dive bars The Buccaneer, Murphy’s, and the Hi-Tone are well-established spots that have acts big and small in a more underground feel.

For the Amtrak travelers looking to get a taste of Memphis, where do you recommend visitors go to grab that quintessential Memphis meal?
The quintessential Memphis meal is pork barbecue, either on a sandwich with slaw or smoked ribs. The Rendezvous is the most famous, but locals also flock to Central BBQ, The Bar-B-Q Shop, Cozy Corner, Tops BBQ, and a slew of others. On the other hand, there is so much more to Memphis food than barbecue: we have amazing fine dining, scrumptious soul food, and authentic ethnic cuisine.

Graceland22If you only had one day in Memphis, what would you do?
I’d start out my day exploring the riverfront at Tom Lee Park and Beale Street Landing, then have breakfast at one of Memphis’ oldest restaurants: The Arcade diner in South Main. Depending on my interests, I’d spend some time walking down Beale Street, visiting the National Civil Rights Museum, or taking a tour of Graceland, Sun Studio, or the Stax Museum, then have barbecue for lunch. I’d head to midtown’s Overton Park for the afternoon – the Old Forest trails, the Memphis Zoo, and the Brooks Museum. For dinner and drinks, I’d spend some time in Overton Square or the funky Cooper Young neighborhood. If the Grizzlies are playing at home, I’d head to FedExForum aka “The Grindhouse” to cheer on our beloved NBA team.

Before heading home, every vacay should end with a little photo fun. Where’s a great site in Memphis that’s the perfect background for an Instagram worthy photo? 
Take the nation’s tallest freestanding elevator in the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid to the observation deck; you’ll have an incredible view of Memphis, the Mississippi River, and our iconic bridge.

Finally, here’s your soap box. Why should Amtrak riders make Memphis their next stop?
Memphis is a great mix of old and new, past and present. If you want to make pilgrimages to places that changed the world – the famous spots like the Lorraine Motel, Graceland, and Sun Studio – we have that. If you want to explore artsy neighborhoods, the great outdoors, current music just come visit us in Memphis!

All photos by Holly Whitfield.